GUEST COMMENTARY - Here we go again. The state of Israel is committing unchecked barbarism against Palestinians and the Western corporate media has decided it all comes down to “clashes”.
The latest round of so-called “clashes” – sparked when Israeli police decided to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan by repeatedly attacking Palestinian worshippers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque – has produced predictably disproportionate casualties.
Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested and wounded as Israeli forces have once again flaunted their handiness with rubber bullets, batons, stun grenades and tear gas. In return, the police have suffered minimal injuries, while also undertaking to accompany illegal Israeli settlers into the mosque compound.
And apparently not satisfied with simply unleashing violence in Jerusalem, Israel has also launched a barrage of air strikes on the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon following reported rocket fire.
As with all previous instances of Israeli-Palestinian “clashes”, the media’s choice to deploy such terminology serves to obscure the Israeli monopoly on violence and the fact that Israel kills, maims and mutilates at an astronomically higher rate than its supposed counterpart in “clashing”.
It also obscures the reality that Palestinian violence is in response to a now nearly-75-year-old Israeli policy defined by the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the occupation of Palestinian land and the periodic perpetration of massacres – pardon, “clashes”.
Take your pick of contemporary, Israeli military assaults and you’ll find maneuvers like Operation Protective Edge, the euphemism for the 2014 slaughter of 2,251 people in the Gaza Strip, including 551 children. Over a period of 22 days starting in December 2008, Operation Cast Lead took the lives of some 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza; three Israeli civilians died.
“Clashes” also abounded in 2018 when, in response to the Gaza border protests, the Israeli military killed hundreds of Palestinians and wounded thousands. And in May 2021, an 11-day Israeli rampage titled Operation Guardian of the Walls killed more than 260 Palestinians, approximately one-fourth of whom were children. As it so happens, this last operation was set off by – what else? – “clashes” at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
This bit of trivia has prompted certain news outlets to fret about what the current “spiralling bloodshed” between Israelis and Palestinians may portend – another media catchphrase that ultimately whitewashes Israel’s predominant role in the shedding of blood.
It is difficult, of course, to find any linguistic or moral equivalent to the media obsession with reporting Israeli savagery as “clashes”. One would not perceive an elk as “clashing” with a hunter’s rifle, just as one would not perceive a “clash” between a human neck and a guillotine.
(Belen Fernandez is the author of "The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work." She is a member of the Jacobin Magazine editorial board, and her articles have appeared in the London Review of Books blog, Al Akhbar English and many other publications. This article was published in CommonDreams.org.)