The terrorist group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, is being crystal-clear about what happened on the Gaza border this week. They admit that they orchestrated the event. They admit it wasn’t a peaceful protest, but an armed protest with the attempt of breaking through the border to kill as many Jews as possible. They even admit that the vast majority of the dead were members of Hamas.
And yet the media continue to play propaganda wing for Hamas. They trot out the lie that Israel has indiscriminately targeted Palestinians. They repeat the utter falsehood that this was a peaceful protest. They suggest that this riot, which has been ongoing for two full months, was a result of the Trump administration’s moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.
Why? Why are the media deliberately avoiding honest reporting?
The answer has to do with two paternalistic views the members of the Western media hold about the Palestinians.
First, members of the Western media believe, in George W. Bush-like fashion, that every human heart yearns to beat free. But by free, they mean “free” in Western fashion: free of religious tyranny, free to exercise individual rights. That’s simply not true for a huge number of people across the world, who do not share Western priorities regarding the individual — who find higher meaning in tribalism or religious homogeneity. Hamas isn’t interested in living free in a liberal state. Hamas, the people who elected them, and the people who answered their call to violently attempt to enter Israel — not all Palestinians, but certainly a sizeable number) — are not interested in establishing San Francisco in Gaza. They’re interested in different priorities.
Which brings us to paternalistic view #2: the media believe that since the Palestinians aren’t actively pursuing Western definitions of freedom, they must be twisted by anger and humiliation beyond the capacity for rationale response. Palestinians, the Western media say, would be happy to recreate the Left Bank of Paris on the West Bank of the Jordan, if not for those scheming Jews. As Sohrab Ahmari writes at Commentary:
Palestinian Arabs are human beings, which means they are possessed of free will, agency, and the natural capacity to reason like any other people. This basic, incontestable anthropological reality needs to be frequently restated today since our media and foreign-policy establishment has apparently concluded the opposite. … There are desperate people all over the world who never translate their frustration into suicide bombing, stone throwing, border-rushing, and violent “Days of Rage.” It does the Palestinians no good to treat them as children entitled to tantrums, as permanent wards of the international community or, worst, as wild men bereft of reason. Then again, such highhanded pity isn’t really about helping the Palestinians so much as it is about flattering their Western friends.
There’s an element of assumed superiority to Israel that comes into play here, as well. Israel, you see, is a nationalistic country — and the modern Left, including most of the Western media, see nationalism as a brutal throwback to the past. It’s not a coincidence that the same media members who constantly malign Israel also opposed Brexit and complain endlessly about the muscularity of the slogan “Make America Great Again.” Israel is a country based on the idea that nationalism can be good — that a common culture, a common set of laws, a shared history, and most importantly, a common set of values, provide the basis for a more peaceful world, so long as those values are inherently decent. Yoram Hazony of the Herzl Institute explains that many, particularly on the Left, have rejected this legacy:
Today, many in the West have come to regard an intense personal loyalty to the national state and its right to chart an independent course as something not only unnecessary but morally suspect. They no longer see national loyalties and traditions as necessarily providing a sound basis for determining the laws we live by, for regulating the economy or making decisions about defense and security, for establishing public norms concerning religion or education, or for deciding who gets to live in what part of the world.
Why not have a world government? Why not reject Israel’s sovereignty in favor of an “internationalized Jerusalem”?
The answer is obvious: nations still exist because human beings don’t universally think like the editorial board of The New York Times. Israel must exist because they don’t — and considering the priorities of The New York Times, Israel would have to exist even if they did. Israel has a right to exist, and to defend itself. The Palestinian refusal to acknowledge those simple facts flies in the face of the media’s attempts to rewrite Palestinian aspirations into something benign. And there is tremendous irony to the media’s support for Palestinian nationalism, which would end not with the liberal democracy of Israel, but with something far closer to Iranian-style tyranny.
The fact that the media continue to mirror Hamas’ preferred line will get more Palestinians killed. It will encourage Hamas to continue provoking conflict and hiding behind civilians. Promoting Hamas’ aspirations to achieve the death of Israel through violence is morally vile — but that’s exactly what the media are doing, bolstered by their paternalism and scorn for Israel.