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WHAT’S NEW(S) – 21/05/2021

Écrit par sur 21 mai 2021

Another episode of the series ‘Escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians’, that is how journalist Joris Luyendijk described the media coverage of resurgent violence back in 2018. “This is a media war and not a war with a lot of media coverage”, he argued. After years of, relatively, media silence, the conflict tragically made the front pages again. How did the European media report on the worst rounds of violence since the outbreak in 2014?

You’ll find the script below :

Another episode of the series ‘Escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians’, that is how journalist Joris Luyendijk described the media coverage of resurgent violence back in 2018. “This is a media war and not a war with a lot of media coverage”, he argued. After years of, relatively, media silence, the conflict tragically made the front pages again. How did the European media report on the worst rounds of violence since the outbreak in 2014?

Even though statements condemning the escalating violence are echoed by all media, there are different explanations about the cause of the violence, and about possible solutions. In the Guardian, Simon Tisdall lists several in his article “Who’s to blame for reigniting the Israel-Palestine conflict?”: Many point to Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu’s racist and oppressive policies, backed up by Trump; others to weak Palestinian leadership and Hamas; some – most Israeli media, such as the Jerusalem Post – argue that the conflict is triggered by Iran. Spanish newspaper El País points to clashes during Ramadan between Palestinians and the Israeli forces as key events in the triggering of the conflict. Times of Malta – Malta is one of the European countries strongly supporting Palestine – underlines the damage caused by Israel’s strikes in its article “Malta must condemn the occupation of Palestine”. German newspaper Der Spiegel cited foreign minister Heiko Maas, who strongly condemned Hamas’ attacks on Israel. Hungary Today emphasised that Hungary does not support an EU joint statement to call for a ceasefire and cited Kinga Gál, the leader of Fidesz European Parliament delegation, who expressed her full support for Israel.

One of the differences with previous coverage of the conflict is perhaps the impact of online activism. Are social media messages shifting attitudes?

Indeed, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also playing out on social media. A video showing people fleeing Israeli strikes in Gaza was watched over 44 million times on TikTok, another about the destruction of a high-rise block in Gaza 1.5 million times, writes BBC. While social media can provide a platform for Palestinians who have less or no access to mainstream media, Al Jazeera argues that social media is “the place to go for the coverage of this issue, except when the platforms take issue for what’s being posted.” Spanish newspaper El Diario reports that about 30 human rights organisations raised the alarm about a major campaign of social media networks to “silence” the profiles of journalists and activists who have been documenting the violence.  The massive sharing of news about the conflict also raises concerns over the spread of falsehoods. Reuters fact-check revealed that a posted video of rockets launched from Gaza on Israel, posted May 12 with the text “This is what Israeli suffer Today” is actually over 3 years old.

Then moving on to another event that made the news in Europe this week: the arrival of Moroccan migrants at Spain’s borders in Ceuta. How did the media report on this sudden influx?

Around 8.000 people crossed the border between Moroccan territory and the Spanish city of Ceuta on May 17. An incident with diplomatic roots, since according to Reuters, Mustapha Ramid, minister of state for Human Rights of Morocco defined it as a “lean back” over the hospitalisation of Polisario leader Brahim Ghali. Andrea Nicastro, Corriere della Sera, called the incident a ‘vendetta’ of the Moroccan government, which took advantage of this particular event to deepen the diplomatic crisis that has been going on in recent months. According to the NBC, this was the largest influx of illegal migration there in a single day. Around 1.500 of the people who crossed the border were children according to the BBC. Several witnesses reporting to Alberto Rojas for the newspaper El Mundo, stated that the Moroccan police had invited hundreds of young Moroccans to cross the border irregularly.

And how did they react to Spain’s strong statement and reaction? 

Pedro Sánchez immediately travelled to the Spanish city to follow the situation closely and told the journalists of the EFE news agency that “Spain was going to restore order to the city and its borders,” According to France 24, Madrid sent an additional 50 police officers to reinforce the 200 already deployed on Tuesday, who also joined the more than 3.000 members of the Spanish Army base in the city. EURONEWS picked up the words from Margaritas Schinas who stated that “No one can intimidate or blackmail the European Union”. According to Alex Parra and Renata Brito in AP at least 4.000 people were returned to Morocco in a matter of hours.

Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

Photo: Alisdare Hickson, CC BY-NC 2.0, via Flickr

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