Every day my heart falls as I see yet another article about attacks in Israel. As if to add insult to injury, these articles are usually titled something like this Boston Globe article, “4 Palestinians shot dead in latest violence, Israel says“. These titles make it sound as if innocent Palestinians are being killed by an oppressive Israeli military. A severe media bias against Israel, however, has existed and been apparent for a long time, and news agencies consistently shift the focus of stories from terror to the Israeli response. It seems that many are becoming increasingly aware of this bias and the tide, I hope, is turning. In fact, a recent article in the LA times was entitled, “Palestinian stabbing attacks on Israelis continue; 4 assailants shot dead, authorities say.”
Yet there is a more subtle bias that most are not aware of: the use of words such as “alleged” and “allegedly.” I have noticed in my reading of alleged “news sources” that people enjoy using the word allegedly. It is such a seemingly innocent, simple word, and yet it is so incredibly powerful. For example, media outlets recently reported that a thirteen year old boy named Ahmed Mansara was killed by Israeli police after “allegedly” stabbing someone. The story seems to indicate that trigger-happy Israeli police killed a teen simply because they suspected him of stabbing. The true story, however, is that Ahmed and his cousin stabbed two Israeli citizens, and Ahmed was then struck by a car and was subsequently taken to Hadassah Hospital where he is now in “good condition.”
Ahmed has not only been caught on video running with a knife, but he was also seen by multiple eye-witnesses. This abundance of evidence does not always exist, and Ahmed was also not killed by Israeli security forces, which is not always the case. So, I grant that this is an extreme example, but Ahmed’s story did get me thinking. Why is it that only acts of violence committed against Israelis merit the word “allegedly” no matter how much evidence there is? Why, in contrast, do acts of violence committed by Israelis never receive an “alleged” to preface their stories no matter how little evidence there is? It is one sided, hypocritical, and twisted.
In light of this revelation, I would urge everyone, whenever they encounter this type of language, to evaluate the news source and its inherent biases. For example, a source like Al Jazeera will almost always use the word “allegedly” to describe a terror attack no matter how much evidence exists. A more pro-Israel news source is far less likely to use this word even if the facts are under considerable doubt.
I greatly appreciate when journalists are willing to admit that they do not possess all of the facts, so I am not wholly opposed to words like “allegedly.” However, I am opposed to their use when they are meant to skew the public’s perception and to portray Israel as the “aggressor” while the victimized attackers are “innocent until proven guilty.” It is a subtle tool, a perversion of journalism, that is twisting stories in a way that is decidedly anti-Israel, and it must stop.