Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Background information necessary in articles about Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

A little while ago, I picked up a copy of the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. It was a typical day, where I would make my way through the Campus Center and into the Student Union to stay warm on my walk toward class in Bartlett. On the second page of the Collegian, the editor had chosen to provide several stories with issues “Around the World.” In this particular issue of the Collegian, I noticed there were two articles about Israel. One of them caught my eye, because I recognized it was written in a way that mislead and distorted the actions of Israel.

The article began with, “An Israeli airstrike killed two people in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, including a man identified by Israeli security forces as a militant who fired rockets across the border last week during former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s funeral.” In order for proper recognition of why there was and continues to be rocket fire between Israel and Hamas, there must be some background information provided, which the original piece of writing did not include.

Israel has strived to create peace with the Palestinian government since 1948 – other instances include 1973, 2000 and 2008. Initially, in 1947, the Arab countries rejected the UN Resolution 181 (two-state solution) because they refused to recognize Israel as a legitimate country. In 1993, Israel transferred ownership of much of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. The exchange was intended for peace, but none materialized. After the evacuation of all Israelis from Gaza in 2005, the Palestinian government still refused to have peace talks with Israel. In fact, since the withdrawal – one that has caused much dispute within the Israeli and Jewish communities – Hamas, an Islamist group, has increased rocket fire into Israel from Gaza.

The article lacked context to the air strike. By naming the casualties as just people, the severity of the militant’s actions is decreased. Initial descriptions of one of the casualties as a militant is necessary in order to better illustrate a very serious situation that happened and continues to happen in Israel. In addition to this destruction, context of Hamas’ operations within Gaza borders show the struggle that Israel faces when countering continuous rocket attacks originating from Hamas militants.

Hamas uses civilian buildings in Gaza for military purposes, which is why many rockets sent into the Gaza Strip by Israel result in civilian casualties. According to the Israel Defense Forces blog, “Hamas uses homes, schools, mosques and hospitals as weapons caches and hiding spots for its fighters.” Israel has the right to attack these private properties, and they must do so with the knowledge that killing militants may come with the unpleasant loss of civilian life.

According to the Geneva Convention (Protocol 1), Article 52, “military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose, or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture, or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.” This specific rocket attack was Israel’s legal obligation with regards to Article 52.

Israel struggles to generate peace with Hamas because Hamas completely rejects a Jewish State. It has the ultimate mission to “fight the Jews and kill them” and to replace the Jewish state with an Islamic caliphate, among many other destructive actions even against its own Palestinian population. The article I am responding to did not provide context to Israel’s actions that killed a Palestinian militant. These aspects of the Israeli-Arab conflict need to be offered in all articles explaining the conflict, and when they are not, the words serve no purpose.

Brett Hausler is a Fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America at UMass Amherst and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • N

    Narrowminded?Apr 22, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    It is difficult to answer a request and then be challenged by someone looking for a trigger they can use to push a biased rhetoric. Read up before you make comments, and defend yourself with actual references.

  • W

    WarmonkeyApr 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Referencing “camera” – that is hardly an unbiased source of info. I agree more Americans should research the background of the Brutal Military Occupation of the Palestinian people – which we enable.

  • I

    If You Are InterestedMar 31, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Hi N.

    In addition to referring to the following links, simple research on the construction of news stories in newspapers, online reports, and television coverage proves that coverage of events in Israel, and the Middle East in general, is biased and does not provide accurate representations of the conflicts on many occasions.

    Todd Gitlin’s “Media Routines and Political Crises”

    Take a glance at Boston University Professor Richard Landes’ CV and read an article or two of his, specifically with reference to Pallywood –

    This should be a good start…

  • N

    N.Mar 30, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    maybe those of you going on about how “lots of mainstream media sources say this and that” could cite, like, just one single reference maybe?

  • G

    Genghis KhanMar 28, 2014 at 6:36 am


    I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic.

    Most media outlets go out of their way to AVOID painting the Palestinians with these terms. Most media outlets go out of their way to highlight Israel as “the aggressor” without referring to the Palestinians at all, or whitewashing the provocation that led up to the Israeli response.

  • U

    ugotitwrongMar 27, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Per Veritas: “Israel is NEVER (emph. added) described as Aparthied (sp), Racist, or committed to crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing” – apparently referring to reports in mainstream media.

    This is exactly what Israels detractors (including a lot of “mainstream media”) claim her to be. All part of the BIG LIE movement against her. A perfect example of such false claims are those recently presented to the UN by Prof. Falk. His logic and reasoning seem to be on a par with those of Veritas: a total lack of each and based on flawed data, information and investigations.

    On many occasions I have pointed out to Prof. Falk, and others, that by their failure to do balanced reporting (to even consider the historical aspects, much less all of the facts that lead Israel to do what she does), what they present is patently false. Theirs is reporting by selective omissions leading up to gross distortions (to say the least).

    Veritas seems to fall into the “Falk camp”: do not listen to anything anyone (like Brett ) says which might be favorable to Israel. After all, who is interested in the full picture or the truth? The goal is to bash Israel.

    Veritas, ugotitwrong not only on this point, but most of the rest of what you said.

  • V

    VeritasMar 26, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Most mainstream media inaccuratly reports most of the Palestinians as militants, Islamists, or terrorists.

    Israel is never described as Aparthied, Racist, or committed to crimes against humanity or ethnic cleansing.

    Your argument could be, because this is not true.

    I guess you serve as your own proof, and empirical data and information is of no value, as neither is deductive reasoning.

  • A

    ArafatMar 26, 2014 at 8:49 am


    Thank you for your difficult work in trying to educate people about the context of this conflict.

    The Palestinians and their water carriers have successfully muddied the waters – or, more specifically created ugly anti-Israel memes – and you are fighting an uphill but noble battle to bring light to the darkness!