American journalists have signed and are circulating an open letter calling on their peers and colleagues in the media community to start using consistent truth telling speech, rather than language that obscures the realities of war crimes, human rights abuses and an apartheid system perpetrated against Palestinians by the State of Israel.
The letter, published on Medium is called Journalists’ Open Letter on U.S Media Coverage, and as of the time of this article, 514 verified signatures have been added by journalists. So far, the signatures on the letter include writers for Los Angeles Times, ProPublica, Jewish Currents, ABC News and The Washington Post, Chicago Sun-TImes among many others. The letter calls for journalists and members of the media community to sign in solidarity.
“For the sake of our readers and viewers — and the truth — we have a duty to change course immediately and end this decades-long journalistic malpractice. The evidence of Israel’s systematic oppression of Palestinians is overwhelming and must no longer be sanitized.”, a quote from the Journalists’ open letter.
The letter cites the 213 page report by Human Rights Watch, which is documentation of “crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution” committed by Israeli authorities, and a publication by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem entitled A Jewish Supremacy From The Jordan River To The Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid, which outlines Palestinians lack of freedom of movement, lack of immigration rights, denial of the right of political participation for those living under Israeli occupation, and state mandated settler colonialism and forcible theft of land and water access.
The open letter takes issue with specific words that are commonly used to obfuscate the truth such as “eviction”, when referring to forcible removal, and violence perpetrated against Palestinians and demolition of Palestinian property, which is “illegal under international law and potentially a war crime”.
“This term misleadingly implies a real estate “dispute” between tenant and landlord, an inaccurate depiction of the state of affairs. The United Nations considers East Jerusalem occupied Palestinian territory, meaning Israel’s territorial claims there are not recognized. More importantly, using the term ignores the well-documented aim of the Israeli government to establish and maintain ethnic dominance over Palestinians.”
More ill-used words cited in the open letter are “clash” when referring to Israeli police and military brutality used on Pro Palestinian demonstrators, and “conflict”, which blatantly muddles the reality.
“When Israel attacked Gaza, media outlets framed it as a “conflict” between two equal entities, ignoring the total asymmetry in power. Under the guise of objectivity, rockets fired at Israel — which caused significantly less damage than Israeli airstrikes — were covered just as much as Israel attacking medical facilities and leveling entire residential buildings, clouding the nearly one-sided scale of violence and destruction.”
The letter calls on journalists to promote Palestinian narratives and the truth of Palestinian life starting from “the dinner table all the way to Capital Hill”.
The journalists’ call for truth closes with this quote:
“We are calling on journalists to tell the full, contextualized truth without fear or favor, to recognize that obfuscating Israel’s oppression of Palestinians fails this industry’s own objectivity standards.
We have an obligation — a sacred one — to get the story right. Every time we fail to report the truth, we fail our audiences, our purpose and, ultimately, the Palestinian people.”