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How America’s bloodthirsty journalism cheers on Israel’s war on Gaza

In a recent segment on how Hamas “frames the civilian casualties” of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, CNN’s Jake Tapper starts out by acknowledging that we “do know that innocent civilians in Gaza continue to be killed by Israeli strikes”. It is impossible to “not be affected by these horrific images that we’re seeing”, he states, as the humanitarian crisis in the enclave grows “increasingly dire”.

What is the solution, then? In Tapper’s view, apparently, it is for Israel to continue killing innocent civilians and presiding over a humanitarian catastrophe, because it is all Hamas’s fault anyway.

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Near the beginning of the segment, we are shown a clip of Queen Rania of Jordan responding to those who argue that a ceasefire will help Hamas – an argument she says amounts to “endorsing and justifying the death of thousands of civilians”.

Then it is back to Tapper, who calls Queen Rania’s remarks an “interesting turn of phrase” and goes on to wonder condescendingly whether it did not occur to Hamas, when the organisation undertook its operation on October 7, that Israel would “retaliate in a way that would cause innocent Palestinians in Gaza to die”.

To start with, the “interesting turn of phrase” is not so much “interesting” as a straightforward statement of fact. If you insist there should be no ceasefire in an Israeli onslaught that has now killed over 11,000 people in Gaza in just over a month – well, yeah, you are straight up “endorsing and justifying” civilian deaths.

And you are especially endorsing and justifying them if – instead of blaming Israel for slaughtering men, women and children in Gaza with abandon – you blame Hamas for failing to foresee the unprecedentedly psychotic nature of Israel’s “retaliation”. Were the American media and political establishment not so firmly committed to transmitting a thoroughly decontextualised version of this war – and of Israel/Palestine in general – perhaps a news anchor would ask whether it never occurred to Israel that the Palestinians would ever “retaliate” for 75 years of ethnic cleansing, suffocating blockades and massacres.

Tapper forges ahead with his assault on logic and humanity with the help of an arsenal of video clips, several of them courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), itself an unofficial Zionist propaganda arm – although CNN and other US media outlets are doing a fine job in that respect, as well.

From these clips, featuring former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal among others, Tapper draws three convenient conclusions, which he conveys with Orientalist smugness and disdain: that Hamas is totally content to have Palestinian civilians die; that Hamas does not care about protecting civilians and only cares about their own military tunnels; and that Hamas is determined to keep attacking Israel for eternity.

In case anyone remains unconvinced, he has also thrown in a clip of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is evidently unsatisfied with the quantity of blood she already has on her hands and requires more: “People who are calling for a ceasefire now do not understand Hamas. That is not possible. It would be such a gift to Hamas.”

Near the end of the segment, we are presented with the “point of view of Israel”, as if that is not what we have been receiving this whole time: “They [the Israelis] hear all the calls for a ceasefire. What they do not hear is anyone in the international community proposing any way for them to get back their 240 hostages that Hamas kidnapped.”

This is funny, since, as NPR reported this month, a recent opinion poll in Israel found that almost two-thirds of the Israelis surveyed were in favour of a prisoner exchange – something Hamas has repeatedly offered – in which Israel would release its Palestinian detainees in exchange for the hostages held by Hamas. Why look to the “international community” when there is a solution right there?

It bears emphasising that prisoner exchanges are nothing new. In 2011, for example, Israel freed no fewer than 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a single soldier held by Hamas since 2006 – chalk the ratio up to the superior value placed on Israeli lives.

And, in 2008, Israel acquired the remains of two Israeli soldiers in exchange for five Lebanese nationals and the remains of 199 Lebanese and Palestinian captives.

As of the Hamas operation of October 7, there were over 5,000 Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails; two weeks later, the number had doubled, as Israel went about maniacally arresting people.

But, hey, we are only supposed to see the “point of view of Israel”.

Proceeding in his defence of that viewpoint, Tapper laments that the Israelis “don’t hear anyone proposing any way for Hamas to be removed from the leadership of Gaza.” This is an “interesting turn of phrase”, to borrow Tapper’s own words, seeing as removing Hamas from leadership isn’t really anyone else’s business at all.

Recall that, after Hamas won democratic elections in 2006, the US decided it was indeed their business, and helpfully sparked a civil war in Gaza – to Hamas’s eventual advantage. Oops.

Anyway, who needs a Palestinian civil war when you can just annihilate Gaza altogether?

Tapper’s segment received praise from various US media figures, with Brit Hume of Fox News lauding his “excellent analysis”. It is an “analysis”, of course, that is shared by President Joe Biden and across the US politico-media spectrum: That a ceasefire is off the table and Palestinians must continue to die.

And as Tapper continues to audition for the role of Israeli military spokesperson, an immediate ceasefire needs to be called on bloodthirsty journalism.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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