750 global journalists say media should cast Israeli actions as ‘genocide, apartheid’

In petition, former and current reporters blast IDF, claim it targets media personnel; allege global coverage of conflict ignores Palestinian, Muslim voices

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

Protesters display the names and photographs of journalists who have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, near Place de la Republique in Paris, on November 11, 2023. (Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)
Protesters display the names and photographs of journalists who have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, near Place de la Republique in Paris, on November 11, 2023. (Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

Over 750 former and current journalists around the world have signed a petition calling on the media to begin using terms such as “genocide” and “apartheid” to describe Israel’s actions in the conflict with the Palestinians, while blasting international media coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.

The petition, posted on Thursday, urged an end to what it alleged was the targeting of journalists by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip, citing the deaths of dozens of Palestinians working for foreign media outlets during the war.

“Israel has blocked foreign press entry, heavily restricted telecommunications, and bombed press offices,” the petition read. “Some 50 media headquarters in Gaza have been hit in the past month. Israeli forces explicitly warned newsrooms they ‘cannot guarantee’ the safety of their employees from airstrikes.

“Taken with a decades-long pattern of lethally targeting journalists, Israel’s actions show wide-scale suppression of speech,” it claimed.

Israel has asserted that its ongoing offensive, launched in the wake of Hamas’s October 7 massacre in southern communities, is targeting the terror group’s infrastructure. It has provided evidence of Hamas using civilian sites, including schools, homes, mosques, hospitals, and playgrounds as sites to launch rockets, store weapons, and hide its network of tunnels.

The petition accuses “Western newsrooms” of ignoring the plight of Gazan citizens and undermining “Palestinian, Arab and Muslim perspectives, dismissing them as unreliable,” and claims they “have invoked inflammatory language that reinforces Islamophobic and racist tropes.”

This picture taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip on November 11, 2023, shows smoke rising over buildings in the Gaza Strip, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Hamas terror group. (Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD/AFP)

“They have printed misinformation spread by Israeli officials and failed to scrutinize indiscriminate killing of civilians in Gaza — committed with the support of the US government,” it read.

Citing “UN experts” who have warned Palestinians are at risk of genocide, the petition called on media outlets to “use precise terms that are well-defined by international human rights organizations, including ‘apartheid,’ ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘genocide,'” and to “recognize that contorting our words to hide evidence of war crimes or Israel’s oppression of Palestinians is journalistic malpractice and an abdication of moral clarity.”

Journalists from Reuters, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, and The Washington Post are among the signatories.

Abdallah Fayyad, a former editorial board member at The Boston Globe and 2022 Pulitzer Prize finalist, told The Washington Post he hoped the letter would “push back on the culture of fear around this issue…  and to make decision-makers and reporters and editors think twice about the language that they use.”

He claimed that many news outlets note that the US has designated Hamas as a terror organization, but don’t note that “leading human rights groups have called Israel an apartheid regime.”

“That’s the kind of double standard I hope this letter will call out,” he added, emphasizing he did not believe outlets needed to necessarily adopt the terms as their own description.

Joe Rivano Baros, an editor at San Francisco-based news site Mission Local, claimed there was an absence of “widespread condemnations of [the killings of journalists] from Western newsrooms” during the war.

“This particular conflict seems to bring in a lot of prevarication in a way that other conflicts don’t,” he told The Post.

File: Foreign and Israeli journalists stand on a hill overlooking the Gaza Strip in the city of Sderot, southern Israel, October 19, 2023. (by Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has often been criticized by both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel activists as biased.

Leading outlets have faced backlash from pro-Israel groups over their refusal to label Hamas a terror group in their coverage.

At least 40 journalists and media workers have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war so far, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. That’s the deadliest monthlong period for journalists since the committee began keeping track in 1992.

War erupted following Hamas’s bloody October 7 rampage through southern communities, in which Palestinian terrorists brutally slaughtered some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took over 240 hostages.

Several Israeli journalists were killed in the assault. Ynet photographer Roee Idan was murdered in his hometown of Kfar Aza, Israel Hayom photographer Yaniv Zohar was murdered in Nahal Oz along with his wife and two daughters, and Kan news editor Ayelet Arnin and Maariv reporter Shai Regev were murdered at the Nova music festival near Re’im.

Israel’s subsequent aerial and ground offensive targeting Hamas infrastructure has killed over 11,000 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. The figure cannot be verified independently and is believed to include members of terror groups as well as civilians killed by misfired Palestinian rockets.

Israel says it is doing its utmost to minimize civilian casualties, but that they are inevitable as it fights terrorists embedded deep within civilian areas who are using Gazan noncombatants as human shields.

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