We Can’t Let the Press Launder Israel’s War

A coalition of movement journalism organizations has come together to form Media Against Apartheid and Displacement, which sets out to uplift urgent reporting on the genocide.

Lara Witt and Maya Schenwar

The United States-backed Israeli siege and genocide in Gaza is entering its tenth month. Israel’s relentless bombings and executions by Israeli snipers and soldiers have killed more than 38,100 Palestinians in Gaza, with thousands more uncounted and decomposing under the rubble, and more than 86,000 injured. Reports by nonprofit agencies and organizations have detailed the Israeli military’s numerous war crimes, including abductions, torture and sexual violence against Palestinians. More than 2.3 million Palestinians are at risk of dying from Israeli-imposed starvation, indiscriminate bombing, the spread of disease, and the cold because of Israel’s systematic targeting and elimination of hospitals, sanctuaries, homes and shelters. 

While Gaza is under siege, U.S. nonprofit-funded settlers and the apartheid government’s military in the occupied West Bank have killed at least 553 Palestinians, including 137 children, and continued a campaign of terror, beating, abducting, displacing and evicting Palestinians from their ancestral homes. 

But this genocidal campaign did not start on October 7. No, this is a continuation of over 75 years of European and U.S. settler-colonial state-making. As Palestinians pay for this Zionist colonization, occupation and propaganda, U.S. mainstream media have worked overtime to platform Israeli state and military sources to deny that a genocide is happening while simultaneously justifying and manufacturing consent for it. Even as the Israeli government makes no secret of its goal to eliminate Gaza for resource extraction — and dreams of beach houses built on massacres — some corporate media outlets persist in portraying the genocide as a conflict” with two equally culpable sides.”

Illustration by Ahmed ElKhalidi

As delineated in an op-ed for Prism, U.S. mainstream media is evading its duty to accurately report on the ongoing genocide in Gaza as it has continuously failed to cover Israel’s apartheid system, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and illegal occupation. In obscuring the accurate historical context of the Nakba and failing to practice basic journalistic standards, editors and journalists from mainstream and legacy media are complicit in the genocide. Moreover, as Truthout has noted, decades of corporate media’s denial of Palestinians’ humanity helped create the conditions that made the current genocide possible, and the mainstream myth of objectivity” has fueled the silencing of Palestinian journalists.

Media Against Apartheid & Displacement (MAAD) is a collaboratively curated media hub that gathers and presents articles on the ongoing genocide in Gaza, Israeli apartheid and the occupation of Palestine, U.S. complicity, and resistance movements fighting for Palestinian liberation from a growing collective of different media organizations and platforms. MAAD is a direct response to a vital need: We provide a home for journalism that centers on the people most impacted by settler colonialism, imperialism, apartheid, genocide, state-sanctioned violence, surveillance and displacement. Drawing from a range of movement journalism sources, we point readers toward reporting and analysis that is accurate, rigorous, insightful and principled. Our aim is not only to elevate journalistic work that exposes injustice, but also to uplift coverage of the powerful movements that are resisting Zionism and other colonial violence — and creating transformative visions for liberatory futures. 

Recognizing that no one organization can or should take on this project alone, Truthout, In These Times, Prism, Mondoweiss, Scalawag, The Forge, The Real News Network, Convergence Magazine, Waging Nonviolence, The Dig, Hammer & Hope, Briarpatch Magazine, Baltimore Beat, The Institute for Palestine Studies, The Kansas City Defender, Analyst News and Haymarket Books have come together to provide a hub for journalistic work that pushes back against the mainstream media’s upholding of racist, classist, heteropatriarchal, transphobic and ableist narratives. We report directly as, from and with oppressed peoples. We believe that liberation comes from the ground up, and that journalism can be a tool to achieve that. We also recognize that we cannot rely on corporate media to create an accurate historical record, and that radical journalists play a key role in documenting social movements during this time of intensified struggle. 

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While we have individually worked at our respective outlets to put these goals into action, Israel’s escalated genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians have created the need for a heightened movement journalism response.

Mainstream journalism, as an institution, has often operated at odds with marginalized people and has deployed the myths of neutrality and objectivity to facilitate repression of social movements. As Ramona Martinez said in an interview with Lewis Wallace, Objectivity is the ideology of the status quo”: The dominant media organizations are set up to perpetuate existing oppressions and structural violences, including the Zionist colonization and occupation of Palestine. This fact makes it all the more necessary for us, as social justice-driven journalism organizations, to express openly our commitment to a free Palestine and collective liberation — to say it without reservation and to make clear that our work is not neutral but is in solidarity with the movement.

Illustration by Ahmed ElKhalidi

Moreover, at a time when social media algorithms are actively suppressing material related to Palestine — and as many news organizations are laying people off or shutting their doors — it is urgent for us, as movement journalism organizations, to come together and uplift each other’s work. This isn’t a moment for atomization — not a time to simply compete with each other to see who can get more eyes on our Palestine coverage. Lives are at stake, and it’s time for us to work collectively to produce, distribute, and share powerful journalism that can reveal truths, shift public opinion and shine a light on the movements that bring hope in these desolate times.

Organizers urge us: Do not look away from Palestine. As journalists, we offer MAAD to the movement as a resource, a hub for documentation, and a commitment that the stories of genocidal atrocities — and the struggles against them — will be told, shared, amplified and never forgotten.

Lara Witt is a writer, the editorial director of Prism, and co-founder of Media Against Apartheid & Displacement. Their goal is to provide platforms for marginalized voices and to reshape the landscape of media altogether.

Maya Schenwar is a senior editor at Truthout​.org, and a former In These Times intern.
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