The Wellesley News Editorial Board stands in solidarity with those around the world calling for a ceasefire, for the United States to cease its economic and military support for Israel and for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine. We extend our support and sympathies to our fellow students and activists at Wellesley, in Boston and around the world who are being doxxed, receiving death threats and losing job opportunities because they dared to speak out against genocide. We mourn all of the innocent lives lost over the last few weeks. Most importantly, we stand with the Palestinian people and affirm their right to a free and unoccupied homeland.
As student journalists, we feel a responsibility to point out the failings of Euro-American media when reporting on the situation in Gaza. European and American journalists have dedicated the majority of their coverage to the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, focusing on Israeli captives and victims. The Editorial Board unequivocally condemns all violence committed against civilians by Hamas. However, we believe that the selective focus Euro-American journalism has on these incidents perpetuates the idea that Israelis are the only victims of violence. On Oct. 10, the Defense Minister of Israel, Yoav Gallant, issued orders for “a complete siege of the Gaza Strip,” which is home to 2.2 million Palestinians, almost half of them children. “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed,” he said. “We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly.” To launch a bombing campaign and cut off access to basic necessities is inhumane. The Israeli government is imposing collective punishment on a civilian population, which is a war crime as defined by the Geneva Convention.
We believe that Euro-American journalists have failed to uphold journalistic ethics, displayed a blatant lack of fact checking, and resorted to passive voice and misleading headlines when reporting on Palestine. Tactics such as declaring the situation to be a “religious conflict” dehumanize Palestinians and ignore the decades of occupation they have endured. The story that Hamas beheaded 40 babies was published by many mainstream news sources including CNN, Fox News and the New York Post, amongst many others, before journalists were able to corroborate the story. This unverified claim was then widely repeated and amplified by American politicians like President Biden, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep. Elise Stefanik. Since then, an Israeli official has said that the government could not confirm that babies were beheaded by Hamas and news sources have also walked back their claims. Although corrections have been made, the damage has been done. On X, the “40 babies beheaded” claim had over 44 million impressions, with over 300,000 likes and more than 100,000 reposts.
As student journalists, we know that our words have tangible repercussions, thus, we choose them carefully. Journalism is fundamentally about reporting the truth. It takes courage to accurately report current events and criticize powerful states, institutions and people. We believe that Euro-American media has largely failed in this regard.
The misinformation and propaganda that Euro-American media has irresponsibly circulated has real world consequences. On Oct.14, Wadea al-Fayoume, a six year old Palestinian American child, was murdered in his home near Chicago. Al-Fayoume’s killer was the landlord of the apartment building where he lived; he yelled “You Muslims must die” before stabbing al-Fayoume and his mother. The killer’s wife reported that her husband listened to conservative talk radio, and was fearful of the alleged “day of jihad.”
The bias displayed in Euro-American media is part of a much larger pattern stretching back decades of sensationalist reporting that encourages outrage on Israel’s behalf. Euro-American media refuses to acknowledge the violence perpetrated by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF). For over 75 years, the Israeli authorities have committed crimes against humanity, including apartheid and ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinians. The events of recent weeks can not be viewed in a vacuum; they must be recognized within their historical context.
As of Oct. 24, Israel has bombed 42% of all housing units in Gaza, in addition to a UNRWA warehouse, a UN school and the third oldest church in the world, where hundreds had taken refuge. These war crimes are being documented by Gazans and by journalists working in Gaza, Lebanon and Egypt. On Oct. 14, Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah was killed by an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon while he was filming Israeli missile attacks. In their own coverage of Abdallah’s death, Reuters did not mention who actually killed him, writing, “Reuters journalist killed in Lebanon in missile fire from direction of Israel.” These journalists are documenting some of the worst atrocities mankind has seen while their own lives are under threat. As of Oct. 24, Israel has killed 19 journalists, and has banned foreign journalists from entering Gaza. Israel also plans on banning reporters and correspondents from Al Jazeera, one of the few media companies with a physical presence in both Gaza and Israel.
As these reporters risk their lives to show the outside world what’s going on in Gaza, their voices are ignored by Euro-American media. At Wellesley, there is little to no acknowledgement of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza from the College administration and academic departments.
We urge the Wellesley College community to educate themselves about Palestine through a critical and diverse consumption of media. Primary sources remain paramount, but we should also look to the writings of theorists, authors and civil rights activists, who have dedicated their lives to understanding and elucidating systems of oppression. Looking at our own nation’s struggle for civil rights, key leaders in this movement not only advocate for the end of Israeli occupation, but link the struggle for Black liberation to Palestinian freedom. Prominent Palestinian novelist and journalist Ghassan Kanafani highlights how the struggle for freedom must be a global undertaking, “The Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only, but a cause for every revolutionary, wherever he is, as a cause of the exploited and oppressed masses in our era.”