Responding to a call from the Philadelphia Palestine Coalition, hundreds of people turned out at noon on Oct. 12, outside the Philadelphia offices of local NPR/PBS affiliate WHYY TV and radio. Protesters called out the media censorship of Palestinian resistance and the media whitewashing of Israeli genocide.
A flier distributed by the Coalition criticized “liberal” media like NPR for: “Portraying settler and state violence as ‘clashes’ and ‘tensions’ between two sides and failing to recognize the asymmetrical power imbalance between the U.S.-backed Israeli military apparatus and resistance movements across Palestine.
“Local media outlets have historically censored pro-Palestinian organizers and used false balance journalism to create biased pro-Zionist narratives which subvert necessary context for the ongoing resistance to Zionist occupation of Palestine.”
Participation in the rally was largely by Palestinian students and youth, with many supporters. Students for Justice in Palestine chapters from area universities, including Drexel, Temple, Swarthmore, University of Delaware, Bryn Mawr and Haverford, and Penn Against Occupation were in attendance and presented their combined statement.
The students denounced the increased targeting and doxxing of Palestinian students and others who speak out on their campuses against Israeli injustice and occupation: “The academic institutions are all actors in Israel’s ongoing erasure and elimination of the Palestinian people. They actively participate in misinformation, racism and orientalism, whether through their curricula or their statements of solidarity with the colonizer.
“The clear bias present in branding Palestinian fighters as ‘terrorists’ and adopting colonizer language — not much different to language used to address the Indigenous people of Turtle Island — in addition to the fear mongering perpetuated by Zionist organizations within academia as a means of oppression and racialization is in itself a violent act of repression.”
A collective of Black, Puerto Rican and Filipino activists from Black Lives Matter, Philly Boricuas, Workers World Party and ANAKBAYAN-Philly called on area elected officials, in particular Black and Brown politicians, to stop supporting Israel and its genocide of the Palestinian people. Their statement read in part: “Palestinians did not rip a gate to invade Israel, they opened a path to go home to the land and homes that were brutally taken from them.” Black Alliance for Peace read a separate statement.
The demonstration marched from WHYY two blocks to the Philadelphia Inquirer offices, across from the Liberty Bell. There, Delaware state representative Madinah Wilson-Anton addressed the rally to voice her support for the people of Palestine. “As a legislator, I’m telling everyone in my district what is going on. A lot of people like me are scared that the Zionists will get us kicked out of office, but the more people speak out, the less they can go after us.” Wilson-Anton told the youth: “I’m 30 years old, and I’ve seen a lot of change in this country. Keep this up and don’t get scared.”
As the rallies were taking place, individual reporters from both WHYY and the Inquirer came out to speak with demonstrators. Coverage on WHYY radio seemed to include more interviews with Palestinians the day after the rally, but the Inquirer barely mentioned the event.
Adam Horowitz, with Mondoweiss, told Black Power Media on Oct. 12 that no major U.S. media outlets have reporters on the ground in occupied Palestine. He described reports they are receiving from people inside Gaza that the situation on the ground is “completely catastrophic.”
Horowitz raised reports they are receiving that Israel has placed cities and villages in the West Bank under lockdown and is supplying already heavily armed Israeli settlers with over 1,000 additional M16 rifles. None of this is being reported by the U.S. corporate media.
As Israeli officials call for genocidal acts, horrific human rights abuses and collective punishment in the Gaza Strip, the need for fair reporting is paramount.