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Over the past weeks I have written a number of pieces for TheArticle about examples of media bias in news coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas. But sometimes it’s the stories that don’t get covered that reveal the real nature of the bias. And sometimes even very small news stories tell us more about what we’re not being told than the big front page stories, not least because they often open a window on much bigger omissions. All these stories are from the last few days.

The Irish Times reported on a speech by David Norris, an Irish senator who has retired after 36 years of duty. He singled out only one conflict in the world worthy of such an important speech. Not Eritrea, Nigeria, Yemen or Ukraine. The only people who he thought he should mention in this important speech, his last to the Irish Senate, were the Palestinians in Gaza. The Irish Times didn’t see anything peculiar or noteworthy about this. “He used his last opportunity to speak on the floor to advocate for peace, delivering an impassioned plea for peace in Palestine in his final speech,” the paper commented. Cormac McQuinn wrote, “He told the Seanad: ‘What is happening to the inhabitants of Gaza is appalling and cannot be allowed to continue. Man’s inhumanity to man is our greatest shame and I have to say also that it goes completely against the Jewish ethic which is L’Chaim – to life.’” This is part of a larger omission: reporting on the peculiar prevalence of anti-Israel feeling among Irish politicians and commentators.

X (formerly known as Twitter) showed a clip from an interview on Al-Jazeera of an angry Palestinian Arab in Gaza criticising Hamas. He curses Hamas for hiding among civilians: “As for the resistance – they come and hide among the people. Why are they hiding among the people? They can go to Hell and hide there!” There have been quite a few of these shown on social media. I have never once seen a similar clip on BBC News or Sky News, even when BBC News had a Palestinian Arab journalist reporting from Gaza.

A leading figure from the NEU (The National Education Union) passionately attacked Israel at a public meeting in Birmingham, expressing her support for Hamas and also their allies, the Houthis in Yemen. Have any mainstream news programmes reported on or analysed the scale of antisemitism or anti-Israel feeling among the leadership of British trade unions, going back to Corbyn days and before? Has anyone in the Labour leadership even commented on this?

UN Watch reported online that “on April 1st, 2024 Pierre Krähenbühl, the disgraced former chief of UNRWA, will take over as the director-general of the International Red Cross.” Note the word “disgraced”. On mainstream British news programmes, representatives of UN organisations are interviewed frequently, always respectfully. The data they quote are never questioned. You never see or hear any scrutiny or criticism of any UN organisations, not even UNWRA, whose supplies have been found among Hamas terrorists and whose representatives have constantly denied that Hamas has used any hospitals in Gaza or any other civilian sites, whether schools or mosques.

On January 23rd CAMERA UK reported on a BBC news story: “On January 21st the BBC News website published a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell headlined “Jerusalem: Armenian Christians fight controversial land deal”. Bizarrely tagged “Israel-Gaza war”, even though its subject matter has nothing at all to do with that topic, the report opens as follows: “While Christmas may be a distant memory for many, the Armenians of Jerusalem only just held their annual celebration on 19 January. This year, the holiday was overshadowed by the war in Gaza and the ongoing threat to the survival of the community from a deeply controversial real estate deal.”

Knell goes on to present the story with the following framing [emphasis added]: “The apparent involvement of known Jewish settlers in attacks alongside other evidence has increased long-held suspicions that a powerful settler organisation is involved in the attempted land takeover.” That paragraph is apparently based upon claims made by the Qatari owned media outlet “The New Arab”. This was founded by former Balad MK Azmi Bishara who fled Israel in 2007 after having been charged with treason. In an article published in early December the Times of Israel reported that: “On November 5, Rothman [of Xana Gardens Ltd -ed.] turned up, accompanied by his Arab Israeli business partner and a group of about 15 armed Israelis with two attack dogs seeking to “threaten and harm the community”, who had organised a protest sit-in. […] According to the New Arab news website, among those who took part in the confrontation was an American-Israeli West Bank settler named Saadia Hershkop, a self-described ‘hilltop settlement activist’.”

Notably, Knell’s report makes no mention of the involvement of an Arab Christian named George Warwar (Hadad) in the development company. Yolande Knell once again chose to frame a story about a dispute surrounding a property deal, signed by representatives of the Armenian church and a branch of a UAE registered company intending to build a luxury hotel, as being about “a settlement” and aimed at “Judaising Jerusalem”.

There was a brief news report on one Israeli website saying, “Sirens sound in northern Israel”, illustrated by a map showing missile attacks. It’s an everyday occurrence in Israel, especially in northern Israel, a small number among many thousands of missile attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah on Israeli civilians over the past weeks but, again, the contrast is with the focus on Israeli attacks on Gaza during the same period. Of course, there has been considerable loss of life and damage to countless buildings in Gaza, but it always seems so much worse if attacks on Israeli civilians are not given significant attention. This is a war, not a one-way attack.

These may all seem minor news stories, barely stories at all. But what they have in common is they are part of much larger stories – the reliability of UN accounts, the anti-Israel bias of our trade unions, criticisms of Hamas by ordinary Palestinians – which our mainstream media coverage is reluctant to focus on. The question that raises is: why these areas of silence in our news coverage?

David Herman is a freelance journalist. He has written for the Guardian, the New Statesman, Prospect and Standpoint, among others.

This article was reposted wtih permission from The Article. TheArticle aims to be "a website which helps you make sense of the news through free access to exchanges of ideas, rather than echo chambers of prejudice. We have no ideological agenda and we promise never to tell you what to think. Our aim is simply to preserve the integrity of the free press in this country by embracing nuance and complexity – and showing the world in all its shades of grey. To read /TheArticle is to see a story from every angle with no abuse, no extremism - and proper editing."