An Open Letter on U.S. Media Coverage of Palestine

From journalists, to journalists: Why reporting on Palestine has to change.

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Finding truth and holding the powerful to account are core principles of journalism.

Yet for decades, our news industry has abandoned those values in coverage of Israel and Palestine. We have failed our audiences with a narrative that obscures the most fundamental aspects of the story: Israel’s military occupation and its system of apartheid.

For the sake of our readers and viewers — and the truth — we have a duty to change course immediately and end this decades-long journalistic malpractice. The evidence of Israel’s systematic oppression of Palestinians is overwhelming and must no longer be sanitized.

In April, Human Rights Watch released a 213-page report that documented Israeli authorities committing “crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” Leading Israeli human rights group B’tselem characterized the region as governed by a regime of ethnic supremacy.

These terms — apartheid, persecution, ethnic supremacy — are increasingly gaining institutional recognition after years of Palestinian advocacy, and we, as journalists, need to examine whether our coverage reflects that reality.

Take, for example, the language used in the recent coverage of East Jerusalem neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah. Media outlets often refer to forced displacement of Palestinians living there — illegal under international law and potentially a war crime — as “evictions.”

This term misleadingly implies a real estate “dispute” between tenant and landlord, an inaccurate depiction of the state of affairs. The United Nations considers East Jerusalem occupied Palestinian territory, meaning Israel’s territorial claims there are not recognized. More importantly, using the term ignores the well-documented aim of the Israeli government to establish and maintain ethnic dominance over Palestinians.

During the last few days of Ramadan, Israeli forces violently attacked worshippers at the Al Aqsa mosque compound with tear gas and rubber-tipped bullets. Journalists didn’t call this an “attack” or “assault” on Palestinians, but rather a “clash,” as if both sides shared equal culpability and agency in the escalation.

When Israel attacked Gaza, media outlets framed it as a “conflict” between two equal entities, ignoring the total asymmetry in power. Under the guise of objectivity, rockets fired at Israel — which caused significantly less damage than Israeli airstrikes — were covered just as much as Israel attacking medical facilities and leveling entire residential buildings, clouding the nearly one-sided scale of violence and destruction.

The asymmetry in context does not just extend to the language we use; stories tend to disproportionately amplify Israeli narratives while suppressing Palestinian ones.

Too often, media outlets uncritically repeat Israeli military claims about its assault on Gaza without asking for evidence or proof, despite clear examples where Israeli officials spread false information. Journalists reported the claim from Israeli forces that they had launched a ground invasion — that was false.

The human toll caused by Israel’s bombardment is indisputable: Hundreds dead, more than 65 of them children. While statements made by Israeli officials and their defenders justifying the killing of civilians went unchallenged, Palestinian civilians had their humanity interrogated: Journalists asked whether they support violence or Hamas rockets.

Troubling still, reporting wanes considerably when Israel halts its airstrikes. Palestinians are ignored in so-called times of “peace” despite attacks and other hostile aspects of life under occupation continuing after the ceasefire.

Though there have been exceptions that accurately reflect the plight of many Palestinians, they are few and far between.

As journalists, we are entrusted with a profoundly important mission in a free and democratic society, the power to inform the people and guide the national conversation, from the family dinner table to Capitol Hill.

We are calling on journalists to tell the full, contextualized truth without fear or favor, to recognize that obfuscating Israel’s oppression of Palestinians fails this industry’s own objectivity standards.

We have an obligation — a sacred one — to get the story right. Every time we fail to report the truth, we fail our audiences, our purpose and, ultimately, the Palestinian people.

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Hassan Abbas — The Arab American News

Nesima Aberra

Spencer Ackerman — The Daily Beast

Meha Ahmad

Amal Ahmed — The Texas Observer

Maha Ahmed

Ahmed Ali Akbar — Freelance journalist

Tabir Akhter — BuzzFeed

Laila Al-Arian — Al Jazeera English

Laura Albast — Independent journalist

Mohsin Ali

Dalya Al Masri

Mohammad Alsaafin — AJ+

Yousef H. Alshammari — Independent journalist

Daniel Alvarenga

Najib Aminy — Reveal

Arielle Angel — Jewish Currents

Bethany Ao

Michael Arria — Mondoweiss

Alexandra Arriaga

Shakeeb Asrar — Independent journalist

Alex Atack

Munir Atalla

Kelsey D. Atherton

Ibtisam Azem

Rubaina Azhar

Sarah Aziza — Independent journalist

Arash Azizzada

Fatima Bahja

Ibrahim Balkhy — Vice News

Jonathan Ballew — Independent journalist

Dana Ballout

Julia Barajas

Vincent Barone

Moustafa Bayoumi

Mohamad Bazzi — New York University

Kim Bellware

Nassim Benchaabane

Noah Berlatsky — Freelance journalist

Johana Bhuiyan

Sam Biddle — The Intercept

Ariel Boone

Genevieve Bormes

Diane Bou Khalil

Assia Boundaoui — Independent journalist

Ari M. Brostoff — Jewish Currents

Alleen Brown — The Intercept

Kristina Bui

Dell Cameron — Gizmodo

Alma Campos — South Side Weekly

Alejandra Cancino

Aaron Miguel Cantú — Freelance journalist

Nora Caplan-Bricker — Jewish Currents

Roane Carey — Former senior editor/managing editor, The Nation

Christi Carras — Los Angeles Times

Brandon Caruso — NowThis News

Rosalie Chan

Kathy Chaney

Bettina Chang — City Bureau

Tauhid Chappell — Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists

Aida Chavez — The Nation

Lakeidra Chavis — The Trace

Siri Chilukuri

Jennifer Chowdhury

Annia Ciezadlo

Julia Clark-Riddell

Rachel Cohen — Freelance journalist

Mari Cohen — Jewish Currents

Sarah Conway — City Bureau

Erin Corbett — Freelance journalist

Ethan Edward Coston

Iris M. Crawford

Cora Currier

Jamal Dajani — Arab Talk Radio, KPOO

Jim Daley — South Side Weekly

Meg Daly

Dan Q. Dao

Anna Therese Day

Britni de la Cretaz

Sam Dean — Los Angeles Times

Grace Del Vecchio

Pauly Denetclaw

Phi Do — Los Angeles Times

Jack Doppelt

Leyla Doss

Karim Doumar — ProPublica

Maya Dukmasova

Ben Ehrenreich

Dara Elasfar — ABC News

Mariam Elba — ProPublica

Diana Elbasha

Sarah Eleazar

Tamer El-Ghobashy

Melissa Bunni Elian

Bian Elkhatib

Khalid El Khatib

Adam Elmahrek

Armand Emamdjomeh

Azad Essa — Middle East Eye

Melissa Etehad

Rose Eveleth — Flash Forward

Fatima Farha

Abdallah Fayyad — Boston Globe

Kiera Feldman — Los Angeles Times

Cat Ferguson

Sam Fouad

Benjamin Freed

Megan Fu — City Limits

Julia Furlan

G. Daniela Galarza — The Washington Post

Leor Galil

Simon Galperin

Eric M. Garcia — Freelance writer

Sarah Geis — Independent journalist

Masha Gessen

Ali Gharib

Carl Gibson — Freelance journalist

Lyndsey Gilpin — Southerly

Nathan Goldman — Jewish Currents

Melissa Gomez

Sam Gonzalez Kelly

Anand Gopal

Naomi Gordon-Loebl

Kia Gregory — Independent journalist

Ryan Grim — The Intercept

Abraham Gutman

Iliana Hagenah

Zahra Haider — NowThis News

George Hale

Abbas Haleem — Chicago Tribune

Katie Halper

Rachelle Hampton

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Mina Haq

Syed Haq — Intern, WBAI

Ali Harb

Devindra Hardawar

Kavish Harjai — NowThis News

Akil Harris — The Intercept

Lance Hartzler

Lila Hassan

Kelly Hayes — Truthout

Massoud Hayoun

Alexandria Herr

Jack Herrera — Independent journalist

Maia Hibbett — The Intercept

Eoin Higgins

Soleil Ho

Kristie-Valerie Hoang — INSIDER

Arya Hodjat

Joshua Holland

Juwan J. Holmes — The #FightToWrite Initiative

Brent E. Huffman

Nausheen Husain

Rummana Hussain — Chicago Sun-Times

Suhauna Hussain

Fatima Hussein — Washington Baltimore NewsGuild

Mukhtar M. Ibrahim — Sahan Journal

Nur Ibrahim

Dahlia Ibrahim

Nader Ihmoud — Palestine in America

Medha Imam

Zainab Iqbal

David Bradley Isenberg

Aymann Ismail

Nader Issa

Esther Iverem — On the Ground News Productions

Joseph Darius Jaafari

Malik Jackson — South Side Weekly

Sarah Jaffe

Maryam Jameel

Katrina Janco — Freelance Journalist

Ben Jay — Law360

Corli Jay — Freelance Reporter

Jamie Jiang — The Daily Bruin

DaLyah Jones — Press On

Sameea Kamal

Alex Kane

Sarah Kaplan — The Washington Post

Tony Karon — AJ+

Alexander Kaufman — HuffPost

Anumita Kaur

Sarah Kerson

Hana Khalyleh — Gannett

Amina Khan

Ahmer Khan

Aysha Khan

Saira Khan

Nader Khouri — Former photojournalist, Contra Costa Times

Rami G. Khouri

Tammy Kim

Elizabeth King — Independent journalist

Evan Kleekamp — Study Hall

David Klion — Jewish Currents

John Knefel

Madhu Krishnamurthy

Sadef Ali Kully — Freelance journalist

Akela Lacy — The Intercept

Laila Lalami — The Nation

Natan Last

Maya Lau

Sam Leeds

Natasha Lennard — The Intercept

Sarah Leonard — Lux Magazine

Aimee Levitt — The Takeout

Jasper K Lo

Erin B. Logan — Los Angeles Times

Crispin Long

Iacopo Luzi — Voice of America

A.Z. Madonna — The Boston Globe

Adam Mahoney

Wajeeha Malik

Barry Malone

Travis Mannon — The Intercept

Elize Manoukian

Sanya Mansoor

Christopher Mathias — HuffPost

Gracie McKenzie

Jesse Mechanic

Brittny Mejia

Ellie Mejia — City Bureau

Naib Mian — Condé Nast

Sebit Min

Jack Mirkinson — Discourse Blog

Kiran Misra — Independent

Tanvi Misra

Shereen Mo

Linah Mohammad

Steven Monacelli — Independent

Jesus J. Montero

Philip Montoro — Chicago Reader

Taylor Moore

Evan F. Moore

Benedict Moran

Sawsan Morrar

P.E. Moskowitz

Alaa Amy Mostafa — Reveal

Zainab Mudallal — The Washington Post

Maria Murriel — Pizza Shark Productions

Ali Mustafa — TRT World

Razzan Nakhlawi

Native American Journalists Association

Arionne Nettles — City Bureau

Laura Newberry — Los Angeles Times

Caitlin O’Hara — Freelance photojournalist

Edward Ongweso Jr. — Motherboard, VICE News

Deanna Othman

Samuel Park

Ariel Parrella-Aureli — Block Club Chicago

Ismael Perez

Fiza Pirani

Jacob Plitman — Jewish Currents

Brandon Pope

Randy R. Potts

Asmahan Qarjouli

Hafsa Quraishi

Isra Rahman — AJ+

Manny Ramos

Omar Rashad — Mustang News

Lizzy Ratner

Jacob Resneck

Gideon Resnick

Adam M. Rhodes — Chicago Reader

Sam Richards

Irene Romulo — Cicero Independiente

Isabella Rosario

Sarah Ruiz-Grossman — HuffPost

Sam Russek — Freelance journalist

Jordan S.

Sana Saeed — AJ+

Andrea Sahouri

H. Said

Michael Sainato

Richard Salame

Miguel Salazar

Maryam Saleh

Javeria Salman

Mythili Sampathkumar

Tara Santora

Nour Saudi

Jaya Saxena

Jeremy Scahill

Benjamin Schneider

Gabe Schneider — The Objective

Mai Schotz

Jessica Schulberg — HuffPost

Liliana Segura — The Intercept

Marybeth Seitz-Brown

Jackie Serrato — South Side Weekly

Salifu Sesay — Gimlet

Abby Sewell

Jashvina Shah

Sana Shah

Fuad Y. Shalhout

Sanskriti Sharma — Other Collective

Christopher Shay — The Nation

Annie Shields — The Nation

Destry Maria Sibley — Freelance journalist

Zachary Siegel — Independent journalist

Brandon Soderberg

Marie Solis

Alice Speri — The Intercept

Anna Sterling

Peter Sterne — Independent journalist

Rennie Svirnovskiy

Elise Swain — The Intercept

Saleema Syed — Chicago Tribune

Zayna Syed

Nadia Taha

Sally Tamarkin

Alex Tatusian

Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr.

Rekha Tenjarla — The New Yorker

Josh Terry

Prem Thakker

Priyanka Tilve

Rebecca Traister

Avery Trufelman

Esther Tseng

Irene Vázquez

Aria Velasquez

Robyn Vincent

Travis Waldron — HuffPost

John Washington — Freelance journalist

Noor Wazwaz

Emily Wilder

Nona Willis Aronowitz

Rawan Yaghi — Freelance journalist

Alex Yoon-Hendricks

Ata Younan — Freelance journalist

Ehab Zahriyeh

María Inés Zamudio

Margaret Zukin

Journalist — ABC News

Journalist — Al Jazeera

Journalist — Al Jazeera English

Journalist — Al Jazeera Media Network

Journalist — Block Club Chicago

Journalist — Bloomberg News

Journalist — CNN

Journalist — Colorado NPR member station

Journalist — Condé Nast

Journalist — Condé Nast

Journalist — Condé Nast

Journalist — Freelance journalist

Journalist — Freelance journalist

Journalist — Freelance journalist

Journalist — HuffPost

Journalist — HuffPost

Journalist — Independent journalist

Journalist — Los Angeles Times

Journalist — Los Angeles Times

Journalist — National Public Radio

Journalist — NBC News

Journalist — NowThis News

Journalist — NowThis News

Journalist — NowThis News

Journalist — NowThis News

Journalist — NowThis News

Journalist — NowThis News

Journalist — PBS

Journalist — ProPublica

Journalist — Slate

Journalist — The Associated Press

Journalist — The Atlantic

Journalist — The Atlantic

Journalist — The Boston Globe

Journalist — The Forward

Journalist — The New York Times

Journalist — The Wall Street Journal

Journalist — The Wall Street Journal

Journalist — The Washington Post

Journalist — The Washington Post

Journalist — The Washington Post

Journalist — VICE

Journalist — WNYC

Journalist — WNYC

Journalist — WNYC


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Articles by: Hassan Abbas, Nesima Aberra, and et al.

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