Case Analysis 11 November, 2023

War in the Post-Truth Era: Western Media Coverage of Israel’s 2023 War on Gaza

Basim Tweissi

Professor in Journalism and media studies, and head of the Journalism Program. His main fields of specialization include Media and political reform, Quality and professional standards in journalism, Media and cultural change and Media and information literacy. Dr. Tweissi served as former Dean of the Jordan Media Institute (JMI) 2013-1019, Director of Center for Consultations and Development Research2008-2012 and former Chairman of the Jordan Radio and television Board of Directors. He has published (8) books on media, social and political development, and political issues and 24 research papers or articles in national and international academic journals. 

Western mainstream media received the news coming from the Middle East on 7 October 2023 with an unprecedented outpouring of emotion. As a general rule, coverage in the first days of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, carried out by Hamas, was not neutral. Rather, it conformed to the Israeli narrative repeated by Western officials. Even when compared to its long history of bias towards the Israeli narrative, the behaviour of the Western media at this time was shocking and conspicuously heedless of professional and ethical journalistic standards.

acrobat Icon Israel was shocked by the force of the operation, which killed about 1,400 Israelis and foreign nationals and led to the capture of over 200, including many Israeli soldiers. It responded by declaring war on the Gaza Strip with intensive aerial bombardment and a complete siege. The occupation forces proceeded to cut off the entry of food, water, medicine and fuel from the residents of the Gaza Strip, who were already living under a 17-year siege. In the first 20 days, Israel martyred 7,300 Palestinians, including 3,500 children. This equates to Israel killing 6 children every hour, in an assault that has so far destroyed about half of the infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

This paper provides a preliminary reading of the Western media’s coverage of this war in the first three weeks. It shows that these media outlets behaved in a novel way that can only be understood within the framework of the “post-truth era,” a concept that has gained traction in political and media literature since 2016. Described as the “Year of Lies,” it was a period when lies, emotions, and ideology dominated the mainstream media, pushing it ever further from fact and reality.