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Watching the Watchdogs: American Media and Intergenerational Fault Lines | Israelo-Palestinian conflict

Watching the Watchdogs: American Media and Intergenerational Fault Lines |  Israelo-Palestinian conflict
Watching the Watchdogs: American Media and Intergenerational Fault Lines |  Israelo-Palestinian conflict


As Israel continues to wage its genocidal war against Gaza, a fault line in American society becomes more and more pronounced. College students are challenging the political establishment on college campuses across the country.

One camp opposes US support for Israel and profit from investment in the arms industry, while the other supports the Israeli offensive and has urged police to dismantle student protest camps.

This fault line reflects not only the growing intergenerational tensions in American society, but also the way the media approaches coverage of Israel's genocidal war in Gaza.

In the United States, pro-Israel advocates have attempted to draw media attention to widespread anti-Semitic activities and disruptive violence at university protests.

This ploy has two objectives: to divert attention from the debate on Israel's genocidal war against the Palestinians, supported by the United States, and to silence pro-Palestinian voices by making criticism of Israel a punishable anti-Semitic act. by the law.

The evidence for the charges against the student protesters is thin. Nonetheless, the mainstream media gave them plenty of airtime and front-page space. As a result, those who oppose or support Israel's war on Gaza now find themselves primarily debating the role of universities, the spread of anti-Semitism, and how the state and society should address both issues.

But the way the mainstream media covered the university protests is only part of the story. The media themselves, like society, are fragmented and polarized. In fact, we need to talk about three media outlets: mainstream media outlets that regularly lose advertising and audiences and largely reflect the views of the US and Israeli governments; the progressive and spirited independent media that challenge mainstream views but struggle to remain financially viable; and the kaleidoscopic world of social media that dominates young audiences under 30.

The Israeli war on Gaza has clearly shown how consumption of these three different media segments is linked to age groups and ideological sentiments. In other words, different media serve different sides of the generational divide.

Surveys have consistently found a correlation between age and different political views, with younger people more critical of the war and supportive of the Palestinians than older people.

A February survey by Pew Research showed that among Americans 65 or older, 47 percent were more likely to sympathize with Israelis, and only 9 percent with Palestinians. Among young Americans under 30, a third favor the Palestinians, while 14% support Israel.

A whopping 60 percent of adults under 30 view Palestinians positively, compared to 46 percent of Israelis. Older Americans tend to view Israelis more positively than Palestinians.

Age also seems to determine media consumption patterns. An April survey by JL Partners showed that 59 percent of young people get their news from social media; the same percentage of people aged 65 and over rely on mainstream television and cable channels.

People who get their news primarily from mainstream television and cable channels are more supportive of Israel's war effort, less likely to think Israel is committing war crimes and less interested in war in general, a writes journalist Ryan Grim in the progressive newspaper The Intercept.

But Americans who rely on social media, podcasts and YouTube generally side with the Palestinians, believe Israel is committing war crimes and genocide and consider the issue of significant importance, he said. -it finds.

Americans using social media are seeing more stories and videos about the dire consequences of Israel's war on Gaza, likely increasing their concern about U.S. involvement in that war. It is no wonder that students are protesting the war so vehemently, demanding that their universities divest from companies that feed the Israeli military and cut ties with Israeli academic institutions.

Such claims challenge government policy and traditional pro-Israel groups, particularly the elderly conservative political elite. This explains why Congress and President Joe Biden reacted so quickly against the student protests and attempted, through the media, to smear them with accusations of anti-Semitism.

Young Americans rely less on mainstream media than their parents did, in large part because they see and feel the distortions, biases, and shortcomings in its reporting.

A good example of mainstream media bias can be seen in a recent analysis by Marc Owen Jones, a pioneering researcher on digital disinformation. His review of 100 New York Times articles on protests on U.S. campuses, published in April and early May, showed that the reporting placed a heavy emphasis on equating the protests with anti-Semitism.

It also found that the terms anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism appeared 296 times, while terms such as Islamophobia and Islamophobic only appeared nine times, despite the fact that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia were on the rise.

Additionally, a March analysis by the watchdog group of The New York Times' reporting on the war reached similar conclusions. It also identified wide disparities in the sources of newspapers reporting on Palestine, which cited Israeli and American sources more than three times as often as Palestinian sources. Looking only at quotes from officials, he found that quotes from Israeli and American officials outnumber those from Palestinians nine to one.

We should not be surprised that younger Americans live in a different media world, while older Americans fight hard to maintain the old world that keeps generating wars across the globe. More importantly, these trends have been moving in the same direction for many years and portend continued polarization in society, alongside growing support for Palestinian rights and a balanced U.S. position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.




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