Journalists: We Are Done With Reporting Objectively on Palestinian Arab Israeli Conflict

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Journalistic ethics and standards comprise principles of ethics and good practice applicable to journalists. They are enshrined in codes of ethics, which although have some differences depending on the organization, share common elements including the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, and public accountability.

I write all of this in light of a group of journalists basically announcing they are done with journalistic ethics.

media biasFinding 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+
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
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
Julia Clark-Riddell
Rachel Cohen — Freelance journalist
Mari Cohen — Jewish Currents
Sarah Conway — City Bureau
Erin Corbett — Freelance journalist
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
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
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
Malik Jackson — South Side Weekly
Sarah Jaffe
Maryam Jameel
Katrina Janco — Freelance Journalist
Ben Jay — Law360
Corli Jay — Freelance Reporter
DaLyah Jones — Press On
Sameea Kamal
Alex Kane
Sarah Kaplan — The Washington Post
Tony Karon — AJ+
Alexander Kaufman — HuffPost
Sarah Kerson
Hana Khalyleh — Gannett
Amina Khan
Ahmer Khan
Aysha Khan
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
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
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
Jessica Schulberg — HuffPost
Liliana Segura — The Intercept
Marybeth Seitz-Brown
Jackie Serrato — South Side Weekly
Salifu Sesay — Gimlet
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
Robyn Vincent
Travis Waldron — HuffPost
John Washington — Freelance journalist
Noor Wazwaz
Emily Wilder
Nona Willis Aronowitz
Rawan Yaghi — Freelance journalist
Alex Yoon-Hendricks
Ehab Zahriyeh
María Inés Zamudio
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 — 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 Washington Post
Journalist — The Washington Post
Journalist — The Washington Post
Journalist — VICE
Journalist — WNYC
Journalist — WNYC

Let’s take the code of ethics of the Washington Post, for example, since six of their journalists signed this letter (three anonymously). Their code includes the following:



We avoid active involvement in any partisan causes — politics, community affairs, social action, demonstrations — that could compromise or seem to compromise our ability to report and edit fairly.

Fairness

Reporters and editors of The Post are committed to fairness. While arguments about objectivity are endless, the concept of fairness is something that editors and reporters can easily understand and pursue. Fairness results from a few simple practices: No story is fair if it omits facts of major importance or significance. Fairness includes completeness.

No story is fair if it includes essentially irrelevant information at the expense of significant facts. Fairness includes relevance.

No story is fair if it consciously or unconsciously misleads or even deceives the reader. Fairness includes honesty — leveling with the reader.

No story is fair if it covers individuals or organizations that have not been given the opportunity to address assertions or claims about them made by others. Fairness includes diligently seeking comment and taking that comment genuinely into account.

Opinion

The separation of news columns from the editorial pages is solemn and complete. This separation is intended to serve the reader, who is entitled to the facts in the news columns and to opinions on the editorial and “op-ed” pages.

A journalist’s role

Although it has become increasingly difficult in an Internet age, reporters should make every effort to remain in the audience, to be the stagehand rather than the star, to report the news, not to make the news.

By signing on the above letter, the journalists contravened this code of ethics. It is not the job of journalists to accept the narrative of one side, but rather present facts objectively to allow the readers to form their own conclusions. They are instead espousing their biased opinion, based on a cherry-picking of sources, without addressing the other (Israeli) side. In fact, they have made clear they do not accept or believe the Israeli side. They have also now become the news, rather than just reporting it.

Make no mistakes about it – this is absolutely outrageous and these journalists need to be dismissed.

Help Keep This Important Work Going

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media