When the war broke out in Ukraine, a number of people came forward to try to shift the debate to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Many of these voices are laser-focused on being critical of Israel, and for them, there can be no news story in the world without reference to Israel.
The Israel-obsessed camp is made up of several groups, all of which express disingenuous talking points trying to link the conflicts.
When images emerged of Ukraine distributing small arms to citizens and instructing people on how to make Molotov cocktails, some pointed out that the same media that lauds the Ukrainians fails to praise Palestinian “resistance.”
In this narrative, they point to how the media has hyped Ukrainians as valid defenders who are willing to fight in the streets, while tending to portray Palestinians as invalid militants when they do the same. Their main complaint is that Israel defines those who throw firebombs as terrorists, while major media outlets don’t see it this way when it comes to Ukraine.
Another narrative put forward is that while the West is backing Ukrainians for resisting Russia’s bombing and offensive, the same West supposedly doesn’t back Palestinians who also want to “resist.” In this narrative, the West is asked to back Hamas and Hezbollah in the same way it backs Ukrainians.
Let’s begin with what is disingenuous here.
The Palestinians have probably received more media coverage per capita than any people on Earth.
Their “resistance” has also received more coverage and more sympathetic stories than any other people in the world who claim to be resisting oppression or occupation. One can see this by simply adding up the number of stories and NGO campaigns about the eviction of a few families in east Jerusalem over the last several years, or the intense media coverage of Khan al-Ahmar and other places that were or still are the center of land struggle controversies with Israel.
So let’s do the math on that: the eviction of one or two families in Sheikh Jarrah compared with 300,000 Ukrainians driven from their homes in five days of fighting.
The number of Ukrainians who are being forced to flee is already more than the total number of Palestinians who fled their homes in 1948. That means that in just a week, more Ukrainians have been forced out of their cities and towns than ever happened to the Palestinians. And yet we have had 70 years of non-stop coverage of Palestinians who were disenfranchised.
The disingenuous claim here is that a week of stories about Ukraine is somehow unfair because Palestinians did not dominate that week’s coverage. Yet Palestinians have had 70 years of coverage, and much of it is sympathetic.
The argument that Palestinian Molotov cocktails don’t get the same adoration in Western media is misleading. For many years, Palestinian rock-throwing during the Intifada was given positive coverage. Palestinians slinging rifles and “resisting” Israel in places like Jenin also received positive coverage.
But Palestinian groups went from “resisting” to bombing civilians and celebrating the attacks on them. That is a big difference. Ukraine hasn’t turned into a quagmire for Russia yet, and Ukrainians aren’t blowing up buses in Moscow. Russia has actually suffered terrorism in the past from Chechens and others.
In the case of Ukraine, however, there are no posters of “martyrs” massacring Russian children. There’s nothing romantic about a Palestinian or a Ukrainian throwing a Molotov cocktail onto a civilian’s car. The media are celebrating Ukrainian resistance because it is fighting the Russian military. Major media and the West in general have been sympathetic to Palestinians when they were seen to be primarily fighting Israel’s military.
Another difference is that the Palestinian narrative is backed by groups that say “From the river to the sea,” who argue that Israel should not exist. Ukraine is an independent country being brutally invaded. It does not say it wants Moscow, and it does not have maps of their country that includes all of Russia.
When people argue that Ukraine is getting unfair coverage for “resisting occupation” while Palestinians do not get the same coverage, their claims are misleading. Palestinians receive support and coverage, and Palestinian refugees are still refugees after 70 years. They receive enormous international support. Ukrainians are also getting support. And if, after 70 years, they are still resisting Russia, it will be fair to continue that support.
Many of those who back Palestinians while slamming the coverage of Ukraine are also disingenuous because they don’t back Ukrainian resistance. They claim the situations are the same, but many of them back Russia.
You can see by their social media background how some not only back Russia and the Assad regime, but are anti-Israel and anti-Kurdish. They don’t actually back the “resistance” of every group. They are primarily obsessed with Israel. This obsession is usually driven by antisemitism, and their talking points about Ukraine are merely a distraction