In October 2023, thousands of people gathered in the capitals of Western Balkan countries to show support for Palestine amid conflict with Israel.
People took part in protests at Republic Square in Belgrade, the Serbian capital, waving Palestinian and Serbian flags and chanting slogans such as “Free Palestine”.
They also carried banners and signs saying “End the genocide in Palestine” and “Freedom for Palestine.”
In Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the United Nations building.
They unfurled a Palestinian flag and shouted: “You don’t have to be Muslim to support Palestine, just be a human being!” and carried banners reading “Free Palestine”.
Thousands of Bosniaks gathered on the square in front of the historic Vijecnica library, one of the symbols of the capital Sarajevo.
They carried banners saying: “Yesterday Srebrenica, today Gaza.” They also chanted “Stop the genocide” and “Freedom for Palestine.”
According to London police, 1,00,000 people took to the streets for the ‘National March for Palestine’ protest to denounce Israel’s relentless bombing campaign and total blockade of Gaza in October.
Protesters marched through London before gathering at Downing Street, the official residence and office of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“We are all united in delivering the same message: we want the violence to stop. We call for an immediate ceasefire and for necessary humanitarian supplies to be delivered safely to the people of Gaza,” said Ben Jamal, director of Palestine Solidarity. Campaign, said in an article on X.
In the United States, a State Department official responsible for overseeing arms transfers resigned to protest the Biden administration’s decision to continue sending weapons and ammunition to Israel. Josh Paul served as Director of Parliamentary and Public Affairs for the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs for more than 11 years.
In his resignation letter, which he later shared on his LinkedIn page on October 18, he said the Biden administration’s “blind support for one side” was leading to “short-sighted, destructive, unfair and contradictory with the very values we defend.” marry publicly.”
“The response that Israel is taking, and with it American support for both that response and the status quo of the occupation, will only lead to even deeper suffering for both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people,” he wrote, adding: “I fear we are repeating the same mistakes we have made over the past decades, and I refuse to be part of them any longer.”
American comedian Dave Chappelle, in his last show in Boston on October 19, began by criticizing the October 7 Hamas attacks that started the last war, but then criticized Israel for isolating Gaza and heavily bombing the small, densely populated territory. people. While part of the audience applauded, booed and shouted “Free Palestine,” another part left the show.
Although it appears that some people in Europe and the United States are outspoken on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, a poll by YouGov Eurotrack finds that a large number of people in the West care little or not at all. conflict.
The poll examined attitudes toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in seven Western European countries as well as the United States. Matthew Smith, head of data journalism at YouGov, shared the figures in his article.
According to the poll, Germans are most likely to say the conflict does not matter to them very much, if at all, at 73 percent. Italians are the least likely to say this, at 35%. In Britain, 56% say they are not particularly interested. Additionally, an additional 10-22% responded “don’t know.”
In the United States and Italy, 63 to 68 percent of each group say the conflict matters to them, while in Germany the numbers are much lower, important to 36 percent of those who sympathize more with the Palestinians and 30% of those who sympathize more with the Palestinians. Israelis.
When asked who they think their national government sympathizes with most, there is a significantly greater sense in every country that it is Israel (except Spain, where people are evenly split between Israel and Palestine). But again, a large number of people are unsure (36 to 56%).
In theory, public opinion is influenced by the mainstream media. However, there seems to be a contrast between the position of the Western media on this issue and that of Westerners.
How Western mainstream media portrays the problem
Following the attack earlier this month, The Guardian published an editorial referring to the “murderous rampage perpetrated by Hamas.” Likewise, The Economist referred to “the bloody attack by Hamas”.
When Israel bombs homes, hospitals and schools in Gaza, it has the “right to defend itself,” according to Western media, but any act of violence committed by a Palestinian is “terrorism.”
In April 2008, at least 22 people, including five Palestinian children, were killed in another Israeli attack. The BBC reported the incident as Israeli “incursions” into Gaza. The Israeli military “operations” were “triggered” by a Hamas ambush which left three Israeli soldiers dead. The report further explains that Israel’s advanced weaponry is deployed in “retaliation” for “militant” Palestinian attacks.
Professor Greg Philo, author of the book “Bad News from Israel,” said in an interview with Media Lens: “The focus on Israeli victims, both in terms of the amount of media coverage and the language used to depict them, led some viewers to falsely believe it was the Israelis who caused the most casualties and these beliefs were attributed directly to what they saw on television. »
Western “mainstream media,” in general, seem to lean toward Israel.
In a 2012 article titled “Peace journalism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the German press and the German public,” published in Open Edition Journals, writer Wilhelm Kempf studied news about Israel-Palestine published in the mainstream media and compared the coverage of the Second Intifada and the Gaza War in the five major German national newspapers.
The newspapers he studied were Die Welt (DW), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), Frankfurter Rundschau (FR) and Die Tageszeitung (taz).
It found that although Israeli actions were criticized more often than those of the Palestinians, Israel’s strength and confidence in victory, its competitive logic, its confrontational behavior and its threats against it were reported more often than the party Palestinian.
In his report, Wilhelm said that Israel was more often depicted in a defensive position than the Palestinians, and that the threat against Israel was more often thematized.
Israeli actions were more often justified, Israel’s rights were more often recognized, and not only Israel’s cooperative behavior but also its willingness to cooperate were more often thematized.
He concluded his report by saying: “In trying to provide balanced reporting, the German media, however, neutralized this negative effect by showing a certain understanding towards Israeli policy, so that in the together, Israel has proven itself better than the Palestinians. »
In another study, titled “Partisanship and Bias in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Comparative Study of Four International Media,” Nevet Basker of the Israel Resource Center compared coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in four international media outlets: The New York Times . , the Guardian (UK), the Jerusalem Post (Israel), and the English-language website of the pan-Arab cable television network Al Jazeera.
A content analysis of a sample of 200 articles from each outlet over five years (2004-2008) showed clear differences between the four outlets, while avoiding the need to establish what would constitute “correct” or “correct” treatment. fair “.
The Jerusalem Post, a clearly partisan outlet, favored the Israeli side of the conflict, while AlJazeera.net presented a pro-Palestinian point of view. The New York Times treated each side roughly the same, while the Guardian sympathized with civilians on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides and harshly condemned violence against civilians, regardless of who the perpetrator was. circumstances.