This photograph of The Baltimore Sun’s front page taken by Twitter user @hankamarillo identifies 13 dead soldiers as Israeli but uses the word “others” to identify Palestinians.
For the past two days, the Israeli military has relentlessly shelled the Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, claiming it to be a stronghold for armed Palestinian resistance fighters. In the first day alone, more than 70 Palestinians were killed, most either in their homes or in the streets as they tried to flee the scene of the shelling on foot. Many children were among the dead. At least two dozen more Palestinians have been killed since.
Thirteen Israeli soldiers were also killed in combat on the first day.
Despite the urgency of the situation, the brutality of the assault on Gaza’s Shuja’iyya neighborhood, and the newspaper’s obligation to report the facts, The Baltimore Sun ran a front page article identifying the soldiers as Israeli and neglecting to recognize the dozens of dead civilians as Palestinian. In the first paragraph, where the facts are restated, the paper once again identifies the soldiers as Israeli and vaguely identifies the dead Palestinians as “people,” devoid of any context or agency.
As @hankamarillo scathingly asked, “do the editors not let the word ‘Palestinian’ above the fold?” That’s a very good question.
When a densely-packed civilian center is targeted and when countless civilians, young and old, are ruthlessly killed by indiscriminately-aimed shells while they flee empty-handed from their homes, it shouldn’t be unreasonable to think that these victims of human rights abuses and war crimes might receive some kind of respect, that someone somewhere might acknowledge their humanity.
In a recent piece for the Huffington Post, Deanna Othman writes that the “dehumanization of Palestinians, the denial of their positions as victims — as the occupied, as the underclass in an apartheid system — is the standard narrative parroted by mainstream media.” She adds that the “[i]mages and narratives of Palestinian suffering are scarce; they are denied the narrative of the oppressed in the American consciousness.”
The Baltimore Sun is a case example of how pervasive this problem really is, and how easily it slips into print.