Palestine and Kashmir share the common struggle for Justice while being under brutal military occupations. These victims of oppression have for very long showed solidarity with each other, as their occupiers, India and Israel also have. The Palestinian homeland has been steadily shrinking in size as Israel expands its illegal settlements, while Kashmir is caught in a brutal state of violence with India. The countries have shown their strong military alliance over the years. India has been buying arms from Israel since the 1960s, making India Israel’s biggest arms importer. Israel also provides training for the police forces of India in anti-terror operations, which they conduct against Palestinians.
In 2004, Palestine’s and Kashmir’s ‘self-determination struggle’ was framed as a ‘global scourge of Islamist terrorism’ in the Middle East Review of International Affairs. Both countries are majority Muslim and that makes them an easy target to be labelled in this frame. India, Israel, and the United States have long used this frame to justify their acts of violence and arms trade between each other. Their media helps to carry the portrayal forward, engaging in mass deceptions, depicting the oppressed people as the villains and as such, the unlawful acts are covered in ways to make them justifiable.
The founding figures of Critical theory Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer in their book, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944), have a chapter called ‘Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’. The chapter investigates how advanced capitalist societies manufacture their social subjects as consumers of mass culture. In other words, the western media of today is the perfect example of Adorno and Horkheimer’s insight into how the production of news provides consumers with an ideological control beyond their recognition or critique, giving them a sense of false autonomy of choice.
News outlets, in this case, the BBC, labels itself ‘western media’. In history, this label puts a news outlet opposite of the news broadcasts in the Soviet Bloc, or China or Third World, which are said to be state controlled, delivering propaganda and false news. Therefore, western media outlets are thought to be independent, objective, fair and truthful. In this case, this image can be challenged when asked the simple question, have the British learned from their brutal long history of colonialism? Are there any regrets or apologies? No, there are none, due to the simple fact that the regular news consumed by the public, not only support the occupying governments, but they also depict those oppressed as simply the villains in the story.
To compromise the truth, visual and verbal strategies are used in coverages. For example, Palestinians raising fists, burning tyres, hidden faces and the raised flags are filmed to provide the effect of the violence, rage and anger image. The Israeli sharpshooters are rarely if ever, shown firing live ammunition on the unarmed civilians. In reports, the wording ‘clashes’ is often used. To clash means two forces confronting each other with equal force, for example, two armies clashing and both sides being two identical opposing forces. Conversely, if this was true there would be bloodshed on both sides and not only Palestinians killed. Palestinians are reported to riot, and the Israeli forces are said to disperse in self-defense. Reporters never say occupied Jerusalem, as it is according to international law and the illegal settlements are called neighborhoods. In media, West bank is a place where Palestinians want to establish a state, rather than the fact that it is a territory that belongs to the indigenous Palestinians.
In the mainstream Indian media, the channels often feature the Kashmir debate on prime time. The debates contain Hindu right-wingers, who are said to be representatives of the Kashmiri Pundits, and they are anti-resistance. The Kashmir resistance is portrayed as the Pakistani conspiracy against the peaceful Indian democratic project in Kashmir. When unarmed Kashmiris are tortured and killed by the Indian forces, the news is silent, mentioning the killing only under subheadings in newspapers. If the media decides to report the killings, it is often when they could blame the resistance leadership, so that no condemnation of the excessive force used by the Indian forces can occur. India tries to wash its hands of the massacres, mass rapes, disappearances and the extrajudicial executions in Kashmir.
Occupations do not only survive and grow by military support alone but also with the support of the general population. Mass deception strategies are used in the media to soften the blow of crimes and represent the killings as justifiable. In this context, the media works to discredit the resistance movement of the Kashmiris and the Palestinians.
In history, we have learned that occupying powers do not recognize resistance as resistance but they treat it as criminality. Positive change will only occur when the colonial narratives are challenged and conquered in the mainstream media. The global population needs to be made aware of the atrocities so that governments can be pressured to change their positions on India and Israel’s ongoing brutal occupation. In the long term, occupiers do gain critics, but it happens very slowly. By the time the oppressed are recognized for their resistance, it is often after so much suffering. The world should look beyond their regular news so that our humanity is not suppressed but stands in solidarity with those oppressed.