The horror in Gaza and the media bubble in which Israelis live

Following the attacks by Hamas on October 7th that killed 1,200 Israelis and the massive retaliation by Israel that seeks to level Gaza and make it into a moonscape, currently over 23,000 Palestinians have been killed, 70% of whom are women and children. Furthermore, pretty much all of the entire two million population is now displaced and homeless due to the widespread and incessant bombing, and famine is imminent because Israel refuses to allow in adequate levels of humanitarian aid. The sheer scale of the indiscriminate assault and attacks on refugee camps makes laughable the claims by the Israeli government and military that they are targeting only militants. They are clearly seeking to terrorize the entire population of Gaza, destroy the infrastructure, and make life a living hell for the people there.

David Remnick is the editor of The New Yorker magazine and has been spending some time in Israel and reports that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to be only concerned about his own needs and political future and is increasingly unpopular, with only the war keeping him in power. Remnick also writes that Israelis are living in a bubble because the media shows almost nothing of the suffering in Gaza.

What is not especially visible on Israeli television is the unrelenting horror of Palestinian suffering in Gaza, where more than twenty-three thousand people have been killed in three months, and an estimated 1.9 million have been displaced. Only rarely do Israelis see what the rest of the world sees: the corpses of Palestinian children wrapped in sheets by a mass grave; widespread hunger and disease; schools and houses, apartment blocks and mosques, reduced to rubble; people fleeing from one place to the next, on foot, on donkey carts, three to a bicycle, all the time knowing that there is no real refuge from mortal danger. Gaza is a presence on Israeli television mainly through the dispatches of reporters embedded with the I.D.F. And they tend to emphasize the experience of Israeli soldiers—their missions, their clashes with Hamas fighters, the search for hostages, the crisp pronouncements of generals and officials helicoptering in from Jerusalem.

A disregard for the suffering in Gaza is hardly limited to reactionary ministers or far-right commentators. Ben Caspit, the author of a biography critical of Netanyahu, recently posted that he felt no compunction about concentrating on the home front. “Why should we turn our attention [to Gaza]?” he wrote. “They’ve earned that hell fairly, and I don’t have a milligram of empathy.” When I asked Caspit about this, he replied that he was “pro-humanitarian aid” and a lifelong “peacenik,” but insisted that there had been, until October 7th, a “ceasefire” with Hamas. And then, he said, they “crossed the border, came to our villages to loot, to rape, to kill, and to kidnap. So, as an Israeli, it’s difficult for me to feel sorry now during this war while we are going on burying five and seven soldiers a day.” He did not care about Gaza in “exactly the same way that the British did not care about the Germans in World War Two and the Americans about the Japanese,” he went on. “We were forced into this situation. We did not initiate it. On the contrary, we initiated peace.” His is a common sentiment among Israelis.

“You do see Gaza on TV, but not enough,” Ilana Dayan, the longtime host of “Uvda” (“Fact”), a kind of Israeli “60 Minutes,” told me one evening over coffee in Tel Aviv. Dayan, who has aired countless reports critical of the Israeli government and military, allowed that a patriotic tone has overtaken much of what appears on the air. “And when I come home and I say, ‘We have to know more,’ it’s hard for them to care. We know our audiences are impatient with any kind of deviation from the mainstream. We interview people about October 7th—we are stuck on October 7th—and, after those atrocities, we too often, understandably, lack the empathy to see what is happening on the other side of the border. As an Israeli, I felt so, too. As a reporter, I feel that we have to tell Israelis about the price being paid in Gaza.”

When Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up twenty per cent of the population, voice their political sentiments on social media, the result can be harassment, doxing, or even a visit from the authorities. Many are repulsed by what they are seeing on Israeli television, in the light of what has appeared on media outlets based in the Arab world. “I can’t stomach it,” Diana Buttu, a human-rights lawyer who was once a negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, told me. She lives in Haifa, a mixed city on the northern coast. “Palestinians are so dehumanized. They are not people. There is no sense of what it means that twenty thousand are dead, half of them kids. It’s only ‘We have to get Hamas.’ My neighbors in Haifa don’t see or comprehend what is being done in their name.”

Oren Persico, a writer for The Seventh Eye, which is an independent investigative magazine in Israel that focuses on media and freedom of speech, was interviewed by Micah Loewinger on On The Media and he says that Israelis are living permanently in October 7th, where they are the only sufferers and the subsequent Israeli atrocities are absent, and thus would be astonished at how much revulsion there is in the rest of the world at what their government is doing. You can listen to the 14 minute interview here.

Persico also says that Netanyahu is a master of double-speak, where he says one thing to western media and another to media that reaches the Israeli public. He even has two X/Twitter accounts that serve this dual purpose.

The media bubble in Israel reminds me of how in the US, following the events of 9/11, the US government and media relentlessly focused on the events of that day and that enabled the US to inflict massive and indiscriminate assaults on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq and other parts of that region, all the while wrapping themselves up in a cloak of righteousness as the victims.


  1. boba1 says

    “If it doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t lead”…the media knows that its audience will tune in more often, if the media broadcasts stories of bleeding or the possibility of such of its audience. The suffering of others will not generate the same level of interest.

  2. SailorStar says

    Early on, a USA national news program showed an Israeli woman speaking in unaccented American English. She was interviewed in her tastefully decorated and furnished home. She was outraged that her preschool-aged son was so disturbed by what happened that all he wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch cartoons. There was a cut to a child sitting on the couch snacking on something out of a bowl, glued to the television showing cartoons.

    Meanwhile, what wasn’t shown was that child’s Gazan counterparts--if they were blown up limb from limb outright, they are likely buried in rubble or huddled in refugee camps that are regularly being bombed, watching their mothers and siblings be killed. Will they be blown up or will they be starved to death first? This doesn’t seem to matter to the US MSM.

  3. alfalfamale says

    I speculate that the blind lust for revenge after terrorist attacks is fueled by a belief in God:
    1) Trust in God;
    2) a terrorist attack occurs;
    3) God didn’t lift a finger to prevent enormous suffering;
    4) criticizing God is forbidden;
    5) murderous revenge against anyone that can be linked to the attack

  4. sonofrojblake says

    reminds me of how in the US, following the events of 9/11, the US government and media relentlessly focused on the events of that day and that enabled the US to inflict massive and indiscriminate assaults on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq

    Yeah, except… there’s a major difference, which I’m suprised you can’t see. Whatever else you may wish to say about the Israelis, nobody can dispute that they have accurately identified a relatively small geographic area the heinous attack on them originated from, and are attacking that territory and no other.

    There were 19 hijackers on 9/11, and 15 of them were Saudi Arabians. Yet I don’t recall a single attack by the US on Saudi Arabia. Massive overwhelming retaliation against two countries that weren’t even slightly involved, sure, but nothing like what Israel has been doing, which compared to the US’s actions post 9/11 is the model of humanitarian controlled targeted restraint.

  5. John Morales says

    sonofrojblake, that’s just disingenuous. The bunker-buster bombs and artillery bombardment and tanks and general full-on war of civic destruction may be confined to Gaza, but other Palestinians are being targeted much more in their enclaves since the Hamas attack.

    Two examples, both published within the last day:

    Since Oct. 7, it has been nearly impossible for villagers to safely reach their pastures. The Israeli government has emboldened settlers by providing them with arms and recruiting them into the army.

    Even when Palestinians successfully resist settler-backed threats of evacuation, their inability to harvest crops or feed their flocks sometimes results in a need to move to urban regions in search of work.

    This is a slower version of displacement that often escapes the media. Since Oct. 7, the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, reports that 16 villages in the region have been displaced due to settler violence.

    Three Palestinians were killed and nine others injured in Israeli fire in the occupied West Bank on Monday, according to the Health Ministry.
    Tensions have been running high across the West Bank since Israel launched a deadly military offensive against the Gaza Strip following a Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

    At least 355 Palestinians have since been killed and nearly 4,000 others injured by Israeli army fire in the occupied territory, according to figures released by the Health Ministry.

    (I mean, I could go on and include Jerusalem, but I think point is made)

  6. says


    You don’t really understand Israel. The vast majority of Israelis are pretty secular, and atheism is common. Also, Judaism isn’t really defined by belief so much as by practice. When in an Orthodox community, you’ll still find atheists. But they observe the practices even when they don’t believe in an all-powerful creator.

    What you’re saying makes sense for people who are deep believers in God, but it can’t account for the national reaction when the nation simply doesn’t trust in God the way your argument requires.

  7. anat says

    alfalfamale @5:

    It is hard to speak in the name of ‘Judaism’, as there is much variety, but ultimately the covenant between Yahweh and the Jewish people is down to the following: The Jews commit to obeying Yahweh’s laws, as interpreted by the Rabbinical authorities of their times; Yahweh commits to keep at least some Jews alive, enough to keep the nation going. Having one third of the Jewish people killed in the Holocaust isn’t a breach of Yahweh’s promise. So 1200 dead Jews in one day is small change. That isn’t going to affect anyone’s belief.

  8. John Morales says


    alfalfamale does have a point, sorta, indirectly.
    Israel is digging its own grave, by appeasing its ultra-orthodox moochers.
    Because they’re goddist moochers, so, no worries. (And because they do get to vote)


    (Israel is facing a ticking bomb: Haredi unemployment
    How will the unemployment rates within the Haredi community impact Israel’s future?

  9. sonofrojblake says

    @alfalfamale, 5: I speculate that the blind lust for revenge is fueled by a belief -- the correct belief, I might add -- that Israel can demonstrably do whatever the fuck it wants with total impunity, especially inside its own borders. It’s also fueled by the electoral calculations Netanyahu makes -- Israeli voters like and enjoy making what they regard as the sub-humans around them feel bad and, ideally, die, and they have a long history of rewarding those politicians who will make that happen.

    An aside expanding on (6) -- in order for what’s going on to remind you of 9/11 and its aftermath justifiably, you’d need for them to have, for example, invaded and occupied Bangladesh and Albania, killing hundreds of thousands in the process. I’ve not followed the news obsessively, but as far as I’m aware Israel haven’t even invaded any of their immediate neighbours, let alone started invasive wars of aggression against uninvolved nations thousands of miles away.

    Alternatively, you’d need for the US reaction to 9/11 to have been a horrible, lethal crackdown on Muslim Americans inside their own borders. The US was far too busy doing that to Black people.

  10. boba1 says

    @alfalfamale Some religious Israelis are anti-Zionist. One group called, Neturei Karta, works with Palestinians and Iran.

    Irrationality comes in many flavors.

  11. anat says

    John Morales @10: Again, don’t assume Jewish culture is Christianity-minus-Christ. Among Jewish groups, the ones most supportive of the right-wing agenda wrt to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and control over land are the Modern Orthodox. The Haredim, whether Hassidic, Misnagedic (AKA Lithuanian), or Sephardic, can go with any policy as long as their Yeshivas are funded and they have housing for their families. And among Likud supporters there are plenty of those who identify as religiously ‘traditional’ (ie care about some core religious customs but not more) and secular.

  12. John Morales says

    Again, don’t assume Jewish culture is Christianity-minus-Christ.

    I don’t. Whatever made you imagine I do?

    (Nor do I need to assume, plenty of information out there)

    My comment was about demographic realities. Economics. Workforce issues. And so forth.
    The only religious aspect is that, because they are dedicated goddists (you know, the ones who don’t actually work or fight) and Israel has ostensibly decided its justification for existing is ancestral religious shit, they get accommodated to the state’s detriment. Well, and also because they really like to breed.


  13. anat says

    John Morales @14:

    Some interesting things about the Haredi community: The girls get better education than the boys, as they are not destined to yeshiva life, they get more years of math education, for instance. A generation ago the resources of a Haredi family were inheritance/support from members of older generations (from the times before the all-yeshiva-all-life days), state support for a yeshiva-attending man, earnings from a woman’s employment. Back then Haredi women mostly worked at female-coded jobs within the Haredi community (childcare, housework help , education etc). Nowadays the inheritances have been used up and split among many siblings, but the earnings of Haredi women are up as they have been making inroads into tech.

    And one outcome of the current round of the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is that more Haredi men are showing up for military duty.

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