Britain: Palestine and media lies – why we need a workers’ press

From the outset of the latest Israel-Palestine conflict, the capitalist media in Britain has acted as an obedient mouthpiece for the establishment, echoing their imperialist propaganda. We need to build a voice for the exploited and oppressed.

[Originally published at]

If you believed the deafening howl of the ‘free press’ in Britain, you would think that it was Israel that is being razed to the ground.

On a daily basis, our screens and broadsheets are plastered with Hamas’ atrocities – real or imagined. The Israeli state’s brutal response, by contrast, is sympathetically played down as measured retaliation and justifiable defence, with tokenistic lip service paid to ‘respecting international law’.

To this end, the capitalist press, all singing from the same hymn sheet, have developed an elaborate doublespeak: Israelis are ‘killed’, whilst Palestinians merely ‘die’; Hamas ‘massacres’ and ‘slaughters’, while the IDF ‘strikes’ and ‘blasts’.

If you support the Palestinian people and criticise Netanayhu’s regime, you are labelled a terrorist sympathiser and an antisemite. But Israel, of course, has a ‘right to defend itself’.

With an undeniable humanitarian disaster playing out before us, the bourgeois press has attempted to throw dust in the public’s eyes, obscuring the truth by branding the ‘conflict’ as impenetrably complex.

In reality, it is clear as day: the Israeli war machine, backed by western imperialism, is inflicting a genocidal catastrophe on occupied and oppressed Palestine.

Gazans are starved of food, water, and electricity; indiscriminately shelled day and night. Already, since 7 October, well over five thousand Palestinians have been murdered in cold blood. This is not a ‘surgical’ operation against Hamas, but a systematic butchery of the Palestinian masses.

But none of this is in the establishment’s script.

Mouthpiece for imperialism

The British press presents itself as ‘free’ and ‘objective’. But really they are just obedient lapdogs for the capitalist establishment.

It is enough to compare their recent coverage of the crisis in the Middle East with that of the Ukraine war to see the scandalous hypocrisy and clear class bias at play across the bourgeois media.

Dispensing with any illusions in impartiality, these mouthpieces of British imperialism led a hysterical chorus of ‘Slava Ukraini’. They gleefully attacked Putin as an evil Nazi for doing precisely what Netanyahu is doing now.

Even today, the papers devote entire articles to individual buildings that are destroyed in Ukraine – all while Gaza is being reduced to rubble.

Closing ranks

ukraine press Image Socialist AppealDispensing with any illusions in impartiality, these mouthpieces of British imperialism led a hysterical chorus of ‘Slava Ukraini’ / Image: fair use

In spite of the superficial diversity amongst the national newspapers, 90% are controlled by just three media monopolies and their billionaire owners.

They all enjoy an incestuous relationship with the state, as exposed by the Leveson Inquiry. And many of their scoops are spoon fed directly by the powers that be, via shady committees like the Defence Correspondents Association.

When it comes to criticism of the elites, they wear padded gloves for fear of losing a seat at the table.

So-called ‘left’ papers and right-wing rags might squabble over secondary matters and culture war issues. But on important class questions, they march in lockstep and sing with one voice.

From justifying the invasion of Iraq by loyally printing the lies of Bush and Blair; to blaring out an incessant pro-monarchy cacophony in the wake of Lizzie’s death, and again around Charles’ coronation; to their anti-worker stance over the course of Britain’s strike wave over the past year: the press will always close ranks when it comes to protecting the rich and powerful, and pushing the bosses interests.

BBC bias

This can be clearly seen in relation to Palestine. ‘Liberal’ media outlets have been no better than their openly reactionary counterparts when it comes to censorship and slander.

While leading news anchors and editors happily echo the establishment’s propaganda, journalists and media workers attempting to tell the truth are being gagged and silenced.

Recently, for example, the Guardian suspended cartoonist Steve Bell over trumped-up charges of ‘anti-semitism’. And with no hint of irony, the same – supposedly ‘left-wing’ – paper pulled a commissioned opinion piece on press censorship over Palestine at the last minute.

The BBC is the worst offender. Hiding behind a veneer of impartiality, it is the PR department of British capitalism: a ventriloquist dummy in the hands of Downing Street, well-known for being stuffed to the brim with Tory stooges.

When it steps out of line, the government threatens to further cut the public broadcaster’s funding, or twists its arm until it sings the right tune – as seen with the response to Gary Lineker’s criticism of the Tories’ approach to asylum-seekers.

The BBC may have been forced to apologise recently for consistently branding Palestinian solidarity demonstrations as ‘pro-Hamas’. But at the same time, the BBC has suspended six Arabic reporters for tweeting in support of Palestine.

Similarly, the state news channel has come under pressure from Zionist groups and Tory ministers to refer to Hamas as ‘terrorists’ rather than ‘militants’. And the broadcaster was hysterically attacked when it initially attributed the Al-Ahli hospital bombing to Israel.

Narrative and reality

Israel’s escalating aggression, combined with the complicity of British imperialism, has provoked a tsunami of public support on the side of Palestine.

Hostage article 800x800.pngThe capitalist media stand on the other side of the barricades, with the rulers and the rich / Image: fair use

Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in towns and cities across Britain. In workplaces and on campuses, workers and youth are attempting to campaign against the atrocities committed by the Israeli military, and the key role played by ‘our own’ ruling class.

And all of this in defiance of the torrent of propaganda emanating from the press, alongside increasingly repressive threats from the authorities.

Throughout, the capitalist media stand on the other side of the barricades, with the rulers and the rich – loyally serving those who have an interest in allowing the slaughter and silencing dissent.

To slander and undermine the growing mass movement in support of Palestine, the press use exactly the same bullying tactics as they used against Corbyn and his supporters. But these are wearing thin. Today, just 37% of people trust the mainstream UK media.

With living conditions collapsing, the class struggle intensifying, and horrifying wars opening up all across a burning planet, the gulf between the media’s narrative and the reality facing workers is getting greater and greater.

Every time they justify and defend the status quo – attempting to rehabilitate the Tories, or shoving Starmer down our throats – it makes it all the more obvious that the press is yet another tool of the capitalist class, designed to cloak their system with spin and outright lies.

Workers’ voice

workers press Image Socialist AppealWe, as communists, do not pretend to be impartial / Image: Socialist Appeal

We, as communists, do not pretend to be impartial. There can be no ‘neutrality’ in class society.

We stand firmly on the side of the exploited and the oppressed. And here, there can be no doubt as to who is the oppressed and who is the oppressor. The Palestinians have been crushed under the heel of the Israeli state for 75 years, all with the open support of western imperialism.

Capitalism grants a thousand voices to the bosses and bankers. Yet while media moguls own and control the printing presses and news channels, the working class are silenced.

That is why we are building the revolutionary press, in order to offer a clear, class perspective, and to provide a powerful voice to workers and youth.

We have no billionaire backers, however. Instead, we rely solely on the support and sacrifice of ordinary workers.

We therefore appeal to you: If you haven’t already, subscribe today. And if you agree with our analysis, then join us, get organised, and help us to spread the ideas contained within the pages of Socialist Appeal.

The ruling class has a full arsenal at their disposal for fighting the class war. We need to arm ourselves with the best weapon we have: the revolutionary ideas of Marxism.