Dallas, TX – Around 300 people gathered at the Dallas Morning News headquarters on Thursday, October 19, to call out the media’s role in cheerleading the U.S.-backed Israeli siege on Gaza. Social media posts advertising the rally said, “End media complicity, end the siege, end U.S. aid to Israel” and connected the event to the rise in Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian violence stoked by the media, epitomized by the brutal murder of 6-year-old Wadea Al Fayoume in his home near Chicago on October 14.
The rally, organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement Dallas Chapter, drew together a wide array of Dallas residents for speeches from community leaders and chanting slogans in support of the Palestinian people and against the media’s role in the war, such as “We know what your news is for, occupation, endless war!” The protest also brought out a large number of Dallas Police Department officers, including masked snipers on the roof of the building looking down over the crowd that included children.
Among the speakers at the rally was Akheel Mohammed, a member of the Indian American Muslim Council. In his speech he drew connections between the violence faced by Palestinians under occupation and the violence against Muslims in India, saying, “We have similar problems in India too. The Hindutva, the Hindu nationalists, are no different than the Zionists.”
Another speaker, Jo Hargis of the Dallas Anti-War Committee, talked about the media’s spreading of disinformation, including the completely unverified and Islamophobic claims spread widely by U.S. media and politicians that Palestinians beheaded babies and that the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza was bombed by Palestinians and not Israeli missiles.
“There are horrifying stories coming out that our media has reported and then quietly retracted in order to delegitimize the Palestinian resistance and justify a genocide of Palestinian people,” said Hargis.
Since the siege on Gaza began, local news outlets such as the Dallas Express and CBS Texas have published incendiary articles against Palestinians, shaping an Islamophobic narrative that threatens local communities. One article written by Jonathan Richie of the Dallas Express on October 9 falsely paints the Palestinian movement as anti-Semitic and even connects the protesters to “the mass genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany in World War II.” Other local articles neglect the historical context of the occupation faced by the Palestinian people, projecting Israel as a perpetual victim in need of more U.S. military backing.
In response to antagonistic local news reporting about Palestine, Raneem Al-Hendy from the Palestinian Youth Movement Dallas Chapter said, “We see Western media and elected officials as directly responsible for the rise in Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian violence around the world. They have blood on their hands. The violence killing over 4000 Palestinians in Gaza is the same violence that killed 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume in Chicago.” She went on to demand that “local and national news outlets commit to honest reporting on Gaza that does not include racist, anti-Arab, anti-Muslim tropes that manufacture consent for genocide against the people of Gaza.”
The organizers of the rally demand an end to the siege of Gaza and an end to U.S. aid for Israel. The U.S. sends over $3 billion to Israel annually and is now poised to send $10.6 billion in weapons.