Protesters at Dallas Morning News building decry Western media coverage of Israel-Hamas conflict
Palestinian advocates and supporters are accusing Western media outlets of spreading misinformation and mischaracterizing the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas militant group.
At a rally in downtown Dallas Thursday, hundreds gathered at Main Street Garden Park across the street from The Dallas Morning News' offices on Commerce Street. Speakers at the protest said coverage of the conflict has contributed to discrimination of Palestinians around the world by failing to provide accurate context about Israel's blockade of Gaza and occupation of the West Bank.
Raneem Al-Hendy, a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement, said the decision to gather in front of the Dallas newspaper's headquarters was more to make a statement about news outlets in general.
"All of Dallas news and all of the national news that we have been seeing has been, you know, espousing a lot of the racist tropes that we've seen justify the genocide that's happening," Al-Hendy said.
The Dallas Morning News declined KERA's request for comment.
On Oct. 7, Hamas, a militant group based in Gaza, launched an attack on Israel, killing thousands of people and taking hundreds others hostage. Israel attacked Gaza in retaliation, killing thousands of Palestinians and leaving many relying on humanitarian aid for food and water.
According to data from officials in Israel and Gaza compiled by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, approximately 1,300 Israelis and more than 2,800 Palestinians, including 58 in the West Bank, have been killed since Oct. 7.
Rally attendees held up handmade signs, waved the red, black, white and green Palestinian flag and recited various chants under the late afternoon sun, including, "Dallas media, you can't hide, we charge you with genocide" and "We know what your news is for: occupation, endless war."
Mohammed Ayachi said he was upset by false reports about Hamas militants beheading Israeli children, a claim protesters also criticized President Joe Biden for saying he saw evidence of.
"Always check your sources, always check and look at different avenues and angles of getting your information," Ayachi said. "Don't just listen to one person, because at the end of the day, these false narratives, they truly do cost lives."
The Dallas protesters also criticized Mayor Eric Johnson and the Dallas City Council, which passed an ordinance Oct. 11 condemning Hamas and declaring support for Israel.
A Palestinian coalition in Philadelphia hosted a similar protest outside WHYY, Philadelphia's NPR station, on Oct. 12.
The only notable counter-protest Thursday was a man waving the United States and Israeli flags from the second floor of a parking garage a block away from the protest. He declined to give his name.
Rallies in support of Israelis and Palestinians have been held in North Texas in recent weeks since the conflict began. Last weekend thousands of demonstrators gathered outside of Dallas City Hall to protest Israel's military action. And, days after the initial Hamas attack, Jewish residents and civic leaders held a vigil in Fort Worthto show solidarity with Israel. The president of the Islamic Association of Tarrant County was also in attendance.
At Thursday's protest in Dallas, resident Zeba Khan attended with her two children. Khan is Pakistani, but she said it was necessary to stand with Palestinians all the same.
Khan said her heart aches, especially when she thinks of children like Wadea Al-Fayoume in Illinois and those who have been killed in the conflict overseas.
"If I don't come here with my kids and show them this is what we stand for, this is what we stand up, then I am being as bad as the people who are silent about it," Khan said.
Like Ayachi, she urges media outlets across the world to give more nuanced coverage that explains Palestinians' role in the conflict.
"Don't take the press releases of governments as face value," Khan said. "Do your job verifying information and don't silence or ignore eyewitness reports of what's going on on the ground."
Disclaimer: KERA partners with The Dallas Morning News on the journalism initiative Arts Access.
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