Question: What do the following headlines have in common?
1. “Israeli Troops Fire on Palestinian Protesters in Deadly Clashes”—Huffington Post
2. “Israeli Police Fire on Protesters”—Daily Beast
3. “9 Killed as Israel Clashes with Palestinians”—New York Times
Answer: All of these headlines appear today on the sites’ home pages, covering the incident on the border between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights. None of these headlines tells you that the protesters in question were crossing a hostile border between Syria and Israel, en masse, in a violent protest at least permitted (if not organized) by the Syrian government. You see, the term “Palestinians,” when combined with “clashes” and “IDF,” almost always refers to Palestinians in the Palestinian territories, maybe in East Jerusalem. They don’t live on or near the Golan Heights. They have no way of getting to that border. In the interest of being informative about the actual news item, shouldn’t the protesters have been called “Syrians,” even if they were waving Palestinian flags?
Even worse, the first headlines two give you the distinct impression of a moral equivalence with what’s happening elsewhere in the Middle East: that just as Syria and Libya attack peaceful protesters, so does Israel—which, incidentally, is exactly the impression Bashar Assad was hoping you’d get. You’d never guess that hundreds of Syrians stormed the border with Israel, tearing down fences, and hurling rocks.