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Redwood Bark

Israel-Palestine conflict: Divides stoked by disinformation

Recent fighting between Israel and Palestine has resurfaced decades-old tensions across the globe. Modern social media apps have made sharing opinions incredibly simple, allowing for the quick spread of uninformed beliefs. This increasing polarization has led to the rampant dehumanization of both Israelis and Palestinians across the media.

In the months following the start of the war, social media has proven to be a uniquely efficient tool for spreading misinformed news. The social media news cycle benefits stories that are shocking and incredibly recent, both qualities that damage the practice of good reporting. Unverified news is seen and interpreted to be true by everyone, including the most powerful officials of our government. In the early days of the war, it was reported that Hamas militants beheaded 40 Israeli babies, with little evidence behind these claims. President Joe Biden repeated these claims and falsely added that he had seen pictures of children, dangerously escalating the situation. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology research team found that fake news travels 10 times faster than real news on social media platforms like X or Instagram. 

Illustration by Bowen Rivera

In our community, the reposting and sharing of unverified news sources is seemingly rampant. Scrolling through Instagram, it feels almost impossible to avoid seeing a biased or completely incorrect story about the war. 

Hamas and the Israel Defense Force have both exhibited rampant disregard for human life throughout the war. Around 15 thousand Palestinian civilians and over a thousand Israelis have been killed in the conflict. The loss of all innocent lives is a tragedy, and arguing otherwise is dehumanizing by definition. In the case of the Israel-Palestine war, people discuss the opposing side as if they lack human traits, but humanity is not assigned by nationality. On Oct. 17, the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza experienced an explosion that killed over 100 people. At first, it was believed that it was the result of an Israeli airstrike, with pro-Palestine voices decrying the event. However, a contrasting account was later released that provided significant evidence that the explosion was caused by a failed Islamic Jihad rocket launch instead. With this change, new voices emerged decrying Hamas for their disregard of human life, while the original voices disappeared. This gap in understanding is a far too common symptom of our media addiction, but it does not have to happen.

Most people in our community recognize that human life matters, both Palestinian and Israeli. It is an undeniable fact that war predominantly harms the innocent. Over three thousand Palestinian children were killed in the first three weeks of the war, and 29 Israeli children died in the initial attack. Killing children is unequivocally evil, and both sides purposefully partake in it. On a small scale, universally praising one side without researching the truth is dangerous. The spread of hateful ideologies always begins with a misunderstanding, and we have the opportunity to stop a cycle of hate from forming.

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About the Contributor
Bowen Rivera, Senior Staff Writer
Bowen Rivera is a senior at Redwood High School and a senior staff writer for the Bark. He enjoys writing, baking, and listening to music.