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Half of Young People Say Israel Is Committing Genocide Despite Strong Media Bias

The poll findings are a powerful show of young peoples’ support for Palestinian rights despite widespread repression.

People inspect damage to their homes caused by Israeli air strikes, on January 18, 2024, in Rafah, Gaza.

Despite widespread media bias against Palestine in the West, nearly half of young Americans say that Israel’s months-long assault of Gaza amounts to genocide, new polling reveals ahead of the International Court of Justice’s initial ruling on South Africa’s case charging Israel with genocide expected Friday.

According to polling conducted this week by The Economist/YouGov, 49 percent of people aged 18 to 29 say that they think Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians, with 24 percent saying they disagree and 27 percent saying they’re not sure.

This is similar to the proportion of people who identify as Democrats who said that Israel’s assault is genocide, at 49 percent, while only 21 percent disagreed. The group with the highest proportion of people affirming the genocide was people identifying as liberal, with 60 percent in agreement.

The poll findings are powerful considering that major U.S. media outlets maintain an overwhelming bias for Israel and its current massacre, as advocates for Palestinian rights have long pointed out.

Major Western outlets nearly uniformly avoid the word “genocide” in their news coverage on Gaza, despite multiple foreign policy experts saying that Israel’s brutal invasion is a “textbook” case of genocide. And, data has shown that major outlets are reserving nearly all of their most sympathetic language for Israeli deaths rather than those of Palestinians, even as the Palestinian death toll has grown orders of magnitude higher.

This effect is evident in the fact that only 35 percent of Americans polled overall say they think Israel is committing genocide, compared to 36 percent who say the assault doesn’t constitute a genocide. Though this is still a higher proportion than one might expect given the near-total agreement on the massacre among U.S. institutions like the two major political parties, the media, and universities, it is still reflective of the strong anti-Palestine bias these groups perpetuate.

The polling found that similar proportions of people are concerned over the harshness of Israel’s military campaign, with 30 percent saying it’s “too harsh,” 29 percent saying it’s “about right” and 17 percent saying it’s “not harsh enough.” Liberals were again the most likely to agree that it was “too harsh,” with 56 percent saying as such.

Advocates for Palestinian rights have been pointing out the noted absence of the word “genocide” from Western media, saying that the aim is to lend Israel more legitimacy in order to justify the U.S.’s staunch military support of its massacre, ethnic cleansing and occupation.

“The American media’s hesitance to utter the word genocide in relation to Israel’s assault in Gaza, coupled with their tendency to downplay or outright deny Israeli crimes against Palestinians, signals to Israel that it can continue its killing spree with impunity, and reassures the US administration that it won’t be held to account for its complicity,” Rami G. Khouri, an American University of Beirut fellow and a Palestinian journalist, wrote for Al Jazeera in December. “History will not judge kindly the American media’s failure to recognise and accurately report on this moment.”

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