Americans Oppose Investigating the Gaza Massacre
  

Americans Oppose Investigating the Gaza Massacre

Because most never heard about it or were misinformed

by Grant Smith Posted on May 30, 2018 

Most Americans would oppose any Trump Administration support for an International Criminal Court investigation  into Israel’s use of lethal force against Palestinian protesters on May  14. This is because they either never heard about the massacre or  received slanted coverage.

Thousands  of Palestinian protesters in Gaza gathered in May near a "no-go" zone  along an Israeli-built separation fence. They protested the 70thanniversary  of the "Nakba" – or expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians in 1948  from what is now Israel. Throughout "March of Return" protests Israeli  snipers shot, killed and severely wounded protesters from behind the  safety of protective berms. Palestinian casualties peaked the day Trump  administration and Israeli officials celebrated recent U.S. recognition  of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by opening a brand-new US embassy in  the contested city on May 14.

Palestine, a non-member observer to the U.N. since 2012, submitted a referral to the ICC calling  on prosecutors to open an investigation into Israeli crimes in the  occupied Palestinian territories. The Trump administration opposes all  such investigations, having returned to the "no daylight"  stance preferred by Israel and its US lobby under which administration  policies are indistinguishable from policies advanced by the Israeli  Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley  claimed Israel acted "with restraint" in Gaza. The US and Israeli  governments, neither a signatory to the Rome Statute of the ICC, have  repeatedly blocked such UN accountability measures. When polled, a  majority of Americans also oppose any ICC investigation into the  massacre.

Question: Should  the US support an International Criminal Court investigation into the  May 14 deaths of more than 60 Palestinian protesters and the wounding of  another 2,771 in Gaza?

<figure> Source: IRmep poll of 1,504 US adults through Google Surveys May 23-25,
RMSE 5.5%. Raw data and demographic filters at Google. </figure>

What  accounts for the lack of popular American support for an investigation  into the shootings? The Israel lobby’s quest for unconditional US  government support has been well-funded and ably pursued – through licit and illicit means –  since long before Israel was established in 1948. Today the Israel  lobby’s campaign finance network instantly imperils the career of any  American politician who fails to parrot pro-Israel talking points and  Israeli government positions. Clandestine cutouts conduct  espionage and covert operations with utter impunity against US  industries, associations and activists who meaningfully challenge  harmful Israeli actions.

The Israel lobby’s long-term media manipulation has  been particularly effective. A groundbreaking four-country poll  revealed in 2016 that a plurality of US adults, unlike the citizens of  the U.K., Canada and Mexico, believe Palestinians occupy Israeli land, rather than the reverse. Though methodologically flawed and overstated, mainstream polls accurately reveal higher American sympathy for Israelis relative to Palestinians.  Many Americans are reflexively pro-Israel when asked about grisly  occurrences such as the Gaza massacre because Israel media pressure  groups and pro-Israel media outlets suppress coverage, or when that  fails, blame the victims. Both impact reporting and public opinion  during a crisis such as Gaza, and the most important single factor  influencing lack of support for an investigation was that a stunning  81.5% of Americans say they never heard about the massacre through any  channel.

Question: Have  you received any mainstream, alternative or social media reports about  the May 14 deaths of more than 60 Palestinian protesters and the  wounding of another 2,771 in Gaza?

<figure> Source: IRmep poll of 1,506 US adults through Google Surveys May 25-27,
RMSE 4.1%. Raw data and demographic filters at Google </figure>

Another  way to measure the saturation level and intensity of Gaza massacre  media coverage is to compare the level of "follow up" search engine  activity of internet users in the US seeking additional information  after hearing about it. Interest in Gaza increased, but never garnered  more than 9% of the volume search activity of the Santa Fe school shooting,  despite having a much higher casualty rate and occurring just a few  days earlier. (Numbers on the chart below represent Google search  interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the US over  time. A value of 100 is the peak search popularity for the term. A value  of 50 means that the term was only half as popular.)

<figure> Source: Google Trends keyword search for "santa fe" vs "gaza"
(Results downloaded May 27, 2018) </figure>

The "angle" or "slant" of the limited Gaza news coverage also matters. Leading news organizations such as the Washington Post, CNN and Fox  News all freely headlined Santa Fe as a "massacre" in their saturation  coverage, with abundant on-the-scene reporter interviews of victims and  their families. What little reporting mainstream media performed about  Gaza was so compromised and one-sided in support of Israel that some  readers sarcastically responded to passive-tense headlines appearing in  such outlets as the New York Times by inquiring precisely how "Palestinians died" in the reported "clashes" and whether it was perhaps the result of old age.

<figure> Source: Twitter </figure>

It  may seem American popular opposition to an ICC investigation of Israel  is yet another stunning defeat for those working against the deadly and  damaging results of unconditional US support for Israel. However, what  the poll numbers actually reveal is quite different. Despite being  purposefully underinformed and misinformed about a major news story,  40.7% of Americans nevertheless still want Israel’s massacre of  Palestinians in Gaza to be investigated by the International Criminal  Court. If Americans continue to transcend the Israel lobby’s intense  and well-funded new initiatives to undermine free speech, popular support for meaningful accountability – such as severing unconditional US aid to Israel – will continue to grow.

Note about the wording of the IRmep polls: The  questions created by IRmep and fielded through Google Surveys have  similar "lack of agency" and "passive tense" attributes that plagued US  mainstream media reporting. That is because under rigorously enforced  guidelines, Google will not field surveys about war or violence, most  especially questions that clearly assign blame for violent actions, such  as one group "killing and maiming" another group. According to Google  Surveys feedback on drafts of IRmep survey questions, this is because  "gruesome actions cited in the survey [drafts], some users and sites  that run surveys might be offended by this kind of content. Regardless  if it’s currently happening or a hypothetical event, the act itself is  gruesome."