Information Literacy and the Israel-Hamas War

Access to Infrastructure

During this conflict, Israel cut off electricity and Wi-Fi and food and water. Humanitarian aid was cut off for weeks. Hospitals have run out of medication, and getting out of Gaza has been challenging to nearly impossible. There is also no promise of return once the conflict is over.

When you cut off access to electricity and Wi-Fi, you control what information comes in and out of Gaza. Citizens are unable to contact their families and journalists are unable to report. This impacts the stories that are shared, as the only group that has access to power and Wi-Fi is Israel/Israelis. 

Power and Stories

The power of language and stories is hugely important when it comes to learning about what is happening, but also in the normalization of genocide. For example, when news headlines are written about "Israelis killed" vs "Palestinians perish" we interpret in our minds this as having what Dr. Razack terms as "grievable" vs "ungrievable" deaths. Language is used to justify killings, of who is perceived as human and who is not. 

When this language is employed, it becomes easier to justify the killing of Palestinians. 

Censorship and Free Speech

Historically, we've also seen the erasure of Palestinian voices on social media and in academic spaces. What gets lost in the conversation when a people are unable to speak for themselves? 

This report from Palestine Legal documents the wide spread growing suppression of Palestinian human rights advocacy in the US. 

Critical Cultural Literacy

"Racist/racialized malinformation is the phenomenon of how we are conditioned, socialized, and repeatedly bombarded with racist and negative images and stereotypes. These stereotypes are repeated and normalized until they become malinformation. But how can these deleterious and destructive forces be eliminated? They need to be addressed and battled just as other societal ailments are, and critical cultural literacy can aid in this fight." - Dr. Nicole Cooke in Tell me Sweet Little Lies: Racism as a Form of Persistent Malinformation

Palestinians have been maligned and disparaged as "other" and Israel and the western media have created a narrative that enabled the normalization of brutality against them. For example, Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant declared: “We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we will act accordingly.”

Following this up, an interviewee on Israel television called for Israel to "turn Gaza to Dresden" and still another called for "[dancing] on what used to be Gaza." Other words used have been a call to "erase" and "flatten" Gaza and Gazans (Segal, R. 13, October 2023). 

Critical Cultural Literacy asks us to examine this history, current contemporary reporting and actions, and our own information privilege to understand and to start to disentangle misleading, false, and harmful information around the Palestinian people, the creation of the state of Israel, and Israeli-Palestinian relations since the 20th Century.

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