On Saturday evening, New Zealand time, an Iranian drone (modelled on an American stealth UAV) entered Israeli airspace. An Israeli Air Force attack helicopter was dispatched to shoot down the infiltrating aircraft that came from Syrian territory. Israel then launched counter-attacks on Iranian targets in Syria, during which an IAF aircraft was hit. The pilots managed to get back into Israeli territory and eject from the aircraft but were injured. A larger counter-offensive was launched by Israel, in which additional Iranian and Syrian military sites were targeted.
This sequence of events clearly indicates that breach of Israeli airspace by an Iranian drone, which may have been carrying weapons, was the aggravating event. However, several New Zealand mainstream media outlets published headlines that distorted the true sequence of events, unfairly casting Israel as the aggressor
- RadioNZ’s headline focussed entirely on the Israeli response and sensationalised it: “Israeli air strikes against Syria ‘biggest since 1982’”. The article mentioned the Iranian drone in paragraph 3 of the article.
- The NZHerald published three stories from Associated Press with headlines highlighting Israel’s response “‘Large scale’ Israeli raids hit Iranian targets in Syria”, “Israeli PM: Airstrikes dealt ‘severe blows’ to Iran, Syria”, and “Israel strikes Syria, downs Iranian drone, as F-16 crashes”. The latter story didn’t even mention that the Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace.
- The Otago Daily Times also didn’t mention that the drone flew into Israel but was more neutral in their headline: “Israeli-Iranian tensions rise after planes shot down”.
- Newshub also printed a headline that only mentioned Israel’s response “Israel attacks 12 bases in Syria” and an accompanying video failed to draw in Israel’s border (see image below).
- Stuff.co.nz focussed on Israel’s response but did mention the F-16 that was hit, although without any other context “Israel carries out ‘large-scale attack’ in Syria after jet shot down”.
Often, people only read the headlines of articles and a majority of people will share stories on social media without reading beyond the headline, compounding the message conveyed by the title. Thus, it is incumbent on media to accurately report events in the headline. Unfortunately, in the case of the Iranian drone infiltration, New Zealand media did not, and neither did some international media.
This seems to be part of an ongoing media fixation of continually portraying Israel as the aggressor, when the facts clearly show otherwise. As a tiny democratic state, not much bigger than Northland of New Zealand, in the midst of a turbulent region of the world, It is a matter of survival for Israel to protect her citizens. In addition, Iran has clearly stated hostile intentions towards the state of Israel.
We hope that New Zealand media will lead the way in more accurate and careful reporting about Israel.