Airman Sets Himself on Fire To Protest Genocide in Gaza

Mainstream Media Outlets Say No One Was Harmed in the Israeli Embassy while Denying the Reality of Genocide

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Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

A young Air Force airman set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in DC to protest genocide in Gaza. Aaron Bushnell, 25, died after being taken to a hospital.

Aaron Bushnell before he set himself on fire. Mainstream media sites chose not to feature any images of Bushnell, focusing instead on the Israeli Embassy or “the crime scene”

This was an extreme and deadly act of political protest directed against the Israeli government’s killing and wounding of 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza and its ongoing war of annihilation there, a war abetted by the U.S. government’s political and military power. Bushnell shouted “Free Palestine!” as he burned.

Bizarrely, an officer at the scene pointed a gun at him as he burned before another first responder asked for fire extinguishers. How a man on fire posed a threat to others is unclear.

Coverage in the mainstream media is revealing. I checked three sites: NBC, CBS, and the Guardian in Britain. Let’s look at NBC first. NBC said that Bushnell’s act was an “apparent protest” against the “Israeli-Hamas war.” NBC later added that Israel’s “crackdown” in Gaza was termed a genocide by Bushnell. NBC itself stuck to the narrative that Israel is engaged in a defensive war, a “crackdown,” against Hamas.

Next, let’s look at CBS. CBS repeated the narrative of “an apparent protest of Israel’s actions in its war against Hamas.” CBS did mention that Bushnell’s stated motivation was that he could no longer be complicit in an ongoing genocide in Gaza, followed by a lengthy denial by Netanyahu and the Israeli government. Claims of genocide are “false” and “outrageous,” as CBS gave Netanyahu the last word.

Turning to the British Guardian, its first sentence is more blunt: An active-duty member of the US air force has died after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington DC, while declaring he will “no longer be complicit in genocide”.

It also included a key statement Bushnell apparently included on his Facebook page: “Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?’ The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.”

Nevertheless, the Guardian downplayed the 100,000 killed and wounded in Gaza as numbers generated by the “Hamas-run health service” there.

The final site I’d like to consider is, an example of alternative media, I suppose. This site gets it right, in my view, so I’m posting the article here in its entirety:

US Airman Sets Himself on Fire in Front of Israeli Embassy to Protest Gaza Genocide

The airman said he would ‘no longer be complicit in genocide’

by Dave DeCamp February 25, 2024 at 9:04 pm ET
Updated on 2/26/24 at 7:44 am EST

An active duty US airman set himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington DC to protest the US-backed slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza.

According to Talia Jane, an independent journalist who obtained the video of the incident, the airman, who was identified as Aaron Bushnell, 25, died of his wounds late Sunday night.

According to Axios, a video of the incident shows the airman saying he would “no longer be complicit in genocide” and that he was about to “engage in an extreme act of protest.”

“But compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal,” Bushnell said right before lighting himself on fire.

While on fire, he repeatedly shouted, “Free Palestine.” He burned for about one minute before law enforcement officers extinguished the flames. According to Jane, one officer initially drew his gun on the airman as he burned.

Washington DC’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department said in a post on X that the airman was transported to a hospital with “critical life-threatening injuries.” The department also said the officers who extinguished the fire were members of the US Secret Service.

The dramatic protest comes as the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza by the Israeli campaign is approaching 30,000, and over 69,000 have been wounded. About two-thirds of the casualties are women and children.

The International Court of Justice has ruled that it’s “plausible” Israel is committing genocide and decided to take up the case brought to the court by South Africa. Despite the massive civilian casualty rate and international pressure, the US continues to provide unconditional support for the slaughter.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools. He writes at Bracing Views.