OpinionIsrael at War

Media promote cynical Hamas lies

The media’s tendency to take whatever Hamas tells them at face value indicates they are more interested in supporting their biased narrative than reporting facts.

Israeli troops operating in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Dec. 1, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Israeli troops operating in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Dec. 1, 2023. Credit: IDF.
Jason Shvili
Jason Shvili
Jason Shvili is a contributing editor at Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

As if we needed more proof, the Israel-Hamas war has given mainstream media countless opportunities to amplify the manifestly false narrative that Israel is an oppressor, attacking Hamas and the Gazan people, underdogs struggling for liberation.

On Oct. 17, an explosion occurred at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City. The New York Times immediately issued the headline, “Israeli Airstrike Hits Gaza Hospital, Killing 500, Palestinian Health Ministry Says.” Other international news outlets issued similar headlines.

Within days, however, Israel presented voluminous evidence—videos, ballistics analysis, tapped phone conversations—confirming that, in fact, a rocket misfired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group had hit the hospital parking lot. In the end, no more than 50—and perhaps fewer—were killed. 

News organizations sluggishly issued “corrections,” and a Times editor’s note allowed they “should have taken more care” in their coverage of the event.

This is just one example of the slavish submission of the media to a “politically acceptable” anti-Israel narrative. Though Hamas over the years has proven itself to be a singularly unreliable source, the media continue to rank their “facts” as equal in value to—or even more credible than—Israel’s reports, which have a sterling track record for accuracy. 

The media’s tendency to take whatever Hamas tells them at face value indicates they are more interested in supporting their biased narrative than reporting facts: Israel must always be portrayed as the aggressor, the Palestinians always as innocent victims. 

Another glaring example was the media’s coverage of the absurd farce at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital. There, Hamas, hospital administrators and the media conjured a fantasy in which the hospital was only that—an innocent medical facility saving lives—even in the face of photographs, videos, architectural mock-ups and Palestinian testimony presented by Israel that inside and beneath Al-Shifa was a rat’s nest of Hamas command centers, weapons depots and miles of secret tunnels. 

Rather, the Times painted a picture in which Palestinian civilians were suffering as the mighty Israeli war machine advanced towards the hospital, with headlines like “Plight of Gaza’s Main Hospital Worsens as Israeli Forces Close In.” All hard evidence that Israel presented of perverse dual use—a war crime—was perfunctorily denied by Hamas and parroted by the Times.

Indeed, the media insist on treating Hamas’s notoriously unreliable information feed as fact. Conversely, they refuse to give precedence to proven, reliable sources of information, such as the Israeli or U.S. governments, the latter of which confirmed Al-Shifa’s use as a Hamas headquarters. Israel presents photographs of Hamas blocking exit highways, so Gazans cannot leave the war zone—but Hamas denies it, says NPR. Such is the inane, “he-said, she said” pablum we are fed by the media. 

The media also steadfastly refuse to ask the questions demanded by the story—and by any curious reader, listener, or viewer. When reporters interview Palestinians on the street or doctors in hospitals, the viewer cries to know: “Do you ever see any Hamas guys around here? Have you seen any tunnels?” But never does the reporter ask this, let alone questions like, “Do you support Hamas? Do you think there should be a Palestine next to Israel? What do you think about the Oct. 7 attack on Israel?” These are obvious queries that responsible, curious, fact-hungry journalists would and should normally ask their sources. But they never do. Why?

The short answer is that if they asked these questions, the answers they’d get wouldn’t fit the narrative they are trying to sell—the narrative in which the Palestinians are an oppressed people, Israel is an evil, colonial aggressor and Hamas is a product of legitimate Palestinian resistance. 

To sell their perverse narrative, international media unquestioningly regurgitate the wildly inflated casualty figures cranked out by the Gaza Health Ministry.  

Reuters reported, for example, that as of Nov. 22, Gaza’s Hamas-run government claimed that at least 13,300 Palestinians had been confirmed killed, including at least 5,600 children. But as Luke Baker, a former Reuters bureau chief who led the organization’s coverage of Israel and the disputed territories from 2014 to 2017, noted on X (formerly Twitter), “Hamas has a clear propaganda incentive to inflate civilian casualties as much as possible.”

Moreover, the media almost never give a breakdown of the casualties. They don’t say how many were Hamas terrorists or how many were human shields, killed in residences, schools or hospitals where Hamas were hiding. They never tell how many were killed not by Israeli forces, but by Hamas and other terrorist groups—because of misfired rockets, or by Hamas shooting at Palestinian civilians heeding Israeli orders to evacuate. 

In addition, it’s probable that a significant number of the “children” reported killed or wounded are aged 13 to 18, who were located in Hamas facilities or even took an active part in the fighting. 

The media narrative is not only false, it is malicious and maligns the world’s only Jewish state as it fights for its existence against the forces of Islamist jihad that openly seek to destroy it. What the media miss, however, is that Israel is fighting for liberal, Western values—the same liberties that protect major Western media. No American media outlet could function for a minute under a repressive government like Hamas, where no freedom of press exists. 

Today’s media hypocrisy—and malpractice—is so pronounced, so undisguised, that no thinking reader, listener, or viewer can miss the bias. No surprise that a 2022 Gallup poll found “Americans’ Trust in Media Remains Near Record Low”—with only 34% expressing a fair amount or a great deal of confidence in the media. 

If the media refuse to get their facts straight, it’s up to us to hold them accountable for the unethical journalism they are practicing: Demand they get their facts straight and stop blindly accepting Hamas lies. Let them know that if they continue to promote a false narrative that unfairly smears Israel, we will get our news elsewhere.

Originally published by Facts and Logic About the Middle East.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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