OpinionIsrael at War

Polemics as news

Instances of moral turpitude and the dereliction of journalistic standards have appeared in coverage of the war by “The Wall Street Journal” almost every day since Oct. 7.

The sign identifying the offices of “The Wall Street Journal” in New York City. Credit: spatuletail/Shutterstock.
The sign identifying the offices of “The Wall Street Journal” in New York City. Credit: spatuletail/Shutterstock.
Kenneth Levin
Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist, historian and author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege.

A country is attacked by terrorists who murder, mutilate, rape, decapitate and burn alive more than 1,200 of its people, kidnap some additional 240 and threaten to repeat the massacre again and again until that country is annihilated. The country’s government declares its determination to destroy the terrorists’ military and political capabilities and prevent any further threat to its people.

How would you characterize such a government?

If you’re The Wall Street Journal, you characterize it as “obstinate.”

In a May 4 front-page article titled “For Biden, Protests Mean Few Good Options, Lots of Risks,” the newspaper states, “Americans had already been debating the … alliance with an obstinate Israeli government. … The president has focused on pressing Israel and Hamas to accept a ceasefire that could both save lives in the region and quell protests in the U.S. Failure could prompt the Israeli government to start a long-planned operation against Hamas fighters in Rafah.”

The piece notes the Biden administration’s concerns about Israel entering Rafah. It never refers to the Israelis and military analysts from America and elsewhere who hold that the failure to destroy Hamas’s last brigades in Rafah and close smuggling tunnels between Rafah and the Sinai will ensure the survival of Hamas. Such a failure will allow the terror group to reassert control over Gaza and pursue its promised future massacres and genocidal agenda.

Also noteworthy is that the characterization of Israel as “obstinate” and the one-sided portrayal of the Rafah issue appear in what is supposed to be a story focused on facts, not an opinion piece. But the news pages of The Wall Street Journal, like those of other mainstream media outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, have largely become political platforms for Biden administration talking points. They have also become purveyors of myriad factual inaccuracies to advance those talking points.

The truth is that the Biden administration wants to undermine Israel’s military efforts to placate Arab and Muslim voters in Michigan and elsewhere, as well as indoctrinated campus leftists. The mainstream media is more than willing to skew its coverage accordingly.

This agenda leads to violating journalistic standards and contaminating news stories with political opinions and factual distortions. But it also results in moral bankruptcy.

In the context of the Israel-Hamas war, this bankruptcy entails a repeated—if largely implicit—drawing of moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas. But Israel is responding to the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, while Hamas is pursuing a racist and genocidal agenda based on what it sees as a religious duty to murder all Jews worldwide. Equating the two is monstrous.

Nonetheless, the Journal does precisely that. Note, for example, a paragraph that appeared on May 3, the day before the “obstinate” reference: “The political calculations of Israel’s prime minister and Hamas’s top leader in Gaza, both hardliners, have left them little room to reach a compromise over the war between the two sides, posing a problem for the Biden administration.”

Thus, an equivalence is drawn between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is seeking only to prevent further massacres of his people, and Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar, the chief architect of the Oct. 7 massacre.

Moreover, what does the Journal mean by “a compromise over the war between the two sides”? Is it an arrangement in which Hamas survives with the capacity to commit only half of the further massacres it has promised? Perhaps it involves a Hamas pledge to kill only half the world’s Jews?

Similar instances of moral turpitude and the dereliction of journalistic standards have appeared in the Journal‘s coverage of the war almost every day since Oct. 7.

However, the Journal is superior to The New York Times and The Washington Post in one respect: The Journal’s opinion pages have provided much of the essential reporting and facts on Oct. 7, the ensuing war, the history of the conflict and the larger geopolitical context missing from the Journal’s news pages.

Perhaps the powers that be at The Wall Street Journal should consider discontinuing its ostensible news reporting and publishing only its opinion section. It might not be a wise business decision, but it would do wonders for the paper’s integrity.  

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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