OpinionIsrael at War

The Washington Post’s unintentional irony

The paper’s coverage of images of detained terror suspects is an emotive narrative and nothing more.

“The Washington Post” homepage. Credit: Sharaf Maksumov/Shutterstock
“The Washington Post” homepage. Credit: Sharaf Maksumov/Shutterstock
Michael Berenhaus
Dr. Michael Berenhaus is a freelance activist who works to combat anti-Israel bias in the media. He has been widely published in news sources such as The Economist, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

In a Dec. 14 article, “Images of stripped and humiliated Palestinians draw condemnation,” The Washington Post made much ado about an image of suspected Gaza terrorists in Israeli custody that showed the suspects bound and dressed only in their underwear.

Unfortunately, it was much ado about nothing. Yes, Israel detains Gaza men of military age who are suspected of being members of Hamas and has them stripped to their underwear. The reason they are stripped is that Palestinian terrorists have long histories of wearing suicide bombs under their clothes. The Post chose to withhold this rather essential fact until the end of its article.

In addition, the fact that it is difficult to identify Gaza combatants because Hamas soldiers often go without uniforms was completely omitted. Hamas’s decision to forgo uniforms is both illegal under international law and endangers innocent Gazans by making it more difficult for Israel to identify combatants. That is why Israel is forced to detain those suspected of terrorism and strip them of their clothes. Those who are not found to be members of Hamas are released. The Post failed to mention any of this.

The Post also appeared to make up an emotive narrative of the images out of whole cloth. According to the article, the image of the detained Gazans prompted unnamed “rights activists” to claim it conveyed “something different, and darker; an attempt to humiliate and dehumanize Palestinians.” The paper offered nothing to back up this accusation.

Nonetheless, the Post went further, drawing a bizarre parallel to a series of incidents that had nothing to do with Israel. It claimed, “Now [the images] are indelible: an enduring cause for rage among Palestinians and anger in the region. For some, they stir echoes of the tableaus of torture that emerged during the Iraq War from the U.S.-run detention center at Abu Ghraib prison.”

Given that the images showed no torture whatsoever, this is a very bizarre claim. Moreover, the Oct. 7 Hamas rampage of mass murder, in which Israeli men, women, elderly, toddlers and babies were barbarically slaughtered, mutilated and maimed indicates that Palestinians are capable of conjuring up more than enough rage on their own.

To the Post’s credit, in an ensuing overview of alleged Israeli depredations in Gaza, it did mention that one detainee’s story of being humiliated “could not be independently corroborated.” This caveat is at least a concession to reality, given that Hamas controls all information coming out of Gaza.

Nonetheless, the article stated that U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller “found those images disturbing.” Miller added, “We are seeking more information both about the nature of the images and, of course, why they’re public in the first place.”

Strangely, the Post saw fit to quote a U.S. official lambasting Israel while comparing Israel’s treatment of terror suspects to the treatment of inmates at a U.S.-run prison. Clearly, The Washington Post is a place where irony thrives in darkness.

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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