Why Does the Media Keep Encouraging Hamas Violence?: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, May 17, 2018— If this were the first time that Hamas deliberately provoked Israel into self-defense actions that resulted in the unintended deaths of Gaza civilians, the media could be excused for playing into the hands of Hamas.
The Media War on Palestinian Agency: Sohrab Ahmari, Commentary, May 14, 2018— Palestinian Arabs are human beings, which means they are possessed of free will, agency, and the natural capacity to reason like any other people.
Media Goes Wild in Anti-Trump, Anti-Israel Fervor: Ben Shapiro, The Hill, May 15, 2018 — On Tuesday, the New York Daily News ran with another of its desperate appeals for circulation.
Falling for Hamas’s Split-Screen Fallacy: Matti Friedman, New York Times, May 16, 2018— During my years in the international press here in Israel, long before the bloody events of this week, I came to respect Hamas for its keen ability to tell a story.
On Topic Links
Guardian Editorial on Gaza Perfectly Shows the Media’s Anti-Israel Bias and Hatred: Adam Levick, Algemeiner, May 16, 2018
Hamas Official: Majority of Palestinians Killed in Violent Protests are Our Men: IPT News, May 16, 2018
Why Is Hamas So Interested in Palestinian Deaths?: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, May 16, 2018
WHY DOES THE MEDIA KEEP ENCOURAGING HAMAS VIOLENCE?
Alan M. Dershowitz
Gatestone Institute, May 17, 2018
If this were the first time that Hamas deliberately provoked Israel into self-defense actions that resulted in the unintended deaths of Gaza civilians, the media could be excused for playing into the hands of Hamas. The most recent Hamas provocations — having 40,000 Gazans try to tear down the border fence and enter Israel with Molotov cocktails and other improvised weapons — are part of a repeated Hamas tactic that I have called the “dead baby strategy.” Hamas’ goal is to have Israel kill as many Gazans as possible so that the headlines always begin, and often end, with the body count. Hamas deliberately sends women and children to the front line, while their own fighters hide behind these human shields.
Hamas leaders have long acknowledged this tactic. Fathi Hammad, a Hamas Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, stated as far back as 2008: “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘we desire death like you desire life.'”
Hamas used this tactic to provoke two wars with Israel in which their fighters fired rockets from civilian areas, including hospitals, schools and mosques. When Israel responded, it tried its best to avoid civilian casualties, dropping warning leaflets, calling residents of potential targets and dropping non-lethal noise bombs on the roofs of houses that were being used to launch rockets and store explosives. Inevitably, some civilians were killed, and the media blamed Israel for these deaths, despite the precautions it had taken. The same was true when Hamas built terror tunnels used to kidnap Israeli civilians. The entrances to these tunnels were in civilian areas as well, including mosques and schools. Using their own civilians as human shields, while targeting Israeli civilians, is a double war crime. Yet, the media generally focuses on Israel’s reaction to these war crimes, rather than Hamas’ war crimes.
The cruel reality is that every time Israel accidentally kills a Gaza civilian, Israel loses. And every time Israel kills a Gaza civilian, Hamas wins. Israelis grieve every civilian death its army accidentally causes. Hamas benefits from every death Israel accidentally causes. That is why it encourages its women and children to become martyrs. Calling this the “dead baby strategy” may seem cruel, because it is cruel. But don’t blame the messenger for accurately describing this tactic. Blame those who cynically use it. And blame the media for playing into the hands of those who use it by reporting only the body count and not the deliberate Hamas tactic that leads to one-sided body counts.
It is true that Gaza is in a desperate situation and that it is wounded. But the wound is self-inflicted. When Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip — removing every single soldier and settler — Gaza could have become the Singapore of the Mediterranean. It is a beautiful area with a large seacoast. It received infusions of cash and other help from Europe. Israel left behind agricultural equipment and greenhouses. But instead of using these resources to feed, house and educate its citizens, Hamas built rockets and terror tunnels. It threw dissenters off roofs and murdered members of the Palestinian Authority who were willing to recognize Israel and negotiate with it.
Hamas rejects the two-state solution or any solution that leaves Israel intact. Its only solution is violence, and the events at the fence these past days are a manifestation of that violence. Would any country in the world allow 40,000 people, sworn to its destruction, to knock down a border fence and attack its citizens living peacefully near the border? Of course not. Could Israel have done more to reduce casualties among those trying to breach the border fence? I don’t know, and neither do the legions of armchair generals that are currently criticizing Israel for the steps it took to prevent a catastrophe among the residents of villages and towns that are proximate to the border fence.
One thing is crystal-clear: Hamas will continue to use the dead baby strategy as long as the media continues to report the deaths in the manner in which it has reported them in recent weeks. Many in the media are complicit in these deaths because their one-sided reporting encourages Hamas to send innocent women and children to the front line. Perhaps Israel could do a better job in defending its civilians, but it is certain that the media can do a better job in accurately reporting the Hamas strategy that results in so many innocent deaths.
There is a marvelous cartoon that illustrates the difference between Hamas and Israel. It shows an Israeli soldier standing in front of a baby carriage with a baby in it, shielding the baby. Then it shows a Hamas terrorist standing behind a baby carriage with the baby in it, using the baby to shield him. This cartoon better illustrates the reality that is occurring at the Gaza fence than most of the “objective” reporting by the media.
THE MEDIA WAR ON PALESTINIAN AGENCY
Commentary, May 14, 2018
Palestinian Arabs are human beings, which means they are possessed of free will, agency, and the natural capacity to reason like any other people. This basic, incontestable anthropological reality needs to be frequently restated today since our media and foreign-policy establishment has apparently concluded the opposite. The latest media assault on Palestinian agency came Monday, as Israelis celebrated the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, while Palestinians attempted to infiltrate en masse the barrier fence that separates the Jewish state from the terrorist-run Gaza Strip to the south.
By the Western media’s dim lights, the blame for Hamas’s criminal stunt and the casualties it caused lay with . . . anybody and everybody but Hamas and the Palestinians. The narrative emerged early on Twitter, and the social-media platform’s deplorable tendency to flatten reality into cheap, emotive images no doubt accelerated its dissemination. The juxtaposition–of “Jivanka” and Benjamin Netanyahu celebrating in Jerusalem while Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians at the Gaza border–proved irresistible to reporters. The BBC’s Katty Kay, for example, was quick to point out that President Trump’s warm words for the Jewish state came while there were “41 dead on the Israel Gaza border today.” An AFP White House correspondent posted the two sets of images side-by-side–a smiling and clapping Bibi next to a photo of fire and smoke from Gaza–with the words: “Quite the disconnect.” He had garnered more than 2,600 retweets as of this writing.
Then there was Peter Beinart (Marshall, declined): “While Jewish + Christian bigots celebrate an occupied city, Jewish soldiers kill people fleeing an open-air prison. As a great lover of Zion said long ago, ‘This is not the way.’” Yes, “fleeing.” That is an interesting way to describe a concerted, Iranian-regime-funded operation to violate Israeli sovereignty and do “whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones,” as the Washington Post quoted one of the “protesters” describing the movement’s goals.
The Palestinians’ more sophisticated friends know what Hamas is all about. They understand that young men whipped into a frenzy by an organization that exists to destroy world Jewry, per its charter, aren’t exactly latter-day Freedom Riders. But they think that the Palestinians can’t help themselves. While they expect Israel–a state encircled by hostile populations and threatened with nuclear extinction by the Iranian mullahs–to behave like Norway, of the Palestinians they have the most dismal, if any, expectations.
Thus Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer tweeted: “The Palestinians killed today knew Israeli Defense Forces would use lethal force in response to their demonstrations. It didn’t stop them. They felt hopeless.” The Mideast reporter Sulome Anderson echoed his sentiments: “Imagine the desperation it takes to walk into live gunfire from the Middle East’s most powerful fighting force, armed with nothing more than rocks & the occasional Molotov or grenade. Try to conceive of the circumstances that could drive so many human beings to such an act.”
Or maybe try to conceive of the poisonous power of Hamas’s anti-Semitic ideology and the Palestinians’ permanently aggrieved mentality, which has allowed the conflict to fester despite numerous peace offers from the Israeli side. There are desperate people all over the world who never translate their frustration into suicide bombing, stone throwing, border-rushing, and violent “Days of Rage.” It does the Palestinians no good to treat them as children entitled to tantrums, as permanent wards of the international community or, worst, as wild men bereft of reason. Then again, such highhanded pity isn’t really about helping the Palestinians so much as it is about flattering their Western friends.
Meanwhile, Israel has good reason to celebrate: 70 years of independence, a dynamic economy, an innovative tech industry, a vibrant public square, a globally influential culture, demographics that are the envy of the West, burgeoning alliances with former enemies, and now American recognition of its capital. Leave it to the New York Times to frame the anniversary as a moment of “peril” and a “nightmare taking shape.” The Times dispatch, by David Halbfinger, acknowledges these successes. But it claims that “Israelis seem not to know what to feel” and quotes historian Tom Segev, who says that the “future is very bleak.” This is a distorted picture of Israeli sentiment. Massive celebrations have been going on for weeks, involving hundreds of thousands of people. It does, however, reveal the psychological anguish in the Times newsroom over the Jewish state’s triumph.
MEDIA GOES WILD IN ANTI-TRUMP, ANTI-ISRAEL FERVOR Ben Shapiro The Hill, May 15, 2018
On Tuesday, the New York Daily News ran with another of its desperate appeals for circulation. This time, it blamed Ivanka Trump for Hamas-generated violence in the Gaza Strip. The cover featured a grinning Ivanka, dressed to the nines, at the inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. But instead of her gesturing to the placard featured on the new embassy, the Daily News photoshopped in a photo of a wounded Palestinian on the Gaza border — so now Ivanka was gesturing at Palestinian suffering, a smile spread broadly across her face. The headline: “DADDY’S LITTLE GHOUL.”
This is absolutely abhorrent. It’s also reflective of the media coverage of both the Trump administration and Israel overall. The media have been repeating Hamas propaganda — and, presumably, they know it. They’ve been claiming that Israel is killing “protesters,” even though these are Hamas-led riots. They’ve been claiming that Israel has been targeting civilians, when it is clear this is not the case. And now they’re claiming that the Trump administration is to blame. The Washington Post headlined, “Israelis kill dozens of Palestinians in Gaza protesting U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem.”
The violence in the Gaza Strip has been ongoing for weeks, and has been entirely orchestrated by Hamas. Palestinians, including Hamas terrorists, have been throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops, as well as explosive devices and stones; they’ve been burning tires and attempting to cut through the border fence with wirecutters. The Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, Ronen Manelis, says Hamas is paying families to protest, and that they have intelligence that Hamas seeks to kidnap an Israeli soldier.
Hamas’ leadership has announced that it seeks to promote violence along the border, and has activated tens of thousands of Palestinians as public cover for that violence. Hamas’s leader, Yahya Sinwar, said last month, “We will take down their border and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies.” Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al Zahhar openly told al Jazeera, “This is not a peaceful resistance … when we talk about peaceful resistance, we are deceiving the public. This is peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies and enjoying tremendous public support.” Palestinian participants know this. NPR asked a Gazan flying a kite with a swastika about his motivation. His answer: “We want them to burn.” Mohammed Mansoura, a 23-year-old “protester,” explained, “We are excited to storm and get inside … whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones.”
Palestinian rioters captured by Israel have said the same thing. According to the Israeli Security Agency, Yahiya Eijle, a Hamas member arrested on April 29, told them that Hamas was instructing its activists to cut the fence, that they want their activity to be seen “in the international media as a popular uprising, and not as violent action led by its militants,” and that Hamas members are embedded in the general population for purposes of public relations. Another Palestinian terrorist captured by Israel stated that “Hamas militants in civilian clothes encourage children to try to cross the fence in order to steal IDF equipment.”
Yet according to the media, all of this is Israel’s fault — or the fault of the dastardly Trump administration. Never mind that Hamas has participated in ongoing war with Israel since its election in 2006, the year after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. Never mind that Hamas routinely locates terrorists among civilians in order to mislead the media into believing that Israel targets civilians. (Hamas hid its headquarters during the 2014 Gaza war in a hospital). No, it must be Ivanka Trump’s fault.
Let’s be clear: Ivanka Trump’s presence in Israel to announce the inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem has nothing to do with the violence. Blaming Ivanka Trump for the situation in Gaza isn’t just politically illiterate, it’s utterly immoral. Ivanka is Jewish; her husband is Jewish; they were in Israel to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment. To photoshop her on the cover of a newspaper grinning as she gestures to a picture of a wounded Palestinian is nothing less than a blood libel. But all’s fair in love and anti-Trump garbage these days
FALLING FOR HAMAS’S SPLIT-SCREEN FALLACY
New York Times, May 16, 2018
During my years in the international press here in Israel, long before the bloody events of this week, I came to respect Hamas for its keen ability to tell a story. At the end of 2008 I was a desk editor, a local hire in The Associated Press’s Jerusalem bureau, during the first serious round of violence in Gaza after Hamas took it over the year before. That conflict was grimly similar to the American campaign in Iraq, in which a modern military fought in crowded urban confines against fighters concealed among civilians. Hamas understood early that the civilian death toll was driving international outrage at Israel, and that this, not I.E.D.s or ambushes, was the most important weapon in its arsenal.
Early in that war, I complied with Hamas censorship in the form of a threat to one of our Gaza reporters and cut a key detail from an article: that Hamas fighters were disguised as civilians and were being counted as civilians in the death toll. The bureau chief later wrote that printing the truth after the threat to the reporter would have meant “jeopardizing his life.” Nonetheless, we used that same casualty toll throughout the conflict and never mentioned the manipulation.
Hamas understood that Western news outlets wanted a simple story about villains and victims and would stick to that script, whether because of ideological sympathy, coercion or ignorance. The press could be trusted to present dead human beings not as victims of the terrorist group that controls their lives, or of a tragic confluence of events, but of an unwarranted Israeli slaughter. The willingness of reporters to cooperate with that script gave Hamas the incentive to keep using it.
The next step in the evolution of this tactic was visible in Monday’s awful events. If the most effective weapon in a military campaign is pictures of civilian casualties, Hamas seems to have concluded, there’s no need for a campaign at all. All you need to do is get people killed on camera. The way to do this in Gaza, in the absence of any Israeli soldiers inside the territory, is to try to cross the Israeli border, which everyone understands is defended with lethal force and is easy to film. About 40,000 people answered a call to show up. Many of them, some armed, rushed the border fence. Many Israelis, myself included, were horrified to see the number of fatalities reach 60.
Most Western viewers experienced these events through a visual storytelling tool: a split screen. On one side was the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem in the presence of Ivanka Trump, evangelical Christian allies of the White House and Israel’s current political leadership — an event many here found curious and distant from our national life. On the other side was the terrible violence in the desperately poor and isolated territory. The juxtaposition was disturbing.
The attempts to breach the Gaza fence, which Palestinians call the March of Return, began in March and have the stated goal of erasing the border as a step toward erasing Israel. A central organizer, the Hamas leader Yehya Sinwar, exhorted participants on camera in Arabic to “tear out the hearts” of Israelis. But on Monday the enterprise was rebranded as a protest against the embassy opening, with which it was meticulously timed to coincide. The split screen, and the idea that people were dying in Gaza because of Donald Trump, was what Hamas was looking for.
The press coverage on Monday was a major Hamas success in a war whose battlefield isn’t really Gaza, but the brains of foreign audiences. Israeli soldiers facing Gaza have no good choices. They can warn people off with tear gas or rubber bullets, which are often inaccurate and ineffective, and if that doesn’t work, they can use live fire. Or they can hold their fire to spare lives and allow a breach, in which case thousands of people will surge into Israel, some of whom — the soldiers won’t know which — will be armed fighters. (On Wednesday a Hamas leader, Salah Bardawil, told a Hamas TV station that 50 of the dead were Hamas members. The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed three others.) If such a breach occurs, the death toll will be higher. And Hamas’s tactic, having proved itself, would likely be repeated by Israel’s enemies on its borders with Syria and Lebanon.
Knowledgeable people can debate the best way to deal with this threat. Could a different response have reduced the death toll? Or would a more aggressive response deter further actions of this kind and save lives in the long run? What are the open-fire orders on the India-Pakistan border, for example? Is there something Israel could have done to defuse things beforehand?
These are good questions. But anyone following the response abroad saw that this wasn’t what was being discussed. As is often the case where Israel is concerned, things quickly became hysterical and divorced from the events themselves. Turkey’s president called it “genocide.” A writer for The New Yorker took the opportunity to tweet some of her thoughts about “whiteness and Zionism,” part of an odd trend that reads America’s racial and social problems into a Middle Eastern society 6,000 miles away. The sicknesses of the social media age — the disdain for expertise and the idea that other people are not just wrong but villainous — have crept into the worldview of people who should know better.
For someone looking out from here, that’s the real split-screen effect: On one side, a complicated human tragedy in a corner of a region spinning out of control. On the other, a venomous and simplistic story, a symptom of these venomous and simplistic times.
On Topic Links
‘Canada Would Do Exactly the Same Thing’: Israel’s Deputy Minister Defends Gaza Border Violence (Interview): CBC, May 16, 2018—Israeli Deputy Minister Michael Oren blames Hamas for the bloodshed at the Israel-Gaza border this week, and says the media is doing the militant group’s bidding. Israeli forces killed at least 60 Palestinians, most by gunfire, and injured more than 2,700 since Monday during protests near the border.
Guardian Editorial on Gaza Perfectly Shows the Media’s Anti-Israel Bias and Hatred: Adam Levick, Algemeiner, May 16, 2018—The first thing that stands out in The Guardian’s latest official editorial on the Gaza border riots is the absence of even one use of the word “Hamas” in more than 600 words of text, despite the fact that the violence has been organized and funded by the terror group.
Hamas Official: Majority of Palestinians Killed in Violent Protests are Our Men: IPT News, May 16, 2018—Hamas official Salah Bardawil may have destroyed the narrative that Israel is indiscriminately killing non-violent protesters at the Gaza border. The vast majority of Palestinians killed, Bardawil told a Palestinian interviewer, were Hamas fighters.
Why Is Hamas So Interested in Palestinian Deaths?: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, May 16, 2018—Hamas defined the day of violent clashes at Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, on May 14, 2018, during which some 59 Palestinians were claimed to have been killed, as living proof of a victory for jihad and the armed struggle against Israel. It openly admitted that these were not spontaneous demonstrations but a campaign orchestrated by Hamas and other Palestinian organizations defined as terrorist groups in the West.