On November 14, 2019, BBC News
appeared to scoop most media outlets with its triumphant reporting of a "ceasefire" between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (the "PIJ"). It was a compelling, physics-defying tale of a fragile "truce" willing itself to hold on despite a barrage of rockets still landing in Israel from Gaza. It made me want to sit the BBC's editorial staff down and remind it of the "5 Ws and 1 H" of journalism, and the only plausible story that could have resulted from the information the BBC so brazenly published under the headline "Israel-Gaza Ceasefire Holding Despite Rocket Fire":
What: Stopped attacking targets in Gaza
When: Overnight Wednesday, November 13, and continuing Thursday, November 14, 2019
Why: Per the BBC's citation of Israel Defense Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, Israel had "achieved all of its objectives"
How: It simply stopped; per the BBC's citation of a tweet by Israeli Minister Gilad Erdan, PIJ "wanted a ceasefire and it received no commitments in exchange," echoing the BBC's citation of Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz that "quiet will be answered with quiet."
I'm not trying to be pedantic. Competing narratives and rushes to publication can lead to unintentional dissemination of inaccurate information. But the BBC's coverage of this alleged "ceasefire" is beyond the pale.
First of all, a ceasefire is, by definition, at the very least a bilateral agreement to halt hostilities between one or more groups, with peace between the groups the ultimate objective.
It is unclear how the BBC determined that a "ceasefire" occurred between the PIJ and Israel. The only indication of a ceasefire was an early morning announcement by PIJ spokesman Musab al-Buraim that the PIJ had agreed to a ceasefire negotiated by Egypt. The BBC admits that Israel did not confirm the existence of a ceasefire, and seems to ignore that all official statements from Israel contradict the existence of any agreement with, or concessions to, the PIJ. The BBC also ignores how the PIJ's failure to stop firing rockets into Israel negates both the existence and maintenance of the alleged "ceasefire."
In fact, while several news organizations jumped in with similar stories, not one could find a solution for that pesky lack of evidence of any ceasefire, aside from the PIJ's self-serving statement that there was one.
According to Al Jazeera, it was Hamas, not the PIJ, who labored through the night with representatives of Egypt and Israel to hammer out the projectile-heavy "ceasefire." However, besides the statement of Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum taking credit for the alleged truce, Al Jazeera, like the BBC, failed to find a single Israeli or Egyptian official to corroborate this claim.
In another article, Al Jazeera heavily edited a statement by Israeli military spokesman Avichay Adraee that it "is over" to declare these words an unequivocal "confirmation" of a ceasefire, without any actual confirmations of any agreement from the Egyptian and Israeli officials allegedly involved in the negotiations.
The Guardian insisted that both the UN and Egypt had successfully negotiated the truce between the PIJ and Israel, but also acknowledges that any agreement by Israel would not have been formal, but a "quid pro quo" truce - lack of aggression by the PIJ would leave Israel no reason to retaliate.
Haaretz could confirm only that the PIJ wanted a ceasefire, and that Egyptian mediators were willing to assist in negotiations.
In fact, you have to go back to a Tuesday, November 12, 2019 article in The Times of Israel to truly see the disconnect between the reported narrative, and the glaring holes in that narrative. On Tuesday, The Times of Israel reported:
"Egyptian officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Cairo was attempting to de-escalate tensions between Israel and the terror groups. The officials added the Egyptian General Intelligence Service stepped up communications and 'opened channels' with the US and the European Union."
And there you have it. Reports of Egyptian success brokering a ceasefire were little more than an Egyptian desire to see a ceasefire occur, and attempts to facilitate conversations between the PIJ and the US and EU. Nowhere in Egypt's statement was there any intention to open a direct line of communication between the PIJ and Israel - and none of the subsequent reporting suggests that anything transpired other than a few backroom chats with the US and EU (and possibly the UN) about the desirability of a ceasefire.
Thus, we have finally unpacked the BBC's word salad with bias dressing: the PIJ wanted Israel to stop its rather effective missions to pick off PIJ leadership one by one. The PIJ whined to Egypt, and possibly the US, EU, and UN, but had no intention of negotiating directly with Israel. Israel shrugged and said, eh, we're good. If they make any more trouble for us, we know where to find them. The PIJ celebrated its diplomatic coup by firing a couple hundred rockets into Israel.
Yeah, I think that about covers it. Thanks, BBC, once again, for being the bastion of journalistic accuracy and integrity we've come to expect.
In his July 21, 2019 Daily Beast column, "freelance sports writer" Robert Silverman explicably uses a trending sports story (specifically, the induction of universally beloved former New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera into the
Baseball Hall of Fame) as an excuse to spew biased, arguably nonsensical, and clearly ill-timed accusations against Israel. Not sure why Rivera's 2.21 career ERA and 1.00 career WHIP should inspire this sort of vitriol against the State of Israel? You're not alone. A little known fact not generally included with Rivera's career stats (because it's, well, frankly irrelevant to his historic contributions
to the sport of baseball): Rivera supports Israel, which has literally nothing to do with his professional achievements. Is Silverman suggesting that the Hall of Fame should rescind Rivera's induction - despite Rivera being the first unanimous inductee in the history of Hall of Fame voting? Is Silverman implying that a player's political stances can negate an otherwise exemplary career...in baseball?
If so, what, exactly, are Silverman's qualifications to be the arbiter of who does and does not have sufficiently "acceptable" views and allegiances to be granted baseball's highest honor? This is a man whose own LinkedIn profile admits that his only professional contribution is that he "writes words for money." So why should we take those words as any sort of authority on anything? Because of his checkered past
writing hit pieces not even remotely qualifying as sports stories, much less responsible journalism? Or because he hides behind his exceedingly thin credentials as a freelance sports writer to spew as much anti-Zionist propaganda and conspiracy theories as the public can take, even if it's irrelevant to the piece? (As reported by Karen Bekker of CAMERA on July 31, 2019.)
THE DAILY MAIL (UK)
Thoroughly owning its nickname The Daily Fail, it doesn't get much more egregious than deciding that a sovereign country is incapable of naming its own capital, then even more egregiously deciding that a universally derided tabloid publication is better situated to do so. Thus The Fail unilaterally moved Israel's capital from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv by distributing a map, designating Tel Aviv as Israel's capital, to its approximately 975,000-strong readership in the United Kingdom, thereby muffing the "essential geographical facts" it was so proud to feature, ruining its self-thrown coming out party as a journalistic powerhouse in the UK and around the world. It's kind of like splitting your pants, falling into the cake, and getting friend-zoned by your date at the front door except, you know, you're less gawky, inexperienced teenager, and more self-important blowhard that thinks writing for a third-rate tabloid in the UK makes you an authority on either cartography or diplomacy. (As reported by Adam Levick of CAMERA UK Media Watch on September 2, 2019).
Below, a more accurate map of the current State of Israel, for those led to believe otherwise by a publication with Wikipedia, and multiple Twitter pages and hashtags, and other publications highlighting its abject uselessness as a source for anything.
Image: World Atlas
Not unlike The Daily Mail and other media outlets who play fast and loose with historical and geographical facts in service of a false, but apparently "sexier," Middle East narrative, we must recognize CBS news, one of the US's more mainstream news channels and websites, for inexplicably referring to the Gaza Strip as "Israeli-occupied" in an August 27, 2019 article. It's unclear why CBS has unilaterally declared the long-abandoned, now Hamas-controlled, Gaza Strip as "Israeli-occupied." Not even Hamas agrees on that point. (As reported by CAMERA on September 1, 2019.)
Image: © Melissa L. Steinberg
FRANCE 24 / CBS NEWS / THE INDEPENDENT (UK)/
THE MIDDLE EAST MONITOR /
THE ENTIRE MAINSTREAM MEDIA
Over the weeks of November 3 and November 10, 2019, Israel has suffered a relentless barrage of rockets from Gaza. These unprovoked attacks were the brainchild of Bahaa Abu al-Ata, a senior figure in the Iranian-funded Palestinian Islamic Jihad (the "PIJ"), which has been designated by the United States Department of State as a terrorist organization since 1997, with the goal of eradicating the State of Israel. During the night of November 12-13, 2019, the Israel Defense Forces ("IDF") and Shin Bet executed a flawless operation to eradicate Abu al-Ata instead: they knew not just the building he was in, but the exact room, and their targeted killing of one of the world's most notorious terrorists did not endanger nearby civilians in any way. But, enter the global mainstream media, ever ready to vilify Israel at any opportunity. Despite Abu al-Ata's killing being done, in retaliation for hundreds of deadly rockets fired into Israel at his command, and in the hope of ending the violence endangering Israeli civilians, the media has bent over backwards to present Abu al-Ata's death as the cause - rather than the result - of the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. Any Googler seeking information about the current status of the conflict is greeted with inflammatory, purposely misleading headlines: "Israel Murders Senior Islamic Jihad Official and His Wife in Gaza"; "Israel Hammers Iran-Linked Militants in Gaza Strip 'Without Mercy'". The Middle East Monitor refers to the IDF as "[t]he Israeli occupation army" - despite any supposed "occupation" of the Gaza Strip having ended when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. The Independent (UK) quoted sources within the PIJ that "Abu the commander was undergoing 'a heroic act,'" and that "the killing 'crossed all red lines,'" all while failing to underscore that the violent attacks perpetrated by Abu al-Ata and the PIJ against Israel precipitated what even it concedes was a "surgical strike" to take out Abu al-Ata. Coverage of violence initiated by Gaza toward Israel is rarely reported in a fair, unbiased manner - but in this case, where Israel's suffering has been so great, its response so measured and careful, and the PIJ's violence so wanton, indiscriminate, and purposeful, the coverage by the mainstream media, but particularly these sources, is egregious.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL / NPR
November 5, 2019 was a day of surprises for Omar Shakir, the American head the Jerusalem branch office of Human Rights Watch (HRW). He likely fully expected Israel's Supreme Court to rule that Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was justified in not renewing Shakir's work visa due to his use of such visa in furtherance of efforts to de-legitimize the State of Israel through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. However, it must have been news even to Shakir, a man famous for his hubris and sensationalism, that certain members of the media suddenly (and inexplicably) elevated Shakir, an American citizen working as a relatively low-level cog in the rather large, global HRW wheel, to the status of "Human Rights Official" and "legal resident" of Israel, and the Israeli government's ministerial immigration decision as an unprecedented "expulsion." Never mind that it is the prerogative of every nation to set its own standards for entry, whether by temporary visa, residency, or citizenship. A visa to enter any nation as a foreigner is a privilege, not a right - a right any holder should expect to lose when actively working to destroy his host country from within. To Shakir's credit, he seems to realize that he is not the hero the media is making him out to be, as made clear by his rallying cry that "[t]his issue is much larger than one person or one organization or even human rights advocacy at large!" - although one could wonder if those words actually mean what he thinks they mean. Shakir's statement does not exactly contradict that of Gilad Erdan, head of Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry (surprisingly reported by The Wall Street Journal's equally problematic article), who emphasized that HRW itself is in no way banned from Israel, nor is any other individual or group solely on the basis of making statements critical of Israel; that Israel does now, and will continue to, grant hundreds of work visas to employees of NGOs, even those who speak critically of the State of Israel; and that HRW is free to appoint another employee to head up its office in Israel- it just can't be Shakir, who was deemed ineligible because his work consisted primarily of efforts to delegitimize and destroy Israel from within. Nevertheless, NPR decided to reprint, without any context, Amnesty International's overwrought statement that "the court
has made it explicitly clear that those who dare speak out about human rights violations by the Israeli authorities will be treated as enemies of the state," without proper context. But, by all means, don't let the facts get in the way of your anti-Israel propaganda, guys.
Image: Twitter @OmarSShakir via
The Jerusalem Post, May 23, 2018
TIMES OF LONDON (UK)
UK newspaper Times of London has a reputation for "reasonable and thoughtful" reporting, making its inclusion of "protester" Ahed Tamimi, 18, on its Teen Power List 2019 all the more bizarre and alarming. For those not acquainted with Ms. Tamimi, her one shining achievement, it seems, is slapping Israeli soldiers. If you ask if
that's really enough to garner such prestige in the UK, one can only assume that the nominating committee was also moved by her complete lack of remorse, open call for the murder of members of Israel's Knesset, blatant support and dissemination of anti-Semitic propaganda and tropes, clear and unambiguous calls for Palestinians to commit violence against the Israeli state in its entirety (as well as soldiers), open campaigning for Israel's destruction, and claiming, just this year, that the United Kingdom is controlled by Zionists. Many in the UK might reasonably question why Ms. Tamimi was allowed entry to the UK, or allowed to stay given her behavior, much less honored for her contributions as a "Power Teen." As stated by Adam Levick, "The Times is normally one of the more reasonable and thoughtful news outlets in their coverage of both the Israel-Palestinian issue and anti-Semitism in the UK, a fact which makes their glorification of a pro-violence, anti-Semitic teen especially perplexing."
BBC RADIO 4 / CNN NEWS /
THE VAN JONES SHOW (CNN
Ah yes. One of the world's oldest anti-Semitic tropes has forced its way back into mainstream political thought. And we have, not surprisingly, the mainstream media to thank for that. The argument is simple: Jewish Americans cannot be trusted because our "allegiance" is not to our country of citizenship/residence, but to Israel. This was the unapologetic charge of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in February 2019 (the same Ilhan Omar who famously downplayed the Islamist terrorist aspects of the 9-11 attacks by obliquely referring to "some people who did something"). While several articles - including one written in The Atlantic by former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who described his first-hand experience with the inflammatory and bigoted charge - decried blatant anti-Semitism of Omar's tweets and ineffective attempts to backpedal, the vile trope reared its ugly head once again when Omar and fellow anti-Israel activist Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) were, consistent with long-standing Israeli policy, denied entry to Israel for their involvement in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement - and other media outlets, notably The Telegraph (a generally well regarded newspaper in the UK), BBC Radio 4 (the UK's state-funded radio station with a long history of anti-Israel bias), and CNN (an oft-problematic, yet also generally well regarded news channel in the US) uncritically and unapologetically gave Omar a platform to continue allowing one of the most pernicious and damaging anti-Semitic tropes to fester unchecked. The result: lawmakers such as Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) tweeting "dual loyalty" accusations at David Friedman, United States Ambassador to Israel, six months after Rep. Ilhan supposedly "unequivocally apologized" for her blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric (she didn't - she apologized only for saying that Jews are "All About the Benjamins," a different anti-Semitic trope altogether). It's clear that these charges aren't going anywhere - at least, not as long as these shining beacons of "in depth reporting, intelligent analysis, and breaking news from a global perspective" allow anti-Israel bigots to hijack the narrative. (As reported by Hadar Sela of CAMERA UK Media Watch on August 19, 2019, in a cross-post with BBC Watch; Karen Bekker of CAMERA on June 19, 2019; and Adam Levick of CAMERA UK Media Watch on September 9, 2019.