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August 5, 2014

The Foreign Media Fails to Cover Hamas

With a shaky cease fire in place, foreign journalists are beginning to leave Gaza, some of them revealing for the first time on-the-ground photo and video evidence of Hamas operations in civilian areas.

During the four weeks of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, there has been plenty of video and photos taken by foreign journalists in Gaza, most of it depicting the civilian humanitarian toll. To the consternation of many, there were virtually no videos of Hamas operatives launching one of the over 3,000 rockets sent against Israel, no photos of armed Hamas operatives on the streets, few descriptions of Hamas operations centers or safe houses.

On August 5, the Indian network NDTV featured an “exclusive” video of a rocket being prepared and fired from a location just outside their hotel, in an area of civilian homes and commercial businesses.

Why have these photos and videos been lacking until now?   There have been allegations that journalists in Gaza were bullied into silence, reports that those who reported on or photographed Hamas operating in civilian areas were forcibly removed from Gaza.   In explaining why news stories haven’t mentioned the well-known fact that Hamas has an operation center in a bunker directly underneath one of Gaza’s main hospitals, Tablet Magazine explained:

“What Hamas has done, therefore, is to turn Shifa Hospital into a Hollywood sound-stage filled with real, live war victims who are used to score propaganda points, while the terrorists inside the hospital itself are erased from photographs and news accounts through a combination of pressure and threats, in order to produce the stories that Hamas wants.”

Others claim that such photos were just not available to be taken.  In an interview for The New York Times’ The Lens Blog, photographer Tyler Hicks explained why among the hundreds of photos he took over a two week period in Gaza, almost none were of Hamas rockets, weapons or operatives:

Q: We have many photos of the casualties and destruction in Gaza. Why don’t we have many photos of Hamas fighters or missiles? A: This is a war fought largely behind the scenes. Hamas fighters are not able to expose themselves. If they were to even step a foot on the street they would be spotted by an Israeli drone and immediately blown up. We don’t see those fighters. They are operating out of buildings and homes and at night. They are moving around very carefully. You don’t see any signs of authority on the streets. If you can imagine every police officer, every person of authority in America gone, this is what that would look like.  If we had access to them, we would be photographing them. I never saw a single device for launching the rockets to Israel. It’s as if they don’t exist.  Sometimes people assume that you can have access to everything, that you can see everything. But the fighters are virtually invisible to us. What we do as photographers is document what we can to show that side of the war. There are funerals, there are people being rushed to the hospital, but you can’t differentiate the fighters from the civilians. They are not wearing uniforms. If there is someone coming into the hospital injured, you can’t tell if that’s just a shopkeeper or if this is someone who just fired a rocket towards Israel. It’s impossible to know who’s who. We tried to cover this as objectively as possible.

Other news crews have inadvertently filmed rockets.  For example, this France24 reporter was surprised when a rocket was fired right behind him during his July 31 live report. Upon posting the video of the rocket launching, NDTV explained that it was being made public because the news team responsible for the clip had left Gaza:

This report is being aired on NDTV and published on after our team left the Gaza strip – Hamas has not taken very kindly to any reporting of its rockets being fired. But just as we reported the devastating consequences of Israel’s offensive on Gaza’s civilians, it is equally important to report on how Hamas places those very civilians at risk by firing rockets deep from the heart of civilian zones.

As journalists begin to stream out of Gaza  to cover other crises around the world, it is likely we will be seeing more and more of these “exclusive” videos and photos of Hamas operations suddenly revealed.

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January 31, 2014

Newseum & Smithsonian Select Anti-Semitic Paper For Upcoming Media Exhibit


Cartoon published in Arab American News in March 2010

The Newseum and the Smithsonian Institute have chosen the Arab American News¸ an Arabic-English language weekly newspaper based in Dearborn, Michigan, with a long history of publishing anti-Semitic articles, for an exhibit showcasing media from various ethnic communities the U.S.

The May 2014 exhibit,One Nation With News for All,“will tell the story of how immigrants and minorities used the power of the press to fight for their rights and change American history,” according the Newseum website. 

The stated purpose of the exhibit to celebrate the rich cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds of hundreds of communities that have made the U.S. their home, is laudable. The selection of the Arab American News to represent the Arabic-speaking community is a particularly poor choice to represent the positive message of the exhibit.

The newspaper has a long history of publishing articles that propagate theories of Jewish control over the U.S. government and foreign policy. The English-language section of the newspaper has provided a platform for known anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and 9/11 conspiracy theorists, such as Jeff Gates, Paul Craig Roberts and Alan Sabrosky. Its Editor-in-Chief Osama Siblani has expressed public support for terrorist organizations. 

Examples of the anti-Semitic and conspiratorial articles in the Arab American News can be found in ADL’s Profile: Osama Siblani & The Arab American News

The Newseum stirred controversy in May 2013 when it included the names of two journalists from Hamas’s Al Aqsa TV as part of its ongoing memorial to journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty. Although the Newseum had indicated that it would “reevaluate” the inclusion of the journalists, the museum ultimately decided to include the names in the memorial.

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January 30, 2014

The Media’s Coverage of Palestinian Incitement Towards Israel

Recently, the New York Times ran an informative piece on the proliferation of Hamas training camps in Gaza, where impressionable Palestinian teens are taught to hate Israel through participation in military-style boot camps, where they are trained to fire guns and build bombs in order to attack the Jewish State.

While the article itself was interesting, the timing seemed to suggest that Palestinian incitement was something of a new phenomenon. The reality is that this type of violent indoctrination equipping children with the skills and motivation to kill Israelis, as well as other forms of Palestinian incitement, are nothing new.

A recent Israeli government report highlights how Palestinian government officials, media outlets and educational institutions are engaged in an ongoing incitement campaign towards Israel. Hitler is quoted on school Facebook pages, Jews are described on TV as “barbaric monkeys” and the “murders of Mohammed,” and Palestinian President Abbas has repeatedly embraced released Palestinian terrorists as “heroes.”

Perhaps one of the most infamous instances of Palestinian incitement occurred in 2007 with Mickey Mouse “Farfour” episode, where Mickey was shown on Hamas TV being beaten to death by an actor posing as an Israeli agent trying to buy land. Young viewers of the TV program were than told that “Farfour was martyred while defending his land” and was killed “by the killers of children.” The Hamas TV episode was so horrific it even merited a spot on The Daily Show.

With Israel and the Palestinians currently engaged in an intense and protracted period of negotiations over the potential for a future Palestinian state, the need to highlight and counteract the dangers of incitement is even more pressing. The issue has been repeatedly raised in recent weeks by Israeli political leaders in meetings with international leaders, public speeches and other forums, but hasn’t received as much international media attention as it should.

In order for peace to be achieved, the Palestinian Authority must end the incitement campaign against Israel. It is the task of responsible media outlets to continue to draw attention to the issue, and not allow incitement to continue existing under the surface.


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