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Iran Attacks Israel: CNN’s Amanpour Minimizes Barrage & Fake News Goes Viral

Iran launched an unprecedented direct attack on Israel overnight on Saturday, launching at least 300 drones and missiles towards the Jewish state.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) coordinated with other militaries, including the USA and UK, to intercept most of the projectiles, which were also supplemented by further rockets fired from Iranian terror proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah also joined the assault and announced it had fired two barrages of rockets at an Israeli military base in the Golan Heights.

Fake News Goes Viral Overnight

As the skies above and surrounding Israel were lit up with rockets overnight, social media was also alight with fake news, videos and photos purporting to be of the extraordinary attack.

While the majority of outright false information came from users on the platform X (formerly known as Twitter), Qatari mouthpiece Al Jazeera was also caught publishing a video that it falsely claimed showed rockets hitting Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, infamous pro-Hamas influencer Jackson Hinkle was among the X platform users to share fake footage that he said showed “Israelis panicking” as the Iranian barrages hit Israel. BBC Verify journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh confirmed the video was actually of crowds in Argentina waiting to meet a musician. 

Hinkle, who was recently banned from Instagram, posted numerous messages of support for Iran throughout the attack, including several posts praising Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and AI-generated images of planes dropping bombs.

Jackson Hinkle praise for Iran on X

Unsurprisingly, Iran’s state TV was behind the spread of many videos that purported to show catastrophic damage in Israel, including one that was actually of a fire in Chile that was filmed in February.

Perhaps hoping to ratchet up the tension, a number of users shared claims that Israel had immediately launched a drone counterstrike on Iran, including sharing videos of what they claimed was a fire in Tehran.

Others shared footage of the 2020 Beirut Port explosion, which they said showed Israel’s Mossad bombing the Iranian capital.

International Media Play Down Attack

The international media responded to the overnight attack with breaking news updates and rolling live coverage.

While most of the reporting stuck to the facts, there were a few instances of the media either downplaying the attack or obscuring the sequence of events that preceded Iran’s assault.

CNN pundit Christiane Amanpour, for example, ludicrously described the attack as “entirely targeted,” even though hundreds of thousands of Israelis were forced into shelters as large parts of the country remained under threat.

The BBC and ABC News Australia did not specify in their headlines that Iran had fired hundreds of drones and long-range missiles at Israel, instead vaguely referring to the weapons as “objects.” Furthermore, ABC News Australia’s headline failed to mention Iran at all.

ABC News Australia
ABC News Australia’s Headline on Iran Attacking Israel

The New York Times, in its coverage, suggested that the attack was somehow justified by asserting that Israel had “bombed an Iranian embassy complex” in Damascus. In reality, Israel targeted a building near the embassy that was being used by IRGC leaders to coordinate attacks on Israel.

The Observer published an editorial mere hours after the attack, calling for any further escalation to be prevented:

Amid the present tumult, it should not be forgotten that this Iranian attack was provoked, according to Iran’s leadership at least, by Israel’s unacknowledged bombing on 1 April of an Iranian embassy annex in Damascus that killed several senior commanders. In Tehran’s not unreasonable view, that attack crossed a red line by targeting diplomatic premises.”

Let us be completely clear: there is nothing “unreasonable,” as The Observer suggests, about Israel striking the infrastructure of the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism that was being used to mastermind attacks on Israel. Suggesting it was merely a diplomatic facility is nothing short of absurd.

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Joe Rogan’s Troubling Anti-Israel Podcast Episodes

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At 14.5 million followers, The Joe Rogan Experience consistently tops the charts as the most popular podcast on Spotify.

With 16 million subscribers on YouTube and millions more on Apple Podcasts, it is clear that Joe Rogan’s unique interviews and charismatic personality resonate with and influence a wide audience.

Part of the appeal of The Joe Rogan Experience is that it covers topics that are generally considered controversial and features interviews with people who hold ideas that are seen as being outside the mainstream.

Naturally, this means that the podcast has touched on Israel and the Jewish people in the past.

However, just because The Joe Rogan Experience’s brand isn’t scared to go outside the mainstream, it does not absolve the podcast of spreading misinformation by either Rogan, himself, or one of his guests.

Here are just some of the times that Joe Rogan enabled the spread of anti-Israel misinformation or dangerous stereotypes about the Jewish people on his podcast.

Joe Rogan: Israel is Committing Genocide

During a podcast interview with comedian Kurt Metzger recorded at the end of March 2024, Joe Rogan commented that Israel’s ongoing defensive war against Hamas was tantamount to genocide due to the number of civilian casualties caught up in the fighting.

Rogan then went on to engage in Holocaust inversion, claiming that Israel was okay with imitating what was done to the Jews during the Holocaust. According to Rogan, “You guys [Israel] are willing to do what was done to you that led you to believe that you needed to start your own country? You’re willing to do that on a small scale in Gaza.”

Rogan also allowed his guest to openly claim that Israel’s war conduct in Gaza was worse than that of Putin’s Russia during its invasion of Ukraine and that Israelis hated Palestinians as part of a “racial thing.”

Joe Rogan Defends ‘All About the Benjamins’ Tweet

In 2019, Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar publicly commented on US congressional support for Israel, tweeting “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” asserting this bi-partisan support for the Jewish state is a result of lobby money and not shared values between the two countries.

With its allusions to the classic antisemitic stereotypes of Jews and money as well as dual loyalty, Omar’s tweet aroused a media firestorm and she subsequently apologized for her statement.

In February 2023, following a US House of Representatives vote to oust Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, her 2019 tweet arose as a topic of discussion between Joe Rogan and his guest Krystal Ball.

Rogan jumped to the defense of Omar, quipping that her 2019 tweet was “not an antisemitic statement, I don’t think that is. Benjamins are money. The idea that Jewish people are not into money is ridiculous. That’s like saying Italians aren’t into pizza, it’s f—-ng stupid.”

Later, Rogan concurred with Krystal Ball’s assertion that the pro-Israel lobby movement and money are responsible for “uniparty consensus around our policy vis-à-vis the Israeli government and a total inability and unwillingness to criticize the Israeli government.”

Joe Rogan Interviews Roger Waters

For years, Roger Waters has spent his time spreading a wide variety of absurd claims about Israel, Zionism and the Jewish people, some of which have crossed the line into outright antisemitism.

So, it was only natural that when he appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience in October 2022, the famed musician would take some time to spread his latest conspiratorial talking points about the Jewish state.

However, as pointed out by many on social media at the time, rather than push back against Waters’ extreme rhetoric, Rogan simply nodded along and even responded positively to some of Waters’ assertions, granting them an air of legitimacy.

As detailed at the time by the pro-Israel blog site Israellycool, some of the most egregious statements made by Waters during his Joe Rogan Experience interview included:

  • The claim that Israel behaves like “people in the past behaved towards Jews in northern Europe” [i.e. Nazis].
  • A legitimization of Hamas as the “democratically elected government of Gaza,” the claim that Hamas rockets are “ineffectual,” and the implicit validation of Hamas’ anti-Israel terrorism as “resistance” against occupation.
  • That Israel is hoping for another Palestinian intifada as a pretense “to kill them all.”
  • The oft-repeated claim that an Israeli audience reacted negatively to Waters’ suggestion at a 2006 concert that it was incumbent upon this generation of Israelis to make peace with the Palestinians even though audio footage from this concert belies his claims.

Joe Rogan Hosts Abby Martin

In 2017, Joe Rogan hosted independent journalist and former Russia Today host Abby Martin on his podcast, giving her a platform to spread her anti-Israel libels and misinformation.

As noted by the UK-based Israel Advocacy Movement in its takedown of Martin’s untruths following her appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, these are the most egregious claims that Rogan allowed Abby Martin to make without any pushback:

  • The claim that Palestinian political parties are illegal in the West Bank.
  • That Palestinians who share incitement to violence against Israelis and Jews on social media are punished based on how popular their posts are.
  • Her claim that someone she had interviewed had been shot in her vagina during a “peaceful protest” even though the woman admitted in her original interview with Martin that she had been shot in the leg while attempting to slingshot Israeli forces during a violent riot.
  • The absurd claim that 200 Palestinians had been shot during this violent riot even though there are no reports that it ever occurred.
  • The claim that Israel has a policy called “shooting to cripple,” where Israeli forces shoot men in their genitalia.
  • That barely any Palestinians are allowed to pray at the Dome of the Rock, “the most holy site in Jerusalem” (which also goes to show her general ignorance about the region in general).
  • The baseless claim that Arabs and Jews have different license plates (as opposed to different license plates in Israel and the Palestinian Authority).
  • The claim that Israel is a “white nationalist ethno-supremacist state.”
  • The claim that the UN “partitioned a country on top of another country” even though there was no independent state in the area during the 1947 UN vote.
  • That Israel has been the “crux of so many problems in the world.”

Despite the above examples, there have been other occasions where Joe Rogan has interviewed pro-Israel voices or made positive comments about Israel and the Jewish people on his podcast.

Unlike some of his guests, Rogan does not appear to have an inherent animus against the Jewish state. However, his apparent lack of understanding of the topic has allowed for the spreading of extreme and absurd claims about Israel and the Jewish people without any resistance.

As someone with an audience of millions of followers around the world, Joe Rogan has a responsibility to do better and not to allow his podcast to serve as a jump-off point for the proliferation of such baseless and dangerous claims.

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Damage Done: How Al Jazeera’s Fake News Harmed Israel’s Reputation In Less Than 24 Hours

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A popular adage has it that “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

In this day and age of social media and up-to-the-minute news, it has never been faster for a lie to travel around the world and even harder for the truth to try to catch up.

That was the case this past week, when Al Jazeera spread a malicious libel about Israeli soldiers raping Palestinian women in Al-Shifa Hospital during the IDF’s ongoing campaign against entrenched Hamas forces, before quietly removing the story and trying to silently bury it.

On the morning of March 24, Al Jazeera Arabic’s principal news presenter, Elsy Abi Assi (who is no stranger to antisemitism and denial of Hamas atrocities), interviewed on live TV a Gazan woman by the name of Jamila Al-Hessi, who claimed that Israeli soldiers operating in Al-Shifa Hospital were raping Palestinian women and brutally murdering other Palestinians sheltering in the medical complex.

These allegations soon spread like wildfire on social media, with popular anti-Israel accounts picking up the story and disseminating it to their large English-speaking audiences.

Then, that night, Yasser Abuhilalah, an Al Jazeera columnist and former director, tweeted that a Hamas investigation into these allegations had concluded that they were not true and that Jamila Al-Hessi had justified her on-air deception by claiming that she had exaggerated her claims in order to “arouse the nation’s fervor and brotherhood.”

According to some analysts, Hamas had decided to issue a rare public denial of these claims since its dissemination among Palestinians in northern Gaza was having the opposite effect than was intended: Instead of producing enmity against Israel, these allegations had caused Palestinians to flee the area in fear for their safety.

By the next day, Al Jazeera had removed references to Al-Hessi’s claims from its online platforms but never formally retracted these libels, even though it had uncritically aired them in the first place.

However, by this point, it was too late. The damage to Israel’s reputation had already been done.

In less than 24 hours, millions of people had already viewed Jamila Al-Hessi’s lies on social media and, despite the denial by Hamas itself, continue to do so through a variety of anti-Israel accounts.

As of this writing (March 26, 2024), the story had been viewed 2.3 million times on the X (formerly Twitter) account of Middle East Eye, 918,000 times on the X account of “investigative journalist” Sulaiman Ahmed, 405,000 times on the X account of “human rights activist”/Hamas supporter Ramy Abdu, and over 305,000 times on the X account of alternative media outlet The Cradle.

Some (including Sana Saeed, a journalist affiliated with Al Jazeera) have even gone so far as to voice skepticism of Hamas’ discrediting of Al-Hessi’s story.

The allegation of rape by IDF soldiers in Al-Shifa Hospital is not the first lie about Israel and the IDF to be spread since Hamas’ October 7 terror attack and the subsequent Israeli invasion of Gaza.

However, in this case, it was not spread by a lone social media activist or a fringe news source but by a news organization that enjoys a veneer of respectability among both news consumers and media outlets around the world.

Despite it serving as an official mouthpiece of the authoritarian Qatari regime and accused of echoing Hamas talking points, Al Jazeera is viewed as a trusted source of information about Israel and the Palestinians during the current conflict as well as over the past several years.

In 2022, HonestReporting uncovered that Al Jazeera had been cited by 16 “top-tier news outlets” 116 times in Israel-related news stories, with most never mentioning the Qatari media organization’s inherent bias.

Also, if not for Hamas deciding that the libel about rapes in Al-Shifa Hospital was not in its best interest and issuing a denial of the allegations, it is highly likely that Al Jazeera would have continued to run with this fabrication as a trusted news story.

In this age of the 24-hour news cycle and instant access to news from around the world, Al Jazeera is serving as a valuable tool in Hamas’ propaganda war, spreading misinformation and sullying Israel’s image around the world at record speeds.

Al Jazeera’s malign influence on the views of social media users is concerning. For mainstream media outlets to rely on it as a source for Israel-related stories is downright journalistic malpractice.

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Language Matters: Why Meta Should Not End Ban on Arabic Word ‘Shaheed’

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Picture this: Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, the mastermind of the deadly October 7 attack on Israel, is killed. Arabic Facebook feeds are filled with posts showing Hamas flags and terrorists with AK-47s at his funeral, and the captions read: “Thousands mourn the shaheed [martyr] Yahya Sinwar.”

In a few months, such sickening posts may be considered neutral content across the social media platforms of Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.

That’s because Meta’s oversight board urged the social media giant this week to lift its ban on the Arabic word “shaheed,” or “martyr” in English, suggesting the word can carry a non-glorifying meaning.

But the loaded term is commonly used in the context of Palestinian and Arab violence against Jews, in Israel or abroad.

That’s how Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV described Lebanese arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, who was responsible for the bombing of Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires in the 1990s. And Iranian Press TV recently referred to the “martyrdom” of Hamas’ no.3 Marwan Issa who was killed by Israel in Gaza.

So the board’s recommendation — which Meta should outright reject — could potentially lead to the mass whitewashing of terrorism online, with dangerous ramifications for Jews’ safety worldwide.

A year ago, the oversight board announced that it had accepted a request from Meta for “a policy advisory opinion on its approach to moderating the Arabic term ‘shaheed,’ when used to refer to individuals it classifies as dangerous, including terrorists.”

Meta currently removes any posts using the word “shaheed” in reference to people it designates on its list of “dangerous organizations and individuals,” which includes members of Islamist terrorist groups like Hamas. The reason is that the company presently views the word as constituting praise for these banned entities.

In its March 26 report, the board concluded that this approach is “overbroad” and harms “freedom of expression” because the word may have neutral meanings:

The word “shaheed” is sometimes used by extremists to praise or glorify people who have died while committing violent terrorist acts. However, Meta’s response to this threat must also be guided by respect for all human rights, including freedom of expression.

Meta’s approach also fails to consider the various meanings of “shaheed,” many of which are not intended to glorify or convey approval, and lead all too often to Arabic speakers and speakers (many of them Muslim) of other languages having posts removed, without that removal serving the purposes of the Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy.

Related Reading: Pro-Hamas Influencer Jackson Hinkle Banned From Instagram

Admittedly, the term “shaheed” is used loosely to designate not only those who died as part of a global Jihad but also innocent victims of accidents or other calamities.

That being said, legitimizing the word in the name of the latter may result in problematic scenarios pertaining to the former.

For example, if the term isn’t considered as glorifying, it can be attached to the name of Hamas leader Sinwar once he is killed, as shown above.

This may be the case if the post doesn’t include additional “signals of violence,” such as weapons. But the AK-47s in Sinwar’s example don’t matter because the report adds that “even when those signals are present, the content may still benefit from the ‘reporting on, neutrally discussing or condemning’ exceptions” — which may legitimize posts by propaganda news outlets.

Sadly, this slippery slope isn’t only linguistic. Permitting the word “shaheed” in such a context may go viral, risking the welfare of Jews in Israel and abroad, both online and offline.

When weighing freedom of expression against safety in the coming 60 days until it responds to the board, Meta should remember one simple truth: the mere fact it requested a thorough review of its policy on the word “shaheed” proves how powerful it is to millions of users.

Would the company ask for an in-depth analysis of a neutral word?

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Israel at War: The Media Battlefield – Briefing #24

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HonestReporting has been working around the clock to identify and respond to the worst media bias since the appalling events of October 7 and the subsequent launch of Israeli military action against Hamas.

You can already see many of the posts that we’ve published on our website but here’s a roundup of just some of the issues and media outlets that we’ve flagged on social media over the past several days that didn’t make it into full articles.

Make sure to follow us on X/Twitter to get all of our content in real time during this period.

TAKE ACTION NOW: You can make a difference. We’ve included contact details for many of the examples of media bias below. Please send your considered comments to the media and hold them accountable.

Sky News Platforms Terror Sympathizer Ghassan Abu Sittah

Contact: [email protected]

The Washington Post Misinforms About Hamas Rocket Fire

Contact the Washington Post Readers Representative: [email protected]

The New York Times Publishes Report Full of Problematic Terminology

Contact: [email protected]

The LA Times’ Editorial Board Reinvents Reality in Gaza Op-Ed

Contact the Readers’ Representative: https://form.jotform.com/93047569731162

The New York Times Legitimizes Hamas Front Organization

Contact: [email protected]

BBC’s Jeremy Bowen Accuses Israel of Lying About Humanitarian Assistance

Follow the BBC’s complaints procedure: https://www.bbc.co.uk/contact/complaints/make-a-complaint/#/Complaint

Sky News Publishes Inflammatory Report About West Bank “Starvation”

Contact: [email protected]

RTE News’s “Expert Analysis” Confuses Dome of the Rock For Al-Aqsa Mosque

Contact [email protected]

The Guardian Publishes Biased Report on Hamas

Contact The Guardian readers’ editor: [email protected]

The Associated Press Ignores Israeli Hostages in Report on Possible Rafah Operation

Open AP Customer Zone & select Editorial and News from the dropdown options: https://customerzone.ap.org/cz/s/contactsupport

Reuters Headline Ignores Military Targets in Headline on Israeli Airstrikes

Contact Reuters Customer Support: https://liaison.reuters.com/contact-us

The New York Times Misleads on Humanitarian Aid For Gaza

Contact: [email protected]

Sky News Broadcasts Unverified Hamas Propaganda

Contact: [email protected]

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The Media’s Reaction to Al Jazeera’s Oct 7 Documentary Is Revealing

Al Jazeera’s latest feature-length documentary, “October 7” holds few surprises.

Those familiar with the Qatari-owned media organization will know that it has become among the biggest sources of disinformation since the start of the war, with Al Jazeera just days ago found to have fabricated a story that accused IDF soldiers of raping Palestinian women.

According to Al Jazeera, its so-called “Investigative Unit” carried out a forensic analysis of the day of the Hamas massacre — including “examining seven hours of footage from CCTV, dashcams, personal phones and headcams of dead Hamas fighters” — and concluded that “many of the worst stories that came out in the days following the attack were false.”

“This was especially true of atrocities that were used repeatedly by politicians in Israel and the West to justify the ferocity of the bombardment of the Gaza Strip, such as the mass killing of babies and allegations of widespread and systematic rape,” adds a description of the film on YouTube.

It would be a time-consuming task to refute the package of lies that comprise the full hour-long documentary — from the malicious claim that Israel killed numerous Israeli civilians and hostages on October 7 to Al Jazeera disputing whether Hamas terrorists raped Israeli victims.

HonestReporting has previously criticized Western media organizations for using Al Jazeera’s material, pointing out that a number of its journalists have been unmasked as Hamas terrorists.

And given the lack of attention the October 7 documentary received in the international press, many organizations appear to be heeding these warnings about Al Jazeera’s credibility.

Far from creating the stir Al Jazeera likely imagined, media outlets have steered clear of making any reference to the film.

Indeed, the biggest indicator of Al Jazeera’s plummeting credibility can be found in who did comment on the documentary, including well-known conspiracists, antisemites and anti-Israel activists.

For example, Guardian columnist Owen Jones, who in December released a 25-minute camera monologue in which he questioned the extent of Hamas’ war crimes, ludicrously described Al Jazeera’s propaganda as “undoubtedly the most accurate account of what happened that day…”

Naturally, Jones fails to say why it is “undoubtedly” the most accurate account of October 7; he cannot say why Al Jazeera’s hit piece should be believed over the countless testimonies of survivors who witnessed the atrocities first-hand.

Jones has been described by his former Guardian colleague Hadley Freeman as a “propagandist” who raised a “cynical eyebrow at dead naked Israeli women, all the while parroting unquestioningly claims from Hamas.”

Meanwhile, former MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan shared a post on X (formerly Twitter) written by ex-Daily Mail journalist Peter Oborne that claims the “scrupulous documentary” exposes the “failure of the British media to examine the Israeli narrative.”

Oborne, whose antisemitism has placed him on HonestReporting’s radar for many years, linked to his op-ed in The Middle East Eye in which he suggested Hamas was unfairly painted as “subhuman barbarians.”

Peter Oborne tweet

Other so-called journalists to endorse Al Jazeera’s foul attempt at whitewashing the events of October 7 include Asa Winstanley, a writer for the notorious anti-Israel hate site Electronic Intifada, whose membership of the UK’s Labour Party was suspended over his antisemitism; Jeremy Scahill, the current editor of alternative news outlet The Intercept; and Michael Walker, a host for Novara Media, a leftwing news site that has repeatedly defended Palestinian terrorism.

A trend can be observed when looking at the individuals who endorsed Al Jazeera’s documentary: each of them has a history of espousing anti-Israel rhetoric and/or demonizing Jews.

The fact that not a single mainstream media outlet has covered the release of Al Jazeera’s film speaks volumes. No organization wanted to be seen promoting what is clearly an attempt to distort the horrors of October 7 and deny the magnitude of Hamas’ crimes.

There’s an old saying that you can judge a man by the company he keeps. It is not surprising, then, that any respectable journalist would want to avoid being associated with the aforementioned individuals.

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AP Wins Award Honoring Photojournalists Who Captured Hamas Atrocities on Oct. 7

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“Disgraceful,” “Disgusting,” “Obscene” — that’s how users on social media platform X reacted this week after HonestReporting criticized the awarding of a Pictures of the Year to Associated Press photojournalists who captured Hamas atrocities on October 7 during the deadly terrorist rampage that sparked the Israel-Hamas war.

Moreover, the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI), which bestows the award, chose to highlight a photo by Gaza photojournalist Ali Mahmud showing the mutilated body of Israeli-German citizen Shani Louk in a Hamas pickup as terrorists drove it back to Gaza on October 7. This and some 20 other AP photos were part of a package that won the “Team Picture Story of the Year” category.

The RJI selected its winner and ran with the Shani Louk photo despite questions raised in November by HonestReporting regarding Mahmud and other Gaza photojournalists who had infiltrated Israel with Hamas on October 7. These questions still resonate despite false accusations that we have backtracked on them.

Related Reading: Broken Borders: AP & Reuters Pictures of Hamas Atrocities Raise Ethical Questions

Our November expose mentioned another AP photojournalist, Hatem Ali, who also happens to be included in AP’s prize collection.

When it comes to the events of October 7, Mahmud and Ali did not do “a splendid job despite tremendous war-time difficulties,” as the description of the prestigious prize declares.

On that day, they were in a position to take pictures of Hamas abducting innocent Israelis into Gaza. They could not have done so without the passive or active agreement of terrorists on the ground.

Is this brave reporting? Is this what the journalism award judges want to glorify?

And why did they choose to highlight Mahmud’s controversial photo of Louk’s body at the very top of the gallery? Many other photos taken by Mahmud’s professional colleagues could and should have been selected for this honor.

Related Reading: Broken Borders? Media Showcase Oct. 7 Pictures by Gaza Photojournalists as “Images of the Year”

Sadly, this is not the first praise of Gaza photojournalists whose unethical behavior on October 7 has been exposed by HonestReporting.

Some of them were honored last December, as The New York Times, Reuters and Associated Press chose to include their October 7 photos in their “Images of The Year” galleries.

Bestowing such honors carries far-reaching ramifications. The photographers and their organizations gain reputational, professional and financial benefits from such recognition.

But should it be on the back of the half-naked, dead body of Shani Louk?

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BBC Ignored Complaints About Journalists’ Anti-Israel ‘Terrorist’ Posts for Over a Year

The BBC ignored complaints about several journalists, including one who called Israel a “terrorist apartheid state,” for more than a year and even allowed them to report on the current Israel-Hamas war.

In 2022, HonestReporting uncovered social media posts written by journalist Marie-José Azzi, who is based in Lebanon and has worked for the corporation since 2019, that said Israel was a “terrorist” and “apartheid” state in tweets that were supportive of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

We also revealed a number of posts from an account belonging to Jordan-based BBC television and radio producer Layla Bashar Kloub, which described all Israelis as “terrorists” and suggested only Arabs have any right to be in Israel.

Meanwhile, UK-based BBC video curator Hala Hindawi labeled Israeli Jews “settlers” and accused the country of “targeting children” in remarks posted to her Twitter account (now X). The latter remark is reminiscent of ancient blood libels in which Jews were accused of killing children for their blood to be used in religious rituals.

We complained to the BBC in August 2022 that the posts breached the corporation’s impartiality and social media usage guidelines.

In response, the BBC said that while it could not comment on individual staff matters, such cases would be “dealt with appropriately” where its rules had been breached.

  

However, it appears the BBC failed to take action against any of the journalists named and, even more disturbingly, allowed them to work on the BBC’s coverage of the Israel-Hamas war.

Marie-José Azzi was credited alongside fellow BBC Arabic journalist Soha Ibrahim in a BBC Verify piece published this month that alleged Israeli soldiers beat and humiliated Gazan medics after a raid on Nasser hospital.

According to the Daily Mail, Ibrahim, who is based in London and has worked for the BBC for 12 years, ‘liked’ videos of people in Lebanon and Tunisia celebrating the October 7 Hamas attacks, and Egyptian football fans chanting, “we sacrifice our souls, our blood for Palestine.”

She also “liked” another post that praised “the first of the martyrs of the operation.”

The BBC is under pressure to suspend the BBC Arabic journalists until an investigation has been completed following criticism from UK Conservative Party Member of Parliament Nicola Richards.

However, questions remain as to why no action was taken sooner: why did the BBC seemingly fail to discipline any of the staff when their social media posts were initially revealed and why has the BBC allowed them to report on the current Israel-Hamas war?

The broadcaster claims it is fully committed to impartiality and upholding editorial standards — outlined in its strict code of conduct for staff members — but has repeatedly ignored breaches of these rules.

The BBC’s credibility as it relates to Israel reportage is already at an all-time low. Further inaction from the corporation will destroy its floundering reputation.

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Voice of America Whitewashes Terror Backgrounds of Gazan Journalists

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In the early morning hours of March 18, 2024, Israeli forces raided Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza to remove the Hamas presence that had re-emerged months after being routed by the Israeli military in November 2023.

According to the IDF, 40 Hamas terrorists were killed during the gun battle that ensued and 200 others were detained as suspected terror operatives.

One of those detained was Ismail Al-Ghoul, who identified himself as an Al Jazeera journalist.

Voice of America (VOA) dedicated an entire piece to Al-Ghoul’s arrest and subsequent release as well as claims about Israeli treatment of Palestinian journalists throughout the war between Israel and Hamas.

However, this piece is a one-sided attack on Israel’s conduct during the war which ignores vital context, disregards emerging information about Al-Ghoul’s connection to Hamas, and misrepresents Israel’s treatment of Palestinian journalists.

VOA glaringly omits the vital context that the IDF raided Al-Shifa on specific intelligence that Hamas terrorists were once again present there. In fact, the word “Hamas” only appears once in the entire piece, a passing reference to the terror group’s October 7 invasion of southern Israel.

Without the necessary context, the average reader is left with the impression that Israel’s early morning raid on Al-Shifa was just a wanton exhibition of violence inside the Gaza Strip’s largest medical center.

Just as VOA ignores Hamas when describing the IDF raid in this report, it also completely disregards the Gaza-based terror organization when discussing Ismail Al-Ghoul.

According to the publicly-funded American media outlet, Al-Ghoul is an “Arabic-language correspondent” for the Qatar-based news network, Al Jazeera.

While it might be technically accurate, this banal description of Al-Ghoul is hardly a complete picture of who he is and what he stands for.

In the hours following his arrest, both Israeli analyst Eitan Fischberger and British investigative journalist David Collier did deep dives into Al-Ghoul’s background, unearthing his ties to Hamas as well as deleted social media accounts full of anti-Israel incitement, praise for terrorism, and glorification of internationally recognized terror groups.

From Fischberger’s and Collier’s research, it appears that Ismail Al-Ghoul began working as a correspondent for Al Jazeera after October 7 and the beginning of Israel’s war against Hamas.

Prior to joining the Qatar-based broadcaster, Al-Ghoul worked for a variety of media outlets and “media production companies,” including the Hamas-affiliated outlets Felesteen and Al-Resalah.

It was also discovered that all of Al-Ghoul’s current social media accounts had been opened between November 2023 and February 2024, during his tenure at Al Jazeera.

According to Fischberger, the deletion of Al-Ghoul’s old social media accounts and their replacement with clean new ones is part of a “highly sophisticated, concerted effort” to “manufacture a ‘legitimate journalist’ out of whole cloth.”

In effect, Al-Ghoul appears to have rebranded himself as a respectable journalist instead of the mouthpiece for terrorism and incitement that is apparent in his now-deleted social media accounts.

Both Eitan Fischberger and David Collier have discovered posts from these accounts that glorify Palestinian terrorists, including Yahya Sinwar, the ruthless leader of Hamas in Gaza who is thought to be primarily responsible for planning the October 7 terror attack, and members of the PFLP and Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades who were killed in gun battles with Israeli security forces.

Along with his praise for Palestinian terrorists, Al-Ghoul also advocated terrorism against Israelis, uploading posts that celebrate rockets fired toward Israeli population centers and lone-wolf terror attacks conducted against Israeli civilian targets.

In addition, Al-Ghoul also incited against the Jewish state, referring in one post to Israel as “the greatest epidemic.”

Following its coverage of Al-Ghoul’s arrest, VOA then seeks to add context by referencing reports by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian journalists during the war.

However, much like its description of Ismail Al-Ghoul, VOA leaves out vital information.

For example, it reports that, according to the CPJ, 90 Palestinian journalists and media workers have been killed so far during the war.

What’s missing from this statistic is the fact that a substantial number of these media personnel worked for Hamas-affiliated news organizations.

In late February 2023, HonestReporting discovered that, based on information provided by the CPJ and the Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center, over half the journalists killed in Gaza were members of or affiliated with a proscribed terror organization.

Even though the CPJ mentions the terror affiliations of several journalists in its own report, VOA remains mum on the subject, leaving its readers with the impression that all these journalists were deliberately targeted by Israel for their reporting.

Similarly, VOA reports that, based on a CPJ report, Israel is a “leading jailer of journalists,” having arrested 17 Palestinian journalists since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.

Once again, this statistic lacks vital context.

As pointed out by the Committee For Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA UK), the CPJ notes that two of these journalists were arrested for “incitement,” a charge that exists in other Western countries.

In addition, CAMERA UK lists several more of these Palestinian journalists who have either publicly endorsed terrorism or worked for outlets that advocate attacks against Israeli civilians.

This context is necessary to dispel the false impression that these journalists were arrested by Israeli authorities simply to stifle their free speech.

When VOA and other media organizations accuse Israel of deliberately killing Palestinian journalists while whitewashing the close connection between Gazan journalists and internationally recognized terror groups, it’s both context-free journalism and a contributor to anti-Israel sentiment.

In the end, this not only harms Israel’s fight against terrorism but also does a disservice to champions of press freedom and integrity in Gaza and around the world.

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Honest Reporting is a website that seeks to bring balance to the left slant in the major news media.

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▶️ Lost in Translation? That Might Be on Purpose

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If you’ve ever read a translation from Hamas that seemed a little off, it’s not just you.

Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranian regime know that Westerners who fail to understand the native tongue of their message, the narrative behind their message, or the cultural implications in their message will be easily fooled into believing the words that they’re (actually not) saying.

Eve Barlow is an LA-based music and pop culture journalist. Barlow currently publishes a newsletter on Substack called Blacklisted. She previously served as Deputy Editor of the New Musical Express (NME) and currently contributes to New York Magazine, The Guardian, Billboard, LA Times, Pitchfork, and GQ, among other publications. Barlow is also an outspoken voice on Jewish identity, Zionism, and fighting antisemitism on social media, and has also shared her views in publications such as Tablet. Barlow was also named one of The Algemeiner’s Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life.

Honest Reporting is a website that seeks to bring balance to the left slant in the major news media.

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