November 29

Media Create False Moral Equivalence Between Released Hostages and Palestinian Prisoners

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Still 'fine-tuning' our process. You can get to the original article HERE

Reprinted from Honest Reporting.

During the tense four days that have passed since the start of the Israel-Hamas truce on November 24, media have created a false moral equivalence between the release of Israeli hostages held by the terrorist group and Palestinian prisoners who have been jailed in Israel. Such coverage, which implicitly equates Israel to Hamas and validates the latter’s strategy, may have far-reaching ramifications on the continuation of the war.

In order to achieve that distorted equation between innocent women and children who were abducted from their homes and prisoners who have been charged with acts of violence or terror, media have used three parallel strategies: Sanitizing the Palestinian prisoners, referring to the Israeli hostages as “prisoners” and creating textual and visual symmetry regarding the joyful family reunions of each side.

AP and Reuters Set the Narrative

The Associated Press has managed to incorporate the first two strategies in one headline: “Palestinian families rejoice over release of minors and women in wartime prisoner swap.”

The rest of AP’s story, while including some background on the released Palestinian “minors and women” (but none on the Israeli “prisoners”) carries an empathetic tone that borders on justification for Hamas’ kidnappings. For example, it quotes an official referring to “prisoner exchanges” as “the only hope” for prisoners’ families, without mentioning that she works for a group with terror links:

“These kinds of prisoner exchanges are often the only hope families have to see their sons or fathers released before many years go by,” said Amira Khader, international advocacy officer at Addameer, a group supporting Palestinian prisoners. “It’s what they live for, it’s like a miracle from God.”

Related Reading: Addameer: Why Are Media Ignoring Palestinian NGO’s Fight to Free Terrorists?

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The story ends with an emotional quote from a released Palestinian prisoner, who was jailed in Israel for throwing stones:

It was his first glimpse of the world after a year in prison for throwing stones in the northern town of Qalqilya. He was freed even though he had eight months of his sentence left to serve.He turned toward his father, wrapping him into a hug. “Look, I’m almost bigger than you now,” he said.

The hurling of rocks can kill, and it has killed Israelis in the past. It is most certainly not a harmless pastime activity as some media have intimated. The story also does not detail the various charges against most of the released Palestinians, which range from attempted murder and violent assault to terror affiliations.

The same distorted patterns appear in Reuters coverage. A mind-boggling headline refers to Israel and Hamas “prisoners,” including a four-year-old whose parents were brutally murdered in front of her eyes before she was kidnapped to Gaza.

An earlier version of the story included a video featuring a split-screen showing 9-year-old Emily Hand, an Israeli girl released from Hamas captivity, reunited with her father, next to the family reunion of released Palestinian bomber Israa Jaabis:

A textual symmetry followed the visual one: After detailing Hand’s family’s plight, the story ends with a quote from Shorouk Dwayyat. Nowhere does it mention that Dwayyat is a PFLP member who tried to stab Israelis to death:

In comments to Al Jazeera TV from her home, freed prisoner Shorouk Dwayyat, who had served half of her 16-year prison term, said she felt joy mixed with pain. “I feel like I am in a dream, but I hope that the war on Gaza will stop as soon as possible.”

When one of the world’s largest news agencies fails to mention such details, instead presenting terrorists on the same moral level as a 9-year-old who’s been abducted from her home, it violates journalistic and human values alike.

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US, UK Media Sanitize and Equate

The New York Times also featured Israa Jaabis, sanitizing her attempted murder by passively blaming her vehicle:

She was arrested that year after her car exploded at a checkpoint near Jerusalem in the West Bank, leaving her disfigured and an Israeli police officer seriously injured.

National Public Radio didn’t even bother checking the facts. It simply published a photo gallery presenting the release of Israeli hostages amid pictures of Palestinians celebrating their prisoners’ release.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, included the following paragraph about the Palestinian prisoners release after a description and photos of the family reunions of freed Israeli children:

Videos posted on social media showed similarly joyful scenes in the West Bank, where Palestinian women and children freed by Israel were reunited with their families. A bus carrying Red Cross staff and the prisoners as part of the second day’s releases arrived to a crowd of supporters holding flags in the occupied West Bank early Sunday.

But the “similarly joyful scenes” were not similar at all. As German magazine Bild has pointed out: “The Israelis celebrate the return of the hostages, the Palestinians the release of prisoners. The difference couldn’t be greater: Israeli parents peacefully hug their released children. Palestinian ex-prisoners are cheered at terror marches”.

The Washington Post also does not say a word about why the Palestinian women and “children” (most of whom were minors) were arrested in the first place.

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Israel spokesperson Mark Regev confronted a Sky News anchor about this issue, exposing the fact she was not even aware of the charges against the released Palestinians:

Some media have created an abysmal narrative that whitewashes terrorists by comparing them to innocent toddlers.

Some have minimized the kidnappings that took place on October 7 by equating the suffering of Israeli hostages to that of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

And by doing so, they have created a false moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas. They have also implicitly validated Hamas’ strategy of kidnapping Israelis and undermined Israel’s justification to continue fighting against the terror organization.

In a week that may be decisive for the course of the war as the agreed-upon truce between Israel and Hamas comes to an end, media have a responsibility to report the facts, not to create them.

Found this article informative? Follow the HonestReporting page on Facebook to read more articles debunking news bias and smears, as well as others explaining Israel’s history, politics, and international affairs. Click here to learn more!

Photo credits: Palestinian prisoner — FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images; Hostages — ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES

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


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Honest-reporting, Israel, News, Police, Washington


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