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Media Fail to Report Officials Got It Wrong Over Gaza “Famine”

“Famine is imminent as 1.1 million people, half of Gaza, experience catastrophic food insecurity,” the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) claimed in a special brief published on March 18.

Following its release, major news organizations jumped at the opportunity to include the word “famine” in their headlines.

Associated Press
The New York Times
BBC News

However, a new report released on June 4 by the IPC’s Famine Review Committee (FRC) uncovered several flaws in the original data published in March, leading them to amend their original claims. Ultimately, the FRC concluded that they cannot consider the situation in Gaza a “famine.”

Here are the most significant points that deserve to be highlighted:

  • The original report said that the caloric availability in the area covered only “59-63% of the needs (based uniquely on Humanitarian Food Assistance) in April.”
  • The new report estimates the range of coverage of caloric availability was actually 75-109%.

So how did the IPC go from claiming that Gazans in the north were nowhere near getting their nutritional requirements to acknowledging that they were nowhere near being underfed? How did they get it so wrong the first time?

  1. When discussing food trucks and other methods of aid entering the area, the IPC excluded commercial and/or privately contracted deliveries and World Food Program (WFP) deliveries to bakeries in northern Gaza from their original numbers.
  2. The original report “relied on multiple layers of assumptions and inference, beginning with food availability and access in northern Gaza and continuing through nutritional status and mortality.”
  3. There may have been a “mismatch in reporting periods” by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).

While the corrected data from the FRC is receiving publicity on various X (formerly Twitter) threads, major news organizations seem to be ignoring its release.

By failing to report on the most recent information, news organizations are misleading their audience about the extent of food flowing into Gaza and misrepresenting the hunger situation in the area.

Even more dangerously, on June 16, almost two weeks after the new data was released, The New York Times still referenced the outdated, invalidated claims.

Why hasn’t The New York Times consulted the new data and instead continues to link false information in its articles?

The new report from the FRC states that it is impossible to determine the number of people who are completely unable to access food in Gaza, and it is inaccurate to continue to say that Gaza is under threat of “imminent famine.”

This is not to suggest that there are not serious problems distributing food in a war zone. But 32 deaths attributed to malnutrition do not exceed the threshold necessary to be considered a “famine,” and most of those suffered from pre-existing conditions.

Instead, the updated data has barely elicited a ripple from the mainstream media, with only Fox News giving the story the attention it deserves. Like many others, The New York Times’ choice to ignore new data contributes to a media environment that villainizes Israel, and contributes to the accusations in places such as the International Court of Justice that Israel is deliberately starving Palestinians.

Instead of misleading their audiences by endorsing false claims that there is an insufficient amount of food entering the area, news outlets should better focus their reporting on the collective responsibility of multiple parties in making sure the food is distributed to civilians in need.

One can only hope that as new data emerges, reporting from major news organizations will uphold their journalistic integrity and update their audiences following suit.

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Image Credit: Majdi Fathi via TPS

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

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