The editorial team of Al Jazeera Journalism Review gathers news items published by media outlets concerning the current war on Gaza, focusing on instances of disinformation, bias, or professional journalistic standards and its code of ethics.
We invite contributions from journalists and individuals interested in identifying such issues, critiquing the malpractice, and correcting the information. Our objective is to uphold truth, journalistic professionalism, and ethical standards.
Materials submitted will undergo evaluation and review by the AJR editorial board, based on internationally recognized professional standards. These discussions aim to foster balance, objectivity, and fairness in news coverage in wartime.
Wednesday, January 30, 2024
Internal Debate at The New York Times: Why 'The Daily' Podcast Episode Was Shelved
An internal debate at The New York Times following a biased report on “systematic sexual violence by Hamas” leads to shelving and then rewriting the script for the NYT’s flagship podcast episode of ‘The Daily’.
On December 28, 2023, The New York Times released an extensive report on claims of the Palestinian resistance employing 'sexual violence' systematically as a weapon against civilians during the October 7th assault, commonly referred to as the 'Aqsa Flood.' In a previous piece, The AJR identified several fundamental professional violations in the report, which was written by three senior in-house journalists. Such as the lack of reasonable evidence that supports the claim reached and the manner in which the relatives were led to accept the interview by the NYTimes. The report has since ignited substantial debate, both externally and internally.
According to sources from the newspaper, as reported by 'The Intercept', the report has stirred controversy within the New York Times among its staff. Criticism has mounted at the leniency of applying editorial standards to a report addressing such a sensitive topic, particularly in the context of a devastating war that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians.
This discussion was prompted by the newspaper's executive email that commended the authors work, describing it as one of the “signature pieces of enterprise on the Israel-Hamas war” saying that it was carried out by the team with great sensitivity and attention to details. Another internal message, seen by some as an administrative directive, was sent, urging the newspaper's employees to refrain from directing criticisms at each other via Slack, the internal messaging platform. According to sources speaking to 'The Intercept,' many journalists and editors interpreted this missive as implicitly referring to the ongoing debate surrounding the report on 'sexual violence' that was allegedly used systematically by the Palestinian resistance on October 7th. Doubts persist around this claim, with some details even being denied by relatives of the victim interviewed in the report.
The debate resulted in the shelving of an episode on 'The Daily,' the newspaper's flagship podcast. The original episode had planned to focus on the topic of "Hamas' systematic sexual violence." However, a new script has been drafted, incorporating reservations, caveats, and open-ended questions, which differ from the original report's approach. Sources speaking to the Intercept indicated that the team had reservations about fully embracing the narrative as presented in the initial report, recognizing the possibility of errors and exaggerations.
Adopting the new script could raise questions about the newspaper's stance on the original report and whether the internal debate might lead to a review of the original report, acknowledging any professional shortcomings. Internal criticisms within the newspaper suggest that the report should have undergone more rigorous investigative processes and adhered to the basic standards that the New York Times claims to apply to all its news, stories, and journalistic investigations, especially in the Palestinian context. This situation highlights the imposition of preconceived restrictions and systematic, controversial approaches to addressing issues that could evoke sympathy for the Palestinians.
In the meantime, sources at the Times have stated that Jeffrey Gettleman, the reporter who led the investigative report, has been tasked with gathering additional evidence to support his original reporting.
Wednesday, January 24, 2024
Overlooked Causes of Agony: NBC's report on Gaza's Medical Disaster
In a recent report titled “In Gaza’s collapsing health system, deaths are slow, painful, and often preventable,” the American network NBC goes into details of how the healthcare system in Gaza is collapsing, yet fails to attribute it to the Israeli attacks and siege. Israel is only mentioned much later on in separate paragraphs recounting the October 7 attacks and the number of Israelis injured during that operation. It is worth noting that, unlike when reporting Palestinian casualty numbers (by the Gaza Health Ministry), the report does not mention the cause of the medical disaster whatsoever (Israeli bombing and obstruction of aid).
As of Thursday, Jan. 18, there have been 645 attacks on the health system of the Palestinian territories, including on hospitals, ambulances and vehicles delivering supplies, resulting in 619 deaths and 835 injuries, according to the World Health Organization…
Significant obstructions to aid deliveries has meant critical shortages of pain relievers, antibiotics and anesthesia — basics for treating the injured...
The only context the network chooses to mention in the report is Hamas’s attacks on October 7, without mentioning the root cause of the hostilities.
Israel’s attacks on civilians, hospitals, relief centers, and civilian infrastructure have claimed the lives of over 25,000 Palestinians, most of whom are women and children. However, the report mentions the attacks on hospitals in the context of “Hamas command centers” supported by U.S. intelligence, as though to excuse these attacks.
The Israel Defense Forces says Hamas operates command centers at hospitals, uses ambulances to transport fighters, and diverts fuel aid intended for hospital use for military purposes, charges Hamas and hospital staff deny. The IDF found tunnels near or under hospitals, and a U.S. intelligence assessment found that Al-Shifa Hospital, which was at the center of intense fighting in November, was used to store some weaponry and house command infrastructure.
Even when posting the report on its social media accounts, NBC refrains from mentioning Israel. This has been the general tendency adopted by several mainstream Western media outlets in recent weeks.
Israel’s responsibility for the collapse of the healthcare system in Gaza is well documented, acknowledged not only through media coverage but also substantiated in reports by international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch as well as in the legal case brought against Israel in the International Court of Justice (particularly in the fourth item of the case file).
Agreeing to discuss the catastrophe without mentioning the accused party, despite abundant evidence, represents a professional violation in the coverage of the war on Gaza in various foreign media outlets. This compromises objectivity and accuracy, undermining the journalist's duty to promote accountability, monitor violations during wars, expose war crimes, and strive to document and halt them.
Monday, January 8, 2024
Journalistic Blind Spots: Exposing Gaps in Gaza Coverage by The New Yorker
On January 3rd, "The New Yorker" featured an in-depth interview with Aref Hussein, a senior economic expert working with the United Nations World Food Programme. The interview, conducted by Isaac Chotiner, delved into the severe food crisis in the Gaza Strip, its potential escalation, and the dire consequences for Gaza's residents, especially children. This discussion occurs against the backdrop of the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza, now surpassing ninety days.
Following the onset of the war on Gaza, Israel imposed a complete lockdown on the people in Gaza, severely restricting the entry of essential resources like water, food, medicine, and aid. This blockade, particularly stringent at crossings such as the Rafah border with Egypt, has led to a dire situation where 90% of Gazans face food insecurity, with most households skipping meals daily. The interview underscores the looming threat of famine if hostilities persist.
However, despite clear statements from top Israeli officials, including the Minister of Defense, Minister of Energy, and the Prime Minister, acknowledging their strategy of imposing starvation and deprivation on Gazans, "The New Yorker's" interview conspicuously omits any direct mention of Israel or its government's legal responsibilities as an occupying force. The article, titled "Gaza is Starving," raises several journalistic concerns:
1. Lack of Accountability
The New Yorker neglects its journalistic duty by omitting an important part of the story from it's readers; it overlooks Israel's role in the intentional and systematic starvation of Palestinians.
2. Loss of Context and Clarification
The interview's lack of context misleads readers, particularly those unfamiliar with the history of the conflict. This could potentially result in further misinformation influenced by Israeli propaganda and media complicity. Such a narrative could wrongly place the blame for the humanitarian crisis on Palestinians and their resistance efforts.
3. Impartiality Concerns
By not acknowledging Israel's role in using starvation as a war tactic and its responsibility for potential war crimes, the magazine's editorial stance appears biased toward the Israeli narrative. This omission may serve to protect Israel from criticism and hinder solidarity movements advocating for an end to the war and the blockade.
The interview published by "The New Yorker" reflects a broader trend among some UN-affiliated organizations, like the World Food Programme, and major Western media outlets, where professional journalistic standards are compromised in reporting of the war on Gaza. Such practices undermine accountability, transparency, and comprehensive coverage, essential for maintaining balance and objectivity in sensitive conflict reporting.
Sunday, January 7, 2024
How should Reuters' ambiguous use of words regarding civilian victims in Gaza be interpreted?
In its recent coverage of Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip, the Reuters news agency published two contrasting articles. The first, titled "Israeli ex-hostage says she feared being raped by Gaza captor," centers on the personal fears of a former Israeli/French captive released in a prisoner exchange, while the second report "In Gaza, rows of white shrouds symbolise mounting civilian deaths" highlights the growing number of death in Gaza.
The first report's title, emphasizing the ex-captive's fear of being "raped" by her captor, has sparked debate. Critics argue that focusing solely on the captive's apprehension of being "raped by his eyes" as she says in the interview, potentially misleads readers and feeds into the Israeli "Hamas rapists" narrative that has been circulating in Western media as a support for sexual violence accusations, despite the absence of any claims of actual rape or attempted assault. The report relies entirely on the statements of the former captive, detailing her captivity circumstances, the dynamics between her captor and his wife, and various unsubstantiated allegations. There is no supporting evidence to either confirm or refute these claims, with the agency inexplicably treating them as facts despite their overall insignificance.
Furthermore, the use of "Gaza Captor" in the headline, rather than "Hamas militant, as mentioned in the article, inadvertently strips the Gazan population of their civilian identity. Such framing could contribute to a skewed perception of Gazans, potentially justifying the intense Israeli bombardment that has been ongoing since October 7, resulting in over 21,000 casualties, more than half of whom are women and children.
Reuters' report relies entirely on the statements of the former captive detailing her captivity circumstances, the dynamics between her captor and his wife, and various unsubstantiated allegations. There is no supporting evidence to either confirm or refute these claims, with the agency inexplicably treating them as facts despite their overall insignificance from a journalistic point of view, and again, in the context of a vicious war, that has been repeatedly described as genocidal in its scope and unrestrained nature.
In the second report titled "In Gaza, rows of white shrouds symbolise mounting civilian deaths," Reuters employs phrases like "rows of white shrouds," which, while evocative, fail to directly address the cause of the increasing death toll, specifically the ongoing Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip. This choice of language, particularly the use of "deaths" instead of "casualties," can be seen as obscuring the direct causes of these fatalities.
The report's language continues to be vague or indirect, seemingly to avoid naming Israel as the perpetrator of the deaths of over 21,000 civilians in Gaza. For instance, the phrase "21,000 Palestinians killed in clashes between Hamas and Israel" appears to equally attribute responsibility for civilian deaths to both parties, despite no evidence suggesting Hamas targeted civilians in Gaza. Conversely, the report explicitly blames Hamas for Israeli casualties on October 7th, stating, "..after Hamas killed 1200 and took 240 hostages on October 7th." This is in contrast to other reports, including those by Haaretz, which suggest the involvement of the Israeli army in some Israeli deaths on that date.
Furthermore, the report's descriptions, such as "the Gaza Strip facing a severe shortage of food, water, and medicine," lack explicit acknowledgment of Israel's role in cutting off water supplies and blocking essential food and medicine from entering the Strip.
This noticeable difference in language and attribution between the two reports raises questions about Reuters' impartiality in covering the conflict, especially given its significant role as a primary news source for many global media outlets.
Saturday, December 31, 2023
Is The New York Times Reproducing Allegations of "Sexual Violence" to Downplay Israeli Crimes?
The New York Times recently published a 3500-word report on alleged sexual assaults by Palestinian militants on October 7, 2023. This report emerges amidst Israel's extensive military operation in Gaza, which has led to significant casualties and international pressure on Israel. Critics argue that the Times' report aligns with Israeli narratives, particularly in its sensationalist approach and premature conclusions. The focus on sexual violence by Palestinian militants, as the report suggests, is seen as an attempt to shift attention from Israeli actions in Gaza.
Key to the controversy is the testimony of Raz Cohen, a former Israeli officer, whose inconsistent accounts have raised suspicions. Cohen's evolving statements, particularly his alarming claims in a PBS interview, coincide with intensified Israeli rhetoric against Palestinians. The Times' investigation, relying heavily on Israeli sources and lacking critical examination of sensational claims, is criticized for its journalistic approach. Critics suggest that this narrative construction aims to downplay Israeli actions in Gaza by focusing on alleged Palestinian crimes, employing a strategy that includes invoking feminist solidarity while neglecting the humanization of Palestinian victims. This approach, they argue, reflects a broader pattern in the Times' coverage, where Israeli narratives are often emphasized over Palestinian perspectives.
Wednesday, December 27, 2023
Examining Media Responsibility: DW's Controversial Use of 'Islamist Terrorism' in Reporting and its Impact on Muslim Communities
The German broadcaster DW published a report on its Arabic Instagram page titled "Due to the Threat of an 'Islamist Terrorist Attack'... Stringent Security Measures Ahead of Christmas Around the Famous Cologne Cathedral."
The channel's report, sourced from the German News Agency and other agencies, relayed statements from a spokesperson for the German police, which did not specify any particular group behind the threat. Furthermore, the report did not corroborate the channel's claim that the threat emanated from an "Islamist" group.
Typically, such warnings are based on undisclosed intelligence information, particularly when authorities accuse a specific group. However, in this instance, the German police only imposed heightened security measures as a "response to a serious alert" without identifying the source of the threat, according to a statement from a German police spokesperson included in the DW report.
This news followed a statement by the German Interior Minister warning of the rise of "Islamist terrorism," without clarifying the contexts or information that led to such remarks. These statements, which implicitly incite against an entire group based on religious belief, are seen as discriminatory rhetoric that fosters hatred.
DW's headline definitively claimed that the threat was solely from an "Islamist" group, despite lacking evidence. This, along with their seeming approval of the German Interior Minister's unverified statement and failure to critically question or challenge these claims, suggests that they are promoting a biased narrative that could incite hatred against Muslims in Germany.
This DW report comes shortly after the killing of Jordanian student "Mohammed Barakat" in Hamburg, Germany. The Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad, citing sources familiar with the initial investigations, reported a suspicion of a "hate crime" following Barakat's social media posts expressing solidarity with Palestine.
Monday, December 25, 2023
Uncovering the Narrative: A Critical Analysis of CNN's Coverage of the West Bank Shooting Incident
CNN published a story titled "Video Shows a Man in Military Attire Shooting a Palestinian with a Mental Disability in the West Bank."
The American media outlet employs a passive voice in both the headline and the body of the article, without clearly identifying the true identity of the individual involved in the shooting of the Palestinian civilian.
In the body of the article, the story is narrated through the words of Tariq Abu Abed's brother—the name of the targeted civilian. In context, the article reminds readers that settlers sometimes wear military uniforms. The story raises four observations:
The first observation is the use of the term "clashes" to describe the hundreds of Palestinian deaths, when in fact even the UN has acknowledged that the deaths were caused by either settler attacks or targeted Israeli army killings.
The second observation is that the aggressor's identity is left unclear in the headline, even though it is made abundantly clear in the video thanks to his full military uniform and gear. CNN's vague description of the “man in military fatigues” gives the impression that the perpetrator is unknown and leaves the unfamiliar viewer wondering if the man in the video is a settler or a soldier in the Israeli army.
It is not the first time Western media have refrained from clearly pointing to Israel in its targeting of civilians. On October 13, Reuters reported on the killing of its journalist Issam Abdalla with the passive headline "Reuters journalist killed in Lebanon in missile fire from the direction of Israel" before republishing it later, indicating that an Israeli airstrike directly targeted him. Similarly, even after conclusive evidence from open sources and field reports emerged, the international media was persistent in not "accusing" Israel of bombing hospitals and United Nations facilities in Gaza after the October 7 attacks.
The third observation relates to the significant disparity between the headline and the content of the article; the headline mentions a man in “military fatigue” targeting a mentally disabled Palestinian, but the details of the story in the body of the article, though minimal, have more context and balance, raising the question: Why is this not reflected in the headline?
The fourth and most significant observation is the lack of journalistic effort to gather information about the published video. The identity of the apparent shooter, the location (is it close to an Israeli military checkpoint), or interviews with potential witnesses are important pieces of information to fully recount the truth about the attack, which could showcase the oppression faced by Palestinians in the West Bank.
While media outlets, such as The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and Agence France-Presse, publish their editorial guidelines to keep their “writers, reporters, and editors accountable to the readers,” CNN does not make this available for readers to allow their evaluation of how the outlet handles its stories. The Munich Charter of 1971, a fundamental reference for global newsrooms, stipulates "respect for the truth, whatever the consequences for the journalist, in response to the public's right to know the truth."
Monday, December 4, 2023
Exploring Media Bias: BILD's Portrayal of Palestinian Children as Terrorist Supporters
The German media outlet BILD recently published a report on the prisoners released as part of the latest ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel. However, the newspaper's portrayal of the prisoners from both sides indicated a preconceived bias, which depicts Palestinian children as sympathizers with “terrorism,” in contrast to the Israeli captives, who were shown in a state of familial empathy.
The released Palestinian children also had emotional reunions with their families, and social media was abuzz with photos and videos showing the warmth of these reunions, no less intimate than those of the Israeli prisoners' families. However, the newspaper ignored the Palestinian side of empathetic reunions, instead choosing a picture of a child prisoner draped in the green Hamas flag. Their image selection serves the negative framing used in their narrative.
Moreover, the newspaper's interpretation of the freed prisoners waving Hamas flags as an indication that the gatherings welcoming the released prisoners in the West Bank are "demonstrations supporting terrorism" is a connection based on biased judgments that the German media imposes on the local context, expecting Palestinians to adopt its political standards and viewpoint towards Hamas. Locally, Palestinians, like many other countries in the world, do not consider Hamas a “terrorist” organization but rather a part of the Palestinian social fabric and political landscape.
In the complex landscape of media reporting, it's crucial to maintain objectivity and avoid unfounded accusations. Just as Palestinian media outlets cannot label Israeli captives as supporters of occupation and apartheid merely for displaying the Israeli flag—a symbol many Palestinians associate with oppression and injustice—other media is not in a position to judge or hastily brand individuals as supporters of "terrorists" for merely holding the flag of an organization. Such associations should only be made based on reliable information, not on the symbolic act of flag-holding (of an organization that assisted their liberty from questionable imprisonment). This balanced approach is essential for fair and responsible journalism.
The newspaper's coverage of the recent prisoner exchange deal not only featured biased phrasing and imagery but also included misleading information about the Palestinian prisoners involved. Contrary to the report's claim that most were "convicted criminals," records show that the majority were actually detained without trial or charge until their release. Furthermore, the newspaper's focus on the charges against only three female prisoners, whose sentences are subject to scrutiny by international human rights organizations over the fairness of their legal proceedings, further illustrates a selective narrative that casts Palestinians in a negative light. This approach raises questions about the newspaper's commitment to accurate and unbiased reporting.
Sunday, November 29, 2023
What is the impact of media bias on Palestinian and Israeli prisoner-exchange narratives?
The media coverage of the prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel by some Western outlets reflects varying journalistic practices. These include:
1. Simplified reporting: Certain news outlets, like France's CNews (which advocates far-right ideology), reported the event in a simplified manner, labeling Hamas as a terrorist organization and depicting Israel as seeking peace. This type of coverage often lacks depth and fails to explore the complexities of the situation.
2. Biased and unbalanced portrayals: Networks like CNN and Spain’s El Mundo have been observed to give more prominence to Israeli captives, including their images and family interactions, while Palestinian prisoners are often reduced to mere numbers, lacking personal stories or identities. This approach can lead to a skewed understanding of the issue, ignoring the human aspect of Palestinian prisoners.
3. Narrative Alignment: Some media outlets set their news agenda in line with the Israeli perspective, focusing extensively on Israeli captives. This can result in an imbalanced view of the situation, overshadowing the experiences and stories of Palestinian prisoners.
The impact of such media practices includes:
· Overshadowing Palestinian stories: The lack of coverage of the Palestinian prisoners' experiences, including the long-term detention of children and women without trial, their torture, and inhumane treatment, remains underreported. Human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Save the Children highlight the plight of Palestinian children in detention, facing abuse and legal challenges, yet these stories often receive less attention. They both highlight the concerning statistics: as of December 12 last year, Israeli authorities detained 150 Palestinian children.
According to Defense for Children International, each year, approximately 700 Palestinian children under 18 from the occupied West Bank face prosecution in Israeli military courts. These children are subjected to arrest, interrogation, and detention by the Israeli army, a process that raises significant human rights concerns. This aspect of the conflict, often underreported, sheds light on the ongoing challenges and violations faced by Palestinian children under occupation.
· Ignoring the Occupation Context: The broader context of the occupation, as defined by the United Nations, and its impact on daily life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the detention of children, women, and the elderly, is often overlooked. This neglects the reality of the occupation and its consequences for Palestinian society.
· Dehumanization of Palestinians: The media's portrayal can contribute to the dehumanization of Palestinians, aligning with political rhetoric that justifies the harsh actions of the Israeli occupation. This approach can obscure potential war crimes and the impact of military actions on civilian lives and infrastructure in Gaza.
In summary, the media's approach to covering the prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel reveals a range of practices, from simplified reporting to biased portrayals and narrative alignment, each contributing to a partial and often unbalanced understanding of the complex situation.
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Why Do Some Media Outlets Avoid Using 'Children' to Describe Palestinian Prisoners?
Following the announcement by the Qatari Foreign Ministry of reaching a temporary humanitarian ceasefire agreement, which included the release of 50 Israeli captives—women and children—held by the Palestinian resistance in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian "prisoners"—women and children—by Israel, Western media began circulating details of the deal to their audiences and readers.
However, AJR noticed some media outlets avoid the term "Palestinian children" when referring to the prisoners to be released by Israel. The BBC correspondent in Jerusalem mentioned that the Israeli captives to be released under the exchange deal were women and children, while the Palestinian “prisoners” to be released were referred to as women and "teenage males," avoiding the use of the term child, which applies to anyone under 18. The term "teenage" is not a legal term and is not found in agreements, as it loosely describes a broad age stage linked to psychological factors unrelated to the legal status of individuals.
The New York Times used the term "minors" to describe the Palestinian children released in the deal, in contrast to "children" for the Israelis. The Washington Post used the term "teenagers" for the released Palestinian children, against "children" for the Israelis.
Describing Palestinian children as "minors" and Israeli captives as children. From the New York Times piece titled "First Captives Freed in Tense Gaza Truce Between Israel and Hamas" (24 Nov 2023).
According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child is defined as "every human being below the age of eighteen years." According to the prisoner exchange agreement, Israel will release women and “prisoners” under 18 years of age, i.e., children. So why do media outlets avoid using the term children when describing Palestinian detainees and deny them their rights as children under international law, unlike the Israeli prisoners under eighteen?
Describing Palestinian child "prisoners" as "teenagers" and Israeli captives as children. From the Washington Post piece titled "Hamas releases first Israeli and Thai hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners amid pause in fighting" (November 25, 2023).
These attempts to avoid using the term child in the context of Palestinians can be understood in several scenarios:
1. Avoid portraying Israel as a state that detains children, especially since there has been a complete narrative condemning the resistance factions' capture of children on October 7th. Hence, "discovering" that Israel has been detaining dozens of Palestinian child prisoners for a long time before October 7th would be shocking for those following the scene from the Israeli narrative perspective.
2. There's an attempt to frame Palestinian child prisoners in a way that strips them of their childhood status. Although the term "minors," for example, also applies to children, using it to describe Palestinian children and "children" for Israelis in the same news paragraph removes the "childhood" state from Palestinians, possibly reducing empathy for them as they are not seen as "children" like the Israeli prisoners.
3. Using descriptions that strip the Palestinians of their childhood status could be interpreted as an attempt to justify Israeli detentions of Palestinian children, portraying them as “convicted criminals” undeserving of sympathy. Even though the published lists of potential Palestinian "child prisoners" to be released show that most of them are detained without any judicial sentences, this ignores international reports on children's rights clearly indicating violations and abuses committed against them as children.
Monday, November 27, 2023
Analyzing the Economist's controversial report on Al-Shifa Hospital raid: A case of biased journalism?
On November 16, The Economist published an article titled "The rights and wrongs of Israel and Hamas at al-Shifa hospital.. Why Israel must meet and exceed the requirements of the laws of war”, following the Israeli occupation forces' raid on Al-Shifa Hospital, the narrative takes an unexpected turn. While the title suggests a critical examination of potential violations of International Law and war crimes, the content swiftly aligns with the Israeli perspective. The article controversially insinuates that Al-Shifa Hospital, allegedly utilized by Hamas, could be considered a legitimate military target.
“In fact, because it appears likely that the hospital has been used by Hamas as a military facility, Hamas has probably turned it into a legitimate military target.”
This assertion is made without solid evidence or authoritative sources, deviating from the core principles of journalistic neutrality.
The Economist quickly dismisses Hamas's denial of these allegations, stating, "It has a record of deceitfulness." This approach starkly contrasts with the expected journalistic objectivity, especially in conflict reporting.
The article further indulges in biased allegations, suggesting that "using a hospital as a military base, as Hamas may well be, is a war crime.". It then extends this logic to seemingly legitimize the attack on the hospital, stating, "The laws of war establish that once a hospital is used as a military facility, it may lose its special protection." It concludes its report with, "All this suggests al-Shifa is a legitimate military target for the Israeli army, provided its intelligence is correct."
However, the narrative complexity deepens as The Economist, two days later, publishes another piece titled "Was Israel’s attack on Al-Shifa Hospital justified?" This follow-up article acknowledges the scarcity of evidence from Israel to justify the attack, hinting at the need for further investigation. Despite this later admission, the magazine did not retract its initial claims, nor did it offer an apology or clarification for its earlier report, which could be interpreted as justifying a potential war crime by the Israeli forces.
Almost two weeks after the raid, with Israel yet to present conclusive evidence of Hamas using Al-Shifa Hospital as a military headquarters, skepticism grows. Even Western media, including the BBC, have expressed doubts about the Israeli army's released videos claiming to show Palestinian resistance elements in the hospital. The Economist's failure to address these developments or correct its initial stance raises significant concerns about media bias and the ethical challenges of reporting in conflict zones. This situation underscores the importance of critical media consumption and the need for journalistic integrity in covering complex international issues.
Sunday, November 2023
Haaretz and Western Media: the crumbling narrative of the occupation about the "NOVA Music Festival Massacre"
Up to this moment (November 19, 2023), Western media outlets have ignored Haaretz's report (November 18, 2023) confirming an Israeli investigation that an Israeli military helicopter fired at a music concert near the Ra'im settlement on October 7, killing several attendees.
Although the narrative of targeting concertgoers was a fundamental part of the Israeli media story and provided political cover for the attack on Gaza, when will Western media start to reconsider their blind adoption of the Israeli narrative?
Nearly 24 hours after Haaretz's widely shared report on social media platforms, we browsed a wide range of Western media to see how they covered the news, which has significant headline value for news programs. However, we found no form of coverage, as if the news had never been published.
This implies that the bias towards the Israeli narrative in Western media has evolved to the extent of ignoring any news that could question it, even if Israelis themselves debunked it. Have these institutions become public relations firms, polishing Israel's image?
It appears that in covering the war on Gaza, Western media adopt a policy of distorting facts to portray Israel as a victim (like promoting the story of finding 40 beheaded children without any evidence) or absolving it from crimes committed in Gaza (like claims of Israel's non-involvement in bombing the Baptist hospital, which were later retracted).
Western media also seem uninterested in publishing any facts that question the Israeli occupation narrative about events since October 7, even if published in Israeli media itself, like the Haaretz report. And even when confirming the occupation forces' responsibility for civilian deaths, they publish the number of victims and attribute the killings to unknown assailants, just as some media did after the Fakhoura school massacre on Saturday, resorting to phrases like "alleged attack" or attributing to the unknown without any reference to the Israeli occupation's responsibility for the bombing, or adopting the usual Israeli military narrative after each massacre, that they are "investigating the incident."
Many media institutions may later issue apologies for adopting the Israeli narrative of targeting civilians at a party, but how useful is an apology after providing political cover for the killing of thousands and the bombing of hospitals, schools, and places of worship?
Monday 14 November 2023
CNN Correspondent and Israeli Occupation Army Propaganda
In a recent CNN report, correspondent Nick Robertson, guided by Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hajjar, visited a location in Gaza's Rantisi Hospital, allegedly used by the resistance as an operational base, and claimed it was a location where hostages were kept. The room also contains several weapons, which the army spokesperson claims belonged to Hamas militants.
This scenario raises critical ethical questions: the possibility that the Israeli army could have staged the scene before the journalists' arrival cannot be discounted. Without independent verification, the authenticity of the evidence and the claim of resistance elements using the hospital remain unconfirmed.
Correspondent Nick Robertson's lack of critical questioning regarding the narrative provided by the Israeli army spokesperson is concerning. His acceptance of the presented scenario without skepticism suggests a missed opportunity for journalistic rigor. The report could have been equally effective if the Israeli army had directly supplied the footage to CNN, bypassing the need for a correspondent on-site.
More troubling is Robertson's extension of this narrative to other hospitals, hinting at a broader justification for potential Israeli military actions against medical facilities in Gaza. This approach not only compromises the objectivity expected in journalism but also risks normalizing one-sided narratives in conflict reporting and not questioning the potential war crimes committed by attacking civilians in hospitals.
Sunday, November 13, 2023
Ambiguous headlines and selective quoting that absolve Israel’s hospital bombings
Le Figaro, one of the most influential media outlets in France, and like most media outlets that defend right-wing narratives, fully embraced the Israeli narrative. On November 13, it published an article titled "War between Israel and Hamas: Gaza Hospitals Caught in the Crossfire," equating Israel (which is classified as an occupying power by the United Nations) and Hamas as warring powers. The piece resorts to using the term "crossfire" to describe the situation in northern Gaza, obscuring the identity of those responsible for bombing hospitals and targeting civilian facilities protected by international law.
The article mentions narratives from the Israeli army and Hamas about hospital bombings, but in the final paragraph, it refers to the European Union's condemnation of Hamas for "using hospitals as human shields in violation of international law." However, it fails to mention the organization's position on Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, considering them illegal and an occupation.
The issue of professional balance in reporting is under scrutiny, especially regarding the alleged use of hospitals by Hamas. Notably, prominent organizations like Human Rights Watch have openly contradicted Israel's claims. They assert that there's no evidence to back the allegations that Hamas operates a base beneath Al-Shifa Hospital or that its military officials are stationed inside the hospital, challenging the narrative presented in La Figaro (and other Western media outlets).
The article in question overlooks key aspects of the ongoing conflict, notably Hamas's invitation to international bodies, including the United Nations and global media, to scrutinize Israel's allegations of militants operating within hospitals. Additionally, it fails to address Israel's restrictions on journalists entering Gaza, a crucial factor in reporting reality on the ground.
This approach of crafting headlines and omitting specific details about the perpetrators of civilian casualties in Gaza is increasingly seen as a tactic masquerading as "neutrality." In reality, this method leans towards bias, favoring Israel, and straying from the core journalistic principle of impartially holding all parties accountable for their actions.
Saturday, November 12, 2023
Stripping context to polish the image of Israeli occupation
"IDF is preparing to rescue trapped premature babies from Gaza hospital." The Telegraph published a piece on November 12 about the plight of malnourished children at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, who are facing the risk of death due to the hospital's electricity shortage. The report presents a singular viewpoint, aligning closely with the Israeli narrative. It notably omits crucial context about the hospital's dire situation, including the impact of the Israeli military's actions on the facility and the children at risk due to the electricity shortage caused by these actions.
The newspaper made no attempt to provide any context for the news. It simply relayed the statement from the Israeli army spokesperson without fulfilling its fundamental role in questioning authority or providing context to the event. The article did not mention the fact that the hospital is besieged by the Israeli occupation forces or the fact that the lives of these children are endangered due to Israel's electricity cutoff in Gaza since the beginning of its military campaign. Furthermore, it failed to mention the reality that the hospital has been subjected to continuous shelling by the Israeli occupation army in recent days, resulting in the deaths of dozens of civilians and the destruction of entire medical departments within the hospital, rendering them out of service.
The news piece also ignored the ongoing incitement by the Israeli occupation army against Al-Shifa Hospital, falsely claiming that it serves as a command center for Hamas to justify its shelling. Instead, it attempted to glorify the Israeli occupation army and present it as an ethical force saving children, disregarding the fact that the victims of Israeli shelling, including children, have exceeded 4,000 in the past few weeks.
Saturday, November 12, 2023
The Washington Post Issues Apology for Cartoon Condoning Child Deaths in Gaza
The Washington Post published a cartoon in its opinion section in its printed edition on Tuesday, November 7th. The cartoon depicts what appears to be a Hamas leader connecting several children to his front and a Palestinian woman from behind, saying, "How dare Israel attack civilians?"
The cartoon attempts to reinforce the Israeli narrative that the high civilian casualty toll in Gaza is due to their use by resistance factions as human shields. The cartoon not only justifies the high number of civilian casualties in Gaza but goes further by explicitly advocating for their killing. The cartoon suggests that it is necessary to kill children and women for Israel to reach the bodies of resistance leaders and kill them.
The newspaper published this cartoon in its opinion section, which is topped with the newspaper's header and the phrase "An Independent Newspaper." This independence allows for a blatant bias in justifying the killing of children and women and a continuous bias towards the Israeli narrative since the start of the recent escalation.
It cannot be ignored that the owner of The Washington Post is the American billionaire Jeff Bezos, who also owns Amazon. Amazon announced in August last year that it would invest over $7 billion In Israel in the coming years.
The newspaper issued an apology for the cartoon in its edition on Thursday, November 9th, after facing severe criticism from readers.
Thursday, November 9, 2023
The use of the term "terrorism" in media coverage of the Gaza war: a political or editorial choice?
Investigations et Enquêtes (Investigations and Inquiries), a YouTube channel, recently re-released a documentary from 2003 titled "Israeli Special Forces: In the Heart of the War against Terrorism." The episode garnered an exceptionally high viewership, surpassing half a million views in less than three weeks.
The channel employed the word "terrorism" to describe the factions and movements opposing Israel, and it is evident that not placing it within quotation marks reflects an editorial stance.
The United Nations defines terrorism (in general and broadly) as criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons, or particular persons for political purposes. However, this concept has been subject to political manipulation, with nations often using it to label their adversaries or those opposing their policies.
When discussions initially arose within the United Nations about the concept of terrorism, countries were divided on defining the term precisely, influenced by political and ideological conflicts. Heated debates occurred concerning "state terrorism" and the situations to which it applied. A specific stream did not prevail, and the United Nations did not reach a consensus on a definition for the term. However, the outcome of the discussion is that "terrorism" is a word laden with political implications that can escalate to the level of propaganda against adversaries.
Here, we can point to the shift in the United States' stance toward the Taliban, who were initially seen as liberators and heroes deserving of celebration at the White House during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, only to later be labeled as "sponsors of global terrorism" within a few years.
There are many examples indicating that the term "terrorism" is sometimes used to incite against opposition figures, as was the case with the anti-racism icon Nelson Mandela, who remained categorized as a "mere terrorist" by the apartheid regime for years.
Are the media concerned with adopting states' classifications of the terrorism concept?
The French Press Agency (AFP) found itself at the heart of an ongoing political debate regarding its decision not to use the terms "terrorism" and "terrorists" when describing the Hamas movement. Based on an editorial decision made during the ongoing conflict, describes Hamas as follows: "Hamas organization, as designated by the United States, Israel, and the European Union," with a strict constraint of framing the word "terrorism" within quotation marks.
Even when an Israeli aircraft was attacked over Dagestan, the French agency reported it as "an attack by a group opposing Israel," in contrast to many Western headlines that described the blockade of Israeli passengers as "terrorism" and "anti-Semitism."
The editorial choice of the French news agency regarding the use of the words "terrorism" and "terrorists" is not new; it refrained from using them to describe the 2001 attacks on America, the 2015 Paris attacks, the activities of the Basque ETA organization, and the Irish Republican Party.
The BBC also refuses to use the word "terrorism" to describe the Hamas movement. John Simpson, the BBC's World Affairs Editor, says, "Terrorism is a loaded term used to describe a morally objectionable group. It is not the BBC's role to determine who should be supported or condemned, who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys. If governments describe Hamas as a terrorist movement, that's their business, and those we interview are entitled to say that, but not in our voice. Our job is to provide the facts to our audience and let them make their own decisions."
"Terrorism" is a susceptible term and has become a tool in the hands of many countries to eliminate their opponents using international law and the institutions responsible for its enforcement. This compels newsrooms to handle the term with great caution. For example, Al Jazeera, given that "terrorism" has become one of the most widely used words in the world, adopted an editorial decision to use the phrase "so-called terrorism" when referring to states and entities that employ it without explicitly endorsing it.
Monday, November 6, 2023
The military censor controls the narrative
CNN aired a field report by its correspondent Jeremy Diamond on the 6th of November, who was embedded with the Israeli occupation forces during their incursion of the Gaza Strip, noting before its broadcast that the military stipulated the submission of all recorded content for review and approval before allowing its publication.
CNN consented to this condition, justifying its decision on the basis that it would enable the channel to provide its viewers with a "limited window to observe the Israeli operations in Gaza.".
This acknowledgment by CNN of prior control by the occupying Israeli military over the filmed content and determining what can and cannot be published violates the principle of independence in journalistic work. It transforms the role of the journalist from an objective conveyor of truth into a public relations officer for the Israeli military. The motive that led the channel to relinquish the independence of its coverage—to provide a limited view into the Israeli operations in Gaza—is not a viable justification.
The fundamental function of journalistic reporting is to convey facts objectively and independently. Therefore, publishing videos of Israeli occupation forces inside the Gaza Strip with prior censorship only serves the Israeli narrative of events and cannot be considered reliable journalistic practice but rather "military propaganda.".
American journalist and writer David Ignatius, the previous editor at The Washington Post in foreign affairs, explained the professional dilemmas arising from embedded journalism in a 2010 article for the same newspaper.
He states, "Embedding comes at a price. We are observing these wars from just one perspective, not seeing them as a whole. When you see my byline from Kandahar, Kabul, or Basra, you should not think that I am out among ordinary people, asking questions of all sides. I am usually in an American military bubble. That vantage point has value, but it is hardly a full picture.". He added that accompanying soldiers or even politicians on their trips ”inherits the distortions and biases that come with being ‘on the bus’ or ‘on the plane’.
If this is the case, how can coverage be fair and independent when the army not only escorts journalists to selected locations but also controls and censors what they can publish in their news stories, as in the case of CNN?