- MELANIE PHILLIPS - MAY 16, 2021 -
Journalists and the Biden administration have been clutching their pearls over Israel’s bombing of what’s been called the “media building” in Gaza City. This was an 11-story tower where outlets such as Associated Press, Agence France Presse, al Jazeera and others had offices.
In the US, President Joe Biden’s press spokesman Jennifer Psaki tweeted that the United States had “communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility”. In other words, a public rebuke.
Never let the facts get in the way of a jerking “liberal” knee, eh. So much for Biden’s “staunch support” for Israel in its battle to stop the more than 2800 rockets that have been fired at its civilians from Gaza, and are still coming. For the Israel Defence Force had given the occupants of this “media” building an hour’s warning to evacuate, and accordingly no-one was killed or injured.
Israel had thus actually ensured the safety not just of the “journalists and independent media” but everyone in that building. This despite what the Israelis say the building actually housed — a Hamas research and development unit, Hamas military intelligence and offices of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Those people too were given an hour to evacuate. Such is the priority the Israelis give to saving civilian life, they even allow the enemy to escape if it means protecting civilians. (Hamas, by contrast, often force their own civilians to ignore such warnings and stay put in the line of fire where they’ve deliberately placed them, in order to get that all-important western media coverage of child fatalities).
The IDF tweeted that the building was “an important base of operations” for Hamas military intelligence, where it “gathered intel for attacks against Israel, manufactured weapons & positioned equipment to hamper IDF operations”. On a Zoom media briefing last night, the IDF spokesman, Col. Jonathan Conricus, said the building also housed Hamas military technology on which he would give no more details.
But of course, an al Jazeera journalist said of the bombing:
This is clearly to silence the truth and the voices of journalists.
The media outlets in that building have suggested that the Israelis were lying about the Hamas presence there, and that they simply intended to bomb the media because they are unsympathetic.
There is no no reason to doubt that this building formed a key element in the Hamas terror infrastructure. The Israelis’ whole strategy is to take out this infrastructure. And are we really supposed to imagine that the Israelis believed the way to improve their standing in international media was to bomb a media centre?
AP says, hand on heart, that it had no idea Hamas were there. Aren’t journalists supposed to find out stuff? Like who is occupying the building they’re in, and what they are using it for? When these truth-seeking journalists met these guys in the elevators, did they assume they were all aid workers from Save the Children?
The real outrage is that these media outlets were sharing that building with a Hamas intelligence nerve centre — an outfit which doesn’t seem to have struck them as, you know, a rather big story to investigate.
Of course not. For this is part of a much larger issue, which sits at the heart of why so many in the west believe lie after stonking lie about Israel and the Palestinians.
What most of the public don’t realise — because the western media never tells them — is that absolutely nothing exists in Gaza without the approval of Hamas. The only journalists allowed to be in Gaza are those who deliver the story Hamas wants to tell the world. Any journalist who tried to tell the truth about Hamas would be either thrown out of Gaza or murdered. That’s something of a disincentive to telling people what’s actually going on.
Most reporting from Gaza is delivered by local Palestinian “stringers” or fixers. They may boast respectable media accreditation like AP. But they are either members of Hamas themselves or are all too aware that if they don’t deliver what Hamas wants them to deliver, they’re dead. The same goes for Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. And the fact is that, for decades, the west’s major news agencies have used Palestinian stringers whose propaganda goes straight into national newspapers in Britain, America and elsewhere — sometimes even under the byline of a staff correspondent sitting in an office in a safe country — and is believed by the unsuspecting western reader who trusts the integrity of that newspaper.
This situation was spelled out after the 2014 Gaza war by the former AP journalist Matti Friedman. In a seminal piece in The Atlantic, he lifted the curtain on how the western media co-operate with Hamas’ strategy of using its civilians as canon fodder in order to manipulate western emotions and demonise Israel. As Friedman wrote:
Hamas’s strategy is to provoke a response from Israel by attacking from behind the cover of Palestinian civilians, thus drawing Israeli strikes that kill those civilians, and then to have the casualties filmed by one of the world’s largest press contingents, with the understanding that the resulting outrage abroad will blunt Israel’s response. This is a ruthless strategy, and an effective one. It is predicated on the co-operation of journalists. …In previous rounds of Gaza fighting, Hamas learned that international coverage from the territory could be moulded to its needs, a lesson it would implement in this summer’s  war. Most of the press work in Gaza is done by local fixers, translators, and reporters, people who would understandably not dare cross Hamas, making it only rarely necessary for the group to threaten a Westerner. The organisation’s armed forces could be made to disappear. The press could be trusted to play its role in the Hamas script, instead of reporting that there was such a script. Hamas strategy did not exist, according to Hamas—or, as reporters would say, was “not the story.” There was no Hamas charter blaming Jews for centuries of perfidy, or calling for their murder; this was not the story. The rockets falling on Israeli cities were quite harmless; they were not the story either. …When Hamas’s leaders surveyed their assets before this summer’s  round of fighting, they knew that among those assets was the international press. The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby — and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff— and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.) Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying. (This too happened; the information comes from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of these incidents). Colford, the AP spokesman, confirmed that armed militants entered the AP’s Gaza office in the early days of the war to complain about a photo showing the location of a rocket launch, though he said that Hamas claimed that the men “did not represent the group.” The AP “does not report many interactions with militias, armies, thugs or governments,” he wrote. “These incidents are part of the challenge of getting out the news — and not themselves news.”
Last night, the IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said that more than 400 Hamas rockets fired over the past few days in the barrages intended to kill Israeli civilians had fallen short into Gaza. Those 400-plus rockets will have caused many more deaths of civilians than the handful that even Hamas has admitted. Gaza’s children are being killed either directly from Hamas’s own rockets or because, along with Gaza’s adult civilians, they are being used as hostages, human shields and cannon fodder.
Now read what Friedman had to say in 2014 about this murderous strategy:
…Hamas understood that journalists would not only accept as fact the Hamas-reported civilian death toll — relayed through the UN or through something called the “Gaza Health Ministry,” an office controlled by Hamas—but would make those numbers the centre of coverage. Hamas understood that reporters could be intimidated when necessary and that they would not report the intimidation; Western news organisations tend to see no ethical imperative to inform readers of the restrictions shaping their coverage in repressive states or other dangerous areas. In the war’s aftermath, the NGO-UN-media alliance could be depended upon to unleash the organs of the international community on Israel, and to leave the jihadist group alone.
And this was his devastating summary of how most of the western media cover Israel and the Palestinians. Writing about foreign activists, he observed:
…In my time in the press corps, I learned that our relationship with these groups was not journalistic. My colleagues and I did not, that is, seek to analyse or criticise them. For many foreign journalists, these were not targets but sources and friends — fellow members, in a sense, of an informal alliance. This alliance consists of activists and international staffers from the UN and the NGOs; the Western diplomatic corps, particularly in East Jerusalem; and foreign reporters. (There is also a local component, consisting of a small number of Israeli human-rights activists who are themselves largely funded by European governments, and Palestinian staffers from the Palestinian Authority, the NGOs, and the UN.) Mingling occurs at places like the lovely Oriental courtyard of the American Colony hotel in East Jerusalem, or at parties held at the British Consulate’s rooftop pool. The dominant characteristic of nearly all of these people is their transience. They arrive from somewhere, spend a while living in a peculiar subculture of expatriates, and then move on. In these circles, in my experience, a distaste for Israel has come to be something between an acceptable prejudice and a prerequisite for entry. I don’t mean a critical approach to Israeli policies or to the ham-fisted government currently in charge in this country, but a belief that to some extent the Jews of Israel are a symbol of the world’s ills, particularly those connected to nationalism, militarism, colonialism, and racism—an idea quickly becoming one of the central elements of the “progressive” Western zeitgeist, spreading from the European left to American college campuses and intellectuals, including journalists. In this social group, this sentiment is translated into editorial decisions made by individual reporters and editors covering Israel, and this, in turn, gives such thinking the means of mass self-replication.
There’s one more very important thing which people also don’t generally realise when they are served up with inflammatory claims about the number of Palestinian civilians Israel is allegedly killing. On Gatestone, the former British Army Commander Colonel Richard Kemp writes:
Hamas is no match for the IDF and could be quickly and much more cheaply defeated by blunt and crushing military force were it not for one thing — the Israeli need to minimise loss of civilian life. Hamas know that. They know they cannot prevail over the IDF and have no intention of trying. Their entire strategy is to attack Israeli population centres using rockets, kamikaze drones and tunnels, aimed at luring IDF counter attacks that will kill their own civilians in order to vilify and isolate Israel around the world and gain international support for their cause. With human shields as the fundamental element of every operation, Hamas are the first "army" in history to use the lives of their own civilian population as weapons of war. Their strategy has been woefully successful. Over many years of conflict in Gaza, the majority of the world's media have enthusiastically reported the deaths of Palestinian civilians as though they were the deliberate object of Israel's callous and uncaring way of war. This blatantly false propaganda has been taken up by Hamas supporters and “useful idiots” in the West. In the US, Britain and Europe, last week we have seen hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators brandishing Palestinian banners, burning Israeli flags, spitting out their hate for the Jewish state and screaming about IDF baby-killers. Hamas's calumny is a prime motivator among Israel-loathing academics in Western universities and high schools who have mined their false allegations as rich seams of material to indoctrinate generations of students.
The idea that journalists in Gaza — or indeed most of the western media corps, with some very honourable exceptions — have ever delivered objective and balanced reporting about Israel and the Palestinians is absolutely ludicrous. The implications of this systemic corruption of journalism — the certainty of it inflaming and inciting a Muslim population already fed a diet of paranoid lies about Israel and the Jews and whipping up hatred of Israel and the Jewish people in the rest of the population — are horrific.
We’ve had decades of this abuse of journalism, with the effects that are all too appallingly obvious to those with eyes to see. Now we are experiencing the latest round in this terrible war against the Jews, truth and elementary decency.
Please bear all this in mind when you next read or tune into the Guardian, New York Times, BBC, Channel Four News, Sky News or much of the the rest of the so-called reporting on the Gaza war by the mainstream media.
Or better still, cancel your subscriptions.
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