An omission that drives antisemitism

In November 2023, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) highlighted a glaring omission in media reporting: news articles frequently cited casualty figures from the Gaza Health Ministry without mentioning the fact that it is controlled by the terror group Hamas. Because this omission could significantly impact the perceived reliability of the reported data, the ADL urged media outlets to adopt greater transparency. However, despite recent independent analyses which conclude that the Gaza casualty figures are “statistically impossible,” there appears to have been no substantial follow-up on the media’s compliance with ADL’s request.

As a data scientist, I felt compelled to investigate this issue further. Utilizing Nexis Uni (formerly known as LexisNexis Academic), I conducted a search spanning articles from October 7, 2023, to May 5, 2024, which mentioned the “Gaza Health Ministry” or “Gaza Ministry of Health.” This search uncovered 21,237 articles. I then refined my search to exclude articles that identified the Ministry as “Hamas-run” (a number of analogous terms, such as “run by Hamas”, “managed by Hamas”, etc., were also used). Astonishingly, 16,164 – or 76.1% – of the articles did not mention the Hamas affiliation!

I certainly recognize the limitations of this quick exploratory approach. For instance, the list of synonyms for “Hamas-run” in my searches may not be comprehensive, making the true percentage of articles that don’t mention the Hamas affiliation lower. On the other hand, “Hamas-run” may not refer to the Gaza Health Ministry but to Gaza itself, making this percentage higher. Furthermore, the news sources included in the Nexis Uni database omit major American media outlets (e.g., Huffington Post; Fox News), but include many English-language outlets from countries which do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. However, when I limited my searches to two American sources – CNN and The New York Times – the results were virtually identical to the overall findings: 76.8% of the CNN articles and 76.6% of the New York Times articles that mentioned the Gaza Health Ministry did not disclose its affiliation with Hamas!

Why does this matter? The portrayal of this conflict in the media holds significant power in shaping public opinion and policy decisions. When crucial information is omitted, whether intentionally or not, it can lead to misunderstandings and misinformed views on the nature and reality of this conflict. It can lead to strained diplomatic relations between Israel and her allies. It can result in unsubstantiated accusations against Israel. And it can certainly drive antisemitism.

About the Author
Eugene Brusilovskiy is a researcher and data scientist based in Philadelphia, PA, with a passion for Israel and Jewish life.
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