Is the media guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity?

“Retain the power of speech no matter what other power you may lose … Do what you will, but speak out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don’t be gagged. The time of trial is always. Now is the appointed time.” John Jay Chapman, 1900

On Friday, August 1, I awoke to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio 1 World News report that went more or less like this: “Israel has broken the ceasefire.” Then over to a reporter on the ground. “Israel is firing mortar rounds into Gaza…in response to rocket fire.”

And so began another day of media reportage.

We are now hearing about the strong arm tactics of Hamas that is affecting the reporting of news from Gaza. What has happened to the fourth estate?

The Washington Post asked: “Forty questions of the international media in Gaza.” These questions speak to the lack of moral courage and ethical standards within Main Stream Media which, in my opinion, have resulted in aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Every night we listen to reporters review the number of civilians killed by Israeli soldiers. As they speak we see the faces and the bodies of the dead and the anguish of the living while we are told over and over again that the casualties are women and children. At the end of the report there’s sometimes a reference to the dead in Israel, in a tone of voice indicating there just weren’t enough dead Jews to warrant the fighting (deaths and destruction) in Gaza. There’s simply not enough proportionality!

Yet, Thursday July 31, 2014 The Ministry of Health in Gaza reported on the deaths of their citizens: 1,418; 324 children, 166 women 18-60 years; 60 persons over 60 years; and 868 males of fighting age. Did you read that in your paper or hear about it on the news? Have you read Steven Stotsky’s analysis in Time?

“Many media outlets, which are also businesses, need ratings and to make money. They find it much easier to show horrific photos of dead children instead of discussing facts and what alas has caused these innocent and unnecessary deaths and what could have prevented them.”

That old expression “if it bleeds it leads” now comes with a new one: “It must be caused by Jews to be news.”

Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Israeli journalist, quoted a veteran foreign journalist saying “It’s much easier to sell to the editor an anti-Israel story than one that criticizes Hamas or Fatah.”

Reporters ought to know exactly what they’re doing when reporting from Gaza. They’re being paid to feed hate against Israel and the Jews..

We heard a great deal about the massacre at Shuja’iya: where “more than 70 Palestinians were killed, deepening the vast trauma and horror being borne by our people under this criminal and inhumane Israeli occupation and military onslaught on civilians.” But how many read the tweet from the Canadian reporter about the militants, one dressed as a woman with a headscarf, with a telltale tip of a gun poking through, participating in the fighting at Shuja’iya?

Did you hear about the Spanish journalist who feared for his life in Gaza should he film Hamas firing a rocket? What about Russia Today journalist, Harry Fear, being expelled from Gaza because he exposed the truth by tweeting about rocket launches from civilian areas? This is a war crime that was muzzled.

Tamer El-Ghobashy, of the Wall Street Journal had as his caption under a photo: “An outside wall on the campus of Gaza’s main hospital was hit by a strike. Low level damage suggest Hamas misfire.” The tweet was changed removing blame from Hamas.

Nick Casey, also Wall Street Journal, tweeted: “you have to wonder with the shelling, how patients at Shifa hospital feel as Hamas uses it as a safe place to see media.” He’s reporting what Hamas continues to deny; that they hide in plain sight amongst civilians- which is a war crime against their own people and Israel. The tweet was removed. Now listen to him equivocate, prevaricate and obfuscate enabling him to return to Gaza and his minders to continue reporting. All he had to do was give up his moral compass.

The intimidation of Western journalists by Hamas to keep them in line should come as no surprise.  In March 2011, armed men-Hamas- “stormed” Reuters offices in Gaza, where CNN and NHK (Japanese media) were stationed, looking for footage from a demonstration and took a tape from NHK. “One Reuters journalist was hit in the arm with a metal bar and another was told he would be thrown out of a top floor in the building.” According to Mohamed Abdel Dayem, then Middle East and North Africa coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, “Today’s attack on media offices and working journalists in Gaza is a brazen attempt to censor the news.”

Nothing has changed in Gaza. The Washington Post questioned the values of the media, today. “Are you (journalists) worried that you might also be expelled from Gaza?”

Just as we don’t hear or see the whole truth in Gaza or about Hamas we hear very little about suffering in Israel. I’ve been to Israel and to the south, to Sderot, the bomb-shelter capital of the world. Where are the stories about the effects on Israeli children who have been under attack from thousands of rockets from Hamas since 2001?

We don’t see Israeli families burying their children, or speak to the families of the wounded or see the damage done by the bombs and rockets shot from civilian locations within Gaza. That makes the story unbalanced and biased and feeds the hate of those who will not accept the right of Jews to live, let alone live without fear in their own country. It’s as if Israel is invisible except when it comes to blaming this democracy for defending herself from Islamist terrorists and terrorism.

The world media is failing to act morally. By freely choosing to report from Gaza, under the thumb of Hamas minders, they are complicit in the dissemination of the Jew-hating rhetoric beloved by Hamas.They are contributing to the worldwide spike in anti-Semitic sentiment that has led to crimes against humanity: The foreign ministers of Germany, France and Italy have confirmed a rise in anti-Semitic protests and violence because of the conflict, as reported, in Gaza:

Riots in Paris, a mini-Kristallnacht; firebombing in Toulouse –where Jewish school children were murdered for being Jewish in 2012. Attacks against Jews in Malmo, Sweden, the refusal of a doctor in Belgium to treat an elderly Jewish woman, echoes of Mengele. The beating of two women in Calgary, the heartland of Canada, the shouts of kill the Jews in Germany and Britain where a resident in Manchester had no qualms writing on a Facebook page “I hope he burns in hell like the rest of the Jews.”

There is a dearth of integrity in today’s media, from the editors at the home desks to the reporters in the field who censor themselves because they’re “too scared to report news that would anger Hamas and other radical groups.”

If members of media had either reported the truth, or when intimidated had left Gaza refusing to report at all, Hamas would not have had a window into the world to proselytize their propaganda with impunity, spreading their message of hate for Jews and Israel.

Is that not aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity?

About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "
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