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Daniel Sadan
"Because the truth can change the world."

The media’s responsibility in the Israel-Hamas war

wojciechkic.com - stock.adobe.com. AI image of the Israeli-enhanced F-16I "Sufa" (Storm) aircraft, equipped with the Israeli-made Delilah cruise missile system, which allows the aborting and redirection of a missile at the touch of a button after the missile has already been launched, in order to protect civilians and property from harm.
wojciechkic.com - stock.adobe.com. AI image of the Israeli-enhanced F-16I "Sufa" (Storm) aircraft, equipped with the Israeli-made Delilah cruise missile system, which allows the aborting and redirection of a missile at the touch of a button after the missile has already been launched, in order to protect civilians and property from harm.

CNN’s Clarissa Ward as an example of the complexities of conflict reporting, asymmetric warfare tactics that seek to co-opt the media, and the imperative for journalists to uphold the highest standards of objectivity in an age of growing public scrutiny.

Clarissa Ward claims Israel denied access to reporters

On December 14th, 2023, CNN’s Clarissa Ward reported on the Israeli military’s actions in Gaza, warranting a detailed and factual analysis. In an era where media skepticism is growing, it’s crucial for journalists and news organizations to build public trust with balanced and precise reporting. CNN, which brands itself as “The Most Trusted Name in News,” is facing scrutiny as some viewers question the network’s credibility. This concern is shared by those who feel that CNN has shifted from traditional journalism to a more narrative-driven format.

Trust in the media is at a low point, so reporters like Clarissa Ward and networks such as CNN are under pressure to restore confidence. This requires rigorous editorial oversight to ensure adherence to journalistic standards. CNN has faced criticism for bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, particularly during recent events like the Gaza War. Such coverage has widened the gap between the network and viewers who demand impartial information about current events, which has led critics to question CNN’s dedication to the fourth estate’s duty to society and its role in upholding democratic values.

Western media bear a profound responsibility to protect all democracies, including Israel, rather than supporting the goals of terrorist organizations intent on their destruction.

An important part of the media’s responsibility to society is to resist the urge to amplify the voices of terrorist organizations like Hamas, which utilize asymmetric warfare tactics against Israel in an attempt to discredit it, and isolate it from the rest of the international community. Asymmetric warfare refers to conflict between two or more groups that have significant differences in military power and strategy. This type of conflict is often characterized by a willingness to violate international laws and rules of engagement in war, particularly those concerning the protection of civilians. In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Hamas is considered a non-state actor whose tactics often involve methods that aim to diminish the military capabilities of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and exploit Israel’s democratic values as a weakness. Examples of this approach include guerrilla warfare, rocket attacks, tunnel warfare, human shields, and information warfare.

The last component, information warfare, is one that Hamas has employed quite successfully for decades against Israel. They have used academia, social media, grassroots campaigns, celebrities, NGO’s, lobbying groups, politicians, human rights groups, international bodies like the UN, and Western media to spread propaganda. This frames the conflict in a way that garners support for Hamas’s cause and creates tremendous international pressure on Israel to take actions that would not only present a national security risk to the Jewish State, but perpetuate the conflict indefinitely to further Hamas’ goals.
This strategy is carefully designed to shape public opinion, primarily in the West and with particular attention to Israel’s greatest ally, the United States. It also targets Israel’s own electorate, the Jewish diaspora who support Israel financially and politically, as well as Arab nations and the broader Muslim community. Hamas is acutely aware of how Israel’s status as a liberal democracy makes it vulnerable to public opinion—a vulnerability they exploit fully. Consequently, the Western media bear a profound responsibility to protect all democracies, including Israel, rather than supporting the goals of terrorist organizations intent on their destruction. Often overlooked in the West is the fact that the fall of Israel would be just the beginning. The second phase of this agenda would have far-reaching implications, affecting communities across the globe.
This manipulation of media and public sentiment underscores the challenges faced by journalists in presenting an objective view of the conflict. This challenge is exemplified by Clarissa Ward’s recent broadcast on CNN, in which she stated that Israel has made it “next to impossible” for international journalists to enter Gaza. This alarming accusation was naturally cause for concern about mainstream media’s ability to cover the Hamas War, because journalists need to be on-site in order to cover news stories effectively. Ward supported her claim with footage of the destruction in Gaza, perhaps implying that the IDF are intentionally hindering media coverage after recent bombings in order to conceal the damage. However, this claim is at odds with other reports and footage coming out of Gaza since October 7th, and it appears that international journalists have been free to report from the battlefield after all.

An Associated Press (AP) article dated October 19, 2023 provides a counter-narrative to Ward’s claims, stating that Western journalists have been actively reporting from Gaza since the beginning of the war. The article further illustrates the media’s resilience, detailing how journalists like CNN’s own Ibrahim Dahman with over 23 years at Ward’s own network had been reporting from Gaza all along. It mentions how journalists had been navigating around the challenges posed by limited power supplies and logistical constraints to deliver consistent mainstream media coverage from within Gaza ever since Hamas’ monstrous acts on October 7th, named the “Black Sabbath” by Israelis.

The discrepancy between Ward’s claims and the AP’s evidence to the contrary raises questions about the media’s role in conflict zones and the importance of upholding journalistic integrity. While Ward’s report reflects the difficulties faced by some journalists, it overlooks the broader context of Israel’s liberal democracy and commitment to freedom of the press. This freedom is extended to all media outlets,  even to openly hostile ones like the AP, the BBC, and Al Jazeera, which use their unfettered access to Israel and the Palestinian Territories to cast Israel as the villain in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. This challenges Ward’s credibility, and accentuates the critical need for media outlets to provide balanced journalism that adheres to factual reporting, especially in the volatile atmosphere of conflict zones where the line between reporting and advocacy may become blurred.

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of mainstream media reporter in Gaza.

The Associated Press contradicts Ward

Ward portrays her entry into Gaza as a rare feat and a significant achievement. She begins with an explanation of how she entered Gaza alongside a UAE medical doctor, suggesting that she had to bypass stringent, censorious IDF restrictions on journalists to access the conflict zone.

“A handful of news organizations had maintained a regular presence with bureaus [in Gaza], including The Associated Press, the BBC, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and Al Jazeera, supported by a network of stringers assisting other outlets.

The AP article details comments from Andrew Roy, the London Bureau Chief for CBS News, who speaks about the long-standing tradition of journalism in Gaza, and how technology now allows many people to document and share news events.
Near the end of the article, it quotes a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) representative Mansour, who expresses hope that the United Nations will help ensure journalists’ safety on the battlefield, including helping them leave conflict zones when necessary, which could mean that journalists may be more concerned with exiting Gaza rather than entering it.
Upon further reading, the AP article reveals that journalists’ limited access to Gaza is not due to deliberate obstruction by Israel, but rather because the Erez crossing, the main entry point for journalists into Gaza, was attacked on October 7th and has thus remained closed for security reasons. This has created a logistical barrier, which may be why Ward and other journalists have had a difficult time entering Gaza.

Additionally, the AP notes that “A handful of news organizations had maintained a regular presence with bureaus [in Gaza], including The Associated Press, the BBC, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and Al Jazeera, supported by a network of stringers assisting other outlets.” This statement indicates that despite the challenges, there has been a consistent mainstream media presence in Gaza throughout the war.

Ward claims “Nowhere is safe in Gaza”

Ward describes scenes of daily life in Gaza, noting that “Despite Israel’s heavy bombardment, people are out on the streets—a crowd gathers outside a bakery. Where else can they go?” She adds, “Nowhere is safe in Gaza.” Although Ward briefly mentions that Egypt has not allowed journalists into Gaza via their border crossing, she then quickly shifts gears into what can only be described as a gross exaggeration of the intensity of Israel’s bombing in Gaza by inflating the number of Israeli Air Force (IAF) airstrikes by a factor of about 6 to 12 times.

Ward’s misrepresentations of the war in Gaza merit a thorough examination of the motives and ethics of journalists whose reporting may be designed to provoke international criticism of Israel, potentially aligning themselves with the asymmetric warfare goals of terrorist organizations like Hamas, which seek to exploit the media for nefarious purposes. This highlights the difficult position Israel faces in balancing the dual imperatives of safeguarding journalists’ lives—regardless of their hostile intentions—while conducting military operations against imminent threats, and ensuring the safety of Israeli soldiers.

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of reporter in a war zone.

The curious case of Shireen Abu Akleh

An example of a successful focal point in an asymmetric warfare campaign against Israel is the death of Shireen Abu Akleh’s in 2022. Abu Akleh was a Palestinian-American journalist who worked as a reporter for Al Jazeera for over two decades, covering the Middle East, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On May 11, 2022, Abu Akleh was reporting on an IDF counterterrorism raid in Jenin, a city in northern Samaria (better known in the West as the northern “West Bank”), when in a tragic turn of events, she was killed while inside a live combat zone.

Abu Akleh’s death sparked an international firestorm, and an outpouring of anger, particularly among Palestinians, pro-Palestinian supporters, journalists, celebrities, and left wing political figures like Jeremy Corbyn. The incident led to international calls for a thorough and transparent investigation.

The Israeli military initially stated that it was investigating the incident, as it was unclear who fired the shot that killed her. Subsequently, the United States State Department called for a comprehensive investigation into her death, given Abu Akleh’s American citizenship. The case became emblematic of the dangers journalists face in war zones, and called attention to the broader issue of journalist safety and the need to protect members of the press in dangerous environments.

The extent of the controversy was unusual, because Western left-wing groups, political figures, celebrities, and media attention were focused exclusively on the death of a single Palestinian-American Al Jazeera journalist, while overlooking the deaths of numerous other journalists worldwide. According to Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), from 2003 to 2022, an average of 80 journalists were killed each year, with nearly half of those deaths occurring in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Honduras. Around the same time as Abu Akleh’s death, the world also witnessed the deaths of 58 other journalists. Over the past two decades, 11 reporters from her network, Al Jazeera, have lost their lives in various Middle Eastern conflict zones, predominantly in Syria. Despite these significant losses, there has been a lack of similar international outrage and calls for justice for these journalists, presumably because their deaths did not occur in Israel.

Following an extensive investigation into the incident, the State Department concluded that Israel was not responsible for Shireen Abu Akleh’s death. Nevertheless, some left-wing politicians have continued focusing their criticism on Israel, ignoring the broader issue of journalist fatalities in combat zones, and genuine targeting of reporters in dangerous regions of the world. In Mexico, where drug cartels wield considerable influence over the country, journalists who investigate the activities of these cartels and the corrupt politicians backing them frequently become targets for assassination. This violent silencing tactic is aimed at preventing the exposure of their criminal operations.

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of Jeremy Corbyn, British former Member of Parliament and Leader of the Labour Party.

By May 2023, although seven journalists had already lost their lives that year, political figures like Jeremy Corbyn chose to use the anniversary of Abu Akleh’s death to sharply criticize Israel without acknowledging the dozens of other journalists who had lost their lives since her death. This selective attention contrasts sharply with the overall lack of public outcry over the 1,668 reporters killed over the last two decades as per the RSF, suggesting a disproportionate focus on the sole media fatality in Israel for that year. In contrast to Israel’s 1 journalist killed in 2022, the same year saw 11 journalists killed in Mexico, 8 in Ukraine, 6 in Haiti, and 3 each in Syria, Brazil, and Yemen.

Ward’s statement that the number of airstrikes in Gaza ‘surpasses anything we’ve seen in modern times in terms of intensity and ferocity’ is both sensational, as well as misleading, and requires further examination.

Corbyn took to social media on the anniversary of Abu Akleh’s death, and tweeted, “One year ago, Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered by Israeli forces in broad daylight. She was killed because she gave a voice to Palestinians in pursuit of the truth. We cannot — and will not — stop until we have justice.” This tweet demonstrates the almost pathological obsession with Israel by various left wing figures around the world.

It is notable that a British former Member of Parliament and Leader of the Labour Party, who nearly became Prime Minister, would focus so intently on the death of a single American journalist, particularly after her own government had already pursued justice, and exonerated Israel. Corbyn’s use of the word “cannot” in regard to stopping his “quest for justice” in relation to an incident which happened thousands of miles away from his country, and had no connection whatsoever to the UK indicates a certain level of uncontrollable hysteria. Also, his ambiguous use of the word “we” raises questions about who exactly he was referring to in his use of the plural form.

Accusations like Corbyn’s against the State of Israel claiming it systematically targets journalists stand in stark contrast to the country’s actual record, particularly given its reluctance to endanger journalists when it comes to the Gaza War. Still, this fact seems to have no effect on the eagerness of political figures such as Congressman André Carson and members of the Squad to propose legislation like the Justice for Shireen Act, demanding further investigation into Abu Akleh’s death, despite the State Department’s comprehensive vindication of Israel. Abu Akleh is the only journalist out of the 1,668 dead reporters over the past two decades who got a Congressional Bill in their honor.

The issue of journalist safety, and transparency in military operations presents a complex challenge. On the one hand, Israel faces sharp criticism if journalists die in dangerous combat zones within or around Israel, which opens the door to accusations of deliberate targeting of reporters by the IDF. On the other hand, when access is restricted to journalists, allegations arise that the Jewish State is concealing the scope of its military operations from the media. This “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” dilemma reveals the intricate relationship between the media’s pursuit of on-the-ground reporting in war zones, and the responsibilities of a state engaged in active warfare to safeguard international reporters.

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of B-17 Flying Fortress performing a bombing run over Dresden, Germany in World War II.

Ward claims bombing “surpasses anything we’ve seen”

Beyond her claim that Israel is obstructing media access to Gaza, Ward also said that the number of airstrikes in Gaza “surpasses anything we’ve seen in modern times in terms of intensity and ferocity,” which is sensational and misleading. She quoted a figure of 22,000 airstrikes by the IAF, which is incorrect, because the IAF stated that this number refers to terrorist targets struck, not the total number of missions flown. 

The number of ground targets that can be hit in a single sortie by an aircraft can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of aircraft, the nature of the mission, the weapons being used, and the operational objectives. For instance, a single fighter jet sortie, using precision-guided munitions, can hit several targets if they are in close proximity.

Additionally, the payload capacity of the aircraft and the types of weapons carried can also influence the number of targets engaged. Some modern aircraft can carry multiple munitions that can be independently targeted, allowing for several strikes during a single mission. It’s important to note that military operations and technology are generally highly classified, and specific details about military capabilities and tactics are typically not disclosed to the public until decades later. In this case, the IAF has not appeared to publish public figures detailing the number of missions flown, only the numbers of terrorist targets hit.

Moreover, in the first 6 weeks of the air campaign, the US and Coalition Forces flew more than 41,000 sorties, which is somewhere between 10-20 times more than the estimated number of missions that Israel has flown in 8 weeks of combat.

Given the complexity of military operations and the variables involved, let’s estimate how many sorties the IAF may have flown over Gaza since October 7th. The modern fighter jets in the IAF fleet, which are mostly Israeli-enhanced McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed Martin fighters like the F-15 Eagle, F-16I Sufa (Storm), and F-35I Adir (Great) are capable of striking multiple targets per sortie depending on the mission profile, and the munitions used.

If we assume that during each sortie a pilot could potentially strike between 5 to 10 targets, we can make a simple calculation. For example, in order to strike 20,000 targets, the IAF would have to fly anywhere between 2,000 to 4,000 combat missions. Let’s be conservative, and go with the high-end of 4,000 sorties flown in order to strike 20,000 targets. This means each plane would have to drop 5 bombs in a single mission. At 4,000 airstrikes, the number of missions flown by the IAF is much less shocking than the 20,000 airstrikes Ward claimed were carried out, which is perhaps why Ward chose to muddy the waters. 

Furthermore, even at 4,000 missions, the total number of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza absolutely pales in comparison to other modern military air campaigns carried out over a similar period of time. For example, according to the US Air Force (USAF), the United States and its Coalition partners conducted over 116,000 aerial combat missions during Desert Storm, deploying 88,500 tons of ordnance in a campaign spanning only 6 weeks, which is substantially more firepower than the entire Gaza War, and was carried out in less time. This intense aerial offensive during Desert Storm proved so effective that it paved the way for a ground operation that concluded swiftly, lasting only 100 hours, presumably saving many American lives in the process. 

Similarly, Coalition air operations over the nine-year Second Gulf War in Iraq completely dwarf the number of airstrikes in Gaza. According to the USAF, during the initial 24-hour period of the Second Gulf War, Allied Forces conducted 1,700 sorties. This extraordinary level of military activity accomplished in one day nearly half of the total Israeli airstrikes carried out in Gaza over two months.

Moreover, in the first 6 weeks of the air campaign, the US and Coalition Forces flew more than 41,000 sorties, which is somewhere between 10-20 times more than the estimated number of missions that Israel has flown in 8 weeks of combat. It would be interesting to know what the total count of Coalition Forces airstrikes was during the entire nine-year Second Gulf War, especially considering the high number of sorties in the initial period. This context is crucial as it challenges Ward’s portrayal of Israeli operations in Gaza as unprecedented in their scale.

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of atomic bomb blast and mushroom cloud in Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.

Fat Man and Little Boy

Ward’s claim that the IAF’s airstrikes in Gaza surpassed all modern wars in terms of intensity and ferocity also demands scrutiny. Such language is hyperbolic, especially considering modern historical records of warfare. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were carried out with only two missions, dropping one atomic bomb per mission. The bombs were named Fat Man (21 kilotons, the same as 21,000 tons of dynamite, according to the US Department of Energy) and Little Boy (15 kilotons), and are a harrowing example of true ferocity in war. They resulted in unprecedented destruction and loss of life, leading to an almost immediate unconditional surrender by the Japanese, and a definitive end to the war in the Pacific Theater. Accordingly, Ward’s rhetoric seems to lack a sense of proportion and historical context, and appears to be an attempt to skew the audience’s perception of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

For context, let’s take a look at Little Boy, the smaller of the two bombs. This bomb exploded approximately 1,900 feet above Hiroshima, unleashing a blast that immediately obliterated the entire city, causing an estimated 70,000-80,000 instant fatalities and an additional 70,000-80,000 injuries. In the following months, the death toll in Hiroshima rose to approximately 140,000 due to the combined effects of the initial blast, radiation exposure, and related injuries. These are only the casualty numbers for Hiroshima, and do not include the subsequent casualties in Nagasaki where the bigger bomb called Fat Man was dropped.

The human toll was devastating, with people near the blast’s epicenter vaporized instantly, leaving only their shadows etched into the surroundings. This not only conveys the immediate horror of the atomic bomb but also the profound and unsettling power humanity had unleashed.

To underscore the horrifying specifics of this catastrophic event, the B-29 bomber named the Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb called Little Boy experienced a double shockwave from the blast it had just delivered. The explosion was so powerful, that one shockwave came from the aerial blast itself when the bomb exploded above the city, and the second shockwave hit the Enola Gay after it was reflected from the ground. To understand why this was so significant, you must consider the fact that at this point, the Enola Gay was already 11.5 miles away from Hiroshima. 

The intensity of the explosion was so powerful that birds in flight burst into flames, their bodies turned to ash mid-air by the searing heat. The bomb detonated with a blinding flash, unleashing a fireball that reached temperatures over 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit at its core, leading to a blast wave that obliterated nearly everything within a mile radius and caused severe damage for many miles beyond.

The human toll was devastating, with people near the blast’s epicenter vaporized instantly, leaving only their shadows etched into the surroundings. This not only conveys the immediate horror of the atomic bomb but also the profound and unsettling power humanity had unleashed. Another sobering thought was that the bomb dropped next on Nagasaki was even more powerful, with an immense fireball which reached temperatures higher than those at the center of the sun!

As such, it is difficult to reconcile how Ward came to the conclusion that the bombing in Gaza is worse than the level of devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While war is undeniably horrible in all its forms, comparing two cities in which 160,000 people were instantly vaporized, and referring to the situation in Gaza as one which “surpasses anything we have seen in modern times” appears to be not only an attempt to mislead her audience, but also an affront to the victims in those two Japanese cities, as well as to the profession of journalism itself.

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of D-Day the Battle of Normandy, amphibious landing in World War II France. Operation Overlord.

Was Ward simply uninformed?

Assuming for a moment that Ward was simply misinformed about modern warfare, let’s compare the fighting in Gaza to other modern-day conflicts to see what the numbers tell us. Is the Israeli bombing of Hamas in Gaza the single most disastrous and cruel military operation of modern times as Ward believes, or does her assertion fail to pass muster, and should therefore be found wanting?

For instance, during World War II, civilian death estimates from various sources ranged from 38 to 55 million, with as many as 25 million military deaths, 5 million prisoners of war deaths in captivity, tens of millions of injured, with over 2.3 million sorties flown, tens of millions of properties destroyed, and with a cost of $5.8 trillion to the United States alone.

To evaluate Ward’s claim, it is essential to compare the scale and impact of the Israeli military operations in Gaza with other significant conflicts throughout recent history. As mentioned earlier, the Israeli Air Force has probably flown anywhere between 2,000 to 4,000 missions in Gaza over a two-month period, with unreliable civilian casualty figures reported by Hamas. It is important to note that Hamas benefits from international backlash against Israel, and a major part of its strategy–as confirmed by Bill Clinton decades ago–is inflating civilian casualties in order to obtain a ceasefire, so it can regroup.

Thus, dubious Hamas casualty figures, as well as the total number of IAF airstrikes should be considered in relation to other modern military campaigns to ascertain whether Ward’s claims are true. However, even if we suspend our disbelief and take Hamas at their word about the number of civilian casualties in Gaza, there is still no comparison between this conflict, and other modern conflicts.

For instance, during World War II, civilian death estimates from various sources ranged from 38 to 55 million, with as many as 25 million military deaths, 5 million prisoners of war deaths in captivity, tens of millions of injured, with over 2.3 million sorties flown, millions of properties destroyed, and with a cost of $5.8 trillion to the United States alone [1]. The Second Sino-Japanese War saw approximately 17.5 million civilians dead [2]. The Vietnam War resulted in 2 million civilian deaths [3], with 304,000 sorties flown, plus about 2,500 B-52 sorties, dropping 643,000 tons of bombs [4]. The Korean War was only 3 years long, but led to about 3 million civilian deaths, with 720,980 sorties [5], and 653,000 tons of bombs dropped. [13]

Other conflicts, such as the Rwandan Genocide, which was primarily a ground operation, still led to 800,000 to 1 million civilian deaths [6]. The Second Congo War, also known as the “Great War of Africa,” resulted in an estimated 5.4 million civilian deaths, but might be anywhere between 3 to 7.6 million, depending on which sources are to be believed [7]. The Syrian Civil War has seen more than 300,000 civilian deaths [8] with 39,000 Russian sorties flown, and more than 34,000 airstrikes by Coalition Forces as of January 2021. [9]

The Second Iraq War is another example, with civilian deaths estimated between 300,000 to 1.2 million over the nine years of conflict, and the Yemeni Civil War has resulted in 400,000 civilian deaths due to war, with 150,000 through direct armed conflict [10].

Historical instances of extensive aerial bombardment include the bombing of Germany during World War II, resulting in more than 2 million German civilian deaths. Operation Rolling Thunder in Vietnam, which involved over 140,000 sorties flown [11], and 864,000 tons of bombs dropped. [12] Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia saw NATO forces fly around 38,000 combat missions [14] in only 78 days of a bombing campaign, and Coalition Forces flew 24,566  airstrikes in Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria [15].

wojciechkic.com – stock.adobe.com – AI image of Israel’s F-35I Adir.

These comparisons highlight that while the situation in Gaza is difficult, with Hamas using asymmetric warfare tactics, intentionally placing Palestinian civilians in harm’s way to deter IAF airstrikes and inflate civilian casualty figures for propaganda purposes, the scale of Israeli airstrikes and the resulting civilian casualties do not to reach the magnitude of those seen in the aforementioned conflicts. This added perspective challenges the narrative that the Gaza bombings are the single largest tragedy of our times, and calls into question Clarissa Ward’s understanding of modern warfare and recent conflicts.

This is not the first time over the past few weeks that CNN has done interviews without challenging such reckless language. In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, the Palestinian Queen Consort Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan said, “This is the first time in modern history that there is such human suffering and the world is not even calling for a ceasefire”. Amanpour did not challenge her assertion and allowed Rania to continue, stating, “So the silence is deafening – and to many in our region, it makes the Western world complicit.”

This perplexing statement came as 300,000 pro-Palestinian supporters marched in England, and significant numbers of pro-Palestinian supporters in Australia and Canada chanted “Gas the Jews!” The irony of this language is that it contradicts most anti-Israel critics who claim to be “only antizionist,” not “antisemitic.” If the protests were in fact solely anti-Israel, one would expect chants directed specifically at Israelis, not Jews.

In 2012, the IDF stated that Israel’s ratio stands at 1 civilian for every 30 terrorists killed, as compared to the global average of 3 civilian deaths for every 1 combatant killed, a testament to the IDF’s stringent engagement protocols.

Furthermore, given the low level of awareness in the West about the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, most pro-Palestinian supporters would probably be ignorant of the fact that a call to gas Israelis would also mean the genocide of nearly 2 million Muslim Arabs who are for all intents and purposes the same exact people as the Palestinians, except that they are citizens of Israel.

Ward’s particular focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, to the exclusion of other global conflicts, reveals a bias that portrays Israel as a disproportionately aggressive actor in the Middle East. This depiction of the Jewish State overlooks the broader context of Israel being the only liberal democracy in the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region, where citizens and tourists alike enjoy freedoms just like those in the United States and other Western countries.

Furthermore, Ward’s emphasis on dramatic footage, which may engage her audience on an emotional level, could be perceived as manipulative, such as going to a UAE field hospital in Gaza, and showing injured children. This raises the question why Ward hasn’t visited any Yemeni hospitals, or reported on the approximately 40,000 Christian Nigerians killed by Boko Haram in recent years. Additionally, it is notable that she has not devoted similar effort to documenting the plight of the Israeli victims of the October 7th Massacre in Israel.

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of IDF Ghost Unit, which works in coordination with the IAF to carry out high-tech pinpoint strikes on enemy targets.

Israeli commitment to safeguarding civilians

If Ward were truly trying to present a balanced picture of the conflict, she would acknowledge the IDF’s commitment to protecting civilians. This commitment is evidenced by the low civilian-to-combatant death ratio highlighted in a 2011 speech by Col. Richard Kemp, former Commander of the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan, who noted that it is the lowest in the world. [16]

Speaking about an earlier war with Hamas, Col. Kemp said, “Many have contradicted my assertion about the IDF. But no one has been able to tell me which other army in history has ever done more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone. In fact, my judgments about the steps taken in that conflict by the IDF to avoid civilian deaths are inadvertently borne out by a study published by the United Nations itself, a study which shows that the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in Gaza was by far the lowest in any asymmetric conflict in the history of warfare.”

In 2012, the IDF stated that Israel’s ratio stands at 1:30, meaning 1 civilian death for every 30 terrorists killed [17], as compared to the global average of 3:1 ratio, or 3 civilian deaths for every 1 combatant killed, a testament to the IDF’s stringent engagement protocols. Ratios for Iraq and Kosovo were closer to a 4:1 ratio, with substantially higher anecdotal averages in Chechnya and Serbia. Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) both estimate a 9:1 ratio has existed in modern warfare since the 1990’s, with 9 civilian deaths for every 1 combatant killed. [18]

In a CNN article published on December 6, 2023, entitled “Israel military says 2 civilians killed for every Hamas militant is a ‘tremendously positive’ ratio given combat challenges,” journalists Mitchell McCluskey and Richard Allen Greene portray the Israeli military as seemingly indifferent to Palestinian civilian casualties. The report, which covers an interview between Erin Burnett and IDF Spokesperson Jonathan Conricus, suggests that Conricus expressed satisfaction with a civilian to combatant casualty ratio of 2:1. This interpretation, however, omits the context of the ratio’s significance when compared to other conflicts.

The authors cite Hamas casualty figures from an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report, which Burnett presented to the IDF Spokesperson. Conricus acknowledged that he was aware of the report, but said that he could not verify it. He hypothesized that if the report was accurate, the ratio would be considered “tremendously positive” in light of the asymmetric warfare tactics employed by Hamas, including the use of human shields within densely populated areas. It is crucial to note that the precise casualty ratios from the conflict with Hamas remain undetermined, but Conricus assured that the IDF would release accurate figures once available.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, rebuked Conricus for characterizing the 2:1 casualty ratio as favorable, stating, “We’re not in the business of establishing those kinds of ratios, which I think are tasteless, to say the least.”

Furthermore, Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of the House Armed Services Committee joined in the criticism of Conricus’ remarks, labeling them as “dead wrong.” Moulton argued that Israel’s actions would lead to an increase in terrorist recruitment, with every civilian casualty purportedly resulting in ten new terrorists. He extrapolated that the elimination of 5,000 Hamas militants could give rise to 100,000 new terrorists.

However, this line of reasoning appears to overlook historical precedents, as well as basic mathematical principles. An increase from 5,000 to 100,000 is a 20-fold increase, not a 10-fold increase. Moreover, even if his math were correct, the deaths of 2 million German civilians during World War II did not result in the recruitment of 20 million new Nazis into the Wehrmacht. Similarly, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not provoke Japan to amass a larger military force against the United States, but rather to agree to an unconditional surrender, complete disarmament, and an Allied Forces occupation. In the case of Chechnya, the Russian offensive did not lead to an exponential increase in Chechen terrorists. In each case, a cessation of hostilities was achieved, and former adversaries forged alliances. They reconstructed cities, resumed trade, and in every scenario warring parties turned into allies.

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of the Palestinian Queen Consort Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan.

This historical perspective is sharply contrasted by the Palestinian Queen Rania, who stated that the destruction of Hamas would lead the Palestinians to establish an even more extreme, more violent, and more terrible terrorist organization than Hamas. Her assertion is notable for two reasons: firstly, it is difficult to conceive of a group committing greater atrocities than those perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th. Secondly, if Palestinians are indeed innocent civilians oppressed by Hamas who just want to live in a free and liberal society, Queen Rania’s statement implies that they would not pursue the establishment of a liberal democracy but would instead form a more oppressive regime than they already have in Hamas.

This raises the question of whether Queen Rania indeed possesses a deeper understanding of her own people’s disposition towards violence and conflict than people in the West do, and whether Palestinians, in their uniqueness, might perpetuate an endless war, in contrast to the Nazis, Japanese, and Chechens, who have historically moved towards reconciliation with their former enemies.

A prime example of this dedication is the Israeli-enhanced capabilities of the F-16I Sufa (Storm) aircraft, which is equipped with the Israeli-made Delilah cruise missile system. This advanced missile… is engineered to afford unparalleled control to the operator. Notably, it includes a feature that allows for the aborting and redirection of a missile at the touch of a button after the missile has already been launched.

Israel’s military strategy is meticulously designed for precision and strict adherence to international law, with the goal of minimizing civilian casualties in every operation. This approach stands in sharp contrast to Clarissa Ward’s depiction of IAF airstrikes as indiscriminately causing civilian deaths in a “ferocious and intense” manner. Contrary to popular belief, not just any member of the chain of command can authorize an IAF airstrike (not even generals); each mission is subject to rigorous scrutiny by an independent team of military lawyers. These legal experts evaluate every mission’s compliance with international laws and military rules of engagement by scrutinizing every detail of the mission before approval.

As a result, combat missions that do not meet the strict lawful standards accepted by the international community are not carried out. Teams of experts diligently support pilots during their missions to assess potential targets, carefully considering the presence of civilians in the vicinity of the planned strike zone, always ready to abort the mission. It’s also important to note that the presence of civilians does not automatically preclude a target from engagement. The decision to proceed with a strike takes into account a multitude of factors, including the military value of the target, the number of civilians present, the intent of those civilians, and many other considerations that determine the legality of the airstrike under international law.

Additionally, the IDF employs advanced technology and intelligence to conduct precise strikes against military targets while carefully avoiding civilian casualties. This is evidenced by the IDF’s extensive measures to warn civilians prior to attacks, including dropping leaflets, making phone calls, sending push notifications, text messages, and using “roof knockers,” which are non-explosive, low-yield devices that alert occupants of a building before an airstrike. Furthermore, Israel broadcasts warnings through local and international media and employs vehicle-mounted loudspeakers to announce impending airstrikes in specific areas.

As of this writing, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have undertaken extensive measures to warn civilians in Gaza prior to military actions. These measures include the distribution of approximately 4 million leaflets, the initiation of 42,000 phone calls, the dissemination of 15 million SMS warning messages, and the broadcasting of 12 million recorded messages, all urging civilians to evacuate potential airstrike zones. This proactive approach in conflict zones raises an intriguing point of analysis: how do these efforts compare to the precautionary steps taken by other military forces worldwide to safeguard civilians before conducting airstrikes? Such a comparison could provide valuable insights into the varying practices and ethical considerations of military operations globally.

Tetiana – stock.adobe.com – AI image of two F-16I “Sufa” (Storm) fighter jets flying at sunset.

Another way that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) demonstrates a significant commitment to the protection of non-combatants is by investing substantial financial resources into developing state-of-the-art technologies to prevent civilian deaths. A prime example of this dedication is the Israeli-enhanced capabilities of the F-16I “Sufa” (Storm) aircraft, which is equipped with the Israeli-made Delilah cruise missile system. This advanced missile, with its dual air-to-surface and surface-to-surface functionalities, is engineered to afford unparalleled control to its operator.

Notably, it includes a feature that allows for the aborting and redirection of a missile at the touch of a button after the missile has already been launched. This capability ensures that the missile can be diverted in real-time, should the situation on the ground change and civilians are detected at the last minute, thereby minimizing unintended civilian casualties, as well as unnecessary property damage.
Once aborted, the missile simply returns to the air, and circles above the area until provided with new coordinates. The integration of such technology denotes the firm dedication of the IAF to conducting operations with the utmost precision and a deep regard for human life.
In a 2014 interview with Deborah Danan, Col. Kemp said, “Three days ago I spoke to an Israeli pilot that… aborted an enemy target a total of 17 times because there were civilians in the target zone… I asked him, was that not frustrating? His answer was simply no. And that to me, is one of the best things about the IAF – that the last very thing they want to do is bomb a target and have that on their conscience for the rest of their lives… I spoke to soldiers who have been fighting in Gaza… We’re talking about [reservists who are] simply artists, metal-workers, musicians, they are not killers. They have absolutely no desire to kill civilians. In fact, in terms of civilian casualties, the attitude of IDF solders is the exact mirror image of the way they’re portrayed to the world.” [21]
If one were to contrast the peaceful mindset of IDF soldiers with the bloodthirsty killers of Hamas, it is clear that something is wrong with the way Israel is regarded by the rest of the world. Israelis grieved and were deeply somber after the Hamas massacre, while many Palestinians and their supporters worldwide celebrated the carnage as a great accomplishment, calling Hamas “freedom fighters”.
This was also evident in the recorded phone calls from Hamas terrorists to their parents in which they gleefully bragged about how many Jewish civilians they had killed with their bare hands, and were consequently praised by their proud parents for their reprehensible actions. The world seems to be oblivious to the fact that there is a massive cultural difference between Israelis and Palestinians, which is reflected in polls that show how the vast majority of Palestinians support Hamas, and are prouder than ever to be Palestinian in the wake of the events of October 7th.
VV Shots – stock.adobe.com – Sign of the BBC on a building.

British mainstream media bias towards Israel

It is unclear why Clarissa Ward made the statements that she did. However, biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by British reporters like Ward is so commonplace that it’s a running joke in Israel. In an October 29, 2023 article by in The Telegraph the title reads: “The BBC has become a global laughing stock, but the joke isn’t funny: A viral comedy sketch lampooning its coverage of Israel was a little too realistic”.

British media personalities, such as Clarissa Ward and comedian John Oliver have thus far avoided repercussions for their false portrayal of the conflict, but this is in stark contrast to other British public figures, who were forced to face consequences for their behavior:

Halawa is a BBC journalist who was fired for tweeting #Israel is more #Nazi than #Hitler! Oh, #HitlerWasRight #IDF go to hell. #prayForGaza.’

Mehdi Hasan – In an aggressive recent interview with Mark Regev, Hasan was accused of promoting disinformation to MSNBC audiences regarding Hamas, and for failing to inform viewers that the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry has been reporting unreliable casualty numbers in Gaza in order to increase international pressure on Israel. He was also called out for referring to non-Muslims as “animals” and saying that refusing to accept the one true religion of Islam is akin to having a mental disorder. He also suggested that homosexuals are “pedophiles” and “sexual deviants“.

Anjana Gadgil – In an interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the BBC’s Gadgil repeatedly asserted that Israel is “happy to kill children” causing many Jews to decry her rhetoric as incitement to violence against Jews. Gadgil promptly deleted her social media accounts, so it’s possible that she had posted additional inflammatory content.

Christiane Amanpour – In a CNN interview with with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, CNN global affairs anchor Christiane Amanpour described a terror attack on the Dee family as a “shootout.” This term was misleading as it suggested an exchange of fire, rather than a one-sided terrorist attack in which the rabbi lost his entire family. Amanpour’s use of the word “shootout” in this context was not only incorrect, but hurtful because it suggested that the Dee family was firing back at the Palestinian terrorists who murdered them, rather than being killed in cold blood. The CNN anchor did not apologize until forced to do so 6 weeks later.

Monica Miller – In a televised segment on the BBC, Miller referenced a Reuters report detailing the IDF’s announcement of a precision operation at the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, targeting the Hamas terror group’s headquarters under the hospital. The report included a statement from the IDF emphasizing that their units aim to avoid civilian casualties by deploying medical personnel and Arabic-speaking soldiers specifically trained for such sensitive missions.

Contrary to the report, Miller’s presentation to the audience suggested that Israeli soldiers were targeting medical staff and Arabic linguists. Her words were: “We are hearing from Reuters that… Israel… says its forces are carrying out an operation against Hamas in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital and they are targeting people, including medical teams as well as Arab speakers.” She then repeated the false statement a second time on-air: “They are targeting … it’s Arab speakers as well as some of the medical staff there [at al-Shifa Hospital]”.

Aleksandr Gladkiy – stock.adobe.com – BBC reporters can’t seem to stop posting social media statements that get them fired.

Tala Halawa – Halawa is a BBC journalist who was fired for tweeting “#Israel is more #Nazi than #Hitler! Oh, #HitlerWasRight #IDF go to hell. #prayForGaza.” Halawa then claimed that she was fired because the BBC was “amplifying troll voices and capitulating to pressure from external pro-Israel interest groups and right-wing media outlets determined to eliminate Palestinians from public life.”  In regard to tweeting #HitlerWasRight, she said that she “used a popular hashtag at the time without thinking” even though during the time of her tweet she was already working in journalism for 24FM, a Palestinian radio station.

She claimed that her “offensive and ignorant” words did not reflect her political views, and still do not represent her beliefs. In her apology letter, she also invoked the popular antisemitic trope that Jews control the media and world politics, referring to Jews as the “pro-Israel mob” and saying that their “censorship campaign is industrial in scale and international in its reach,” and employs a strategy of “bad-faith intimidation of reporters from the region by hostile actors and organized public flogging aimed at setting the parameters of acceptable journalism to suit Israel, and policing international media to maintain institutional pro-Israel bias.”

Lastly, she deflected criticism from her unprofessional conduct by shifting the blame onto her accusers, claiming that she was only being attacked because she is “a Palestinian and a woman of color,” a strategy that closely resembles that of Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Talib when they are called to task for their rhetorical attacks against Israel and the Jewish People. The problem with her apology is that it contained further inflammatory and antisemitic statements, and failed to take full responsibility for her original offensive remarks, which comes across as insincere.

Six other BBC reporters have faced consequences for posting anti-Israel rhetoric to social media in recent weeks when they praised Hamas after their October 7th massacre in Israel.

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of John Oliver from a live event hosted by Daniel Sadan dismantling John Oliver’s claims about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

John Oliver – While Oliver is only a comedian, he presents his show “Last Week Tonight” as a satirical news show, and has a wide audience and significant influence. Although satirical in nature, Oliver introduces his arguments as factually true, and uses his HBO platform to shape public opinion. In the past couple of years, and in recent weeks, Oliver’s accusations against Israel and Hamas have been scathing. While he has yet to face consequences for his false statements about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Oliver has been mocked by multiple comedians and commentators over his one-sided comments. Notable rebuttal videos include Stephen Crowder, who has 5.8M followers, Israeli comic Lior Schleien, who refers to himself as “Israel’s Jon Stewart,” Tom Aharon, who refers to himself as “Israel’s John Oliver,” and StandWithUs Senior Educator Charlotte Korchak.

In his monologues, Oliver criticized Israel for its use of the Iron Dome, a purely defensive system aimed at deescalating the conflict. He also called Israel an apartheid state, and accused it of committing war crimes despite ample evidence to the contrary. Oliver also referred to Hamas as “militants” until he changed his terminology to “terrorists” after October 7th, but primarily for the purpose of demonstrating that the Palestinians have been oppressed by Hamas, and do not support the terrorist organization despite every Palestinian poll indicating the exact opposite. He also claimed that Israel is blameworthy in the conflict by virtue of its military might, and accused Israel of indiscriminate bombing, collective punishment, and violations of international law–all false claims which have been debunked numerous times.

A few weeks ago, Oliver gave audiences the impression that Islamophobia is at equivalent levels to antisemitism despite clear indications to the contrary by law enforcement agencies. Many pro-Palestinian supporters have made similar claims in England, and in the United States, but these assertions are categorically false. This claim by Oliver is so absurd and easily disproven, that it calls into question HBO’s fact-checking on all of their seasons of “Last Week Tonight”.

For example, New York City’s hate crime statistics show a comparison between antisemitic hate crimes and anti-Muslim hate crimes, where antisemitic hate crimes rose from 22 incidents in October 2022 to 69 incidents in October 2023. By contrast, anti-Muslim hate crimes rose from 0 incidents to 8 incidents during the same timeframe. [20]

Moreover, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has maintained that ever since it started tracking hate crimes in the United States, Jews were targeted more than all other religions combined despite being only 2% of the US population. In October 2023, the FBI released its 2022 Hate Crimes Statistics report, in which one of its four key findings was that antisemitic hate crimes were at their highest in 30 years, and the second-highest ever, at 1,122 hate crimes, as compared to only 158 anti-Muslim hate crimes. [22] According to the ADL, total antisemitic crimes in 2022 were at 3,697 acts, because it tracks both criminal as well as non-criminal acts of hate against Jews. [23] According to trends in New York City, it is reasonable to assume that 2023 hate crimes against Jews are much higher than 2022.

Like Ward, Oliver blamed Israel for disproportionate use of force, and equivocated between Israel’s government and Hamas. Shockingly, Oliver implied that the United States and Israel are to blame for bringing the October 7th Massacre onto themselves due to decades of wrongdoing. There are too many deceptive statements made by Oliver to list and debunk here, but suffice it to say that he spent an estimated 67-75% of his program’s time unfairly criticizing Israel, and the rest of the time on showing how oppressed the Palestinians are (by Israel and the United States).

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of BBC news anchor.

Unfortunately, these British media personalities are the norm, not the exception. They are among a broader group of British journalists who have had to apologize and retract their criticism of Israel. This is a peculiar and troubling trend which may have influenced the distinguished Wiesenthal Center’s decision in 2021 to rank the BBC as the third most antisemitic organization, trailing only behind Iran and Hamas on its “Global Antisemitism Top Ten” list. [19]

The BBC’s refusal to call Hamas ‘terrorists’ is most curious indeed, since they did not hesitate to call Salman Abedi a terrorist, for bombing an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in 2017.

While the BBC has always prided itself about being impartial, it seems that when it comes to Israel they have decided to make it their policy to demonize the Jewish State. One manifestation of this policy is their refusal to label Hamas as a terrorist organization (as have many other global news outlets), choosing instead to refer to them as “freedom fighters,” “gunmen,” “militants,” or simply as “Palestinians” to give the impression that Israel is killing civilians. For example, in February 26, 2023, CNN published an article titled “Two Israeli settlers killed in West Bank shooting, days after Israeli raid kills 11 Palestinians,” failing to mention that almost all of the 11 Palestinians killed were terrorists from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Lion’s Den, and Hamas.
“Terrorism,” said John Simpson, the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, “is a loaded word, which people use about an outfit they disapprove of morally”. He said this on October 11, 2023, a mere couple of days after the October 7th Massacre to justify why the BBC avoids labeling Hamas as terrorists, despite the UK’s official designation of Hamas as an Islamic terrorist organization. According to Simpson’s explanation, it seems that the Hamas atrocities of Black Saturday were insufficiently savage to convince him to “morally disapprove” of the organization. Simpson went on to say, “It’s simply not the BBC’s job to tell people who to support and who to condemn – who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.”
Pixel-Shot – stock.adobe.com – Yellow Star of David that Nazis forced Jews to wear. International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Simpson went on to say that “During World War Two, BBC broadcasters were expressly told not to call the Nazis evil or wicked, even though we could and did call them ‘the enemy’… ‘there must be no room for ranting’. Our tone had to be calm and collected.” That is an interesting take on the moral virtues of the Third Reich’s systematic slaughter of 6 million Jews, and the fact they sparked a war that engulfed the entire world, and led to tens of millions of civilian casualties. It is hard to fathom why John Simpson feels that “evil” and “wicked” are inappropriate terms for the likes of Hitler, Eichmann, Goebbels, Mengele, Göring, and Himmler.
This position by the BBC has led to sharp criticisms by Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, and Grant Shapps, the UK’s Defense Secretary, who called the BBC’s policy “verging on disgraceful,” and has urged the organization to reassess its moral stance. The BBC’s refusal to call Hamas terrorists is most curious indeed, since they did not hesitate to call Salman Abedi a terrorist on-air and in print for bombing an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in 2017. A representative from the British Prime Minister’s office also noted that the BBC has previously labeled the perpetrators of 9/11 as terrorists, as well as those responsible for the Bataclan theater tragedy in Paris. It would be interesting to know why Hamas doesn’t meet the same criteria as Al-Qaeda.

Clarissa Ward’s disproportionate attention on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, to the exclusion of all global humanitarian crises, may indicate a specific editorial direction by some British journalists and their media employers.

Echoing Ward’s own words, finding positive mainstream British media coverage on Israel appears to be “next to impossible”. It is interesting that the Wiesenthal Center decided to rank the BBC as more antisemitic than even Al Jazeera, which is the Qatari government-run media outlet dedicated to vilifying Israel. It is noteworthy that the Qatari government–a significant destabilizing force in the Middle East and a financier of terrorist groups such as Hamas–has also provided substantial amounts of funding to American universities nationwide, presumably to help spark and allow the anti-Israel and antisemitic protests we have seen on campuses nationwide.

The problem is so severe that Congress had to summon the Presidents of 3 prestigious institutions: Harvard, Penn, and MIT to address the rampant levels of antisemitism on their campuses, and the numerous Title VI civil rights lawsuits which have been brought against highly regarded academic institutions throughout the country. 

Clarissa Ward’s disproportionate attention on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, to the exclusion of all global humanitarian crises, may indicate a specific editorial direction by some British journalists and their media employers. This is exemplified by the false reports by mainstream media outlets claiming that Israel had bombed the al-Ahli Hospital. These reports were later corrected to state that the explosion was caused by a rocket fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Some media outlets have not retracted their initial articles that incorrectly blamed Israel for the hospital explosion, and politicians like Rashida Tlaib have not publicly corrected their statements, nor apologized for their false accusations. When news of the hospital incident broke, many mainstream media networks quickly cited Hamas civilian casualty figures without batting an eyelash.

Hamas reports claimed 500 civilian deaths within minutes of the attack, an astounding number given the difficulties in assessing casualties under normal circumstances, not to mention navigating the chaotic aftermath of an explosion with fires and debris everywhere. Later casualty reports were substantially lower, yet mainstream media outlets have continued to report on inflated Hamas casualty numbers throughout the war.

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of Hamas terrorists.

Influencing public opinion

Considering Clarissa Ward’s report on CNN, it is crucial for journalists to provide a fair and accurate account of events, especially at a time when the pursuit of truth is critical and faith in the media is declining. There are no shortcuts to gaining the public’s trust. Journalists must consistently deliver well-balanced reports of events without injecting their own prejudice into their coverage.

Any representation of Israel’s military actions in Gaza requires careful consideration of all the facts and a commitment to impartiality and reasonableness. Only through such rigorous reporting standards can the public gain a clear understanding of the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The fact that Israel goes to great lengths to conduct its military operations responsibly and protect civilian lives seems to be at odds with the mainstream media’s ongoing portrayal of the Palestinians as an oppressed, freedom-fighting people who are struggling against a terrorist Jewish state.

Since “terrorists” is clearly a more accurate descriptor than “militants,” reflecting the stance of many Western governments, why does CNN, the BBC, and other media outlets refuse to call them that?

The coverage choices of various networks regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict warrant scrutiny. It is important to question why some media narratives consistently portray one side as the antagonist, as in the case of depicting Jews as the villains of the Middle East. When media outlets feature unscrupulous reporters who deliver a one-sided view of the conflict, it shapes public opinion in a way that can lead to violence and prejudice against Jews globally. Fanning the flames of a conflict that has been raging for over a century calls into question the motives of those doing so. Inciting society to violence against Jews, whether in the Middle East or in the West, crosses a line.

There are deep concerns about the media’s role in inciting hate and division within society and its obligation to protect minority groups, which can be endangered by network influence over the public. The media plays a crucial role in defending democracy, which is why it is often referred to as the Fourth Estate, reflecting its importance in checking the powers of government and providing information to the citizenry. A free and independent press is essential for the health of a democracy. With that freedom comes a responsibility to strive for accuracy, fairness, and impartiality in its reporting.

The media should act as a watchdog, upholding democratic values at home and abroad, supporting a diversity of voices and opinions to represent the full spectrum of society. Right now, Jewish voices are being drowned out by those who want to dismantle Israel, a democratic country in an ocean of oppressive regimes, with many networks prioritizing sensationalism or partisan perspectives over balanced reporting in order to fortify populist, anti-democratic forces that seek to undermine the only liberal democracy in the MENA region. That’s why media literacy is vital to the public, so individuals can discern reliable news sources from those that are less credible. It is time for citizens to demand high-quality journalism and to support institutions which provide it.

The language used by the media to describe the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has profound implications. For example, despite CNN’s reputation for editorial caution, its labeling of Hamas as “militants” following the attacks on civilians on October 7th has been compared to the discriminatory approach of the BBC and Al Jazeera. Other major networks like ABC, NBC, CBS, Reuters, and the AP, as well as newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, have also been accused of using irresponsible language that downplays the severity of Palestinian terrorism.

Daniel Sadan Presents, LLC – AI image of terrorists.

The importance of language

Given that Hamas has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on the State Department’s FTO List since 1997, and appears on various international terrorist lists, including the UK’s List of Proscribed Organisations, it is widely recognized as a terrorist organization. Considering this, questions arise as to why media outlets such as CNN, the BBC, and others refer to Hamas as “militants” or “gunmen” rather than “terrorists,” which reflects the national security stance of many Western governments.

Al Jazeera portrays Hamas as freedom fighters, and they refer to every part of Israel as “occupied,” because it is a Qatari government-run propaganda machine pretending to be a credible media outlet, and Qatar gives Hamas billionaire kleptocratic leaders refuge in fancy Qatari hotels while they brazenly declare their commitment to sacrifice as many Palestinian civilians as possible on the streets of Gaza. However, it remains to be seen why a company which refers to itself as “The Most Trusted Name in News” refuses to call Hamas “terrorists,” and allows media personalities such as Clarissa Ward and Christiane Amanpour to call their editorial practices into question on a level akin to Al Jazeera.

The language used by journalists and the focus of their stories can either contribute to a deeper understanding of conflicts, or conversely, serve the interests of terrorist organizations who are exploiting the media in order to achieve their asymmetric warfare goals.

On the same day that Clarissa Ward aired her segment on CNN, former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo delivered a monologue about the genocidal danger Israel faces from Gaza, as well as the Palestinian Territories in Judea and Samaria (also known as the “West Bank”). He had just witnessed some of the footage from the massacre firsthand, and explained to his audience in no uncertain terms that Israel must be allowed to defend itself against this existential threat from the Palestinian Territories. He also described the restraint of the Israeli military response to Hamas’ crimes against humanity. If Cuomo were still with CNN, it would be interesting to consider whether he would have had the editorial freedom to refer to Hamas as terrorists, and express the above-mentioned views, especially in light of the network’s apparent language policies.

The responsibility of journalists

The media’s portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is about more than just reporting events; it’s about shaping narratives and influencing public perception and government policy. Journalists must be aware of the impact their words and narratives have on world affairs, and consider whether they represent the unvarnished truth, or serve the interests of terrorist organizations who are exploiting them in order to achieve their asymmetric warfare goals.
Misuse of the media’s platform can lead to long-lasting consequences for people embroiled in conflicts thousands of miles away, as well as domestically. The selective attention that the tragic death of Shireen Abu Akleh received, and the one-sided coverage of the Israel-Hamas War in Gaza are stark reminders of the media’s potential to influence the discourse around such events.
When journalists fail to provide context, opt for sensationalism, or become a megaphone for the agenda of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood (the notorious parent organization of Hamas), they are not just failing in their role as reporters; they are failing the societies they aim to inform, as well as the victims of violence in other parts of the world.
The media must not become an ally to decades-old Soviet propaganda being used by modern-day terrorist groups to infiltrate academia, the media, Hollywood, and the halls of Congress. They must not promote Hamas propaganda which allows Russia, China, and Iran to draw the United States into a second front in the Middle East to facilitate China’s invasion of Taiwan. They must not be a party to undermining the Abraham Accords, and they should certainly avoid compromising the Biden Administration’s plan to help India weaken China, Russia, and Iran by offering an alternative route to Europe as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Networks have a duty to report facts, to question their own biases, and to ensure that their work contributes to peace, mutual respect, and understanding. Their role should not be to inflame conflicts, perpetuate wars, polarize society, or threaten the national security of Western democracies. This is a call to action for all journalists to strive for a standard of reporting that is rigorously ethical. They must remember their ultimate allegiance to the truth and faithfully serve the audiences who rely upon them to act as the guardrail of civilization, preventing the world from devolving into tyranny.

Sources:

[1] Britannica
[2] New World Encyclopedia
[3] Britannica
[4] US Department of Defense (DOD)
[5] US Seventh Air Force
[6] Britannica
[7] NBC News quoting professor emeritus Joshua Goldstein of American University’s School of International Service
[8] CNN
[9] BBC
[10] Los Angeles Times & The Guardian
[11] Naval History and Heritage Command
[12] US Department of Defense (DOD)
[13] US Department of Defense (DOD)
[14] US Air Force Historical Support Division
[15] US Department of Defense (DOD)
[16] https://www.jpost.com/opinion/op-ed-contributors/a-salute-to-the-idf
[17] https://www.idf.il/en/mini-sites/israeli-air-force/israeli-air-force-bombing-gaza-or-pinpoint-strikes/
[18] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8581199/ and https://press.un.org/en/2022/sc14904.doc.htm
[19] https://www.timesofisrael.com/wiesenthal-center-puts-bbc-3rd-after-only-iran-hamas-on-antisemitism-list/
[20] https://www.nyc.gov/site/nypd/news/p00095/nypd-citywide-crime-statistics-october-2023
[21] https://www.algemeiner.com/2014/07/30/col-richard-kemp-israeli-pilot-aborted-gaza-strike-17-times-to-protect-civilians-jewish-people-should-be-proud-of-the-state-of-israel-interview/
[22] https://www.justice.gov/crs/highlights/2022-hate-crime-statistics
[23] https://www.adl.org/resources/press-release/adl-fbi-data-reflects-deeply-alarming-record-high-number-reported-hate

About the Author
I am the host and producer of live weekly Middle East event series on Twitter spaces, which is broadcasted live by video to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and my web site. I bring you the top headlines, and analysis on Middle East geopolitics, history, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Learn about the conflict in an interactive manner by joining one of my live events, or subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, or iHeart Radio.
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