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Hamas Counted on Biased Western Journalism — and They Got It

Hamas Official in Lebanon (Photo: Screenshot)

CNN’s International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson, recently authored an analysis (“Hamas gambled on the suffering of civilians in Gaza. Netanyahu played right into it,” Jun. 11) castigating Israelis for foolishly falling for Hamas’ tricks.

Instead, Robertson’s piece ironically illustrates the failure of CNN’s journalism. Rather than successfully depicting Israelis as fools caught in Hamas’ trap, the analysis instead exemplifies how Western journalists have become Hamas’ “useful idiots.”

The gist of Robertson’s analysis is that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has masterfully manipulated Israelis. “Netanyahu has played right into” Sinwar’s trap by waging a “brutal” war against Hamas, thus turning public opinion against Israel.

But in crafting his argument, Robertson unwittingly demonstrates how it is himself, and the media at large, that have played into Hamas’ hands. In doing so, he shows that it’s not the conduct of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) that has turned public opinion against Israel — but rather, the media’s portrayal of the IDF’s conduct.

That portrayal involves spreading propaganda and narratives crafted by Hamas, which are entirely detached from reality.

Perhaps the most glaring example of this is when Robertson declares, without qualification or attribution, that the number of Palestinians killed so far in the war is more than 36,000. This number comes straight from Hamas’ media office, and has been widely discredited, to the point that even the United Nations quietly backtracked on repeating the media office’s figures.

It is publicly known that Hamas has a cynical strategy to deliberately exploit global sympathy for civilian casualties. That is why Hamas doesn’t just engage in the most sophisticated and systematic exploitation of human shielding, but also regularly inflates the casualty figures for media consumption, which CNN falls for — hook, line, and sinker.

And CNN is known to not just uncritically repeat these propaganda figures, but to deceptively obscure the source in a transparent attempt to give the figures a false appearance of credibility. The network has repeatedly laundered these Hamas figures by falsely attributing them to the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations, and even foreign aid agencies, who themselves acknowledge they’re just using Hamas’ figures.

The network has also worked overtime to portray the IDF’s conduct in the worst light possible, omitting and obscuring important, contradictory context. It has repeatedly made a big deal about the large blast radius of Israel’s 2,000-pound bombs — in order to portray the IDF as indiscriminate — all while omitting that these bombs are intentionally detonated underground, thereby substantially reducing the blast radius.

When Robertson then goes on to write that the “devastating effectiveness” of Israeli weapons “is becoming a liability” in terms of international opinion, he’s omitting that the reason they’re controversial is because his own network has distorted how these weapons are actually being used. Worse, CNN journalists have used their platform to engage in activism in favor of an arms embargo on Israel.

But what Robertson’s analysis shows best is just how skewed the network’s overall coverage has been.

Israel is placed under a microscope in a way that Hamas and the Palestinians are not, as if this isn’t an armed conflict between two sides, but a story of “oppression,” of one side imposing its will on the other. With every new event in the conflict, CNN spills much ink casting responsibility, real or imagined, onto Israel, while the role the Palestinians played is often entirely absent.

This isn’t just an anecdotal observation. If one searches CNN articles between October 7, 2023, and March 31, 2024, for articles on the conflict, the data bears out this disparity.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is mentioned 9-times as often as Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and an obscene 31-times as often as both Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh.

As with CNN’s overall coverage of the conflict, Robertson also avoids truly tangling with the actions and agency of Palestinians, in order to cast responsibility solely on the Jewish state. His analysis was prompted by a Wall Street Journal report about several messages sent by Yahya Sinwar in which the terrorist leader made clear the organization sees Gazan civilians not as subjects to be protected, but as pawns to be sacrificed. The goal: to elicit international outrage and pressure against Israel.

Sinwar knows that trying to use Gaza civilian casualties for Hamas’ benefit will work because media figures like Robertson can’t, or won’t, entertain the moral and legal distinction between a military that does its best to avoid civilian casualties, and the terrorist organization that deliberately exploits the civilians as cannon fodder to feed to Western cable news audiences. (Of course, Hamas — which controls Gaza — also directly targets women and children, and states that its goal is to eradicate all of Israel).

Yet instead of taking this opportunity to give CNN’s audience a straightforward explanation of how Palestinian terrorists have intentionally and cynically exacerbated the war’s effect on civilians, Robertson turns the story on its head and instead makes it once again about Israeli actions. Think about that. A Hamas leader admitted to deliberately engaging in war crimes as a matter of strategy, and CNN’s Robertson still made it instead about Israel being bad.

The refusal to seriously consider Palestinian agency is how we end up with a headline like “Hamas gambled on the suffering of civilians in Gaza. Netanyahu played right into it.”

It might as well read: “Hamas put civilians in harms way. Here’s why harm to civilians is still Netanyahu’s fault.”

Sinwar couldn’t have asked for a more useful journalist.

In a similar vein, Robertson also repeats the “you can’t kill an ideology” argument, a yawn-inducing platitude associated with Western armchair strategists sitting thousands of miles away on the other side of an ocean from any real threat. Strangely, while the international coalition didn’t kill the Islamic State’s ideology, no one seems to talk about the threat from that organization much since its “caliphate” was obliterated and its military power degraded into insignificance.

You can’t kill an ideology, but you can kill its ability to wreak havoc and commit wide-scale atrocities, even if western media analysts seem intent on advocating for the preservation of terroristic military power.

Furthermore, a recent opinion poll showed that while West Bank Palestinians still support Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre at a rate of 73%, Gazans only support it by 57%. So maybe the war has undermined Hamas’ support in Gaza (or at least support for terrorism).

This is all, of course, to say nothing of the typical inaccuracies and spin found in CNN articles. Robertson claims, for example: “Earlier this year, university campuses across the United States and Europe combusted in spontaneous protest over the toll of Israel’s war on civilians in Gaza…”

This isn’t “Israel’s war,” the war is not “on civilians in Gaza” (at best, atrocious writing), the protests did not start “earlier this year,” they were not “spontaneous,” and they were not “over the toll of Israel’s war.”

Israel was attacked — it is Hamas’ war. The pro-Hamas demonstrations were already being organized on October 7, before Hamas had even finished butchering its way through southern Israel and before Israel even had a chance to begin any organized campaign in Gaza. Within hours of the attack, malicious anti-Israel organizations were already sending out “toolkits” not just glorifying the terrorist massacre, but also giving instructions to the demonstrators.

Robertson also claims that Ireland, Spain, Norway, and Portugal recognized “Palestine” because they are “frustrated Netanyahu won’t agree to a peace deal,” suggesting the problem is “Israeli intransigence.” It’s an astonishing inversion of reality, given that it was Palestinian leadership that has repeatedly said no to offers on the table since even before the State of Israel was born, including three major offers in the 2000s.

But why get into the history of Palestinian rejectionism when CNN can instead just blame some unspecified “Israeli intransigence” for the lack of a Palestinian state that the Palestinians keep saying no to?

And why tell the truth when the network can get away with a bald-faced lie like, “None of this means Sinwar will be winning a popular vote in Gaza during his lifetime…?” Except Hamas, an internationally designated terrorist organization, did win the popular vote in Gaza in 2006, and the pro-Hamas sentiment hasn’t changed. Palestinian surveys consistently show that Palestinians widely approve of Hamas’s October 7 massacre and that a large majority (61%) prefer Hamas in control of Gaza over Fatah, the party of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Of course, misleading audiences about polling data, and even outright fabricating polling data to avoid acknowledging Palestinian responsibility for the conflict, is a regular occurrence at the network.

Robertson is free to armchair strategize from his comfortable perch in the United States, where he need not fear multiple terrorist armies just a few hundred yards from his family. But before accusing others of playing into Hamas’ game, it would be wise of Robertson, and indeed the entire CNN network, to consider the wind they’ve blown beneath Hamas’ wings with their slanted, inaccurate, and lazy coverage.

David M. Litman is a Research Analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).

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Timothée Chalamet to Play Lead Role in New Film About Jewish Ping Pong Champion Marty Reisman

Timothée Chalamet at the World Premiere of ‘Dune: Part Two’ held at the Leicester Square Gardens, London, United Kingdom on Feb. 15, 2024. Photo: Cover Media via Reuters Connect

French Jewish actor and Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet is set to star in and produce a new film about the late Jewish table tennis legend Marty Reisman.

Chalamat will play the lead role in “Marty Supreme,” written by Josh Safdie and Ronald Bronstein, who will also produce with Eli Bush and Anthony Katagas. The film is from producer A24, which also distributed Safdie’s past films “Uncut Gems” and “Good Time.” A24 took to social media on Tuesday to confirm that Chalamet has joined the project. A release date for the film has not been announced.


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Nicknamed the “wizard of table tennis,” Reisman was an American professional ping pong champion who won 22 major table tennis titles between 1946 and 2002, including two United States Opens and a British Open. He won five bronze medals at the World Table Tennis Championships and, in 1997, became the oldest player to ever win an open national competition in a racket sport at the age of 67 by winning the United States National Hardbat Championship.

Reisman was known as “the Needle” for his slim frame and quick wit, and once opened for the Harlem Globetrotters with a ping pong comedy routine in which he used his shoes as paddles. He was also known for his flamboyant style and gravitated towards bright colored clothing, Borsalino fedoras, and Panama hats. Reisman was born in New York City and began playing table tennis as a child. He started his career as a hustler in Manhattan, playing for bets. He died in 2012 in Manhattan at the age of 82.

The Safdie bothers split up creatively earlier this year to pursue solo projects. “Marty Supreme” is the first time that Josh Safdie is directing a film since “Uncut Gems,” and his first solo feature directorial effort since 2008’s “The Pleasure of Being Robbed.” In 2019, Chalamat praised the Safdie brothers, saying they have “continuously put out contemporary, raw, and untethered work over the last decade, each film building on the traits of the prior, but never once sacrificing their innate grittiness.”

Chalamet’s latest film — James Mangold’s “A Complete Unknown,” in which he plays a young Bob Dylan — is currently in post-production.

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The Hostages Should Be an International Issue — Not Just an Israeli One

People walk past images of hostages kidnapped in the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 11, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The world witnessed an unprecedented crisis when citizens from 24 countries were abducted by Hamas and taken into Gaza as hostages on October 7, 2023.

Even now, there are hostages still being held by Hamas with 22 foreign nationalities: The United States, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Nepal, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Tanzania, Thailand, the UK, and Ukraine.

Despite the representation of countries across the globe, the international outcry has been surprisingly — and sadly — muted. The “hostage issue” has largely been perceived as an Israeli one, leaving the responsibility of bringing them home to the IDF and the Israeli government.

According to Daniel Shek, a former Israeli diplomat and spokesperson for the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the international dimension of this crisis is crucial. He warns that the unprecedented kidnapping on October 7 should concern the global community, because something similar could happen anywhere in the world, especially if those responsible are not severely punished for it.

Shek’s assessment of the international response is blunt: “Sufficient? Certainly not.”

There has not been a significant, concerted effort among the various countries to work together or form some kind of pressure group to release the hostages, he says. Most of the concrete efforts to try and resolve the situation have been individual or independent of each other.

In late October 2023, Russian diplomats met with a Hamas delegation in Moscow and insisted that special attention be paid to eight Russian-Israeli citizens being held hostage in Gaza. By November, three of these hostages were released, including Roni Krivoi, a sound engineer working at the Nova Festival when it was attacked (one of the few men released from captivity during this time).

Following the initial release of 17 Thai citizens, two additional Thais were released from captivity in November. A Thai Muslim group claimed its efforts were key to ensuring the release of those hostages. “We were the sole party that spoke to Hamas since the beginning of the war to ask for the release of Thais,” Lerpong Syed, President of the Thai-Iran Alumni Association told Reuters.

One significant effort occurred on April 25, when the leaders of 17 countries joined US President Joe Biden in the first official joint statement calling for the release of the hostages. Among the countries were Argentina, France, Germany, and the UK:

We call for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas in Gaza for over 200 days. They include our own citizens. The fate of the hostages and the civilian population in Gaza, who are protected under international law, is of international concern…We strongly support the ongoing mediation efforts in order to bring our people home. We reiterate our call on Hamas to release the hostages, and let us end this crisis so that collectively we can focus our efforts on bringing peace and stability to the region.

Since this statement, however, concrete efforts have been minimal. Biden has expressed a moral commitment to bringing Israeli-American hostages home and has met with them and their families on multiple occasions, but his success in doing so has been limited. There are still eight American citizens being held hostage in Gaza, five of whom are presumed alive.

Liat Beinin Atzili is a survivor.

It was my honor to welcome her to the White House this evening, hear firsthand about her resilience despite enduring the unthinkable, and promise her that my work isn’t done until we secure the release of all remaining hostages held by Hamas.

— President Biden (@POTUS) July 9, 2024

When compared to previous high-profile hostage situations, such as the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, the disparity in global attention is unmistakable. The Iranian hostage crisis gripped the American public and media, whereas the Israeli hostages, including US citizens, have not gained similar levels of attention from the American people.

In 2014, when 276 girls were kidnapped from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, by the Islamist militia group Boko Haram, a campaign for their return drew widespread international support.

The “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign included endorsements from prominent figures like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. In stark contrast, the Israeli hostages’ plight has not seen comparable global outrage. This is despite the hard work of hostages’ families, who fly across the world to fight for their loved ones’ freedom.

In some cases, the hostages have even faced negative attention — a phenomenon unheard of in past crises. Posters of the hostages have been torn down around the world, and some media personalities have questioned the legitimacy of reports from the October 7 attacks.

Shek sums up the universal nature of this cause.

“It doesn’t really matter on which side of the political divide you are in Israel, the US, in France, or anywhere else. It doesn’t really matter on which side of the Israel-Palestine divide you are,” he says. “It’s unjust that innocent civilians have been held for nine months under inhumane conditions. They have been deprived of their rights under international law, and have had no decent medical care or access by the Red Cross. This should concern anyone who cares about human rights.”

The fact that 120 hostages from 22 different countries were taken from Israel by terrorists and remain in Gaza until today demands urgent international action. This hostage crisis is not only an Israeli issue, but a global one.

So, world, where is your outrage? Why don’t you fight to bring your people home?

Miriam Bash is from Livingston, New Jersey, and currently studying Psychology and Marketing at Washington University in St. Louis. Outside of class, she is involved in the TAMID Group at WashU, and is an active member of her campus’ Hillel and Chabad organizations. She is an intern at HonestReporting, where a version of this article first appeared.

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Hamas Leader Deif’s Deadly Hideout: Media Overlook the Strategic Civilian Shield

Hamas executed one of its military commanders for informing the Israelis on the hideout used by Mohammad Deif (pictured above) during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. PHOTO: Channel 2 News.

The IDF carried out one of its most significant operations in on Saturday since the start of the war against Hamas, executing a strike that targeted Mohammad Deif, one of the masterminds behind the October 7 attack.

Eliminating Deif, the leader of the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades and Hamas’ second-in-command in Gaza, would be a significant blow. While there’s no official confirmation of his death, and Hamas claims Deif is “fine,” it’s worth noting that Saudi news network Al-Hadath reported that his deputy, Khan Younis Brigade Commander Rafa Salama, who was with Deif, was killed.

Deif, nicknamed “The Guest” for his habit of frequently changing locations to avoid detection, has long been hunted by Israel for his involvement in planning and executing numerous terror attacks throughout the 1990s and 2000s, including the 1996 Jaffa Road bus bombings.

Some facts about Saturday’s incident were immediately clear.

First, it took place in the al-Muwasi humanitarian zone near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, and the IDF is investigating reports that a number of civilians died.

Second, the airstrike targeted senior Hamas operatives.

This latter point was highlighted in almost every international media outlet, noting that Deif might have been killed and invariably referring to him as the Hamas “military chief” or the “architect of October 7,” with a few notable exceptions.

The BBC botched an initial report on July 13.

On its YouTube channel, the broadcaster framed the incident as “90 killed and 300 injured” in an Israeli strike on a Gaza “humanitarian area,” and only mentioned later in the report that Israel was targeting senior Hamas commanders, including Deif.

Similarly, CBS News neglected to mention Deif in its headline, describing it instead as an “Israeli attack on the southern Gaza Strip” that left “at least 90 dead,” according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.

The Irish Times reported the death toll as fact, without any attribution, in a piece headlined, “Gaza: At least 90 killed, 300 injured in Israeli airstrike on designated humanitarian zone.”

The focus on the strike taking place in a designated humanitarian zone explains why there were civilian casualties. However, not a single media outlet commented on the fact that senior Hamas commanders, including Deif, were intentionally hiding there. This omission ignores the blatant reality that Hamas exploits civilian areas for cover, leading to inevitable deaths.

Journalism students are often taught about using the “five Ws” – Who? What? When? Where? Why? – to gather the essential points for a story. There used to be another critical question, one that many journalists now forget to ask: “How?”

How did Palestinian civilians die in an Israeli airstrike calculated to take out senior Hamas commanders?

The media should report the patently obvious answer: Deif and his terror acolytes chose to hide in the al-Muwasi humanitarian zone, using the men and women sheltering there as human shields.

Hamas leaders embed themselves within civilian populations because they want Palestinians to die, with Yahya Sinwar even describing civilian deaths as “necessary sacrifices.”

On Saturday, The New York Times detailed how Hamas terrorists, dressed in plain clothes, “hide under residential neighborhoods, storing their weapons in miles of tunnels and in houses, mosques, sofas – even a child’s bedroom – blurring the boundary between civilians and combatants.”

While the Israeli military makes every effort to minimize civilian harm – including, in this case, using accurate visualizations of the “open, wooded area” and acting on additional intelligence information–unintended casualties are a tragic consequence of Hamas’ strategy.

The fact is that Israel has a duty to defend its citizens and protect them from further harm. In the context of its war against Hamas in Gaza, this means eliminating the terrorists who perpetrated the very massacre that started this war.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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