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Media Create False Moral Equivalence Between Released Hostages and Palestinian Prisoners

Yahel Shoham, 3, and Sharon Avigdori, released Israeli hostages, interact shortly after their arrival in Israel on Nov. 25, after being held hostage by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, at an unknown location in Israel. Photo: Israeli Prime Minister’s Office/Handout via REUTERS

During the tense four days that have passed since the start of the Israel-Hamas truce on November 24, media outlets have created a false moral equivalence between the release of Israeli hostages held by the terrorist group, and Palestinian prisoners who have been jailed in Israel. Such coverage, which implicitly equates Israel to Hamas and validates the latter’s strategy, may have far-reaching ramifications on the continuation of the war.

In order to achieve their distorted equation between innocent women and children who were abducted from their homes — and prisoners who have been charged with acts of violence or terror — media outlets have used three parallel strategies: Sanitizing the Palestinian prisoners, referring to the Israeli hostages as “prisoners,” and creating textual and visual symmetry regarding the joyful family reunions of each side.

AP and Reuters Set the Narrative

The Associated Press has managed to incorporate the first two strategies in one headline: “Palestinian families rejoice over release of minors and women in wartime prisoner swap.”

Seriously, @AP?
– These were terrorist offenders, not innocent “minors and women.”
– This was not a like-for-like “wartime prisoner swap.” There’s no moral equivalence between Israeli hostages and Palestinian terror offenders.https://t.co/UEGM0UxrXg pic.twitter.com/AAnLE0VV0m

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 26, 2023

Some are trying to equivocate between hostages & Palestinian security prisoners being released.

Israeli hostages were abducted from their homes in a blatant war crime. The Palestinian prisoners were arrested for committing acts of violence.

It’s repugnant to equate the two. pic.twitter.com/Bbc71jm50b

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 25, 2023

The rest of the AP’s story, while including some background on the released Palestinian “minors and women” (but none on the Israeli “prisoners”), carries an empathetic tone that borders on justification for Hamas’ kidnappings. For example, it quotes an official referring to “prisoner exchanges” as “the only hope” for prisoners’ families, without mentioning that she works for a group with terror links:

“These kinds of prisoner exchanges are often the only hope families have to see their sons or fathers released before many years go by,” said Amira Khader, international advocacy officer at Addameer, a group supporting Palestinian prisoners. “It’s what they live for, it’s like a miracle from God.”

The story ends with an emotional quote from a released Palestinian prisoner, who was jailed in Israel for throwing stones:

It was his first glimpse of the world after a year in prison for throwing stones in the northern town of Qalqilya. He was freed even though he had eight months of his sentence left to serve. He turned toward his father, wrapping him into a hug. “Look, I’m almost bigger than you now,” he said.

The hurling of rocks can kill, and it has killed Israelis in the past. It is most certainly not a harmless pastime activity, as some media have intimated. The story also does not detail the various charges against most of the released Palestinians, which range from attempted murder and violent assault to terror affiliations.

Hostages for Prisoners

Returning women and children. Fair deal, right?

Not. Quite.

Collab with @AdinHaykin1 pic.twitter.com/rmVsbtBnX5

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 23, 2023

The same distorted patterns appear in Reuters’ coverage. A mind-boggling headline refers to Israel and Hamas “prisoners,” including a four-year-old whose parents were brutally murdered in front of her eyes before she was kidnapped to Gaza.

No, @Reuters, there is no equivalence between Israeli hostages held captive by Hamas and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel for terrorism offenses.

Please fix this abysmal #HeadlineFail.https://t.co/MG0OWyy3tp pic.twitter.com/TktmbYfv1F

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 27, 2023

An earlier version of the story included a video featuring a split-screen showing 9-year-old Emily Hand, an Israeli girl released from Hamas captivity, reunited with her father, next to the family reunion of released Palestinian bomber Israa Jaabis:

A @Reuters video employs a split screen. On the left, 9-year-old Emily Hand, reunited with her father after being kidnapped by Hamas. On the right, Israa Jaabis, convicted Palestinian bomber, greeted by her family.

Why has Reuters created a moral equivalence between the two?… pic.twitter.com/UQfMLn1iRM

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 26, 2023

A textual symmetry followed the visual one: After detailing Hand’s family’s plight, the story ends with a quote from Shorouk Dwayyat. Nowhere does it mention that Dwayyat is a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member who tried to stab Israelis to death:

In comments to Al Jazeera TV from her home, freed prisoner Shorouk Dwayyat, who had served half of her 16-year prison term, said she felt joy mixed with pain. “I feel like I am in a dream, but I hope that the war on Gaza will stop as soon as possible.”

When one of the world’s largest news agencies fails to mention such details, instead presenting terrorists on the same moral level as a 9-year-old who’s been abducted from her home, it violates journalistic and human values alike.

US, UK Media Sanitize and Equate

The New York Times also featured Israa Jaabis, sanitizing her attempted murder by passively blaming her vehicle:

She was arrested that year after her car exploded at a checkpoint near Jerusalem in the West Bank, leaving her disfigured and an Israeli police officer seriously injured.

No, @nytimes, Israa Jaabees wasn’t “accused of attempted murder.” She was convicted. Because her car didn’t passively explode, she detonated a gas canister meant to be part of a suicide bombing.

You also forgot to mention that Addameer, whom you cite as a “prisoners’ rights… pic.twitter.com/DdNhdwEE1J

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 26, 2023

National Public Radio didn’t even bother checking the facts. It simply published a photo gallery presenting the release of Israeli hostages amid pictures of Palestinians celebrating their prisoners’ release.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, included the following paragraph about the Palestinian prisoners release after a description and photos of the family reunions of freed Israeli children:

Videos posted on social media showed similarly joyful scenes in the West Bank, where Palestinian women and children freed by Israel were reunited with their families. A bus carrying Red Cross staff and the prisoners as part of the second day’s releases arrived to a crowd of supporters holding flags in the occupied West Bank early Sunday.

But the “similarly joyful scenes” were not similar at all. As German magazine Bild has pointed out: “The Israelis celebrate the return of the hostages, the Palestinians the release of prisoners. The difference couldn’t be greater: Israeli parents peacefully hug their released children. Palestinian ex-prisoners are cheered at terror marches.”

Die Israelis feiern die Rückkehr der Geiseln, die Palästinenser die Freilassung von Gefangenen. Der Unterschied könnte nicht größer sein: Israelische Eltern umarmen friedlich ihre freigekommenen Kinder. Palästinensische Ex-Häftlinge werden auf Terror-Aufmärschen bejubelt. pic.twitter.com/zmVrCwgoD0

— BILD (@BILD) November 26, 2023

The Washington Post also does not say a word about why the Palestinian women and “children” (most of whom were minors) were arrested in the first place.

Israel spokesperson Mark Regev confronted a Sky News anchor about this issue, exposing the fact she was not even aware of the charges against the released Palestinians.

Some media outlets have created an abysmal narrative that whitewashes terrorists by comparing them to innocent toddlers. Some have minimized the kidnappings that took place on October 7, by equating the suffering of Israeli hostages to that of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

And by doing so, they have created a false moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas. They have also implicitly validated Hamas’ strategy of kidnapping Israelis, and undermined Israel’s justification to continue fighting against the terror organization.

In a week that may be decisive for the course of the war as the agreed-upon truce between Israel and Hamas comes to an end, media outlets have a responsibility to report the facts, not to create them.

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.

The post Media Create False Moral Equivalence Between Released Hostages and Palestinian Prisoners first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Jewish Comedian Michael Rapaport Announces Stand-Up Debut in Israel

Michael Rapaport. Photo: YouTube screenshot

Jewish-American actor and comedian Michael Rapaport announced that he will perform two full-length and live stand-up comedy shows in Israel for the first time ever in October.

He will be performing in Jerusalem on Oct. 13 at the Jerusalem Theatre and in Tel Aviv on Oct. 14 at the theater Beit HaHayal, he said in an Instagram post on Sunday. He added: “I’m so honored, I’m so excited & pray that all the hostages will be home by then & the country & people will be able to heal by October. Baruch Hashem.” Tickets are currently on sale for both shows.

Rapaport has been one of the most vocal supporters of Israel in Hollywood since the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel. He has constantly advocated for the release of the hostages held captive by Hamas since Oct. 7 and joined hundreds of other entertainment industry figures in signing an open letter to US President Joe Biden calling for the immediate release of those still in captivity in Gaza.

Before Oct. 7, Rapaport had never visited Israel, but since the Hamas massacre, he has traveled to the Jewish state several times to visit families of hostages and speak at events for those who were abducted. He has also made guest appearances on the Israeli comedy satire show Eretz Nehederet. During one English-language skit on the show in late February, he pretended to host this year’s Academy Awards and commented on the hypocrisy of Hollywood stars for staying silent about the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.

While speaking to The Jerusalem Post in May, Rapaport talked about his love for the people of Israel.

“They’ve been so used to being f—ked with: terrorism, intifadas, soldiers being killed, their fight to exist, and the need to explain their existence; it creates an incredible type of person. You don’t really understand it until you engage with them, and since Oct. 7, I’ve been so fortunate to engage with so many of them,” he said. “These two long trips I’ve been on [to Israel] have changed me as a Jew, as a New Yorker, and as a man. I can’t put my finger on it because it’s still happening right now. But one thing I know is that Israel will be a big part of my life going forward. I’m going to make up for lost time.”

The post Jewish Comedian Michael Rapaport Announces Stand-Up Debut in Israel first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Anti-Israel Coalition at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Issues Threat to Jewish Community

Illustrative: Anti-Israel protesters outside Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City, April 22, 2024. Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

A coalition of anti-Zionist groups at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) has issued an open threat to Jews who support Israel and Jewish organizations, promising to treat them as “extremist criminals.”

“We will no longer normalize genocidal extremists walking on our campus,” the group, which calls itself UWM Popular University for Palestine, posted on Instagram last week. “Any organization or entity that supports Israel is not welcome at UWM. This includes the local extremist groups such as Hillel, Jewish Federation, etc.”

Reiterating its first point, the group continued, “We refuse to normalize extremists and extremist groups walking around our campus. We are watching Israel’s legitimacy and international recognition fall to pieces on the world stage. Any organization that has not separated themselves from Israel will be treated accordingly as extremist criminals. Stay tuned.”

Photo: Screenshot

The statement has since been deleted, but it alarmed the local Jewish community, which interpreted the post as a declaration of violence to come.

“While we deeply believe in and support freedom of speech and freedom of expression, we believe this post could encourage harassment and violence towards Jewish students on campus as well as towards the staff of Hillel and the Jewish Federation,” said the Milwaukee Jewish Federation said in an email to the local community.

The federation said it alerted UWM police, Hillel leadership, and the FBI of the apparent threat.

The local district attorney, however, argued that UWM Popular University for Palestine’s comments are protected by the First Amendment, according to the federation.

“Our office is currently working with UWM Police to further investigate this matter,” Milwaukee County District Attorney Chief Deputy Kent Lovern told the Wisconsin Law Journal this week.

At the time of publication, the university is the only non-Jewish body that has appeared to denounce the anti-Israel group and condemn hate speech.

“UWM takes this post seriously and recognizes that the language in it, if acted upon, would undermine the safety of the UWM community, especially Jewish individuals and organizations,” the university said in a statement. “Where speech is not protected by the First Amendment, UWM will address it through appropriate processes, which could include student and student organization disciplinary processes. While hateful or intimidating speech is legally protected, it conflicts with the respect and conduct we ask of each member of our community.”

UWM also said it “strongly denounces these statements and denounces any form of antisemitism, and we will be actively monitoring campus as a result.”

However, the school’s responses to antisemitism on the campus have been mixed since the Palestinian terror group Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, emboldening the radical anti-Zionist groups which operate there according to a paper by UWM political science professor Shale Horowitz.

Published earlier this month, the paper — titled, “The Campus War against Israel: The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee — argues that the administration was first to countenance violence and discrimination against Jews when it issued a statement about the Oct. 7 onslaught “without naming Hamas as the aggressor.” Until this week, Horowitz argued, he school had refused to address antisemitism as a stand-alone issue, denouncing both “antisemitism and Islamophobia” despite there having been little evidence of the latter and many instances of the former, including an incident in which an anti-Zionist mob descended on a Hillel event calling for “intifada” and a “free Palestine, from the river to the sea.”

Later, after anti-Zionists commandeered a section of campus, setting up a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on the property, UWM chancellor Mark Mone praised protests against Israel as “history” unfolding “across the nation and the world.” Mone added, “I appreciate that the protests have remained peaceful and have not disrupted daily campus operations. And it is laudable that so many learning opportunities have been incorporated into life inside the encampment. This is a reflection of our campus community as a whole — and I salute the many instances of people coming together, discussing issues of the day, and welcoming the diverse people and opinions on our campus.”

Mone went on to endorse a litany of falsehoods about Israel in a statement announcing an agreement to end the encampment. Accepting the ideological premises of the anti-Zionist movement, he described Israel’s conduct in the war against Hamas as “genocide” and equated Hamas’ kidnapping women, children, and the elderly to Israel’s detaining of Palestinian terrorists, which Horowitz criticized for being a false equivalence and an implicit endorsement of terrorist violence.

“The systemic anti-Israel collusion of extremists and university bosses also has important implications for American Jews,” Horowitz concluded. “In Animal Farm, [George] Orwell explained where far-left ideologies lead. Some people and groups will inevitably be more equal than others, and those monopolizing power will decide which ones. For the far left, Jews are white Westerners, while Palestinian and other Muslims are non-white, non-Westerners, whose more radical segments are part of the anti-Western coalition.”

He added, “It doesn’t matter the the racial elements of this worldview are false and repugnant. The far left long ago classified as enemies Israel and Jews.”

Antisemitism in the US has surged to catastrophic and unprecedented levels, rising a harrowing 140 percent in 2023 — and exponentially so in the months after Oct. 7 — according to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) annual audit of hate incidents that targeted the Jewish community.

The ADL recorded 8,873 incidents last year — an average of 24 every day across the US, amounting to a year unlike any experienced by the American Jewish community since the organization began tracking such data on antisemitic outrages in 1979. Incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault all spiked by double and triple digits, with California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Massachusetts accounting for nearly half, or 48 percent, of all that occurred.

Breaking down the numbers, the ADL found a dramatic rise in the targeting of Jewish institutions such as synagogues, community centers, and schools, with 1,987 such incidents taking place in 2023 — a 237 percent increase which included over a thousand fake bomb threats, also known as “swattings.”

Other figures were equally staggering, with assaults and vandalism rising by 45 percent and 69 percent, respectively, while harassment soared by 184 percent. Antisemitic incidents on college campuses, which The Algemeiner has continued to cover extensively, rose 321 percent, disrupting the studies of Jewish students and leaving them uncertain about the fate of the American Jewish community.

“Antisemitism is nothing short of a national emergency, a five-alarm fire that is still raging across the country and in our local communities and campuses,” ADL chief executive officer Jonathan Greenblatt said in April. “Jewish Americans are being targeted for who they are at school, at work, on the street, in Jewish institutions, and even at home.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Anti-Israel Coalition at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Issues Threat to Jewish Community first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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US ‘Strongly Opposes’ China-Brokered Deal to Form Palestinian Unity Government With Terrorist Groups

Mahmoud al-Aloul, Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of Palestinian organization and political party Fatah, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Mussa Abu Marzuk, senior member of the Palestinian terror movement Hamas, attend an event at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on July 23, 2024. Photo: Pedro Pardo/Pool via REUTERS

The US on Tuesday said it “strongly opposes” a Beijing-brokered declaration signed earlier in the day by the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah movement and the Hamas terror group, aimed at reconciling their longstanding divisions and establishing a unity government to manage Gaza after the war.

The declaration, which was also signed by more than a dozen other Palestinian factions, is seen as a symbolic win for China’s role as a global mediator, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi describing it as a “historic moment for the cause of Palestine’s liberation.” However, doubts linger about its effectiveness in addressing the years-long rift between the groups.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller responded to the announcement, saying Hamas had “blood on its hands, of Israelis and of Palestinians,” and could not be in any leadership role.

“When it comes to governance of Gaza at the end of the conflict, there can’t be a role for a terrorist organization,” Miller said.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) — which currently exercises limited self-governance in the West and has long been riddled with allegations of corruption and authoritarianism — should be in control of both the West Bank and Gaza, Miller said, adding that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), unlike Hamas, had renounced terrorism.

The PLO is a coalition of Palestinian factions, including Fatah.

“If you look at the death and destruction that Hamas’ decision to launch the attacks of Oct. 7 has brought on Gaza, they have — there’s no one that has brought more pain and suffering to the people in Gaza than Hamas through their decisions — first to launch the attacks of Oct. 7, and then their ongoing decision, which continues today, to hide among civilian communities and use civilians as human shields.”

Miller also addressed China’s role in the mediation, saying that the US has generally encouraged China to leverage its influence with regional countries, especially those where the US has less sway, to prevent conflict escalation. One example was the Chinese-mediated deal last year restoring ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The US also urged China to discourage both Iran from financing proxies attacking Israel and the Houthis from targeting commercial shipping. “We have asked China to use its influence to try to bring those attacks to an end, and we’ll continue to do that,” Miller said.

Tuvia Gering, a China and Middle East analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies, said the move is part of China’s effort to rival the US by building alliances with developing nations as well as the Arab and Muslim world to prioritize its interests and stifle Western dominance.

China is “challenging America in every space possible as a new type of major power that takes in the considerations of the Global South and the coalitions of those oppressed by imperialism and Western hegemony” to create “a new global order,” he told The Algemeiner.

Gering condemned Beijing’s move, saying it “normalized terrorism” and will embolden the Palestinians into further intransigence in talks for any future peace accord.

“Until today, China failed to criticize [the Palestinians] and put all the onus onto Israel. This means effectively that the Palestinians will only adhere to the most maximalist positions in negotiations for the two state solution [which] will become even more of a distant reality,” Gering told The Algemeiner.

Gering also predicted that the “golden age” of China-Israel relations, which burgeoned over the last decade with the inking of major bilateral deals, was over because of China’s decision to “legitimize terror” since Oct. 7. Gering warned that moving forward, Israeli strategy in the region must also take China into account.

Gering expressed doubts that the declaration signed on Tuesday would lead to any major developments, noting “a large amount of skepticism” in the Arab world.

Indeed, the declaration gave no outline for how or when a new unity Palestinian government would be formed.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, which was also a signatory on the declaration, issued a statement later in the day outlining its demand for all factions in any future unity government to reject recognition of Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz blasted the agreement, saying it underscored Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ embrace of “the murderers and rapists” of Hamas, which rules Gaza.

“In reality, this won’t happen because Hamas’ rule will be crushed, and Abbas will be watching Gaza from afar. Israel’s security will remain solely in Israel’s hands,” Katz said.

In his statement, Wang reiterated China’s commitment to a “comprehensive, lasting, and sustainable ceasefire” in Gaza and advocated for an “international peace conference” aimed at pursuing a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Dina Lisnyansky, an expert in Middle East affairs and Islam, warned that while the deal may not come to fruition, China’s role is of growing concern for Israel. Egypt and Algeria — both mediators in failed past attempts at rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas — were far weaker than China as regional actors. “When China sets its sights on something it usually achieves its goals, so it should worry us greatly,” Lisnyansky told The Algemeiner.

Lisnyansky also said that Israel should sanction the PA for signing the declaration. “Israel should negate any entity that has any ties at all to Hamas, which needs to lose both its authority and legitimacy.”

The post US ‘Strongly Opposes’ China-Brokered Deal to Form Palestinian Unity Government With Terrorist Groups first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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