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Media Ignore and Distort Account of Hostage Mia Schem

The mother of Mia Schem holds up a picture of her daughter who was kidnapped into the Gaza Strip, following a deadly infiltration by Hamas gunmen from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 17, 2023. Hamas has released a video of Schem. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

In mid-October, when many Israeli families didn’t yet know whether their loved ones had been slaughtered or kidnapped by Hamas, media outlets rushed to cover the first Gaza hostage video distributed by the terrorist group.

That hostage was Mia Schem.

But when Schem shared her own account of her captivity in local television interviews after being freed, these media outlets ignored or inaccurately reported it.

The result was the omission and distortion of the testimony of a woman who experienced Hamas’ atrocities firsthand, and has been featured through the lens of terrorist propaganda.

Giving Platform to Hamas

Newsweek was one of the media outlets that dedicated lengthy coverage to Schem’s plight when her hostage video was released on October 16:

The magazine, like most media outlets, was responsible enough to describe the video rather than show it in full.

But nowhere did Newsweek say that the video may have been taken under duress.

Instead, the magazine parroted Hamas propaganda by mentioning twice in one paragraph that in the video, Schem was being treated for her injury. It also included a direct quote of her plea to return home:

In the 60-second long clip, the woman can be seen being treated for a wound above her right elbow by a person off camera, who’s wrapping her arm in bandages. In the next part of the video, Schem addresses the camera directly, speaking in Hebrew. She says that she’s in the Gaza Strip, where she has been treated for her injury, and that she wants to go home.

“I just ask that I am returned as fast as possible to my family, to my parents, and to my siblings,” she said. “Please get us out of here as quickly as possible.”

Despite mentioning the Israeli army’s criticism of the video, Newsweek failed to take an independent stand that questioned its validity, leaving its audience with what Hamas wanted them to hear.

The Guardian’s report wasn’t better.

Although it included criticism of the video by various officials and added a weak caveat suggesting it was “unclear” whether it had been taken under duress, the outlet gave a wide platform to Schem’s words about receiving medication and being “well treated”:

In the video, the first released by Hamas of a hostage allegedly speaking from captivity, Schem said she was being held in Gaza, was being well treated and appealed for her release.

But all the questions that may have initially arisen about Schem were answered last weekend, when she shared her own account of events on local Israeli media.

In her interviews aired on December 29 on Israeli channels 12 and 13, Schem emphasized that she had been forced to make the video, and that the medical “treatment” in it was a mere show.

She said she didn’t receive any painkillers for her arm injury, and that she had to change bandages by herself throughout her time in captivity.

Yet both Newsweek and The Guardian, which echoed her Hamas-controlled narrative, chose to ignore her story as a free person. Since the outlets didn’t think this merited an update to their original pieces, whoever reads those stories will still gets the false impression that Hamas treats its hostages humanely.

Other media outlets that covered Schem’s hostage video made the right decision to report on her interviews with Israeli channels.

But some outlets, while detailing her harrowing account, either distorted what she had said about her fear of being raped, or omitted it altogether.

AP reported that Schem said she was afraid that her captor “might try to harm her,” when she actually used the word “rape:”

.@AP reports that Israeli hostage Mia Schem was afraid that her captor “might try to harm her.”

Her actual words described her fear of being raped. Not “harmed.”

How, AP, is diminishing the threat of a Palestinian sexual crime acceptable reporting?https://t.co/VAcdCoHGSQ pic.twitter.com/VvQ4XbbZwV

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) December 31, 2023

The New York Times did not mention her saying it at all, but it should have highlighted it, especially after the publication of the newspaper’s investigative piece regarding Hamas’ sexual violence during its October 7 massacre in southern Israel.

In her interviews, Schem made several points that deserved to be mentioned — from her injury, to her starvation and constant fear in captivity.

But in light of recent criticism over the blindness to Hamas’ sexual violence, her comments about fear of rape deserved special attention — as they indeed received from Reuters.

When media outlets choose to cover a subject — like the first publication of a sign of life from a Gaza hostage —  they should be committed to following up on it. Failing to do so leaves their audience with a partial story, which in Schem’s case was Hamas’ story.

When media outlets distort or omit essential details from a personal testimony, they undermine the witness’ narrative and rob their audience of the full picture.

But the worst is that media, in all these instances, betray their commitment to the truth.

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 Ignore and Distort Account of Hostage Mia Schem first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community

The Jewish community in Toronto lost a towering leader when Rabbi Dovid Schochet, the president of the Toronto Rabbinical Council and the senior rabbi of the Chabad community in Toronto, passed away at the age of 91 on Jan. 28. He was born in 1932 in Basel, Switzerland, the second of 10 children, to Rabbi […]

The post Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison

Joseph Borgen, victim of an antisemitic attack, addressing a rally in Long Island. Photo: courtesy

The final criminal proceeding for the case of Joseph “Joey” Borgen, a Jewish man whom a gang of antisemites mauled and pepper-sprayed in broad daylight during protests and counter-protests over Israel’s 2021 war with Hamas, resulted in another conviction Wednesday.

Mohammed Said Othman, 29, was sentenced to three years in state prison, according to a press release issued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg.

Borgen, who is Jewish, was wearing a kippah while walking in Manhattan when Said Othman, along with several other men, ambushed him without being provoked. They shouted antisemitic slurs at the pro-Israel advocate, who suffered a concussion, wrist injury, black eye, and bruises all over his body.

Since then, three other sentences have been handed down in the Borgen case. Waseem Awawdeh, who continuously struck Borgen with a crutch while allegedly joining the others in shouting antisemitic epithets at him, pleaded guilty to attempted assault as a hate crime and received 18 months in jail, as part of a plea bargain negotiated with Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jonathon Junig.

In November, Mahmoud Musa received seven years in prison for his role in the attack. In December, Mohammed Othman was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in state prison and five additional years of post-release supervision.

As seen in footage of the incident, Othman kicked and repeatedly struck Borgen in the face while sitting on his chest to weigh him down. In court, he pleaded guilty to gang assault and third-degree hate crime assault.

“These defendants violently targeted and assaulted another individual simply because he is Jewish,” District Attorney Bragg said in a statement. “While this office always supports the right to peacefully protest and engage in open dialogue, these multi-year prison sentences makes clear that physically attacking someone because of their religion is never acceptable. I thank our hate crimes unit for its diligent work in this case.”

Throughout the criminal proceedings in his case, Joey Borgen called on New York City lawmakers to do more to eradicate antisemitic hatred in the five boroughs.

In December, he told The Algemeiner that while he is pleased with the outcome of the case he is worried that the group with which his attackers were allegedly affiliated, the extreme anti-Zionist organization Within Our Lifetime (WOL), is still engaging in antisemitic activity that could lead to more hate crimes.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, WOL has posted (and deleted) a map, titled “Know Your Enemies,” showing the addresses of Jewish organizations in New York City, and staged numerous disruptive protests. The group is led by Nerdeen Kiswani, a former City University of New York (CUNY) student who once threatened to set on fire someone’s Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hoodie while he was wearing it.

“They’re still causing havoc; they’re forcing Jewish attendees of a fundraiser to speak at the backdoor of a police van, and they’re bombarding the mother of a hostage with horrible antisemitic chants,” Borgen said. “While I’m happy that I got a positive result in my case, I’m still disturbed that this same group is still going around causing issues for Jewish people, attacking restaurants, and putting people in danger.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui

A special live taping of our podcast ‘Not That Kind of Rabbi’.

The post See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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