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Questionable Haaretz Reporting Used to Demonize Israel

The personal belongings of festival-goers are seen at the site of an attack on the Nova Festival by Hamas gunmen from Gaza, near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel. Photo: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

One of the most prevalent issues with coverage of the current war between Israel and Hamas is the spread of inaccurate reporting and misinformation.

As seen with the Al-Ahli Hospital explosion and other similar instances, inaccurate reports help to fuel a narrative that whitewashes Hamas’ terrorist actions while simultaneously condemning Israel for acts that it did not commit. This false narrative then takes off on social media, and quickly becomes an accepted fact for many people.

Two instances of seemingly inaccurate reporting that have spread in both the mainstream media and online are the reports that the IDF Spokesperson announced that Israeli strikes against Hamas would emphasize “damage and not accuracy,” and the claim that some of those killed at the Nova music festival were killed by an Israeli military helicopter and not by Hamas terrorists.

Both of these claims were initially reported in the Israeli daily, Haaretz.

“Damage and Not Accuracy”

On October 10, three days after the horrific Hamas terror attack in Israel’s south, the Haaretz daily blog reported a number of statements made that morning by the IDF Spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, in a briefing to military reporters. One of these statements attributed to the spokesperson was that, for the IDF, “the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy.”

From an analysis of the text of Rear Admiral Hagari’s statement that morning, it appears that this is not an exact quote but a paraphrasing of his words.

The actual quote is “between accuracy and the scale of damage, right now we are busy with what generates maximum damage” (emphasis added). It was said in the context of the spokesperson’s remarks on Israel’s bombardment of Hamas targets in Gaza and the armaments that Israel had at its disposal to complete this task.

The statement was made during the initial stage of Israel’s retaliation against Hamas for its brutal slaughter on October 7 and was not a declaration of how Israel would conduct itself throughout the war.

Despite the nuanced context of the statement, the Haaretz paraphrasing was soon picked up by a variety of international media organizations and has been used to support incorrect observations about Israel’s conduct in this war.

On that same day, Haaretz’s English website featured a report that quoted the Gaza Health Ministry’s accusation that Israel was conducting indiscriminate bombing in Gaza. The report continued in the next paragraph, “On Tuesday morning, the IDF reported having dropped hundreds of tons of bombs in attacks on the Strip and said that ‘the emphasis is on damage, not precision.’”

This leaves the reader with the incorrect impression that the Hamas-run Ministry’s accusation is in line with the IDF’s stated method of warfare.

Also on October 10, The Guardian reported that “Speaking on Tuesday morning, IDF spokesperson R Adm Daniel Hagari made the startling admission that ‘hundreds of tons of bombs’ had already been dropped on the tiny strip, adding that ‘the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy.’”

Here too, the underlying message appears to be that Israel is indiscriminately bombing Gaza in its fight against Hamas.

One month later, in his column for The Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor claimed that the IDF’s assertion that it tries to avoid civilian casualties and is only focused on military targets is at odds with Rear Admiral Hagari’s earlier statement “that the ’emphasis’ of the IDF’s reprisal was ‘on damage and not on accuracy.’”

Only by dissecting the original quote from its proper context could this assertion appear to have any validity.

This decontextualized paraphrasing of the IDF Spokesperson’s comments on October 10 has also been used by Vox and Al Jazeera to insinuate that Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza might be tantamount to genocide (an absurd and dangerous allegation).

Aside from the mainstream media, this paraphrasing of the spokesperson’s original comment has also made its way onto social media, where it is used as a cudgel by opponents of Israel to delegitimize the Jewish state’s fight against Hamas.

Despite the fact that the IDF spokesperson’s comments on the morning of October 10 were poorly paraphrased in the initial Haaretz report — and Israeli officials have continually asserted that Israel does not target civilians — this modified quote has continuously appeared out of context in both the mainstream media and online as a means of questioning the morality of Israel’s military strategy and disqualifying its legitimate war against Hamas.

The Israeli Helicopter at the Nova Festival

On November 18, Haaretz published a piece by Josh Breiner on the ongoing investigation into the atrocities of October 7, including the massacre at the Nova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im.

As part of his report, Breiner wrote that “According to a police source, the investigation also indicates that an IDF combat helicopter that arrived to the scene and fired at terrorists there apparently also hit some festival participants.”

This one sentence then became the basis for an article by Business Insider, which was subsequently promoted by Yahoo News.

.@BusinessInsider has responded to our complaint by adding an editor’s note that an Israel Police statement has been added to the story, which it attributes to @haaretzcom.

That’s not good enough. Bottom line: it’s still an inaccurate and damaging story.

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 21, 2023

The claim that some of the casualties at the Nova festival had been killed by Israel was also picked up by anti-Israel news outlets such as the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Press TV, the Hamas-affiliated Quds News Network, and Electronic Intifada.

Then, this story was further blown out of proportion on social media by those seeking to absolve Hamas of its crimes by claiming that the deaths at the festival were largely the result of indiscriminate fire by the IDF and not Hamas terrorists.

This story even went so far that the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement blaming the IDF for the entire Nova massacre and a representative of Hamas claimed on Sky News Australia that “Israeli jets” killed “1,400 people” at the music festival.

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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British Columbia’s Jewish community is outraged after MLA Selina Robinson is removed from cabinet over remarks about Israel

Leaders of the British Columbia Jewish community have reacted with dismay to the decision by David Eby, the province’s premier, to remove Selina Robinson from her position as minister of post-secondary education and future skills on Feb. 5 due to remarks she made the previous week during an online discussion. While speaking on a panel […]

The post British Columbia’s Jewish community is outraged after MLA Selina Robinson is removed from cabinet over remarks about Israel appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Gaza Border Residents Demand A Return Home, Four Months Into War

A damaged building lies in ruins, following an infiltration by Hamas terrorists who attacked Israel at a kibbutz in Kfar Aza, Israel, Nov. 8, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Israelis from the Gaza Envelope are calling on the government to approve their return home, roughly four months since the war’s outbreak on October 7.

The head of the Scot Negev Regional Council, Tamir Idan, said outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, “We demand a clear statement from the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister that it is safe to return to the area. Until then we are not moving from here.”

The heads of the other regional councils in the Gaza area joined Idan outside the Prime Minister’s office, where they slept last night in protest.

The regional leaders say that members of the Gaza border towns should be allowed to return to the areas if they wish, rather than being forced to live in hotels. An internal plan is set to be presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in the near future.

The heads claim it is safe to return home, and are demanding that the government sign off on such a statement so residents can do so. Their protest comes as the government extended the funds allocated for their stay at hotels until July.

Following the October 7 massacre by Hamas terrorists, when they stormed southern Israel, murdering over 1,200 and taking hostage more than 240, tens of thousands of Israelis from the area were uprooted from their homes and placed in hotels in the Jerusalem area, Eilat, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea region. Since then, they have been living there full time, with makeshift schools set up for children and activities to keep everyone occupied. The move has also led local businesses to be completely shuttered.

Some Israelis have already moved back to their towns, which is technically allowed but under their own risk — rockets still fly near daily from Gaza and the IDF is operating within the Gaza Strip, which is minutes away from certain border towns.

The plan presented by the regional heads, they say, would mean that the towns are technically safe to return to, and therefore the risk falls under the government and the military.

This is as tens of thousands of Israelis from northern towns also remain out of their homes, with no current timeline for return due to the constant threat of Hezbollah missiles and the potential the war extends to the north.

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Australian Politician Says ‘Jewish Lobby’ Uses ‘Tentacles’ to ‘Influence Power’

Australian Greens MP Jenny Leong speaks at a Palestine Justice Movement event in Australia on Sunday, February 4, 2024. Source: Twitter/X

Video of a left-wing Australian politician discussing how “the Jewish lobby and the Zionist lobby” are using their “tentacles” to “influence power” went viral on Tuesday, sparking backlash from the Australian Jewish community.

Jenny Leong, an Australia Greens member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, spoke on a panel for the Palestine Justice Movement in December to promote boycotting Israel.

“The Jewish lobby and the Zionist lobby are infiltrating into every single aspect of what is ethnic community groups,” Leong said during the panel. “They rock up and they’re part of the campaign,” and “they offer solidarity.” 

She continued: “They [the Jewish and Zionist lobby] rock up to every community meeting and event to offer that connection because their tentacles reach into the areas that try and influence power and I think that we need to call that out and expose that.”

Stop what you’re doing and listen to the despicable remarks of @Greens MP @jennyleong , in which she accuses Jews of having “tentacles” which they use to try and influence power.

Leong has plumbed new and dangerous depths by using one of the oldest and darkest antisemitic tropes…

— NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (@NSWJBD) February 6, 2024

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, which is the representative of Jews who live in New South Wales, called the remarks “despicable,” adding that “Leong has plumbed new and dangerous depths by using one of the oldest and darkest antisemitic tropes to accuse Jews of covertly manipulating civic life. She has outrageously suggested that there is a sinister or evil purpose associated with Jews undertaking the most normal of activities – interacting with other Australians.”

Josh Burns, a Labor member of the Australian House of Representatives, said her comments were “a direct attack on Jewish people in Australia” and that “she should unreservedly apologize.” He also called on the Australian Greens to “take responsibility and demonstrate that Jewish people in Australia are safe and respected by their Party.”

The right-leaning Australian Jewish Association wrote on X that “Every credible political party must put the Greens last. Every non-racist fair minded person must put the Greens last.”

In response to the criticism, Leong apologized for specifically using the word “tentacles,” but not for her message. She said: “Speaking on a panel during a two-hour-long event last year, I acknowledge that I used a word at one point that was an inappropriate descriptor for the influence of groups backing Netanyahu’s genocidal attacks in Gaza and the ongoing occupation – I apologise that this has caused offence.” 

She continued: “It is incredibly telling that after a conversation where myself and other speakers made countless mentions of the genocidal attacks and occupation occurring in Gaza right now, that two months later more focus isn’t being put on the deaths of over 26,000 people, many of them children.”

Her comments and apology come amid increasing concern over antisemitism on the far-left, which has celebrated violent resistance against Israel since October 7, when Hamas invaded the country, killed 1,200 people, and kidnapped more than 240 more.

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