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March 19, 2013 1:31 am

The Media’s True Failure in Gaza

avatar by David Brog

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Child in Hamas festival in Gaza. Photo: wiki commons.

Earlier this week, the United Nations confirmed that the tragic death of 11-month-old Omar al-Mishrawi, previously blamed on Israel, was actually the result of a Hamas missile. The missile, it seems, fell short of its target. Instead of hitting the innocent Israeli civilians it was aimed at, it landed in Gaza and killed innocent Palestinian civilians.

Most of the media outlets which rushed to blame this death on Israel have been far more cautious about their retractions. And some have shunned retractions altogether. Here’s how the Washington Post’s Max Fisher explained away his rush to implicate Israel in this death:

It’s difficult to see how knowing whose rocket or missile killed Mishrawi would resolve the larger questions for which that debate is a proxy. … These are notoriously thorny debates. As with so many protracted geopolitical conflicts, neither side comes out looking as angelic or demonic as its partisans might wish.

Fisher is wrong. The conflict between Hamas and Israel is not a “thorny debate.” Hamas is a terrorist organization, and is recognized as such by both the United States and the European Union. Just as responsible journalists reject a moral equivalence between the United States and the al Qaeda terrorists who seek to kill Americans, they should likewise shun such equivalence between Israel and the Hamas terrorists determined to kill Israelis.

Mr. Fisher and his colleagues would do well to remember that Hamas isn’t interested in a two-state solution. In fact when Israel and the Palestinian Authority were close to reaching peace, Hamas began blowing up Israeli buses, restaurants and cafes in a desperate effort to derail the peace process. Nor does Hamas simply want the Israelis out of Gaza. The Israelis — all of them — left Gaza in 2005. Hamas wants to destroy Israel and kill Jews. They say so in their charter. And they say so with their intentional mass murders.

Here’s what Hamas does to protect innocent human lives: nothing. They are terrorists. Their goal is to kill civilians, not to protect them. Hamas aims its missiles at Israeli civilians. And it fires these missiles from behind Palestinian civilians. Hamas wins if they kill Israelis — because they are able to terrorize the Israeli population. And Hamas wins if the Israelis kill Palestinians in their effort to stop the missiles — because they know that Israel alone will be blamed for these deaths. Hamas even wins if they kill Palestinians — because Israel will so often get blamed for these deaths as well.

Here’s what Israel does to protect innocent human lives. First, it waits. Israel does not respond to Hamas rocket fire after one or even one hundred missiles have hit her southern cities. Israel responds after thousands of such missiles have been fired. No other democracy waits so long to perform its fundamental duty to protect its citizens.

When Israel finally chooses to defend itself, it does so with supreme caution. Before fighting in a given neighborhood, the Israelis drop leaflets hours in advance warning the residents of the impending battle. They call the cell phones of the local residents to let them know they are coming. And they text message warnings to the same phones. Hamas terrorists know that if they hear the sound of an Israeli drone overhead, all they need to do to save their lives is enter a crowd of civilians. Israel will — and always does — hold its fire or divert its missiles.

The Israelis wait so long — and enter so cautiously — because they know that no army is perfect. They understand that when targeting terrorists who hide behind civilians it is inevitable that civilians will be harmed. This is a fact also recognized by international law. The laws of war do not require that no innocent civilians die. These laws require instead that armies do not target civilians, and that any collateral harm caused to civilians be proportional to the direct military advantage anticipated by the attack. Israel adheres to these standards. Hamas does not.

If international law is not blind to the difference between the terrorists who target civilians and an army seeking to defend itself from such attacks, why should journalists be? Objectivity does not mean moral abdication. No serious journalist fails to make moral distinctions between the western democracies and al Qaeda. Why does such moral clarity end at Israel’s borders?

Hamas will stop firing its missiles at Israeli civilians the day that the media stops rewarding Hamas for doing so. The missiles will stop the day Max Fisher and others like him recognize the difference between objectivity and moral blindness. The missiles will stop the day that Hamas is held accountable for its intentional violations of international law. And when Hamas stops firing its missiles, no innocents — Israeli or Palestinian — will be killed by them.

David Brog, the executive director of Christians United for Israel, is the author of In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity (Encounter, 2010). This article was originally published by the Daily Caller.

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  • arcaneone

    The failures of the international media in Gaza and elsewhere
    are many. On July 4, 2010, Nick Kristof, NY Times columnist, wrote that he was “surprised” that Israel was telling the truth in claiming that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

    Surprised. That was his total remark on this journalistic abdication. No apology to Israel for helping demonize the
    Zionist state. No denunciation of the left-wing NGOs who had
    directly conned him into a cynical deception. No apology to the Times readership for helping terrorist-affiliated
    groups to deceive the public. Just “surprised”.

    The period of May–July 2010 was notable for another offense against journalistic integrity. As readers may recall, the Cast Lead offensive against Gaza took place mostly in January 2009. After this event, Hamas and the
    Gazan class of hundreds of ink-stained wretches expanded
    the “meme” of starving, desperate Gaza.

    Suddenly, around June of 2010, everything changed. Hamas began opening luxury stores, luxury hotels, several large
    swimming pools, a marina for motorboats, and various other
    amenities, which must have taken at least several months
    apiece to build. Yet the Gaza press corps, which must have been passing these construction sites hundreds of times per day, let not a word of this vast development
    escape . The old “starving Gaza” meme continued to spray out maudlin , politically correct news articles that became
    enshrined as “truth”, even as the journalists pumped out more and more “starving Gaza” articles. If Gaza still had homeless who couldn’t be housed, it was the fault of predatory Israelis, not the Hamas oligarchy , which all through the invisible construction boom had the money for
    luxury housing, but could not provide decent basic housing for thousands of its homeless.

    Gazans claim they survive on contaminated water, as the Gaza aquifer is being drastically depleted, but this does not suggest to them that they should not maintain luxury
    developments like swimming pools, which will reduce the
    aquifer even faster–why not, when the useful idiots will blame everything on Israel anyway? Contaminated water and
    crowded conditions are a natural launching point for diseases like cholera and polio, but Fathi Hamad, Hamas
    spokesman, claims that cholera and polio have been wiped out in Gaza. Until 2010, scarcely a word of this phoenix-like rise from the grave reached out to readerships. Just senseless, easily defeated propaganda.

  • Nothing new here. To Fisher and those like him, Jewish blood has always been cheap, and inconveniences such as facts will never change that.

  • The HAMAS Charter calls for the murder of six million Jews. Everyone who works for it or supports it in any way supports its charter and therefore supports the murder of six million Jews…FISHER however has no interest in this fact which is the only fact that matters.