Media Outlets Use Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine to Attack Israel
Ukraine is a 38-hour drive from Israel. The two countries are in different regions of the world. The newspapers who cover them do so from different foreign bureaus, and the US State Department, among other diplomatic entities, has appropriately filed them under different areas of responsibility.
Yet, several newspapers — The Washington Post foremost among them — have tried to tie Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to Israel.
There’s a word for such a single-minded obsessiveness with the Jewish state: antisemitism.
In fact, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine isn’t anything like Israel’s security situation. Indeed, there is no legitimate comparison whatsoever.
The Washington Post, however, pretends otherwise. On March 7, the newspaper’s global opinion section published an op-ed titled, “The world of inconsistencies between Ukraine, the Middle East, and beyond,” by Khaled Beydoun. The author is an associate professor at Wayne State University where he specializes in “Islamophobia, national security and anti-terrorism law.” But judging by his Post opinion piece, his real expertise lies in historically illiterate comparisons.
In 810-words, Beydoun glamorizes terrorists, misleads about Israel’s security concerns, and omits important history and facts.
The op-ed hails the Ukrainians who are fighting Russian invaders. They have “powered a global narrative of good against evil, imperialism against sovereignty, of David vs. Goliath.” The author adds: “There’s no doubt the governments and commentators rooting for Ukrainians and campaigning for the isolation of Vladimir Putin have been on the right side of history — this time.”
But then he errs, absurdly comparing Ukrainians fighting Russian invaders to “Palestine [sic].” Palestinians, the author asserts, “have long embodied the very struggle put forward by the Ukrainian people.”
Yet, there has never been an independent Arab state known as “Palestine.” Jews are indigenous to Judea and Samaria, which the Post refers to as the West Bank. Jews were residing in the land more than a thousand years before the Arab and Islamic conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries. Put simply: if one side can be categorized as “invaders” or “colonizers,” it isn’t the Jews who have maintained a continual presence in the land for thousands of years — long before the birth of Islam.,
The Post’s op-ed is replete with other instances of ahistoricism and egregious comparisons.
Beydoun writes that “regular Palestinians resisting state seizure of their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and other occupied territories are conflated with armed militants, rendering them ‘terrorists.’”
But this, too, is false. As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) has documented, Jewish claimants proved their ownership to the land in court, highlighting that they had legally purchased the land. Nor did they try to “seize homes” or evict Palestinian families. Rather, they simply informed them that they would have to pay rent.
To compare a case of squatters refusing to pay rent on land that isn’t legally theirs to Ukrainians facing a Russian military onslaught on their own soil, is both dumb and disgusting.
The author claims that Palestinians “put their very lives on the line against global (and regional) superpowers, some wielding rocks and other makeshift weapons to protect their land, loved ones and way of life.” This, of course, is nonsense.
Palestinian leaders, be it Hamas in the Gaza Strip or Fatah in the Palestinian Authority (PA)-ruled areas, actively encourage terrorist attacks on Jews. Sometimes they use rocks — and other times they use vehicles, knives, guns, or suicide bombers. And their leaders offer incentives for them to kill civilians.
The PA’s “pay-to-slay” program offers tax-deductible salaries to those who murder and maim Jews, or American veterans like Taylor Force, who was murdered after being mistaken for a Jew while he was visiting Israel.
Both the PA and Hamas name schools, roads, and sports tournaments after slain terrorists. The PA has also planted trees to honor terrorists like Muhannad Shafeq Halabi. On October 8, 2015, Halabi murdered two Israelis, Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi and Aharon Bennett, and stabbed Bennett’s wife and two-year old child in Jerusalem’s Old City before he was killed by Israeli police.
In one particularly infamous incident, in March 2001, a Palestinian sniper targeted and murdered a ten-month-old Israeli baby, Shalhevet Pass, shooting the infant while she was in her stroller. The convicted terrorist, a Fatah operative named Mahmud Amru, receives a salary from the PA for his ghastly deed. But Beydoun and The Washington Post would have you believe that men like Amru are “freedom fighters,” as the op-ed writer puts it.
Indeed, Palestinian terrorists have used explosives attached to bombs, some of them fashioned to look like children’s toys, hoping to injure Jewish children. And far from “protecting their land,” Palestinian terrorists have used kite bombs to set Israeli land on fire. In 2018 alone, these “fire kites” burned more than 4,300 acres on the Israeli side of the Gaza border — which Palestinian leaders consider to be “Palestine.” More than half of this land was, prior to the fires, a pristine nature reserve.
Elsewhere, Beydoun claims that “The reoccurring killing of civilians in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes is defended with the same excuses Putin’s propaganda has adapted for Ukraine’s invasion — that women and children are being used as ‘human shields,’ and that justifies striking civilian targets.” Yet, Hamas has, on several occasions, admitted to using “human shields.” And investigations and footage have shown the terrorist group hiding weapons in everything from classrooms to hospitals to newsrooms. These are war crimes.
Further, Israel’s attempts to defend itself from terrorist attacks while limiting civilian casualties have been hailed by former-US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, who has noted that Israel has gone to “extraordinary lengths” to prevent civilian casualties. Indeed, as CAMERA has documented, no other nation faced with a terrorist group using human shields, such as the US-led campaign to fight ISIS, has been able to replicate the Jewish state’s efforts.
The Post’s op-ed is not only misinformed — it is a deeply cynical attempt to take advantage of Ukrainian suffering. The author tells readers that “while global leaders rush to stand alongside a besieged Ukrainian people fighting for their very existence … Palestinians and others are waiting, on the wrong side of the geopolitical divide, for a world of support that may never come.”
This, of course, is utter nonsense. For decades the Palestinians have been the recipients of copious amounts of international aid. Indeed, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are aid dependent. Yet, while Israel is using its resources to welcome and aid Ukrainian refugees, the PA, which operates a police state, allowed a pro-Putin demonstration in Bethlehem — and Hamas has continued to fashion international aid, including water pipes and concrete, into missiles and “terror tunnels” to abduct Israelis.
Further, Palestinian Arabs have never lacked for international, or superpower, support. In addition to being a cause celebre for the United Nations, the Palestinian Arab leadership received extensive support and aid from two superpowers of their day: Nazi Germany and subsequently the Soviet Union.
The PLO even benefited from Soviet largesse, including aid and training from Vladimir Putin’s former employer, the KGB. As Reuters reported in 2016: “Soviet-era documents show that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas worked in the 1980s for the KGB, the now-defunct intelligence agency where Russian leader Vladimir Putin once served.”
The Post op-ed also omits that Palestinians have been offered a state on numerous occasions — most recently in 2000, 2001, and 2008 — and have rejected every single US and Israeli proposal if it meant living in peace next to Israel.
Nor is The Washington Post the only news outlet to engage in absurd comparisons. Both the Guardian and Politico have done likewise. Politico, which has whitewashed the antisemitism of “Squad” members like Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), used the invasion to bolster efforts to single out and boycott Israel.
Ukraine might seem far away from Israel, but to antisemites, everything always comes back to the Jews.
Opponents of Jewish self-determination, from the halls of Congress to international newsrooms, are attempting to use Ukrainian blood to smear the Jewish state. Don’t let them.
The writer is a Senior Research Analyst for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.