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May 4, 2022 10:55 am
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WaPo Opinion Piece Decries ‘Anti-Palestinian’ Media, But Gets Every Single Fact Wrong

avatar by Akiva Van Koningsveld

Opinion

The former Washington Post building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

“Journalists have a responsibility to report facts without bias.”

Ironically, this quote appeared in a slanted Washington Post opinion piece containing numerous falsehoods.

Written by two American-Palestinian activists, “How Media Coverage Whitewashes Israeli State Violence Against Palestinians” argues that, by “neglecting to contextualize Israeli state violence, the media has given the Israeli government a free pass, enabling it to continue ethnically cleansing the Palestinian people with impunity.”

In their April 28 article, Laura Albast and Cat Knarr furthermore assert that “headlines in outlets such as the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, NBC News and others use language that fails to recognize the power imbalance between the Israeli military apparatus and the native Palestinian people.”

As HonestReporting has repeatedly detailed (see hereherehere, and here), the opposite is true. In actuality, news organizations all too often dismiss the reality of Palestinian terrorism.

Case in point: on April 30, the Reuters wire service headlined an article “Israeli and Palestinian killed in West Bank violence,” lumping Israeli terror victim Vyacheslav Golev together with a former Palestinian security prisoner who was shot during violent clashes and was hailed a “martyr” by multiple US-designated terror groups. Yihya Adwan reportedly served as a commander in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Nonetheless, Albast, a senior editor at the Institute for Palestine Studies-USA, and Knarr, who serves as the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights’ communications director, accuse journalists of “conveying incomplete narratives that give reign to Israeli aggression.”

In an attempt to substantiate this claim, the authors charge Israeli police with “attack[ing] Palestinian worshipers at the holy site of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem” on April 15, in what they describe as “carefully calculated … state violence.”

Authors of opinion pieces and editorials are entitled to express their personal opinions and beliefs. However, in the words of a famous US Senator, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

“When looking at the footage of what happened, the dynamic is obvious: forces with gear and guns versus worshipers kneeling in prayer,” Albast and Knarr declare in one of the first paragraphs, rejecting the notion that “clashes” took place between two sides.

To back up their thesis, they link to Qatar-funded Al JazeeraAl-Araby’s English-language website, and the Hamas-affiliated Quds News Network.

Paradoxically, in blaming Israel for the escalation, the pro-Palestinian campaigners actually echo the prevailing media narrative promoted by outlets like CNN.

But videos posted to Palestinian social media channels tell an entirely different story.

On April 15, supporters of the Hamas terror organization launched a premeditated assault against Israeli security forces atop the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, which is also home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. At dawn, before morning prayers, hundreds of rioters gathered at the complex for a pro-Hamas demonstration.

Video footage shows them chanting violent antisemitic slogans, including “In spirit and blood we redeemed Al-Aqsa.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinians collected rocksfireworks, and other projectiles inside the mosque — to be used to attack security forces. In telling police footage released that day, an officer can be heard pleading to worshipers: “I’m asking all of you to leave so we can promptly allow you back to the noon prayer. We are now cleaning the mosque compound for your safety.”

Some 150 Palestinians were wounded in the Palestinian-initiated skirmishes on April 15, as were three policemen.

Albast and Knarr write that “media descriptions regularly imply a false symmetry between occupier and occupied, propping up anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic narratives that blame the Palestinian people for Israeli aggression,” decrying a perceived double standard between coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

As HonestReporting has pointed out, moral equivalences between the plight of the Ukrainian people under attack by Russia and Palestinians attacking Israelis are not grounded in facts.

Palestinian terror groups do not discriminate between soldiers, civilians, men, women, children or babies, with Gaza-based Hamas referring to all citizens of the Jewish state as “Zionist soldiers,” while encouraging their members to carry out unprovoked attacks on Israelis.

By contrast, Ukrainians are taking up arms to fight off a military invasion that — according to most members of the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly — violates Article 2(4) of the UN Charter.

If Ukrainian citizens would go into Russia, murder innocent Russian children, and then come back to Ukraine and be celebrated as heroes, they would be like the Palestinians. Until that happens, any comparisons are ludicrous.

The Washington Post piece also falsely contends that Jerusalem blocked “Palestinian Christians from entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.”

This is, of course, not true in the least. Since Israel gained control over eastern Jerusalem in a defensive war in 1967, the Jewish state has guaranteed freedom of worship for all religious groups in its capital.

Recent Israeli restrictions on the number of worshipers that can enter the church — put into place out of fear of a repeat of last year’s stampede at a Jewish holy site — are applied equally to Palestinians and foreign pilgrims alike.

Following the April 23 Holy Fire ceremony, a police spokesman emphasized that the participants “included Christians from Israel and around the world — Arabs and tourists took part in it … without regards to language, gender or nationality.”

In their final attempt to smear the Jewish state, Albast and Knarr recycle the long-debunked canard that accuses Israel of practicing “apartheid.” HonestReporting has dissected this libel in several in-depth analyses (see herehere, and here).

Although the blind hatred of the authors for the Jewish state comes as little surprise — after reading an an “amazing book written by a Jewish author,” Albast once ‘joked’: “I should stop googling authors’ biographies” — The Washington Post should know better than to publish outright disinformation.

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 opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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