Fantasy War Reporting
In this current Israel/Hamas war, from Gaza and in Gaza, for the most part the media’s reporting of Hamas casualties mimics Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. All is backwards. Most is fantasy.
I wrote to Brooke Goldstein (no relation) of The Lawfare Project on July 28 regarding Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch for 7/18/14, which is based on a MEMRI posting of 7/17: “Hamas to social media activists: Always call dead 'innocent civilians'; don’t post photos of rockets being fired from civilian areas.”
I related to Brooke my understanding that the figures of Palestinian casualties being reported in the media originate with Hamas’s reports to the U.N., which then passes them on uncritically to the media.
Michael Rubin confirms this procedure in his August 4 article in Commentary online, and goes on to explain how these figures are then used by the mainstream media (emphasis added):
In Gaza, it’s déjà vu all over again. CNN and other outlets cite statistics provided by the United Nations with regard to Palestinian casualties, never questioning where and how the UN was able to gather and confirm such numbers. In reality, the UN simply parroted the figures provided it by Palestinian authorities or Hamas-controlled organizations. While there is no doubt Palestinians have died in the current operations, it seems it’s the Jenin Massacre all over again. Remember that one? Palestinian officials duped the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Samantha Power, and countless European foreign ministries. Nor does the media ever stop and question the notion of civilians to Hamas. Hamas violates the Geneva Convention in that its members do not wear uniforms and it fires from civilian areas. Even Israeli human rights groups—B’Tselem, for example—embrace a restrictive definition of combatant which enables the classification of many Hamas activists as “civilian.” As far as Hamas is concerned, every person not in uniform is a civilian.
During this past week, I noted that even Fox News reported Palestinian casualties as mostly civilians, including many women and children, but at least Fox also provide analysis of the Hamas human shields issue. Most of the media omit any mention of human shields – another sin.
The media are, however, quite specific in reporting Israeli casualties, listing civilian and military casualties separately. Why can they not do the same when reporting on Palestinian casualties? Considering the internationally acknowledged high-level military capabilities of the Israeli Defense Forces, is it even remotely conceivable that no Hamas fighters whatsoever have been killed during this war? Not one? It is not. I may have missed something, but I have not seen any specific media reports of killed Hamas fighters. Not one reported killed.
The media must be called out for their biased practice of differentiating Israeli casualties between soldiers and civilians but referring to all Hamas casualties as “Palestinians,” with no such differentiation. The media are apparently too unconnected, lazy, credulous, or biased to do the research, and the implication they leave in their reporting is that all the Arab casualties in Gaza are Palestinian civilians. They are reporting this story just as Hamas set them up to do.
Here is a real story: if the media are having difficulties getting credible casualty reports from Hamas and/or the U.N., reports that differentiate between Hamas fighters and Palestinian civilians killed, they should report that circumstance to the public. The lack of credible and differentiated numbers reported by Hamas is, by itself, a news story to be passed on to the public.