Washington Post pushes Israel’s retaliation narrative

Mainstream media are failing Palestinians once again (SIPA)

Michael F. Brown

The Electronic Intifada  /  May 11, 2021

The Washington Post went out of its way to mislead readers today. Its opening paragraph on the latest news from Palestine claimed:

“A day of upheaval at the holy sites of this contested city quickly widened into a night of warlike violence in communities across the country Tuesday, with hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip resulting in the deaths of at least two Israelis and retaliatory airstrikes killing at least 26 Gazans, according to Palestinian officials and Israeli media.”

But this reverses the chronology of reality. Most of the Palestinians were killed by Israeli air strikes prior to the Palestinian rocket that killed two Israelis.

That rocket fire, meanwhile, was in response to Israeli violence in Jerusalem Monday and in the days before that has seen hundreds of Palestinians wounded, some in critical condition.

Who is retaliating to whom ?

Mainstream media too frequently insist on a narrative in which Israel “retaliates.” The Washington Post’s timeline fraud is perhaps the clearest example to date.

Even yesterday, the narrative already was of an Israeli retaliation. Why can it not be said that Palestinian resistance groups were retaliating for Israel’s attacks on Palestinians praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque? Journalists and their kneejerk biases require examination.

CNN’s Hadas Gold did accurately tweet out that Hamas said it was retaliating for Israel’s actions in Jerusalem.

The New York Times, for its part, appeared wildly uninformed when it referred to Hamas launching a “surprise volley of rockets toward Jerusalem.” But there was no surprise involved.

As my colleagues reported Monday: “The military wing of the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas issued an ultimatum giving Israel an hour – until 6 pm local time – to withdraw its forces from Al-Aqsa and the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and free detainees.”

As they noted: “When that deadline passed, volleys of rockets were fired toward Jerusalem.” The New York Times has a responsibility to report the full story.

Vital context is also missing. Israel’s standing as practicing apartheid has been widely omitted. Palestinians have stated this fact for decades and since the start of the year both Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch have asserted this reality.

No mention has been given to the fact that Palestinians being attacked in Gaza are largely refugees forced from homes and lands in 1948 in what is now Israel.

It’s Hammer time

Newsweek’s opinion editor Josh Hammer, whose bigoted history has been reported here, engaged in a new attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, essentially accusing her of dual loyalty.

Hammer went so far as to declare Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory to be a “straightforward, propagandistic lie.”

But Hammer proves nothing in his linked article. He merely links to the work of well-known apologist for Israeli settlements and apartheid Eugene Kontorovich (as well as to Abraham Bell).

The vast majority of scholarship on the Israeli occupation, of course, strongly disagrees with Kontorovich, Bell and Hammer on the matter – as does the United Nations and even a reluctant US State Department.

But for the sake of argument, let’s propose that most scholarship didn’t uphold the reality of the occupation. What then? Would Hammer be willing to extend full voting rights to all Palestinians between the river and the sea or does he prefer ongoing apartheid?

I posed a similar question in June 2020. Hammer should answer. If he answers that he accepts apartheid for Palestinians then he should be fired. Of course, that assumes Newsweek would have a problem with an editor openly espousing apartheid. His previous bigoted remarks have so far not caused any concern.

An exception

There is one exception on reporting about Sheikh Jarrah that has improved. James North in Mondoweiss highlighted paragraph 39 – 40 by my count – of a New York Times article by Patrick Kingsley: “Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim ownership of land they vacated in 1948, but denies Palestinians the right to reclaim the properties they fled from in the same war.”

Reporting for CNN, Hadas Gold made the same point over the weekend as did Andrew Carey in this report she linked to:

If mainstream journalists begin examining Israeli double standards then they may well conclude, as did B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch, that Israel has an apartheid system.

This would be a positive and long overdue development.

Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist