(Note: The Algemeiner published a slightly different version of this Op-Ed on June 23, 2017)
In recent months, The Washington Post has put the phrase “democracy dies in darkness” on its masthead—the first time that the paper has ever officially adopted a slogan. Yet, when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Post readers have been left in the dark about critical information and events.
The paper seems incapable of reporting on Palestinians unless the stories can somehow be connected to Israel. A look at recent coverage offers some examples.
June 2017 marked the ten-year anniversary of Hamas seizing power in the Gaza Strip—a hugely important event for Israelis and Palestinian Arabs and the entire Middle East. Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group that calls for Israel’s destruction, seized power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, after a brief, but bloody fight with Fatah, the movement which dominates the Palestinian Authority (PA), the entity that rules the West Bank. Hamas had won January 2006 elections in the Strip that many observers, including the U.S. government, had expected Fatah to win. Despite Hamas’s victory in parliamentary elections, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a member of Fatah, remained the head of government. But in 2007 Hamas drove Fatah out of Gaza in a brief, but violent battle.
Despite several failed attempts at collaboration and coalition governments, Hamas and Fatah remain rivals, with separate Palestinian governments existing in the West Bank and Gaza.
Ten years on, the negative consequences of Hamas’ rule are apparent. The terror group has made continuous war on the Jewish state, launching rockets at civilians, kidnapping and murdering Israelis. Hamas’ actions—consistent with its stated objective to annihilate Israel and establish an Islamic state—have led, thus far, to three major conflicts, in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
The consequences for the Gazan Arabs living under Hamas’ rule have been grim. Hamas frequently launches terror attacks, and then uses its own population as “human shields” to dissuade expected Israeli military response——a double war crime. The group’s obsession with destroying Israel has led to its investment in incessant warfare and terror, instead of state building. Aid is pocketed by Hamas’ corrupt leadership, many of whom live in luxury outside Gaza’s borders, or is spent building a culture in which anti-Jewish violence is enshrined.
In a June 15, 2007 report on Hamas’ victory, The Washington Post stated that President George W. Bush’s June 2002 call for the “Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror,” was now a failure——even implying that the election and subsequent takeover was emblematic of a larger U.S. foreign policy failure in the region. (“Takeover by Hamas Illustrates Failure of Bush’s Middle East Vision”). At the time, the paper even quoted a former U.S. State Department official and adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas named Edward G. Abington Jr. who asserted that with Hamas’ victory meant “The two-state vision is dead. It really is.”
Yet, in June 2017, The Post——and many other major U.S. news outlets——largely ignored the anniversary of Hamas’ rule in Gaza. Indeed, not a single report was filed by the paper’s Jerusalem bureau highlighting the event.
By contrast, the paper offered exorbitant——and deeply flawed——coverage of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War this June. The Post published a six-page, multi-story May 28, 2017 Sunday edition, running in excess of 10,000 words, complete with an online video and several photographs, as well as a more than 6,000 word Op-Ed——all of which omitted Palestinian rejection of U.S. and Israeli peace offers.
Even as it devotes so much space to the Six-Day War, The Post ignores current news. For example, the recent decision by the PA-approved head of the Palestinian Islamic courts in Ramallah to, during the holy month of Ramadan, ban divorces and to imprison those who break the Muslim tradition of fasting——including Christians who live under the authority’s increasingly oppressive rule.
Similarly, what the Palestinian Journalists Association called in a March 2017 statement “The [PA’s] continuous hunting and arrests of Palestinian journalists and threats against them,” was omitted in Post coverage.
On May 13, 2017, a Fatah party candidate and convicted terrorist named Tayseer Abu Sneineh was elected mayor of Hebron, one of the largest cities under PA-control and a city of religious important to both Jews and Muslims. The Post could have informed its readers. It did not.
Nor did it inform readers about recent revelations, noted by The Times of Israel, Haaretz and others, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted——and PA President Abbas rejected——U.S.-proposed guidelines to restart negotiations in 2014.
In the last 60 days in the Gaza Strip, Hamas carried out ISIS-style public executions of three Palestinians deemed subversive, expelled PA-officials in a sign of growing tensions and even banned Gazans from walking their dogs in an effort to get residents to “think only about politics, about resistance [attacking Israel], to always be on and never to relax,” as a scared Palestinian dog owner told The Telegraph.
Chronic power cuts in the Gaza Strip——the result of Hamas spending on terror instead of infrastructure——have resulted in increased tensions and unrest. Yet, The Post’s Jerusalem bureau has yet to run a recent story detailing this or noting that Israel, which provides some of Gaza’s electricity, has reduced the electricity to the Strip at the PA’s request.
In a June 5, 2017 interview live streamed on Facebook, Post Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth claimed that the paper seeks to detail how “ordinary Palestinians……conduct their daily lives……” If so, it is failing——miserably.
The writer is a Senior Research Analyst for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. His views are his own.