CAMERA Op-Ed: How the Washington Post Distorts Terrorist Attacks

The Washington Post used a Jewish holiday to attack the Jewish state.

The Post’s March 7, 2023, report treated antisemites as credible sources and omitted key information about Israeli counter-terrorist operations. Indeed, the dispatch, entitled “Six killed in Israeli raid on Jenin as settlers attack Palestinian town, again,” misleads with its very headline.

As the article itself notes, several of those killed were members of Hamas, the US-designated terrorist group that calls for Israel’s destruction. They were killed during an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) counter-terrorist operation in Jenin.

The IDF conducted the operation as part of its efforts to stamp out growing terrorist activity in the Palestinian Authority (PA)-ruled Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank. According to the IDF, one of those killed was the terrorist responsible for the Feb. 26, 2023, murders of two Israeli brothers, Hillel Menachem Yaniv and Yagel Yaacov Yaniv.

Yet, the Post’s report focused its attention elsewhere, writing: “Among the dead, according to the Israel Defense Forces, was Abd al-Fattah Hussein Ibrahim Gharusha, an alleged Hamas operative suspected of fatally shooting two Israeli brothers on Feb. 26 — an attack that set off a violent rampage by Israeli settlers through the Palestinian town of Huwara and nearby villages.”

The Post’s decision to cover the attacks on Huwara and other nearby villages is both reasonable and understandable. The overwhelming majority of Israelis have condemned the vigilante violence and rioting, and the IDF itself sent in troops to protect life and property. What isn’t understandable, however, is to try to connect that violence to a Jewish holiday. But the Post tries anyway, writing:

In recent days, settlers posted warnings online that they would attack the village again. Security officials quoted in the Israeli media said that an attack could come on the Sabbath ahead of Purim.

The Jewish holiday of Purim, marked by drinking, revelry and fancy dress, has an underlying message of revenge and vanquishing enemies. It was during the holiday in 1994 that Baruch Goldstein opened fire on hundreds of Palestinian worshipers in a mosque in Hebron, killing 29 people [emphasis added].

To put it mildly, this is bizarre logic on the Post’s part. And the fact that the newspaper has to go back nearly three decades to the Goldstein attack — an aberration in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — is revealing.

There have been literally thousands of Palestinian terrorist attacks on Jews in the intervening years. And as CAMERA has documented, there is often an increase in attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. But curiously, the Post hasn’t ever noted this connection, although there is far greater documentation to support it than the spurious idea that Purim is somehow connected to extremely infrequent acts of anti-Arab violence that have been perpetrated by Israelis over the span of 30 years. The Post wouldn’t dare imply a connection between Islamic holidays and terrorist attacks, but apparently there’s a different standard for Jews.

The double standard is apparent in the rest of the Post’s report, which omits key details about recent events in Israel. The Post asserts that “More than 60 Palestinians have been killed this year by Israeli security forces and settlers. At least 14 Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinians.”

This bit of false equivalency is risible. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians killed have been terrorists — a fact that was documented by nonpartisan think tanks like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, among others, long before the Post’s March 7 report. Indeed, as the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has highlighted, many of the slain Palestinians have been claimed by the terrorist groups themselves. By contrast, all of the Israelis were murdered by terrorists — and all, save one, were civilians.

It is abhorrent to conflate the victims of terrorists with slain terrorists when listing casualties. And it is a violation of journalistic ethics to fail to note that the terrorist groups in question have a long and documented history of using human shields. Indeed, those Palestinian civilians who were killed died during counter-terrorist operations that predominantly took place in close quarters, urban environments — as other reports indicate.

A perusing of recent Post headlines illustrates the newspaper’s insistence on minimizing Palestinian anti-Jewish violence and terrorism, as well as its predilection for double standards and omissions. A Feb. 27, 2023, dispatch on the Huwara violence, for example, was headlined “Israeli settlers rampage through Palestinian towns in revenge for shooting.” A Jan. 29 report was entitled “Israeli settlers attack Palestinians across West Bank as escalation looms.” Israelis are clearly identified as the perpetrators. By contrast, Palestinian culpability is either ignored or minimized.

For example, a Jan. 28, 2023, report on the Palestinian terrorist attacks was merely titled, “Spate of shootings targeting Israelis puts region on high alert.” Just a “spate,” you see? Who perpetrated those shootings? The Post headline doesn’t say. And, as CAMERA highlighted in an Algemeiner op-ed, one Post report on a Palestinian terrorist attack was initially headlined, “Car rams into crowd near Jewish settlement, killing 2, injuring 5.”

But self-driving cars aren’t murdering Israelis. Palestinian terrorists are. And they’re doing so at rates not seen in years.

This is, in large measure, the result of a deteriorating security situation in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). In theory, the PA rules over the majority of the area, and its security forces (PASF) are tasked with counter-terrorist operations. Indeed, the PA was created after its leaders promised to renounce terrorism, and the PASF have received US funds and training for that purpose.

Yet, as CAMERA has highlighted, the Islamic Republic of Iran is attempting to use its proxies to take over the West Bank. Tehran hopes to profit off the declining popularity of PA head Mahmoud Abbas and secure another front to launch attacks against the Jewish state. This, and the weakened rule of the octogenarian Abbas and his Fatah movement, help explain the growth in terrorist activity in the area. Iran has even been shipping weapons to both the West Bank and Israeli Arab communities, part of an effort to sow social discord and ethnic violence. It seems to be working.

In a little more than a month, 14 Israelis have been murdered in Palestinian terrorist attacks. All but one were civilians. This is significant; Israel, after all, is but a small country of a little more than nine million. In the United States, this would be the proportional equivalent of 500 Americans murdered in terrorist attacks emanating from a neighboring entity — all in a little more than a month. Such losses would prompt calls for widespread action — and widespread news coverage.

But not at the Washington Post, where Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism get short shrift. Or where Jewish holidays are ludicrously connected to the violent actions of a few.

(Note: A slightly different version of this op-ed appeared as an Op-Ed in the Algemeiner on March 13, 2023)

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