CAMERA Op-Ed: POLITICO’s Biased Report on Biden and Israel

Politico has found the problem with the modern Middle East: Israel.

The publication’s November 19, 2021, report, “Biden’s balancing act in the Middle East has a problem: Israel,” is replete with bias and littered with omissions.

Correspondent Nahal Toosi asserts that “a series of Israeli actions against Palestinians have exacerbated tensions with the Biden administration while testing how serious the U.S. president is about respecting the rights of everyone in the conflict.” And what exactly has the Jewish state done?

Israel, she tells readers, has designated “several Palestinian human rights groups as ‘terrorist’ organizations.”

In fact, as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) noted in a Washington Examiner op-ed, the Israeli Defense Ministry called for designating six NGOs — and for good reason.

Each of the organizations has links to terrorist organizations that Politico omits.

As Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz noted: the NGOs in question — Al-Haq, Addameer, Defense for Children-International Palestine (DCI-P), the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) — have all been “active under the cover of civil-society organizations, but in practice belong to and constitute an arm of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).”

A PFLP cell commanded by a UAWC accountant named Samer Arbid murdered a 17-year-old Israeli girl named Rina Shnerb in 2019. And as the Jerusalem Post reported, UAWC’s finance and administration director, Abdul Razeq Farraj, “was indicted in October 2019 on four counts, including aiding an attempt to death” in a terrorist attack and “holding a position in a terrorist organization.” Another UAWC employee, Ubai Aboudi, was sentenced to a year in prison in June 2020 and was responsible for recruiting for terrorist attackers.

The one-time secretary of DCI-P’s board, Fatima Daana, is the widow of the commander of the PFLP’s Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades. One DCI-P employee, Hashem Abu Maria, was celebrated by the PFLP as a “commander” of the terrorist group after his 2014 death.

Additional examples of these links abound and are readily available via open-source reports by NGO Monitor, as well as a detailed report by Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs, entitled “Terrorists in Suits.” Yet, Toosi declines to reference them, preferring instead to portray Israel as broadly and unfairly attacking NGOs — instead of a mere six organizations with documented ties to terrorist groups.

Instead, Politico writes that “European governments have not been convinced by the information” that “Israel shared with them” on the designations. Further, she adds that “an Associated Press review of at least some of the evidence determined it was thin at best.” This being the same Associated Press which literally shared office space with Hamas, a US-designated terrorist group, in Gaza.

But questionable sources seem to be Toosi’s forte.

Toosi even uncritically quotes the head of the Bisan Center, Ubai Aboudi. Yet the Politico reporter fails to mention that a court indictment referenced Aboudi as receiving instructions to recruit additional members to the PFLP. In June 2020, he was sentenced to 12-months in prison.

To some, this might raise questions about Aboudi’s credibility. But to Toosi, it makes him a trusted source.

The Bisan Center itself, NGO Monitor notes, “does not publish financial data, donor information, or sources of funding, reflecting a complete lack of transparency and accountability.” Another Bisan employee, Itaraf Hajaj, was arrested on September 23, 2019,  and an Israeli  authorities’ statement refers to him as responsible for PFLP clandestine operations. NGO Monitor also notes that “according to the PFLP-linked organization Samidoun, in 1995-2017, Rimawi was arrested several times. And a 2016 High Court of Justice decision [HCJ-2524/16] referred to Rimawi as a ‘PFLP member’ who ‘posed a security threat.’”

Toosi, of course, mentions none of this. And in keeping with her previous reports on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she laments that Palestinians don’t have a state, but fails to mention that Palestinian leaders have rejected numerous offers for statehood, most recently in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba, and 2008 after Annapolis. Toosi writes that “Biden aides believe that” Israeli policies “undermine the possibility of a Palestinian state,” but omits that the Palestinian leadership has rejected precisely that on numerous occasions.

Surely in a dispatch that runs more than 2,000 words. she could’ve noted as much.

Elsewhere, Toosi’s bias is evident. For example, she claims that “renewed Israeli settler violence against Palestinians” is an obstacle to Biden administration plans for peace. Yet, such violence is broadly condemned across the overwhelming majority of Israeli society and political leaders. By contrast, the Palestinian Authority resolutely refuses to quit paying salaries to those who murder and maim Jews. And when Palestinian terrorists perpetrate terrorist attacks — as they did within 24 hours of Toosi’s story — it is often celebrated.

Footage shows Palestinians handing out candy to celebrate the November 21 Hamas terrorist attack in Jerusalem, which claimed the life of 26-year-old Eliyahu David Kay, a tour guide. Indeed, sports tournaments, schools, and streets in Palestinian-ruled areas are often named after terrorists.

But in her numerous reports on Israel, Toosi, a one-time guest speaker for the faux “pro-peace, pro-Israel” group J Street, fails to mention this enshrined culture of Jew-hatred.

Indeed, Israeli security concerns are often treated dismissively by Toosi, whose track record of bias has been documented by CAMERA. For example, she characterizes Israeli officials as “defiant, citing their security needs and sovereignty.” How dare they! Perhaps many of them are tired of seeing terrorist talking points regurgitated in Western media.

Politico’s report is more than just an embarrassment; it’s a textbook example of how the news media misleads about the Jewish state.

(Note: A slightly different version of this op-ed appeared in the Algemeiner on Nov. 29, 2021)

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