CAMERA Op-Ed: The Washington Post and Others Bar the Truth about Israel

You can tell a lot about a news outlet by what it chooses to cover—and even more by what it chooses to ignore. The Washington Post’s reporting on Israel is a case in point. The newspaper’s selective coverage of the Jewish state raises questions about whether it should be considered a trusted source.

Take, for example, the murder of Dvir Sorek.

The 18-year-old Israeli yeshiva student was found stabbed to death on Aug. 8, 2019 outside of the community of Migal Oz. Sorek’s murder—and the subsequent manhunt and arrest of two Palestinian suspects, one of them a Hamas activist—attracted widespread coverage from major U.S. news outlets, including The New York Times.

The Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau, however, declined to file any reports on the terrorist attack, much less highlight footage of Palestinians celebrating the student’s death by launching fireworks during his funeral. Instead, the newspaper contented itself with reprinting Associated Press (AP) briefs on the murder, the majority of which appeared only online.

As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) highlighted in an Aug. 15, 2017 op-ed, The Post has a habit of underreporting terrorist attacks and minimizing the antisemitic rhetoric and actions of Palestinian leadership. Indeed, when The Jerusalem Post reported on July 11, 2019 that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was doubling the monthly payments to the terrorist responsible for masterminding the murders of three Israeli teenagers, The Washington Post was nowhere to be found.

Citing research by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Jerusalem Post reporter Mayaan Jaffe-Hoffman noted that the PA had dramatically increased the payments being made to imprisoned terrorist Husam Al-Qawasmi, who helped plot the abduction and subsequent murder of Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frenkel in 2014. That incident helped trigger the 2014 Israel-Hamas War and is, in part, the subject of a forthcoming HBO film.

That the PA is choosing to double down on its “pay to slay” policy amid a budget crisis—which itself is the result of U.S. and Israeli aid cuts over that very same policy—is newsworthy. But not, it seems, to The Washington Post.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed that he’ll continue to pay terrorists to the “last penny,” a decision that violates the Oslo Accords and a comment that The Post also failed to report. The newspaper also chose to ignore Abbas’s July 25, 2019 threat to stop implementing previous agreements with Israel, as well as the Authority’s decision to ban members of the Palestinian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community from “carrying out any activities in the West Bank (“PA Bans LGBTQ Activities in the West Bank,” The Jerusalem Post, Aug. 19, 2019).”

Other omissions highlight The Post’s bias.

When the U.S. decided to cut aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in 2018, The Washington Post filed no fewer than five reports. As CAMERA pointed out in a Sept. 5, 2018 letter to the editor, The Post omitted UNRWA’s troubling history of promoting anti-Jewish violence and terror. Instead the newspaper portrayed the cuts in a negative light, often acting more as an advocate for the U.N. agency than an impartial media outlet.

Yet, when a December 2018 internal ethics report was leaked in August 2019 accusing the head of UNRWA of nepotism, corruption, retaliation against whistleblowers and sexual misconduct, The Washington Post was curiously absent. The newspaper failed to provide any original reporting on the scandal, which, by contrast was detailed in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere.

By contrast, when fewer than a dozen U.S. writers and poets—some of whom compared Israel to Hamas—traveled to Israel at the behest of an anti-Israel NGO in May 2016, The Post filed a glowing 1317-word report complete with several photographs detailing the trip. Similarly, when Israel decided to deny entry to U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, The Post decided that this merited coverage, even if the trip of seventy-plus lawmakers did not.

Both Omar and Tlaib support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. As CAMERA and others have noted, BDS seeks the end of the Jewish state, singles out Israel for opprobrium, has been declared antisemitic by various legislative bodies, and is endorsed by terrorist organizations like Hamas. The Post’s coverage, however, whitewashed BDS, which it claimed “protests Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and has found growing support in Europe and the United States in recent years.” In fact—in another occurrence ignored by The Post—in May 2019 Germany’s legislature ruled that BDS is “antisemitic”

The Post also failed to note that Israel’s decision to enforce its laws banning entry for BDS supporters came after Omar and Tlaib’s itinerary was published. Both members of Congress oppose Israel’s existence and have a history of associating with people who praise terrorist attacks and making antisemitic statements. It is unsurprising then that the agenda for their trip referred to all of Israel as “Palestine,” was sponsored by Miftah and included meetings with Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P) and other anti-Israel NGOs.

As NGO Monitor has documented, DCI-P has extensive ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation, a U.S. designated terror group. The President of DCI-P’s General Assembly, Nasser Ibrahim, is the former editor of El Hadaf, the PFLP’s weekly publication. DCI-P board members and employees, past and present, include no less than ten individuals with links to the PFLP.

As for Miftah, NGO Monitor offers disturbing details: “On March 27, 2013 MIFTAH, a Palestinian non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1998 by Hanan Ashrawi (Chair of MIFTAH’s Board of Directors), published an article by Nawaf al-Zaru that repeated the antisemitic blood libel. He wrote, ‘Does Obama in fact know the relationship, for example, between ‘Passover’ and ‘Christian blood’… ?!  Or ‘Passover’ and ‘Jewish blood rituals…?! Much of the historical stories and tales about Jewish blood rituals in Europe are based on real rituals and are not false as they claim; the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover …’”

CAMERA highlighted Miftah’s troubling history to staff at POLITICO, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post, USA Today and elsewhere, but they failed to include it in their reports.

Put simply: two members of Congress planned a trip sponsored by an NGO that traffics in antisemitism, which had as its basis the denial of Israel’s right to exist, and which included meeting with a group with terror links. And yet, The Washington Post, as well as other outlets like POLITICO, The Hill, and USA Today, couldn’t be troubled to report the full story.

Nor did any of the above outlets report that both Reps. Omar and Tlaib “posted a cartoon drawn by an anti-Semitic cartoonist who has drawn criticizing for mocking victims of the Holocaust to their Instagram stories.” The cartoon was drawn by Carlos Latuff, the runner-up in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Contest, and was shared by the Congresswomen on Aug. 17, 2019—while coverage of their attempted trip was ongoing (“Tlaib, Omar Share Anti-Semitic Cartoonist’s Drawing,” Washington Free Beacon, Aug. 18, 2019).

In contrast to The Post’s decision to ignore both the details about the Congresswomen’s planned trip and their promotion of antisemitic material, they did find the time to do a long, puff-piece interview with Rep. Tlaib’s grandmother (“Meet Rashida Tlaib’s grandma,” The Washington Post, Aug. 16, 2019).

Numerous recent studies have found that trust in the media is at an all time low. It’s little wonder why.

(Note: A slightly different version of this Op-Ed appeared in the Algeminer on Aug. 16, 2019)