CAMERA Op-Ed: The Washington Post’s Adelson Obituary Defends Hamas

On Jan. 12, 2021 it was announced that Sheldon Adelson, the American billionaire and philanthropist, had died at the age of 87. The Washington Post wasted no time in defaming him. The newspaper’s obituary of the American, who was born poor but grew up to build a casino and real estate empire, is not only in poor taste—it’s poor journalism.

Obituary writer Donald Frazier recounts Adelson’s support for pro-Israel causes, as well as politicians whom he viewed as being helpful to the Jewish state. Frazier implies that Adelson’s support for Donald Trump led to the U.S. President “renouncing more than five decades of U.S. foreign policy that called for a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.” This occurred when Trump “formally recognized Jerusalem—a city that Palestinians, as well as Israelis, claim as their own—as the capital of Israel.” Trump also “moved the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv, undermining the American role as an ostensibly neutral arbitrator.” 

In fact, the decision to “formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” was merely the implementation of a bipartisan law passed two decades prior. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It was passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority two decades ago and reaffirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate only six months prior to Trump’s Dec. 6, 2017 announcement that it would be implemented. Further, that announcement was accompanied by remarks explicitly noting that it did not commit the US to a position “on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of the contested borders.” 

But Frazier, offers another, more risible, omission-laden charge:

“In May 2018, Mr. Adelson and his wife had prime seats at the formal dedication of the new embassy in Jerusalem. Less than 50 miles away, conflict was erupting on the Gaza border, where dozens of Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli soldiers. His Las Vegas newspaper, the Review-Journal, ran a front-page editorial, written by Miriam Adelson, with a headline proclaiming, ‘A great day for Israel — and for America.’”

This passage is as inaccurate and misleading as it is disgusting.

As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) pointed out to Post staff, many of the “protesters” were, in fact, terrorists taking part in an operation, dubbed the “Great Return March,” that was sponsored by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group. The operation consisted of Hamas paying for and transporting civilians to be interspersed among armed terrorists who sought to break through the border.  The objective was for those civilians to be killed or injured, providing the terror group with a propaganda victory and means to attack Israel in the court of public opinion. 

Indeed, according to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar admitted to Al-Jazeera on May 13, 2018 that the group was “deceiving the public” when it claimed that the March was one of “peaceful resistance.” It was, he proudly said, “a clear terminological deception.” “This is not peaceful resistance,” he added. 

An April 26, 2018 report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) showed that a majority of the Gazans killed up to that point were linked to terrorist entities. ITIC found that “32 of the 40 Palestinians killed (80%) were terrorist operatives or individuals affiliated” with terror groups. 

Indeed, as CAMERA pointed out to Post editor Adam Bernstein, on May 16, 2018, a senior Hamas official named Salah Bardawil told Palestinian news outlet Baladna TV that of the 62 individuals killed two days before, “50 of the martyrs were from Hamas, and the other 12 were regular people.” He added: “I am giving you an official figure.”  

As The Times of Israel reported at the time, “the majority” of those killed “were later identified as members of terrorist groups either by the organizations themselves or Israeli security services.” 

TOI added: “Hamas said 50 of the 62 people killed over the last two days were Hamas members. Islamic Jihad [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] claimed another three.” Put simply: the terror groups themselves acknowledged their roles in the event—even while the Washington Post refuses to do so.

Testimony from individuals also indicates that the “Great Return March” was planned and supported by Hamas. As The Times of Israel noted in a May 16, 2018 report, testimony from Palestinians “appears to confirm that the protests are being led by Hamas.” Palestinians also acknowledged that Hamas organized buses to the event and “specifically encourages women and children”—human shields— “to approach the border.” 

Those involved in the Hamas-supported operation hurled “rocks and Molotov cocktails at the border” and launched “kites laden with containers of burning fuel into Israel where they spark fires.” Footage from the “March of Return” also shows kites covered in swastikas “that had been flown into Israel from Gaza.” 

On a number of occasions, including in recent reports on the Capitol Hill riot, the Post has used the term “riot” to describe political violence. The Post, however, declined to correct their misleading description of the so-called “Great Return March.” It seems that what qualifies as a “riot” and what is classified as a “protest” is purely up to the Post’s preferences. And the Post prefers to see Hamas terrorists as merely “protesters.” 

(Note: A slightly different version of this article appeared as an op-ed in the Algemeiner)