In a Washington Post op-Ed (“Falling for Hamas’s media manipulation,” Nov. 29, 2012) Michael Oren makes a number of points that must be underscored:
• The news media perpetuate Hamas’ deliberate strategy “to instill a visceral disgust for any Israeli act of self-defense, even one taken after years of unprovoked aggression.”
• Newspapers, including The Post and The New York Times, printed numerous large and prominently placed photographs of destruction and casualties in Gaza while downplaying images of Israeli suffering and broadcast outlets like PBS reported similarly. Worse, in a modern-day blood libel, mediadisseminated photographs supplied by Hamas featuring children purportedly killed by Israeli airstrikes who were in fact killed in Syria or by Hamas itself.
• Most of the press promoted a macabre insistence on equality of casualty numbers while ignoring the fact that, by modern military standards, Operation Pillar of Defense had a remarkably low civilian-to-combatant casualty rate. While conflicts in Afghanistan and Kosovo had a three-to-one or four-to-one ratio, Pillar of Defense had a less than one-to-one civilian-to-combatant casualty ratio.
• Coverage of the conflict ignored the fact that Israeli casualties were low because Israel invests billions in civil defense while Hamas not only spends its people’s money on weapons to target Israeli civilians, its strategy is to use Palestinian civilians as human shields – both war crimes.
• Media repeated the meme that Gaza is “the most densely populated area on earth” but hardly, if ever, mentioned that Tel Aviv – targeted by Hamas rockets – is twice as densely populated.
• Pillar of Defense was frequently described as beginning with the targeted Israeli strike that killed Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari while the press largely ignored the 130 terrorist rockets and missiles fired into Israel in the weeks preceding the operation.
• In a willful disregard of context, virtually no media reported the true nature of Hamas, which Oren rightly describes as “a flagrantly anti-democratic, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-feminist and anti-gay movement dedicated to genocide.”
It may be understandable that Hamas would want present a skewed, counterfactual and misleading portrait of the situation in Israel and Gaza, but it is simply unprofessional for the media to be complicit in this endeavor.