PBS Newshour continues to present one-sided coverage of the Hamas-Israel war, interviewing pro-Hamas propagandists with no Israeli representatives to counter them. (See: “Hamas Propaganda by Doctors Without Borders, Courtesy of PBS NewsHour”) The latest example is its Dec. 26, 2023 episode featuring former PA spokeswoman Nour Odeh to discuss recent events. (View clip here.)
After reciting the (unconfirmed) casualty statistics put out by Hamas –‘the death toll in Gaza is nearing 21,000, mostly women and children according to Palestinian officials” – interviewer Amna Nawaz questioned Odeh about “the proposed peace plan put forward yesterday by Egypt and Qatar” which “essentially calls for the phased release of hostages held by Hamas and also Palestinians held by Israel, and for a united technocratic Palestinian government# that would oversee Gaza and the West Bank.”
Odeh responded that she is “puzzled that the Egyptians would also include negotiations with Israel and the U.S. really on the internal Palestinian issue of who governs and how” and made clear her position that Hamas should continue to play a role in governing the Palestinians, that Israel should have no say in the matter and that the world should just accept it.
“…[Hamas] remains part of the political scene because that’s inevitable. There’s no way that Hamas is going to cease to exist…And everyone has to come to terms with that…What kind of role would Hamas have in the wider political context in the Palestinian political scene, these are things that Palestinians need to agree on and that, quite, frankly, the world has to come to terms with, because if this veto on who can — who is an acceptable Palestinian political player continues, then there is more of a chance that this war will continue…”
In answer to the interviewer’s question about Israel’s insistence that Hamas be eradicated and no longer play a role in Palestinian governance as a prerequisite to peace, Odeh responded that “it should not be up to the Israelis.”
Odeh promoted a Hamas role for the governance of Palestinians, insisting that Hamas plays a large role in the West Bank as well and “in exile” and that the Palestinians “need to be able to come up with a formula…that can be functional and inclusive and representative…in order for dialogue about ending the occupation and the root cause of all this misery…”
Neither the interviewer nor any Israeli representatives pointed out that such a peace plan would necessarily entail the eradication of the Jewish state, which Hamas has repeatedly made clear is its mission and the reason it has widespread Palestinian support.
Instead, Nawaz moved on to question Odeh about “the displacement of Palestinians,” pointing to an opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post by an Israeli geologist about “Why moving to the Sinai peninsula is the solution for Gaza’s Palestinians”. This served as an invitation for another rant by Odeh demonizing Israel:
“I think that the Israelis are more comfortable talking about a potential atrocity crime, as experts of international law have warned. In my opinion, this was the plan all along, starving a population, depriving them of food and water, destroying the infrastructure, breaking down the health system, making sure that the region occupied now is basically uninhabitable, and pushing the majority of the population into a small, tiny portion at the Egyptian border. It was all meant to kind of nudge the population, if not outright forcibly expel it, into the Sinai. And now they’re more comfortable saying that, probably because they haven’t really had any pushback about all the other violations of international law that have been committed for over 80 days now.”
There was no Israeli representative to counter Odeh. Instead, Nawaz at this point asked:
“Israel, I must put to you, will say that this has all been about national security, that October 7th changed everything. The steps that they’re taking now is to make sure that horrific day never happens again. What would you say to that?”
PBS producers should have been familiar with Odeh’s refusal to condemn Hamas’ atrocities on Oct. 7th, the deadliest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. They could easily have known that Odeh’s response to Hamas’ savagery and genocidal rhetoric is to deflect from Hamas to blame and demonize Israel. Her posts on X/Twitter on October 7th did just that, insisting that what had happened was “not about Hamas” but about “a moment in history that reflects just how deadly this untenable situation is, the cost of international failure & double standards & the cost of racist & irresponsible apathy to Palestinian rights & lives.” PBS producers might have predicted that she would turn immediately to demonizing Israel, as she did on October 7th:
“All the news that has been ignored about Israeli settler pogroms, settler raids of AlAqsa, the 🇮🇱 gov’s erasure of Palestine & the Palestinians, the choking inhumane siege of Gaza, the silencing & maligning of pro-justice & pro-Palestine voices worldwide – they are inescapable.”
Odeh compared Hamas’ barbaric actions to those of Ukrainians defending themselves from Russia’s brutal aggression and continued to condemn Israel as the root cause. For example, her posts on October 7th included:
It was clear that she was advocating a Hamas position, so it would not have been unexpected that Odeh’s rhetoric on PBS would reflect the same propaganda – deflecting from Hamas’ actions and responsibility to blame Israel. And, in fact, Odeh went even further, revealing her role as a Hamas propagandist who views the root cause of conflict to be the establishment and existence of the Jewish state. She responded:
“Well, it’s convenient to put a line in the sand and start counting from October 7th. But everybody understands around the world that this didn’t start on October 7th, that Palestinians have been enduring a reality of persecution and dispossession and Israeli foreign occupation for 75 years [i.e. 1948 when the modern State of Israel was re-established]…” [emphasis added]
She went on to describe that this is “what got us here, in addition to international complacency.” Her prescription for the future? The international community must “change the playbook and answer those root causes.”
Despite her promotion in this way of Hamas’ stated goal of ending the Jewish state, the PBS interviewer merely thanked her for her time.
As a recipient of U.S. tax dollars, PBS claims to comply with the federal statute requiring “strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature.” Yet, as this and other episodes of NewsHour have shown, PBS is failing to do so, and should be held accountable.