The Hill Declining: Rising’s Jessica Burbank & The Peace-Loving Houthis

The Hill’s “Rising,” a weekday morning show, boasts that its bipartisan hosts break “the mold of morning TV by taking viewers inside the halls of Washington power like never before. The show leans into the day’s political cycle with cutting edge analysis from DC insiders.”

Jessica Burbank’s Dec. 31 commentary, in which she unconventionally characterized the Iranian-backed Houthis terrorizing international commercial shipping as peace-loving, and shared other similarly “cutting edge” analyses, indeed broke all known molds.

In Burbank’s non-conformist assessment, the Houthis are peace activists targeting ships bringing weapons to Israel. About the Iranian-proxy group whose motto, emblazoned on its flag, is “God is the greatest, death to America, death to Israel, a curse upon the Jews, victory to Islam,” Burbank swam against the current, stating:

Israel has the support of the U.S. military. You know, Palestine does not and so Ya-men [sic] seems to be one of the only countries that is actually supporting Palestine on this side of the war. I think it’s extremely strategic to attack the international shipping. We have protests here in the United States on the west and the east coast where there were shipments of weapons leaving the U.S. to go to Israel and there were protesters trying to block those weapons. I can see anyone interested in peace wanting to prevent weapons from getting into the hands of the people who are using them most.

Aside from the fact that she seemed unaware of Iran’s support for Hamas in its war against Israel, she fabricated that the Houthi’s targets are ships carrying weapons to Israel. In fact, they are commercial ships that aren’t even sailing to Israel. The attacks have caused delays in shipment of everything from car parts, to hospital equipment to clothing across the world.

Second, Burbank fabricated a grotesque and impossible charge, claiming widespread sexual violence carried out by Israeli soldiers, citing 50 years of

. . . sexual crimes of Israeli soldiers in occupied territory against Palestinians. The figures are one in ten women in Gaza have experienced some kind of abuse from Israeli soldiers and it’s even higher in younger aged women where it’s as high as 23 percent have experienced sexual abuse from Israeli soldiers in the occupied territory.

What is Burbank’s substantiation for her groundbreaking analysis? In 2005, Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip, withdrawing every last soldier and civilian from the coastal territory. For years, the only Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip was Hamas hostage Gilad Shalit, and the lone emaciated captive was certainly in no position to abuse a single individual – much less 10 percent of the women in the Hamas-run territory, with its population of some two million people.

(Likewise, what evidence is there that 10 percent of Palestinian women in the West Bank suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Israeli soldiers who have consistently served there in recent decades? Burbank referred to “the occupied territory,” without specifying where she means, but we find zero substantiation for such absurd figures in either territory.)

Next, Burbank invents:

You also had at the beginning of the [Israel-Hamas] war 4500 Palestinians captured by Israelis and now just since the beginning of the war in the occupied West Bank where Hamas doesn’t even operate they have captured and arrested the exact same number, just over 4500 Palestinians. . . .

Burbank’s grossly inflated assessment that Israel captured 4500 Palestinians “at the beginning” of the war likewise breaks the constrictive factual mold. On Oct. 17, 10 days after Hamas’ mass invasion and slaughter of more than 1200 people, Israel reported that it had arrested 118 terrorists who infiltrated from Gaza to take part in the atrocities. Moreover, aside from perhaps a handful of exceptions, Israel did not begin to capture Hamas members within the Gaza Strip until weeks after Oct. 7, when the ground invasion began Oct. 27. How exactly did Israel manage to capture several thousand Gazans without boots on the ground?

By late December, Israel had said it captured some 700 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza since the start of the ground operation. (A Jerusalem Post article from just a few days ago cited a total of 2300 arrested Hamas fighters from the Gaza Strip, which is also significantly below Burbank’s figure of 4500 just from the beginning of the war.)

Moreover, Burbank’s claim that Hamas does not operate in the West Bank is a blatant falsehood. Here’s the State Department’s 2022 report on terror: “PASF and ISF continued counterterrorism (CT) and law enforcement efforts in the West Bank, where U.S. designated terrorist groups such as Hamas, the PIJ, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine operated.” In addition, the report recounted:

Israeli authorities successfully disrupted a Hamas financial operation in the West Bank that lured young people to unwittingly transport cash that Hamas operatives later used to purchase weapons.

If the State Department isn’t an insider enough authority on the subject for The Hill, then there’s The Hill itself which rightly reported just a couple of weeks before Burbank’s broadcast that Hamas  “continues to fire rockets into Israel while its cells and supporters in the West Bank have carried out terrorist attacks and attempts.” (Emphasis added.)

Finally, in another mold-breaking – or rather, what some might call unhinged – statement, Burbank claimed that U.S. information about Hamas’ use of Shifa Hospital as a command center is false. Soliloquizing about “false narratives,” she riffed: 

You don’t have widespread reporting on the fact that the Al-Shifa Hospital was not a command center but 43 babies died in the NICU when Israeli forces decided to attack and raid that hospital. They shut off power and water and supplies to these hospitals resulting in the death of many.

Burbank did not disclose which “DC insider” deep “inside the halls of Washington power” supposedly negated the findings of American intelligence agencies on the question of Hamas’ presence in Shifa hospital. Because, as The New York Times reported earlier this month (“Hamas Used Gaza Hospital as a Command Center, U.S. Intelligence Says“):

U.S. spy agencies believe that Hamas and another Palestinian group fighting Israel used Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza to command forces and hold some hostages, according to new American intelligence declassified on Tuesday. . . 

But the American intelligence assessment has remained firm that the hospital was used by Hamas. The new intelligence represents the most current American assessment, officials said.

The complex was used by both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to command forces fighting against Israel, according to the intelligence.

While the spy agencies provided no visual evidence, a U.S. official said they were confident in their assessment because it was based on information collected by Israel and America’s own intelligence gathered independently.

What inside information did Burbank possess to trump U.S. intelligence findings?

Projecting about fake narratives, Burbank falsely claimed that an Israeli attack killed 43 babies at the NICU of Shifa hospital. To the contrary, the IDF facilitated the evacuation of dozens of infants from the hospital’s NICU.

“Is it hard being a sex symbol,” states Burbank’s X (formerly Twitter) profile banner. News flash to Burbank: It’s also hard being a serious news analyst. But simply making stuff up on The Hill’s “Rising” and completely burning any remaining credibility of that DC media outlet? Now that’s not hard at all.

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