“Great is truth,” the deceased British philosopher and writer Aldous Huxley intoned, “but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects…propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.” With its recent coverage of the Israel-Islamist conflict, The Washington Post proves Huxley’s point. With growing frequency, the newspaper is omitting crucial context.
Take, for example, Ruth Eglash’s June 16, 2019 report “Netanyahu inaugurates Trump Heights, Israel’s newest town on the Golan Heights.” The newspaper asserts that the Golan Heights “was captured by Israeli forces during the 1967 Israeli-Arab War, which began when Israel launched a preemptive strike after neighboring Arab countries mobilized forces at the borders.” While correct, this is not the full story.
Arab countries did far more than “mobilize forces”—in fact, no fewer than 250,000 troops, 2,000 tanks and 700 aircraft—at Israel’s borders. The military alliance of Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Jordan actively called for the destruction of the world’s sole Jewish state, which then had a population of only 2 million and a landmass smaller than New Jersey. A month before the June 1967 War, Egypt expelled U.N. peacekeeping personnel from the Sinai Peninsula. On May 20, Syrian Defense Minister Hafez al-Assad stressed, “The time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.” On May 22, in an act of war, Egypt closed the international Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.
The Post does briefly note that, prior to the 1967 War, Syria used the Golan Heights “as a shelling position,” but fails to offer more details. In fact, on several occasions before 1967, Syrian artillery atop the Heights “leveled a blanket of shells on Israeli settlements across the Hula Valley”—one of several important events leading up to the war, as the historian Michael Oren documented in his 2002 book, Six Days of War. Syrian snipers also used the Heights to murder, shoot and harass Israeli civilians, many of them farmers, living and working down below.
A June 12, 2019 Washington Post article on Israeli checkpoints also omits crucial context and information in service of the narrative of Palestinians as perennial victims of an oppressive Jewish state (“A high-tech facelift takes the sting out of an Israeli checkpoint—but not the occupation”). Using language more befitting an editorial than a news report, correspondent Eglash describes Qalandia as “a notorious Israeli military checkpoint known for its reviled metal turnstiles and caged tunnels,“ writing that “for nearly two decades, thousands of Palestinian civilians were forced to wait here, sometimes for hours, as they tried to enter Israel for work, school, medical appointments or family visits.” It is, The Post asserts, “a stark symbol of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and a constant source of humiliation for ordinary Palestinians. It also serves as a daily reminder of how deeply Israel controls their lives.”
The Post makes no mention of the reason for the checkpoint’s existence or why it appeared “nearly two decades ago.” Perhaps this is because the answer doesn’t fit the newspaper’s adopted narrative.
Like many other checkpoints, Qalandia, built in late 2000, was constructed in response to Palestinian terrorism. Palestinians responded to the launch of the 1990s Oslo peace process, by refusing U.S. and Israeli offers for a two-state solution and supporting terrorist attacks aimed at Israeli civilians. In the months and years prior to Qalandia’s construction, Palestinian terrorists crossed from areas controlled by Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority (PA) and murdered Israelis (for more, see “The Straight Facts about the Palestinians Authority and Fighting Terrorism,” CAMERA, Oct. 25, 2012).
By contrast, an April 25, 2019 Times of Israel article noted, “Various forms of checkpoints have existed in Qalandiya since the Second Intifada in the early 2000s when Palestinian terror groups carried out suicide bombings, shootings and other attacks against Israelis, killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers (“Israel opens new Qalandiya checkpoint, phasing out inadequate crossing).”
Times of Israel reporter Adam Rasgon detailed recent changes to the checkpoint, describing how Palestinian “laborers, who have various jobs throughout Israel, overwhelmingly said the new checkpoint has made their morning commute to work significantly more manageable compared to the old one.” Israel, Rasgon noted, “invested tens of millions of shekels in constructing the new checkpoint” in order to better facilitate travel by those Palestinians who work in Israel.
Yet, The Washington Post minimized these Israeli efforts and failed to ask why the checkpoints were necessary in the first place. The Post also failed to point out that Palestinians upset with the “humiliation” of the “occupation” have only their leaders, who have rejected offers for statehood, to blame. Nor did The Post ask why, after a quarter century of international aid, some Palestinians choose to go to Israel for better employment prospects.
The Post has omitted important facts in other recent reports on Israel.
A May 17, 2019 article on attempts by anti-Israel activists to boycott Eurovision describes the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as merely advocating “a cultural boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians and the Israeli occupation of lands the Palestinians hope to make a future state (“Israel brushes off Eurovision boycott calls with a big assist from Madonna).” Yet, the same day that The Post’s article was published, The New York Times reported that the “German parliament deems BDS antisemitic.” Indeed, as CAMERA has frequently highlighted, BDS founder, co-founders and activists have explicitly stated that the goal of BDS is to end the Jewish nation of Israel, which they seek to delegitimize and single out for opprobrium. CAMERA has even sent Post staff U.S. Congressional testimony that highlights the BDS movement’s links to U.S.-designated terrorist groups.
For its part, The Washington Post seems intent on boycotting facts that detract from its chosen narrative of Palestinian victimhood and infantilization. The newspaper’s inability—or perhaps unwillingness—to tell the full truth raises questions about the credibility and quality of its reporting on Israel. And its selective reporting and pattern of omissions suggest that discerning readers should look elsewhere for news about the Jewish state.