“Facts,” Mark Twain famously observed, “are stubborn things.” But at the Washington Post, facts about Israel are in short supply. And instead of unearthing them, the Post seems intent on burying the truth.
Take, for example, a July 25, 2023, report on a recent archaeological discovery in the Gaza Strip (“125 tombs found after chance discovery of ancient Roman-era cemetery in Gaza”). While ostensibly highlighting the findings of the dig, the Post’s dispatch shirks from unearthing basic facts. Indeed, the newspaper glosses right over them, asserting that the Gaza Strip is an area prone to “conflict and impoverishment.” The area, Post reporter Ellen Francis writes, is “Palestinian territory under [an] Israeli blockade” that can hinder “efforts to find and safeguard archeological treasures.”
Yet, the Gaza Strip is under a blockade by both Israel and Egypt. Indeed, by many metrics, Egypt’s blockade is more stringent. And for good reason—the Gaza Strip is ruled by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group that calls for Israel’s destruction.
The Post—in keeping with its well-worn habit—merely refers to Hamas as a “militant” movement. This effectively sanitizes a terrorist organization whose charter approvingly quotes Hitler. The newspaper omits that the blockade was initiated because of Hamas attacking Israel following the Jewish state’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In the subsequent two decades, Hamas has continued to attack Israel, leading to multiple wars. This is important context. As CAMERA told Post staff, if the blockade is to be mentioned, it should be fully and accurately described and the reasons for its existence should be noted.
Further, the idea that Israel poses a threat to “archeological treasures” is patently absurd. The Jewish state has both funded and led pioneering archeological digs, turning up numerous historical finds. Indeed, Israel is a world leader in the field. Ironically, the Post itself has previously lambasted Israel for excavations.
But where Israel invests in groundbreaking research, Hamas invests in terror. The terrorist group has pilfered international aid, using it to build underground tunnels to kidnap and murder Israelis. If Gaza is subject to poverty, the blame can be laid at the doorstep of Hamas. Genocidal Islamists seldom make for good rulers.
Elsewhere, the Post has given facts short shift.
A July 19, 2023 report by Jerusalem bureau chief Steve Hendrix and reporter Sufian Taha falls firmly under the category of anti-Israel agitprop, not journalism. CAMERA has documented the noticeable decline in the Jerusalem bureau’s reporting and standards.
With growing frequency, the Post has resorted to narrative-based journalism, omitting facts and material in the face of the all-important narrative of Israel as a uniquely racist, colonialist, oppressor state. Palestinians are deprived of independent agency, their concerns and culture wholly ignored unless Israel’s involvement can be conjured.
To service this narrative, the Washington Post’s Jerusalem bureau has resorted to using language more befitting opinion editorials than objective news reports. The bureau also likes to treat anti-Israel sources and NGOs as credible, frequently uncritically citing and quoting them while omitting their troubling histories.
The Post’s July 19th report is no exception. Entitled, “Palestinians report surge in Israeli assaults on West Bank medics” the dispatch is told largely from the perspective of Yasser Antar a medic for the Palestinian Red Crescent in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).
The Post uncritically repeats claims by the Palestinian Red Crescent that Israeli “attacks” on medics have been increasing. The IDF, they allege, has “physically assaulted medics, targeted their ambulances with live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear-gas canisters, and blocked crews from accessing the injured or getting them to the hospital.” Further, the Palestinian Red Crescent “said it recorded 193 incidents through June, up from 47 cases in the same period last year, a jump of over 300 percent and surpassing the 2022 total.”
Yet, there is reason to treat claims by the Palestinian Red Crescent with skepticism. Despite its innocuous-sounding name, the organization has close ties to the Palestinian Authority, the entity that rules over the West Bank and which has a long history of rejecting peace with Israel. Indeed, the Red Crescent was both founded and led by Fathi Arafat, the brother of Yasser Arafat, the first head of the PA and a terrorist responsible for the deaths of thousands.
Unsurprisingly then, the Red Crescent has both supported and praised terrorist attacks—a salient fact that goes unmentioned by the Post’s Jerusalem bureau. Palestinian Media Watch, a nonprofit that monitors Palestinian media, has highlighted the Red Crescent’s support for terrorism. In June 2021, for example, a Palestinian Red Crescent representative named Dr. Ziyad Abu Al-Einen expressed his support for rocket attacks on Israel, calling them a “revolution.” He added: “We in the Palestinian Red Crescent…support their revolution and intifada.”
In fact, in 2021 the Palestinian Red Crescent took part in “military exercises” in Lebanon in which children as young as eight paraded around with weapons and made Nazi salutes. The Post, which pretends to care about antisemitism and Jew hatred, has no problem basing a 2,000-word article on the claims of a group that hangs around modern incarnations of Nazis and Jew murderers.
Open-source information about the Palestinian Red Crescent’s support for terrorism and antisemitism is readily available. But the Post isn’t interested.
Nor does the newspaper supply readers with important background as to why violence is growing in the West Bank.
Both medics and IDF soldiers are operating in what is tantamount to a war zone. For nearly three decades the West Bank has been ruled by the Palestinian Authority, which is led by the Fatah movement. Both Fatah and its head, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, are deeply unpopular. The eighty-seven-year-old Abbas is in the eighteenth year of a single four-year term. He has failed to hold elections, imprisoning critics, and opponents.
Abbas’s growing authoritarianism has been neglected by the Post, which routinely fails to report on Palestinian politics. But it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, which backs Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both of which are rivals to Fatah. These Iranian proxies have exploited the power vacuum in the West Bank—a vacuum created by Abbas’s neglect. And they’ve established footholds in towns like Jenin, which Abbas recently visited—for the first time in ten years.
The growing power of these Iranian-backed groups, some of which have established bomb-making factories and terrorist command centers on Israel’s doorstep, has led to a deteriorating security situation. Under the Oslo Accords, the PA is responsible for ensuring security and thwarting terrorism. Indeed, the PA even has U.S.-trained security forces for that purpose. Yet, far from preventing terrorism, PA security forces have both enabled and allowed Iran’s growing presence in the West Bank. As a result of the PA’s malfeasance, the Israeli Defense Forces have been forced, with growing frequency, to carry out dangerous counterterrorist raids in urban environments in the PA-ruled West Bank.
It’s unsurprising that more civilians are being injured in the West Bank. Terrorist groups have a long history of hiding among crowded civilian populations, using schools, hospitals, and yes, ambulances, to carry out attacks.
Indeed, as the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has documented, they’ve even posed as medics and journalists, wearing vests emblazoned with “press” and “medic.” As the Center has noted, “they use ambulances to move terrorist operatives and weapons from place to place in combat zones.” Footage of Palestinian terrorist groups doing precisely that is readily available. But one won’t find such facts in the pages of the Washington Post, which is more of a forum for anti-Israel stenography than actual journalism.