WaPo Columnist: Oct. 7 Massacre a ‘Bad Thing’ That Doesn’t Justify Other ‘Bad Things’

On Oct. 7, 2023, more Jewish civilians were slaughtered than at any point since the Holocaust. More than 1400 Israelis were brutally murdered by Hamas and other Gaza-based Iranian proxies in barbaric fashion.

Children were burned alive, toddlers shot in car seats and cribs, parents tied up and tortured in front of their children, their eyes, feet, fingers, and hands cut off. Women were raped on the corpses of their dead friends before being executed, the elderly shot in their living rooms. And much of it was live streamed by terrorists who were exceedingly proud of their work, as they perpetrated a massacre that was proportionally multitudes larger than the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Or, as Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor put it in an Oct. 23, 2023 tweet: “a bad thing happened.” But the World Views columnist shared his real concern: “it’s perhaps not great to do other bad things” in response. Those who fail to see that, Tharoor unironically remarked, “seem to lack a moral imagination.”

Someone said this. And the Washington Post, which is already bleeding subscribers and laying off staff, employs him.

The same day that Tharoor shared his concern, the Israeli government hosted foreign journalists for a 43-minute viewing of footage that the terrorists themselves took. The viewing was necessary, officials contended, because denialism of the atrocities has already begun, no doubt enabled by a fourth estate that has too often sought moral equivalence between terrorists and the terrorized.

Several journalists recounted the horrors of the footage that they were shown. One terrorist, using the phone of a dead Israeli woman that he had just murdered, called his parents: “Dad, I killed 10 Jews with my own hands!” he proudly proclaimed. “I killed 10! 10! Please be proud of me, Dad.” The terrorist promised to send footage to his parents over WhatsApp.

As the journalist Melissa Weiss has noted, “the screening was necessary to counter disinformation.” Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy warned that “we are witnessing a Holocaust denial-like phenomenon unfolding in real time.”

That denialism has been actively enabled by a media that can charitably be called anti-Israel. One Los Angeles Times journalist, Adam Elmahrek, for example, actively denied evidence of atrocities long after they had been corroborated. However, that same journalist was quick to regurgitate Hamas claims of an Israeli airstrike at a hospital that later turned out to be false. Nor was he alone; the Washington Post’s Karen Attiah, who retweeted claims that the October 7th massacre was but an act of “decolonization” also was willing to take a genocidal, Jew-hating terrorist group at its word.

Denialism, of course, is also made possible by minimization and false moral equivalency. And this is where Tharoor comes in.

Tharoor’s anti-Israel biases have attracted attention before. Referring to the columnist, the journalist Armin Rosen once tweeted that it is kind of “interesting that the Washington Post has a designated anti-Israel newsletter.” The Jewish state, Rosen observed, “is discussed far more” by Tharoor “than almost any other country, almost always in terms of whatever the activist talking points happen to be at the time.”

Indeed, as CAMERA has noted, in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, Tharoor wrote almost as many columns about Israel, a tiny nation of nine million, as he did China. And it is a curiously twisted world view that the author projects.

Tharoor has authored dozens of articles blaming Israel for the lack of a Palestinian state. Not once has he noted that Palestinian leaders themselves have rejected no fewer than three offers for statehood in the last two decades alone. This skewed view has led to faulty analysis.

In a column before the September 2019 election in Israel, Tharoor warned of a “shadow of apartheid,” claiming that Israeli Arabs—whom he refers to as Palestinians—were being disenfranchised. Instead, the election witnessed record turnout from Israeli Arabs—disproving Tharoor’s entire thesis less than 48 hours after it was published. And despite his professed concern for apartheid, Tharoor hasn’t once noted that the areas ruled by both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are Judenrein. Those caught selling land or even renting an apartment to a Jew can face death.

Tharoor also perennially ignores the role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in boosting terrorism. During the 2021 Israel-Hamas War, as well as the current war, the Post columnist has incorrectly argued that Israel’s “occupation” is at the root of the conflict, overlooking attempts by Iran to seize control of the PA-ruled West Bank. That Iran and its proxies consider all of Israel to be an “occupation” and openly call for the Jewish state’s destruction is omitted.

Tharoor also has a track record of boosting antisemites. In a Sept. 28, 2018 interview, he called Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed—a man who once said that “Jews rule the world by proxy” and “I am proud to be antisemitic”—a “venerable statesmen.” He has described the anti-Israel activist Issa Amro as a “non-violent dissident” and a “Palestinian Gandhi” even though Amro has perpetrated antisemitic blood libels, accusing Israel of “drinking our children’s blood.”

Yet, it would be inaccurate to describe Tharoor as “pro-Palestinian.” He manifestly is not. When Hamas gunned down Gazans protesting their living conditions during the 2019 “Hunger Revolution,” Tharoor didn’t bother to cover it. And when the Center for Peace Communications, a New York-based nonprofit, released a lengthy report to media outlets that detailed Hamas abuses and featured the testimony of Palestinian dissidents, neither Tharoor nor his employer covered it. Tharoor perennially ignores the long history of both Hamas and the PA abusing Palestinians. Only when Israel’s involvement can be conjured does he care.

And Tharoor continues to treat antisemites as credible sources.

He, along with the Washington Post’s Adam Taylor, has insisted that the Hamas-run “Health Ministry” can sometimes be trusted with casualty counts—a curious standard that the Post doesn’t apply to other Islamist terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. Both Tharoor and Taylor did so less than a week after major media outlets ran with a “Health Ministry” claim that the IDF struck a hospital, killing 500. Intelligence assessments by the U.S. and others, however, indicate that it was likely an Islamic Jihad rocket that fell short, landing in a hospital parking lot and killing anywhere from 10 to 50 people. Major media outlets were forced to retract their headlines and acknowledge their errors. However, the Post still insists on trusting Hamas—part of a long-standing habit.

In a since deleted tweet, Tharoor asks “why do we cite casualty figures from Palestinian authorities when the ministry is Hamas-run?” The answer, he claims, is that “track record from previous conflicts shows their data to be mostly reliable” and “Israel makes it impossible for outside journalists to go and verify.” This, of course, is nonsense. The next day, the former Reuters bureau chief for Jerusalem, Luke Baker, tweeted that “Hamas has a clear propaganda incentive to inflate civilian casualties as much as possible.” The numbers Hamas provides, Baker noted, are “almost entirely uncheckable.” He added that Hamas has been in charge for 16 years and “has squeezed the life out of honesty and probity. Any health official stepping out of line and not giving the death tolls that Hamas wants reported to journalists risks serious consequences.” Accordingly, a “modicum of skepticism is needed…journalists know this but they repeat the numbers pushed out by Hamas or by officials with Hamas breathing down their necks.”

Many commentators have compared Hamas to the Islamic State, noting both the penchant for atrocities and the genocidal ideology of Islamist supremacism that drives the two groups. But in a recent column, Tharoor rejects such claims, incorrectly portraying Hamas as a Palestinian national movement that merely seeks a Palestinian Arab state, left with few options by a stubborn Jewish state. This gives Tharoor another occasion to do what he’s always done; omit the numerous instances in which Israel offered to create something that hasn’t ever existed, a Palestinian Arab state, in exchange for peace.

In fact, Hamas has its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood—just like numerous other Islamist movements. As such, its existence predates Israel’s 1948 reestablishment by more than a decade. Indeed, it predates ISIS. The Muslim Brotherhood even took part in Israel’s 1948 War for Independence. Hamas’s own charter makes it clear that it is an Islamist movement that seeks Israel’s destruction and rejects nationalism.

The seventh article of the covenant explicitly states that Hamas is a “world movement” and is but “one link in the chain of jihad in confronting the Zionist invasion. It is connected and linked to the uprising of the martyr Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam and his brethren the jihad fighters of the Muslim Brotherhood in the year 1936.” To this day, Hamas names their rockets after Qassam, a fiery cleric who was born in what is today Syria and who traveled the Middle East to kill “infidels” as far away as Libya. The proof that Hamas is an Islamist movement like ISIS and not some national liberation group is incontrovertible.

But Tharoor, of course, isn’t interested in the truth. And it seems that neither is his employer.

Comments are closed.