Washington Times Headline Mistakes Hamas Cause for Israeli Effect

The Washington Times’ headline “Israel’s arrest of Christian aid director imperils Palestinian charity missions” (Aug. 8, 2016) misleads readers as to who was responsible for the closing of the Gaza offices of non-profit organization World Vision, which Israeli authorities say was infiltrated by Hamas. The article itself, by special correspondents Asma Jawabreh and Jacob Wirtshafter, while offering some valuable information, omitted important context on Hamas and threats facing Israel.

On Aug. 4, 2016, Israel charged the Palestinian Arab manager of the Gaza branch of World Vision, a Christian aid organization, with embezzling charity money on behalf of Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip (“Israel says Gaza World Vision director diverted millions to Hamas’s military wing,” The Washington Post, Aug. 5, 2016). World Vision’s Gaza branch has since been closed pending an investigation.

As The Washington Times article noted, the World Vision employee who was arrested, Mohammed El Halabi, is alleged to have funneled as much as 60 percent of World Vision’s Gaza branch funds to Hamas. However, the Times‘ headline—instead of accurately reflecting the information in the article—implied that Israel, and not Halabi, Hamas or even World Vision, is responsible for imperiling “Palestinian charity missions.”

Yet, a backwards headline is not the only problem with The Times dispatch on Halabi’s arrest.

The Times failed to provide readers with essential background on both Hamas and World Vision. For example, Jawabreh and Wirtshafter claimed, “Beneficiaries of World Vision’s projects in Gaza worry that the case against Mr. El Halabi will hurt their ability to recover from damages caused by three major wars against the 140-square-mile enclave in less than a decade.” However, the reporters did not mention that each of those three conflicts, in 2008-9, 2012 and 2014, were initiated by Hamas, whose foundational charter calls for the genocide of the Jews and the destruction of Israel. In lieu of the latter information, The Times simply said that, “Hamas has long refused to recognize the existence of Israel and is considered a terrorist organization by Washington.”
Omitting World Vision’s history 

Jawabreh and Wirtshafter also failed to inform readers about World Vision’s history of propagating anti-Israel falsehoods and distortions—a history which has been documented extensively by CAMERA’s Dexter Van Zile (see, for example “World Vision’s war against the Jewish state,” The Times of Israel, Aug. 7, 2014).

The Times’ omission of Hamas’ objectives obscured another item that the paper presented as fact. Jawabreh and Wirtshafter allege, “Muslim charity groups anticipate having to step up their fundraising for Gaza which suffers from a 43 percent unemployment rate—the highest in the world.” Contravening standard journalistic practice, neither reporter cited a source for that statistic, which is perhaps taken from a 2014 World Bank report. Moreover, the article omitted the principal reason for Gaza’s high unemployment rate: Hamas and its devotion — often at the expense of Gazan Arabs—to the destruction of Israel.

The World Vision arrest is but one example of how the terrorist group siphons-off aid and resources that could be used to construct an economy for Gazan Arabs, using them instead to fund efforts to attack the Jewish state.

According to an Associated Press brief carried in The Washington Times two days after Jawabreh and Wirtshafter’s article, a Palestinian member of the United Nations development agency (UNDP) named Waheed Borsh was arrested for “using his position to help Hamas.” Borsh allegedly “used UNDP resources last year to build a jetty for Hamas’ naval forces and that upon request by Hamas he persuaded his managers to expedite the reconstruction of houses damaged in conflicts with Israel in areas where Hamas members lived (“U.N. official second to be accused of aiding Hamas,” Aug. 10, 2016).”

In short, it is Hamas and its infiltration of overly sympathetic “aid organizations” that are responsible for ‘imperiling Palestinian charity missions. Not—as an errant headline would have it—Israel.

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