What the Washington Post Isn’t Telling You About Ilhan Omar and Hamas

“Only one thing in history is certain,” Winston Churchill once mused, “mankind is unteachable.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) proves Churchill’s point. And regrettably so does much of the news coverage—or the lack thereof—of her repeat offenses.

In a June 7, 2021, tweet, Omar—who serves on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee—wrote, “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of humanity. We have seen unspeakable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.” Omar was widely condemned for comparing liberal democracies like the United States and Israel to U.S.-designated terrorist groups like Hamas and the Taliban.

The Congresswoman’s comments, and the resulting outcry, also received widespread media attention—including from the Washington Post.

In a June 10, 2021, dispatch, reporters Coby Itkowitz and Sean Sullivan wrote that Omar’s tweet “seemed to equate the actions of the United States and Israel with those of Hamas and the Taliban [emphasis added].” But this, of course, is too couched and too indirect; equating the U.S. and Israel with Islamist terrorist groups is precisely what Omar did. The rest of the Post’s report, however, was largely informative.

Itkowitz and Sullivan said that “Omar’s tweet is the latest among her frequent criticisms of the Israeli government that drew ire from lawmakers of both parties who have condemned them as perpetuating antisemitic stereotypes.” Later, the two reporters noted that Omar has “faced intense backlash from many of her Democratic colleagues over a string of comments she made that critics decried as antisemitic, including the suggestion that advocates for Israel ‘push for allegiance to a foreign country.’”

The Post report also reminded readers that Omar had previously been “forced to apologize for suggesting that supporters of Israel were motivated by money” when the Congresswoman tweeted: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby”—an incident which led the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), to call Omar’s “use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters” deeply offensive. 

The Post didn’t mention it, but Omar’s numerous comments meet the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has been widely adopted by numerous governments and organizations throughout the world, including the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations.

Yet, as CAMERA subsequently informed Itkowitz and Sullivan, other key details were missing about Omar’s history.

In the summer of 2019, Rep. Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) tried to go on a trip to Israel–all of which was, per their itinerary, labeled “Palestine.” As CAMERA highlighted at the time, the planned trip received considerable news coverage— including from the Post. However, most of the reporting omitted a key detail: the trip was sponsored by Miftah, an NGO that has claimed that Jews consume Christian blood and which has praised Palestinian suicide bombers. The itinerary also included meetings with Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI-P).

As CAMERA documented in a March 21, 2018 Washington Examiner op-ed, DCI-P has links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)—a terrorist group. NGO Monitor has extensively documented the ties, which, among other things, include the secretary of DCI-P’s board, Fatima Daana, being the widow of the commander of PFLP’s Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades. One DCI-P employee, Hashem Abu Maria, was even celebrated by the PFLP as a “commander” of the terrorist group after his 2014 death.

Miftah’s history is well-documented. But as CAMERA noted in several op-eds and essays in 2019 and 2020, most news outlets that covered the controversy over the planned trip declined to provide readers with relevant information about the trip’s sponsor. Indeed, CAMERA even provided information about Miftah to newspapers like USA Today, which refused to include it in updated news reports. As CAMERA told Itkowitz and Sullivan in June 10, 2021 correspondence: It should—by any measure—be noteworthy that two members of Congress tried to go on a trip sponsored by an organization that traffics in blood libels. It should have been front-page news.

Unfortunately, a follow-up June 11, 2021 report by Itkowitz and Post correspondent Marianna Sotomayor, declined to provide readers with relevant details about Omar’s history, including the trip sponsored by Miftah, including meetings with DCI-P. Nor did the newspaper note that Omar’s litany of comments meets the definition of antisemitism that has been widely adopted—including by the titular leader of her own political party, as well as by the previous Democratic administration.

Members of the United States Congress associating with a group with ties to an antisemitic terrorist organization, as well as a “nonprofit” that claims Jews consume Christian blood is scandalous. It is also, of course, newsworthy. Unless you’re the Washington Post.

Regrettably, other recent Post reports on Israel have been equally omission- laden.

A June 11, 2021 dispatch, “The toll of Israeli strikes on Gaza: Mapping the destruction left behind,” purported to highlight the “heavy and widespread” damage of the most recent Israel-Hamas War. But far from illuminating the conflict, the Post’s reporting obscured the truth behind the war.

Far from “heavy and widespread” damage, Operation Guardian of the Walls provided an example of the most surgical, precise defense by a democracy to date. Hamas and other Iranian-backed, Gaza-based terrorist groups fired thousands of rockets indiscriminately at civilian population centers. Furthermore, they did so—as they themselves acknowledged—while using human shields as cover—a double war crime. While no other nation save the Jewish state has ever been faced with such a threat, a quick look at the casualties in Gaza compared to, say, the U.S.-led coalition against another Islamist terrorist group that uses human shields, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), shows that Israel’s strikes were infinitely more surgical and precise.

The Post’s report, however, failed to detail Hamas’s strategy of using human shields, including the recent admissions by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar that they indeed use such tactics. Instead, Post staffers Dylan Moriarty and Ruby Mellen wrote that “over 200 Palestinians died during the bombings, according to health officials in Gaza” and “more than 60 of them were children.”

Yet, the Post doesn’t tell readers that the “health officials in Gaza” are, in fact, Hamas, which controls the Gazan Health Ministry. Would the Post uncritically publish claims by other U.S.-designated terrorist entities? The Hamas-controlled Gazan Health Ministry has been caught lying about casualties in the past—knowing that they can count on gullible and lazy journalists to help distribute their propaganda. In 2018, for example, they claimed that an eight-month-old Palestinian infant named Laila al-Ghandour died from tear gas fired by Israeli forces during a Hamas-orchestrated operation at the Israel-Gaza border. It was later revealed that the infant died from a congenital heart defect and that Hamas had paid the family to say otherwise.

This history should lead actual journalists to treat claims from “Gaza health officials” with caution. But real journalists are in short supply these days.

Indeed, while echoing Hamas ministry claims that “more than 60” children died in the conflict, the Post also omitted Hamas’s long history of using child soldiers. In fact, several of those “children” have since been identified as belonging to Gaza-based terrorist groups. And, as the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center documented, at least eight of the “children” were killed by Hamas’s own rockets falling short. And less than a week after the Post’s report appeared, Hamas announced that it was opening up a “summer camp.” Footage and reports on previous Hamas-run “summer camps” show children being indoctrinated in hate and being taught to shoot and stab Jews.

The Post, of course, did not report on Hamas’s “summer camp announcement.” Nor did the paper note the June 14, 2021 announcement by Gaza terrorist groups that they would be resuming the launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza, a form of terrorism that has severely damaged wildlife, farming and livelihoods in southern Israel.

As with Hamas’s policy of using human shields and hiding munitions in schools and population centers, it is a violation of international law. And like those war crimes it goes unmentioned in the Post’s reporting.

Worse still, the Post’s claim of disproportionate damage relied on data from a “preliminary analysis of satellite imagery taken on May 28, 2021 and released by the U.N. Institute for Training and Research.” But research from Aurora Intel seems to indicate that the satellite imagery was picking up on agriculture—not Israeli airstrikes. An analysis of the “U.N. data set,” the group noted, indicates that the areas claimed by the Washington Post/U.N. as airstrikes were “actually haystacks.”

The Washington Post’s omissions are curiously one-sided. They favor antisemites in Congress, anti-Israel NGOs and multilateral bodies, and terrorist groups committed to the destruction of the world’s sole Jewish state. The pattern is clear. In the pages of the Post, looking for the truth about Israel and those who slander it is increasingly like looking for a needle in a haystack.

For the Arabic version of this post, see CAMERA Arabic.

Comments are closed.