“Credibility, an editor once said, “is the lifeblood of our profession. Without it not one person will believe a single word that we write”. He must have had something like crime reporting in mind, or a weather report. Reports and images from a warfront cannot but be colored by human gut feelings and loyalties.
Hence Reuters’ categorical denial of bias in reporting the Holocaust-like events of October 7 in the Gaza envelope can be, as the saying goes, laughed out of court. “Reuters is committed to delivering independent, accurate and unbiased news…” Really? A freelance ‘stringer’ from Gaza, whose bible is the Koran and whose family are back in Gaza City scared stiff what tyrannical Hamas can do to them, can deliver independent, accurate and unbiased photographic or video images of a pogrom on Jews? Such a reporter would have to be robotic. His work must inevitably be advocacy journalism at best or anti-Semitic propaganda at worst.
It didn't take long for a media watchdog to uncover photo journalists with Hamas connections working for Reuters and other household name news outlets. As the Honest Reporting study put it, “On October 7, Hamas terrorists were not the only ones who documented the war crimes they had committed during their deadly rampage across southern Israel.” Israel’s government accused the journalists of being “accomplices in crimes against humanity.” The Press Office Director demanded explanations from the bureau chiefs of AP, Reuters, CNN, and The New York Times.
“Regardless of whether the photojournalists had arrived with the first wave of terrorists who broke through the fence or with the second wave of those who carried out the atrocities,” he said, “they had clearly violated journalistic ethical codes and perhaps international law. The networks should not hide behind excuses that these were freelance stringers.”
The top guys at Reuters, AP and CNN must take their subscribers for idiots. Never mind their long established anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian Arab record.
Here is a specimen of “unbiased and accurate” reporting from Reuters: “The Middle East has been on edge since Hamas fighters rampaged into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people.” Again on November 10: “Israel has told residents to evacuate the area or risk being trapped amid the Israeli air strikes and fierce ground fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas militants.” Associated Press is no different. “The carnage began with a violent cross-border attack by Hamas militants.” (Emphasis mine)
In those specimens one can’t help picking out more than bias, in fact a cruel malignity.
1. Killing 1,200 “people”. Identity shy, Reuters can’t bring itself to call them Israelis, not to speak of Jews. “People” present the right faceless image about which readers can’t get worked up.
2. Observe Reuters calling the perpetrators of the worst acts since the Holocaust, “Militants” or still worthier, ‘Fighters.”
3. Observe the word pick, “killing” not murder. What unbiased and accurate report would use “killing” to describe rape, decapitation, burning alive, dismemberment and grilling babies in ovens? Had AP or Reuters reported from Nazi-occupied Europe, would they have called Auschwitz camp commanders ‘fighters’ or “militants”?
4. The above are throwbacks to an old established pattern. Here is Reuters acting false and loose with grammar. Under the headline “Achille Lauro mastermind in custody,” Reuters writes: “Abu Abbas is the leader of the Palestine Liberation Front, which highjacked the Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean, resulting in the death of a disabled elderly American man, Leon Klinghoffer.”
If one wanted to attend a class in propagandistic deception this is it. Note the passive case: "resulting in the death", as if by some unintended and unforeseeable accident. In the film "The Pianist," there is a scene where Nazi troops storm into a Jewish apartment and order the family to its feet. The wheelchair-bound grandfather is unable to rise. The impatient Nazis carry him out in his chair to the balcony and dump both into the road far below. Change the apartment into a ship and the road into the sea and you have what took place on board the Achille Lauro. The pirates carried the elderly man in his wheelchair to the ship side and dumped both overboard.
5. Reuters does more than censor those unpalatable facts. It plays mind games on the public. The victim, identity-free, is “an elderly American man." In fact Leon Klinghoffer was an elderly Jew, the very reason he was selected to be murdered. The Islamists identified him as a Jew. Reuters doesn’t want this to come out.
6. Here we catch Reuters once again guarding the reputation of Jew-killers. In April 2011 a bomb in a telephone booth went off at Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station. Reuters thought it important to explain some terminology. Although Israelis recognized the act as terrorism, that’s not how Reuters wants the world out there to see it. “Police described the explosion as a ‘terrorist attack’—Israel’s term for a Palestinian strike.” A grotesque way, you’d think, of reporting a bomb which killed a woman and injured many bystanders. What exactly did Reuters have in mind? Imagine if it had reported the London bus bombings, with identical wording. “Police described the explosions as a ‘terrorist attack,’ Britain’s term for an Al Qaeda strike.”
7. So what did Reuters gain by language contortionism? One, it is protecting a patent right. Israelis can on no account usurp the role of victim. The victim right is held by Palestinian Arabs, a valuable and jealously guarded right. A terror attack claims innocent victims while a strike does not. The whole narrative would be turned on its head were Israelis to be the victims of terror. Remember, Palestinian Arabs are the oppressed!
There’s more. The word “strike” rather than “terror attack” is a careful choice. It keeps the narrative intact. “Strike” is softer than “attack,” and softer than “terrorists attack.” The word is not too hostile or deadly. Palestinian Arabs don’t attack, Israel does that. And “strike” conveys a normal military operation. As Israel is a nation with the right to strike, so the Palestinian Arabs are a "nation" with the same right. A bomb planted in order to murder Jews waiting for a bus is a strike. Hamas firing rockets into Israeli towns is another strike. Both acts constitute the “cycle of violence.” Reuters is not reporting per se, but conditioning news, molding and packaging it to keep the plot tidy.
8. Associated Press (AP) is fully equal to Reuters in propagating a false narrative, one that sides with terrorists. In January 2002 two incidents occurred on the same day. A terrorist sprayed Israelis with gun fire while they shopped for the Sabbath in downtown Jerusalem. In the second news item, the IDF uncovered a bomb factory in the "West Bank". In the ensuing gun battle it killed the Hamas bomb-makers.
Throwing both incidents into one pot, and obscuring the fact that both began with Palestinian terrorist actions, AP came up with the headline: “Israel kills 4, Palestinian wounds 8.” Observe: Israelis are first to be thrown into the melting pot, with the more evil act – they killed. The Palestinian terrorist goes into the pot next. He did no more than wound shoppers. Let’s simulate. Had AP reported a WW II incident, the headline would read: ‘British forces kill 4 SS men; SS men wound 8 camp inmates.’ On the scale of evil the British deed would be worse than the SS deed. British forces are as guilty as the SS. Hail the black heart of Associated Press.
Too damn late, Reuters and Associated Press scrambled with CNN to cut connections to a Hamas propaganda brigade posing as journalists. Their smoke and mirror declarations of innocence ought to have cut no ice. But they did cut ice – bafflingly with the media watchdog which gave the red alert. Honest Reporting.com overlooked excuses more incriminating than a kid caught with hands in the cookie jar. AP, Reuters and CNN all ran for cover in the crowd:
“We are no longer working with Hassan Eslaiah, who had been an occasional freelancer for “Associated Press and other international news organizations in Gaza. When we accept freelance photos, we take great steps to verify the authenticity of the images and that they show what is purported. AP had no knowledge of the Oct. 7 attacks before they happened.”
The bit I have darkened is the smoke that blinds. AP set the card pack alight with a non-sequitur – a clever ruse but the oldest in the book. It diverts focus onto a statement of no material importance (“no knowledge of…”) in order to divert focus away from a self-incriminating statement:
“No AP staffers were at the border during the attacks, nor did any AP staffer cross the border at any time."
How terribly odd! I mean, the photojournalist concerned, Hassan Eslaiah, was after all Gaza-based. How then was it physically possible for him:
a. Not to be at the border separating Gaza and Israel?
b. Not to have crossed the border “at any time?” What – the shots he submitted to AP were taken telescopically, from inside Gaza? No. The photo ops were taken, in the words of Eshliah’s (deleted) Tweet, “live from inside the Gaza Strip settlements.” How would he get there without crossing the border?
c. Let Reuters enter the witness box. Ask it to refute AP’s statement with its own statement: “Reuters acquired photographs from two Gaza-based freelance photographers who were at the border on the morning of Oct. 7”
So the issues posed by Honest Reporting are somewhat superfluous:
“What were they doing (at the border) so early on what would ordinarily have been a quiet Saturday morning? Was it coordinated with Hamas? Did the respectable wire services, which published their photos, approve of their presence inside enemy territory, together with the terrorist infiltrators? Did the photojournalists who freelance for other media, like CNN and The New York Times, notify these outlets?
"Judging from the pictures of lynching, kidnapping and storming of an Israeli kibbutz, it seems like the border has been breached not only physically, but also journalistically.”
Honest Reporting could have made a pair of posers of immense importance. Was the bloodthirsty pogrom committed in the expectation that it would make breaking news?
What if the Hamas propaganda brigade had not participated? Would the planned media event, the bloodthirsty pogrom, have been born dead in the water?
The Israel-Palestinian conflict is an economic sector in its own right. It also has a self–perpetuating business model that is fail-proof. Media companies play a hand in producing conflicts and horrors which are then sold to subscribers and advertisers. How sick is that.
Steve Apfel is a veteran authority on anti-Zionist minds and methods, and a prolific author in general. After “Hadrian’s Echo: The why’s and wherefores of Israel’s critics, his latest book, “Hitlers at Heart: anti-Zionism and its Believers” is due out in 2024 .
Reposted from the Spectator with author's permission.