Accuracy in Media

The conclusions of a high-level group of military men and legal scholars examining the details of last year’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas run counter to many of the media assertions made at the time. The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) report’s authors concluded at a recent event I attended that Hamas effectively used an “information campaign” during the Gaza War to convince the public that it was the victim, not the aggressor, causing Israel to adopt rules of engagement that may continue to bind the hands of policymakers for future wars.

“Hamas thinks they won this thing, and a lot of people in the world think Israel lost this thing, and a lot of people in the world think the Israelis were the aggressors and Hamas was the aggressed upon—and they had the narrative,” said Retired General Charles Wald, former Deputy Commander of United States European Command.

To win a military battle is to save lives by reestablishing peace. But the peace won by the Israelis is unstable if the aggressors continue to believe that their attacks secured them a public relations victory.

The media bear some responsibility for this outcome. As I pointed out last July, during the conflict, “The Washington Post and CNN have been reporting on the Palestinian death toll in a causal vacuum.”

“What should be reported is that the deaths are the responsibility of Hamas, which is committing the double war crime of targeting civilians with their missiles, and using their women and children as human shields,” I wrote. Similarly, these experts found, after examining primary source material and meeting with “senior Israeli, Palestinian and United Nations (U.N.) officials,” the central issue should not have been the presence of civilian casualties, but who was responsible for these deaths. Israel went to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and was very casualty aware, South Texas College of Law Professor Geoffrey Corn argued.

Professor Corn said he thought the report “does a wonderful job of highlighting” the difficulties of confronting an enemy who “views your compliance with the law or your commitment to comply with the law, as a tactical and strategic enabler for its own objectives.”

When examined in the context of responsibility, it is more than clear who bore the blame for the disproportionate number of casualties on the Palestinian side. The responsibility lies with Hamas, which used civilians as human shields, and was attempting to kill Israeli civilians.

The media were made aware of this evidence during the Gaza War, but ignored it because such conclusions didn’t fit their own preconceived narrative about this conflict.

These experts conclude that Hamas adeptly manipulated the international community as part of an information campaign to exert pressure on the Israelis for attacking Hamas at all, even if it originated as self-defense. “And it was interesting to me that it was almost as if the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] was fighting a combat campaign with a supporting information effort, whereas, for Hamas, they were fighting an information campaign that was enabled by military operations,” said Retired U.S. Army Major General Michael Jones, Former Chief of Staff at U.S. Central Command.

He suggested that Hamas adeptly used social media to get its message out while sending different messages to Western and Middle Eastern audiences. But it was also the mainstream media that were taken in by these claims, spreading Hamas’ assertions far and wide.

For example, as I previously noted, the civilian casualty numbers fed to the media came from the Gaza Health Ministry, historically run by Hamas, or the United Nations, which was partially relying on this ministry’s numbers. In other words, the media allowed one side of the conflict to dominate its headlines by controlling and feeding them data about the casualties.

At the event I raised the question of why the media weren’t giving the same treatment to the war against ISIS, in terms of focusing on civilian casualties, and these experts made some revealing conclusions.

Jones noted that you have to be in Iraq to see the collateral damage against ISIS, and the “history of western journalists with ISIS is not good.” In other words, since the media have experienced their own casualties they may be more hesitant to champion this particular set of aggressors.

Jones found that the Israeli military seemed to have the attitude “almost as if they’d given up on the information domain, feeling having been treated unfairly for so long it was almost an attitude of why bother, we know that people have written this story before they’ve gotten the facts, and that kind of thing.” But, he concluded, you still have to fight.

There are reliable reports that very little reconstruction is taking place in Gaza, largely because of a deadlock between Fatah, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls Gaza. Hamas is rebuilding its tunnels, and rockets, apparently in preparation to go to war with Israel again. In the meantime, the false media narrative continues in The New York Times this week through a column by Nicholas Kristof, who puts most of the blame for the Gazan’s plight on Israel. Not completely, but he leaves little doubt how he feels about it. But CAMERA, the pro-Israel media watchdog, takes Kristof to task for the many facts that he ignores, including significant efforts Israel has made to help alleviate the suffering in Gaza.

Given the status of our corrupt, biased media on this issue, it may be necessary for Israel to engage more aggressively in the information campaign by taking its message directly to the people and largely circumvent the mainstream media.

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  • John Cunningham

    Welcome to the World of make believe. Israel, is a tiny bastion surrounded by evil at every turn. Now come to America. Conservatism is a tiny bastion surrounded by evil at every turn.

    At least Israel has the stones to fight back. They may be small but, any Nation would think twice before tackling it head on. No they try to destroy it with a thousand cuts.

    That is the same thing going on in America. Situations are different though. First of all the Public has been layed to sleep by gadgets and reality shows. Many don’t even know what s going on a block from their own hose let alone the World.

    I wish Bebe was our president at least right now. We are like riders in a roller coaster with no way to stop it. Now, my problem, is this by design or a huge blunder? I believe both to the case.

    Conservatives still, are not the minority. If information got out about what is really happening under Obama and the mess in the World, I believe many would rise up. Trouble is, most don’t know and many of us are to damn lazy to tell them.

  • stringman

    ‘Informed’ conservatives are the minority. Most Americans live their daily lives very conservatively. Most are married, raise their kids, believe in God, treat their neighbors nice, have jobs, mow the lawn on weekends, etc. But, of course, like you say, they’re completely in the dark about what is happening in the world. They also believe in the basic goodness of people. They want believe what the media is telling them. Even Sheppard Smith (no conservative) on Fox News spouts the narratives, global warming, the poor Palestinians, Hands up don’t shoot, etc. And it just isn’t cool to listen to Rush Limbaugh on the radio (Ick! Who does that?!?!) But it is cool to hate GW Bush. People are tired and it’s easy to fall asleep and just go along with the cool crowd.
    I have tried to tell people the facts. But you an I are just ordinary people. Why would anyone want listen to (things they aren’t ready to hear) from us? My own teenage kids are unable to accept the truth sometimes. Accepting the truth is just too hard for many people. They would have to believe something different than most of their friends. And, that would just be too scary.

  • John Cunningham

    Wow! stringman, you and I are kindred spirits.Ain’t it frustrating? I want to shout to the World, wake up you stupid morons. My Son who is now 32 and a Minister told me when he was in high school he loved American History like I did. later on when I would talk to him about a Historical situation, he was clueless.

    Thank God I am as old as I am. I remember “Democracy In America” by Tocqueville. I now own it hoping it is something my Son would want to read someday. Ain’t going to happen. It takes a Pearl Harbor or a 9/11 to wake People up. I am afraid the only chance for America is violence.

    I guess maybe it is time to water the tree of Liberty because it is dieing on the vine. Right now there is more situations that could bring on a World War that it makes you wonder what the Hell people are thinking.

    Of course we hear about Terrorists and Putin in Ukraine but, the one we really need to worry about is China. They have been quietly taking over everything and I would imagine giving their blessing to the conflicts all over the World. We may not make it to another election but, if Hillary wins, it won’t matter anymore, anyway.

  • stringman

    It is totally frustrating and disheartening to watch it all go down the tube and not be able to do a thing about it. There must have been worse times in our history and, there may be some hope but, these are some very scary times.

  • John Cunningham

    This Country hasn’t seen anything like what is happening since the eve of Lincolns being sworn into Office in 1861. I fear Obama will turn loose his base if anything is uncovered that would harm him. I definitely feel he capable of anything. The thing is, I believe this Country is ready for what ever. A lot of armament in homes.

  • stringman

    That may be the only reason we make it through: The bastards aren’t tough enough to go door to door and take us one at a time.

  • John Cunningham

    Well, I wish they would hurry up, ain’t getting any younger!

  • stringman

    I say to them, “Bring it, MF!”

  • John Cunningham

    Amen my brother!

  • stringman

    It appears that we may have a consensus …lol. I hope it is as wide spead as we think.

  • John Cunningham

    If you are fairly young and have little ones at home and you love your Wife and want the best for them and your entire Family and friends. They had better get up and do something. I think my first sentence was the longest ever recorded by mankind.

  • stringman

    I’m in my 7th decade. The picture is fond memory of more carefree times, I’m afraid. I’m just old enough that I don’t give a rat’s rear end if I go down fighting. The SOBs better not mess with me.

  • stringman

    Holy Cow! Anybody read this AIM article that is a available right now?
    It is a real blockbuster! There is no comment section to the article, though,
    it says something extremely important about the Clinton email scandal. I cannot recommend it highly enough. The whole world is being duped.

  • stringman
  • John Cunningham

    Before I turned off the boob tube last night, there was all kinds of stuff being discussed. One was the Obama Administration intentionally leaked Hillaries email scandal to the Press. Also, the Obama Administration allegedly tried to change the leader in Israel. Haven’t seen anything so far this morning. Oops! They are just now talking about Obama using tax dollars for the opponent of Bebe Netanyahu.

  • John Cunningham

    Me to! Trust me, I never thought I would still be around. Anyway, I hope I live to 70 because I want to see a conclusion to the tyrant in the White House. That would give me 6 years and I imagine a lot of things will be popping. Another thing, if Republicans handle this like silly puddy, time to throw there asses out and start a real American Conservative Party. Nothing to do with ethnicity all with a love of Country and the protection of all the People. Time to fight or get out of the way.

  • stringman

    Just amazing! Glad to know you’re hearing all that too. Thanks again. I’ve got Fox News and Patriot on XM radio on the road all day. You are a real patriot, my friend.

  • John Cunningham

    I was just thinking, all these new tidbits about Ferguson Missouri and now Hillary Clinton’s emails has taken the eye off the ball. What about Fast & Furious? The IRS scandal? Benghazi? The VA? So many little things are taking the eye off the ball. I believe that their have been things going on through out this Regime that will end up with prison terms for all involved. I hate this Administration with all my might. They are trying to ruin my Country and make everyone into mindless Zombies. I just hope I see it in my lifetime and then when I go, I will be the happiest man on Earth.