In November 2005, Al Qaida spokesman Ayman al-Zawahiri said “We are in a battle and more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.” Like Al Qaida, Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by the US State Department. Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently described Hamas as “murderous terrorists”.
American newspapers would not give Osama bin Laden op-ed space. So why would they give the oxygen of publicity to a Hamas terrorist whose organization is responsible for the murder of US citizens in Israel and whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction and is filled with unadulterated anti-Semitism? This is the question being asked following the appearance of op-eds by Ahmed Yousef, advisor to former Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh, on the same day in both the New York Times and Washington Post.
Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center is a Jewish legal rights institute staffed by some of Israel’s leading attorneys. It provides legal representation to assist the hundreds of Israeli victims of Palestinian terror to fight back, through Israeli, American and European courts, against Palestinian terrorist groups and their financial patrons. Asked for comment by HonestReporting, Shurat HaDin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said:
“It is bewildering and shameful that these newspapers would bestow any measure of legitimacy on an Islamic terrorist organization like Hamas by providing them a public forum. The liberal doctrine of freedom of expression should never be extended to organizations which are openly dedicated to carrying out acts of murder against Jewish civilians and who draw encouragement from their new found respectability. Legally speaking, it would seem that there is not much difference between outlaw regimes like Iran and Syria, which illegally provide material support and resources to terrorist organizations, and liberal media outlets which provide millions of dollars in free advertising and access to groups like Hamas when they publish their leaders’ dangerous messages. The NY Times and Washington Post are every bit the supporters of the terrorist organizations that Tehran and Damascus are when they facilitate the publication of Hamas’ messages.”
Many people around the world were, quite rightly, appalled that Hamas, having brutally taken over Gaza, could score another coup, having its propaganda published in two of the most influential US broadsheets. However, according to Reuters, it seems that the only embarrassment felt by the newspapers was the admittal that neither would have carried the articles had they known of the other paper’s publishing plans.
While the Washington Post’s Ombudsman, Deborah Howell has yet to address this issue, NY Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt, in response to outraged readers, issued a rather weak response:
“The point of the op-ed page is advocacy. And, Rosenthal [editorial page editor] said, “we do not feel the obligation to provide the kind of balance you find in news coverage, because it is opinion.”
Op-ed pages should be open especially to controversial ideas, because that’s the way a free society decides what’s right and what?s wrong for itself. Good ideas prosper in the sunshine of healthy debate, and the bad ones wither. Left hidden out of sight and unchallenged, the bad ones can grow like poisonous mushrooms.”
We agree that left unchallenged, bad ideas can grow like poisonous mushrooms. But has the New York Times really ever challenged the negative portrayal of Israel that consistently appears in its own pages and those of much of the mainstream media?
Could the New York Times and Washington Post be guilty of providing material support for a terrorist organization? After all, many legitimate charities and political groups would pay tens of thousands of dollars for a prominent ad in these newspapers. Instead, Hamas has been given the equivalent publicity for no charge whatsoever. Not to mention other newspapers, including the International Herald Tribune, Sacramento Bee and Salt Lake Tribune, that republished these Hamas op-eds in their own pages.
We urge you to write to the New York Times and Washington Post, inviting them to contact Shurat HaDin, which has been at the forefront of providing legal representation to victims of Hamas terror. Demand that these terror victims are given equal op-ed space to tell their stories and to present their case that Hamas is a terrorist organization whose messages and goals are illegitimate.
MASS MEDIA AS A TERRORIST WEAPON
The above is a prime example, along with the broadcasts of kidnap victims Alan Johnston and Gilad Shalit, of how, as a Jerusalem Post analysis explains, modern terrorists have adopted the mass media as their weapon of choice:
“The better the show is, the higher the ratings are. The higher the ratings, the more people receive the terrorists’ message,” said Eviathar Ben-Zedeff, a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, on Monday.
“Terror is a political act of psychological warfare. The terrorists’ purpose is to influence the viewers and to motivate them into political action. That is achieved by creating fear among the viewers who, as a result, are ready to put pressure on their politicians to change policy, for example, to give back occupied territories or to free many prisoners,” Ben-Zedeff explained.
According to Ben-Zedeff, this is part of a propaganda mechanism aimed at leveraging the terror organization’s ideas.”
Remember to ask why the New York Times and Washington Post have allowed themselves to be party to exactly this sort of manipulation.
BBC SLAMS DOOR ON HR SUBSCRIBERS
Many of you have expressed your disatisfaction with the impersonal nature of making complaints through the BBC’s website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints. In our last communique, we gave you the e-mail address of Fraser Steel, the BBC’s head of editoral complaints. Unfortunately, your complaints bounced straight back. While it was certainly a genuine working e-mail in the past, it appears that the BBC has discontinued Steel’s address to avoid dealing with volumes of e-mail.
So it’s back to the website for complaints to the BBC. But please do not be disheartened – the BBC usually replies to your complaints (even if the responses are rarely satisfactory). Please continue to hold the BBC to account for its anti-Israel bias.