Reuters’ Biased Neutrality: Israel Made Them Do It
Serious news media work hard to appear to maintain proper journalistic standards. Reuters is no exception, and their website says they have values. Reuters claims to have standards. Here is a relevant statement of such, in their own words, something they call the Trust Principles:
That the integrity, independence and freedom from bias of Thomson Reuters shall at all times be fully preserved;
But Israel seems to provide unfair challenges to the best attempts of news outlets to live up to these stated goals. I want to question whether Reuters manages to maintain their own standards, examining one particular article: Death toll from strike on Gaza tunnel this week rises to 12
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) November 3, 2017
First off, then, instead of “Gaza tunnel”, would it really have hurt to write: “Gaza tunnel built under Israeli soil”? Or, as The Guardian did in their headline: “tunnel FROM Gaza”?
If not in the title, then at least in the lede? Instead, this is what they wrote:
GAZA (Reuters) – A Palestinian militant group said on Friday that five of its members had been killed earlier this week when Israel blew up a cross-border tunnel being dug by militants from the Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll in the strike to 12.
Cross-border tunnel? Try: tunnel under Israel. Try: tunnel on its way to a kibbutz where civilians are easy pickings.
Militants? Try: members of the Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group.
Reuters seems so determined to cling to their pledge to maintain neutrality that they mislead readers by the error of omission. The UPI (United Press International) did better. Here is what UPI wrote:
The tunnel, which was built and controlled by the PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] terror group, ran beneath Khan Younis and crossed underneath the Israeli border less than 2 miles from the village of Kissufim.
Kissufim is a kibbutz and not really a village, but that is a minor issue here.
While, as noted above, the Guardian headline did aptly call it a tunnel FROM Gaza, rather than leaving the reader to think that perhaps the tunnel destroyed was IN Gaza, their subhead seems to question whether or not the land underneath Israel in fact belongs to Israel when they wrote that Israel “called” the tunnel constructed under it a ‘violation of Israeli sovereignty’ and put this phrase in inverted commas as shown here.
I am not sure if any news media aside from Times of Israel (TOI) made it clear that the tunnel demolition was carried out on the Israeli side of the border. TOI leaves no room for doubt:
The Israeli operation was certainly justified. The demolition of the terror attack tunnel was carried out inside Israeli territory — showing clearly that the tunnel was an act of aggression by the Islamic Jihad terror organization, which dug into Israel with the goal of carrying out a terror attack at some point.
The Palestinian deaths and injuries occurred because the resultant cave-in stretched the length of the tunnel, hurting those who were in the tunnel on the Gaza side of the border. Reuters made no hint of this here.
Neither side seemed eager to seek escalation after the tunnel was blown up on Monday by Israel, . . .
Another case of false equivalence: NEITHER SIDE! And why is neither side “eager” to seek escalation? Could it be that Israel has never been interested in escalation, but is more preoccupied with taking out clear and imminent threats on her citizens? I am sure the haters would challenge this statement, but tell me, please, if the leaders of ANY country would sit by idly as a neighbour constructed cement tunnels under its soil and tell me if they would not consider that an act of war, the way that the movement of ships into national waters is considered an act of war.
Other news sites offered reasons why the Palestinian leaders do not seek escalation, eagerly or otherwise:
- Because, according to The Jewish Chronical, Egypt is pressuring them not to respond since Egypt needs the as-yet unconsolidated Hamas-Fatah reconciliation in order to fight more effectively against ISIS in Sinai – and Hamas needs Egypt to open the Rafiah crossing.
- Because they do intend to retaliate in some way. The LA Times, with Khaled Abu Toameh as a source, writes that Fatah will put the perpetrators of this so-called crime on trial.
- The Guardian reports that the Islamic Jihad fully intends to retaliate: “at the suitable time”. And the UPI headline even states that Hamas will seek “blood for blood”.
Let’s return to the Reuters quote above:
Neither side seemed eager to seek escalation after the tunnel was blown up on Monday by Israel, which pointed out that its action was carried out on its own side of the border.
In this inconspicuous place, Reuters does allow for the fact that the tunnel was destroyed on Israeli territory, but in a way that is easily missed by readers. Today’s consumers of news often skim articles on a laptop or cellphone rather than read carefully, relaxing in an armchair, with a cup of coffee, tea, or something stronger on the table next to them. See how easily the last bit of the sentence can go unnoticed.
Insinuating War Crimes? Is This Neutrality?
Reuters continues to mislead the reader:
The Islamic Jihad group said it was denied access to the collapsed tunnel and was unable to recover the bodies of its five members.
Poor Islamic Jihad group! Denied access to the tunnel and unable to recover your dead! If neutrality and fairness is the goal, then why did Reuters not remind readers that two dead Israelis and three very much alive mentally disturbed Israelis are being held by Hamas in Gaza awaiting the perfect opportunity for a prisoner exchange? Perhaps now is the time? I know Hamas was hoping for a more profitable arrangement, such as when lone soldier Gilad Shalit was exchanged for over 1000 terrorists being held in Israeli prisons. By printing biased news by means of another error of omission, Reuters plays into Hamas hands by pretending to be neutral.
Oops! Escalation? Really?
What is this?! So Islamic Jihad and Hamas are eager to seek escalation after all?
Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the dominant Islamist group in Gaza that had said earlier it lost two people in the tunnel collapse, have sworn to retaliate.
Reuters Thinks A Bit Beneath the Surface
And then Reuters reports on a really silly motivation for Israeli destruction of the tunnel:
Hamas accused Israel of trying to undermine a reconciliation agreement it reached with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, last month.
So, Reuters suggests that the tunnel destruction was merely a political act and not because the tunnel was only two kilometers away from a kibbutz and getting closer? For neutrality sake, then, should Reuters not report on the motivation that Israel ascribes to building the tunnel in the first place? Seems only fair.
Every Good Article Needs Some Background
At the end of the article, Reuters gets around to providing some context. I wonder if Reuters is expressing regret that Hamas has not been successful in killing Israelis in “the country’s heartland” by shooting missiles at us, making them have to resort to building tunnels into kibbutz dining halls and children’s houses instead. And we, devious beings that we are, went and developed the equipment that can detect tunnels far underground, foiling their attempts to get us by hook or by crook. Finally, Israel and the USA, the two Satans, small and large, are trying to get Hamas to give up their arms. Such an unjust way to treat a little terrorist group, eh?
Israel has been constructing a sensor-equipped underground wall along the 60-km (36-mile) Gaza border, aiming to complete the $1.1 billion project by mid-2019.
During the last Gaza war, in 2014, Hamas fighters used dozens of tunnels to blindside Israel’s superior forces and threaten civilian communities near the frontier, a counterpoint to the Iron Dome anti-missile system that largely protected the country’s heartland from militant rocket barrages.
Israel and the United States have called for Hamas to be disarmed as part of the pact between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, so Israeli peace efforts with Abbas, which collapsed in 2014, could proceed. Hamas has rejected the demand.
The Reuters social media department originally posted the article to Twitter with the touching scene below. Someone must have told them that the photo may challenge their claim of neutrality (or perhaps the Islamic Jihad protested that the signs of obvious grief and pain detract from the masculine image they want to project about their terrorist warriors).
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) November 3, 2017
Why, oh why, do we Israelis (Jews?) refuse to stop defending ourselves and let the world, and Reuters, go on its merry neutral way?
Feature Image Credit: Wikipedia