During the 2014 Gaza-Israel war, the world’s reporters working in Gaza didn’t report honestly. Their work was so unprofessional it looked more like Hamas propaganda than journalism.
Those reporters didn’t report news. They mouthed what Hamas wanted them to say.
Israel got hammered in the Press. Israel was demonized. The world came to hate Israel because of those reports.
After the war, word got out that the Press had reported as it had because it had been intimidated by Hamas. Some reporters had been threatened. Others came to understand what was expected of them even without overt threat. Many had hired local ‘stringers’ to gather the news so they themselves could report without exposing themselves to danger.
Many in the Press simply reported what those Arab-speaking Gazan stringers brought in—Hamas versions of what was going on. They then reported those stories as if they had themselves witnessed the news they reported.
The news was most often faked. It was mostly propaganda.
Now, Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has created a short (50-second) animated video that mocks that Gaza coverage (Josh Feldman, “Israeli Ministry Posts Cartoon Clip Mocking Foreign Journos in Gaza; Journos Respond”, mediaite, June 15, 2015).
As Feldman writes, the animation depicts a very clueless reporter assuring his viewers that all is well in the region, while terrorists pop up in the background heavily armed, launching rockets, and kidnapping civilians.
It’s actually funny. But the Press who got lampooned by it didn’t laugh.
The Foreign Press Association (FPA) responded with an angry squeal:
“The Foreign Press Association is surprised and alarmed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s decision to produce a cartoon mocking the foreign media’s coverage of last year’s war in Gaza.
At a time when Israel has serious issues to deal with in Iran and Syria, it is disconcerting that the ministry would spend its time producing a 50-second video that attempts to ridicule journalists reporting on a conflict in which 2,100 Palestinians and 72 Israelis were killed.
Israel’s diplomatic corps wants to be taken seriously in the world. Posting misleading and poorly conceived videos on YouTube is inappropriate, unhelpful and undermines the ministry, which says it respects the foreign press and its freedom to work in Gaza” (ibid).
This isn’t a serious response. It’s a badly composed ad hominum attack against Israel, not a response to the points made in the video. It probably wouldn’t get a passing grade in a journalism course.
The video isn’t misleading. As the website HonestReporting points out, the New York Times last year referenced and explored this ‘malpractice’ committed in Gaza in 2014 (Simon Plosker, “Israeli Foreign Ministry Video: Doth the Media Protest Too Much?”, June 16, 2015). The Times of Israel did the same (ibid) (there were other news outlets which ran very long analyses of this ‘malpractice’).
This FPA statement said Israel’s diplomatic corps wants to be taken seriously. Yes, Israel’s Foreign Ministry does want that. The best way it can gain that respect is to make sure that bad reporting gets a lot of air-time, so everyone can see how stupid the Press becomes when it doesn’t live up to its professional code of ethics.
That’s exactly what this film does. It shows a stupid, blind reporter behaving like he’s stupid and blind.
The journalistic malpractice committed in Gaza has been well-documented. It’s a scandal for the members of the FPA. It’s a scandal for the FPA. Israel isn’t inventing any accusation it makes in this video. It represents what others have already exposed.
How does the FPA react? It tries to shame Israel. It tries to turn the shame that is the FPA’s onto Israel.
Of course, there are some things this FPA statement doesn’t do. It doesn’t apologize for the behaviour of its members. It doesn’t apologize for the professional failure of its members. It doesn’t explain what steps it has taken to keep such a travesty from happening again. It doesn’t document reporters’ experiences with Hamas, so as to show Hamas for the terrorist organization it is.
It simply lashes out at Israel.
How miserably inadequate. How unprofessional. How corrupt. The FPA can’t even recognize how wrong its journalists had been. It won’t recognize that inadequacy.
But it will attack Israel.
Perhaps Israel should make a list of the reporters who behaved as such miserable failures. Israel could use that list during the next war. It could ban those reporters as nonqualified persons seeking unauthorized entry to a war zone.
That’s the least Israel could do for these ‘reporters’.