Eyeless in Gaza

Reporting from the terrorist enclaves surrounding Israel is pathetic. It is also pathetic in countries with a free press, but for slightly different reason. Toby Dershowitz picks up one visible thread from Gaza in the National Interest column “Hamas Tells Media to Lie: What Should the Media Tell its Readers?” Here is how Dershowitz frames her inquiry:

In a stunning exposé, a recent Associated Press article revealed a Hamas directive to journalists not to report on Gazans killed by Palestinian rockets that misfired and killed local families rather than their intended Israeli civilian targets. Reports indicate Palestinian Islamic Jihad killed more Palestinians in the early August Gaza-Israel conflict than did Israel.

Hamas also requires all visiting reporters to hire a local “sponsor,” a fixer or stringer, often a Palestinian journalist or translator. Hamas’ media directive says sponsors will be held responsible for what the journalists produce.

Let this sink in: If Hamas judges sponsors to have failed, they and perhaps their families will be punished. Punishment is not merely revoking licenses. Palestinian reporters have been subject to physical violence. Sponsors will make the consequences clear to reporters they assist. And the reporter will know: If bad things happen to my sponsor because of the stories I write, that will be on my conscience.

Rather than calling balls and strikes as they see things in Hamas-controlled Gaza, the sponsors were warned that they must “defend the Palestinian narrative and reject the foreigner’s bias to the Israeli narrative.” If you’ve had confidence in reporting from Gaza, this interference should shake that confidence.

We haven’t ever had such confidence, but Dershowitz asks a good question. Dershowitz asks whether the media should conduct an autopsy of its own coverage (or leave it to the likes of us). That isn’t a difficult question. The correct nevertheless answer seems almost utopian.

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