Will 2023 be the year that Israel regains deterrence on the media battlefield? - Opinion

Journalists should report the news, not be the news. Mainstream media shouldn't harbor antisemites masquerading as journalists.

 Likud party chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media at the Shaare Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem on November 23, 2022. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Likud party chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media at the Shaare Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem on November 23, 2022.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Journalists should report the news, not be the news. While this ancient adage that is taught on the first day in journalism school might be somewhat of a warmed-over cliche, some members of the press have seemingly thrown the principle of objectivity out the window altogether.

Over the course of just a few months, HonestReporting's research team uncovered countless social media posts from journalists and news producers who espoused horrific antisemitism. We found journalists praising Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, celebrating the Holocaust, and glorifying terror attacks targeting innocent Jews, Christians and Muslims in Israel.

Basic background checks should have been done to disqualify these journalists from ever being allowed to write about Israel for respectable news organizations. Nevertheless, leading outlets such as The New York Times, the BBC, The Guardian, VICE News and other outlets, knowingly or unknowingly, hired antisemites to produce anti-Israel propaganda masquerading as objective news.

When their hate speech was exposed, and they were eventually fired, we were accused of carrying out "targeted civil assassinations" by over 300 Palestinian and Arab journalists who falsely claimed they were being suffocated for "highlighting Israeli oppression." Hosam Salem, a NYT photographer who publicly applauded attacks that killed at least 35 innocent people, subsequently received support from colleagues around the world, including at Reuters, AFP, Al Jazeera, The Boston Globe and The Toronto Star.

It should be noted that many of the foreign correspondents stationed in Jerusalem are capable professionals worthy of trust and integrity. They are to be commended for upholding journalistic tenets and ethics amid a public relations onslaught against the Jewish state. That is not to say these journalists never err, but as the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics states, they "Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently."

In just the first three weeks of 2023, HonestReporting's outreach to media organizations induced more than one correction each day on average, even as research has indicated that fewer than 2% of all factual errors identified by news sources are rectified.

However, a fair amount of reporters use their podium to advance an overt anti-Zionist agenda. This includes, for instance, Raja Abdulrahim, who once blamed Israel for Palestinian suicide bombings and, in 2022, whitewashed Palestinian terrorism for The New York Times.

During a conversation with one of our staff members last month, a veteran correspondent for a large British broadcaster falsely insinuated that Israeli forces intentionally targeted Shireen Abu Akleh, the Al Jazeera journalist who tragically died in crossfire during a raid in the terrorism hotbed of Jenin.

Meanwhile, in my birth country of The Netherlands, the most popular news site insisted in recent months that Tel Aviv is Israel's capital, in addition to shockingly proclaiming that the deadly intifadas exclusively targeted Israelis in what it called "occupied territories."

Yet, as proven by Iranian efforts to intimidate my colleagues and me, 2022 marked a significant turning point in the fight to regain Israel's deterrence on the media battlefield. Indeed, media outlets are more careful and sensitive in what they publish, knowing that pro-Israel NGOs are monitoring their work closely.

News outlets should know that in 2023, we will continue to expose partisan journalists that use their platform to promote an anti-Israel agenda rather than provide bias-free information to their readers.

Originally from The Hague, Akiva Van Koningsveld left The Netherlands for Israel in the fall of 2020. Van Koningsveld is an editor at HonestReporting, which monitors Israel coverage in the international mainstream and social media.

This op-ed is published in partnership with a coalition of organizations that fight antisemitism across the world. Read the previous article by Elisheva Aarons