Shoddy journalism and headline writing about the involvement of Hamas in the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens.
In the current Gaza war, there are many falsehoods and deceptions being perpetrated against Israel by the media.
One can understand how reporters in Gaza shape and shade their reporting for fear of Hamas retaliation.
But how to explain the headline to an article by Katie Zavadski at New York Magazine declaring definitively that an Israeli official admitted Hamas was not involved in kidnapping three Israeli teens whose bodies were found after more than two weeks of searching: It Turns Out Hamas Didn’t Kidnap and Kill 3 Israeli Teens After All (link goes to updated version, not original).
Here’s the original screenshot of the headline (highlighting added) via Seth Frantzman:
As of July 30, there were almost 270,000 shares of the article on social media:
The post was a Topsy 100 Tweet, being shared over 40,000 times (this image shows the current headline, but the timeline is clear the count dates back to the original):
This declaration by a major publication was shared widely in social media by Israel haters, and even by those who don’t hate Israel but were looking for reasons to blame Israel for the current fighting.
The anti-Israel, anti-Zionist Mondoweiss website
declared compared NY Magazine’s pronouncement to the world finding out that there were no WMD’s in Iraq.
A Daily Kos diarist repeated the definitive “admission” by Israel, which post itself was shared thousands of times:
Andrew Sullivan declared it The Lie Behind The War.
There was only one problem with the headline: It contradicted the text of the article, which was far less definitive and actually disproved the headline.
The text of the article cited a tweet by Sheera Frenkel of Buzzfeed (more on her coverage here) and Jon Donnison of the BBC to the effect that the Israeli police spokesman (whose agency was not even heading up the investigation) allegedy admitted it was a “lone” Hamas cell involved.
The police spokesman denies using the term “lone cell.” But even if he did, there is a huge leap in logic and proof from a “lone” Hamas cell being involved to Hamas not being involved. A cell structure is how Hamas operates in the West Bank, unlike Gaza where it controls the territory.
So the text demonstrated that Hamas was involved, consistent with its policy of encouraging its cells to engage in kidnapping:
A few months ago Hamas published an 18-page booklet entitled “Guide for the Kidnapper,” which includes operational guidelines for carrying out kidnappings. For example, the guide recommends to carry out kidnappings on rainy days, to use pistols with silencers, to use backup cars to move the victims and kidnappers, to know Hebrew well and to speak it, to rent hideouts in an unsuspicious location, and not to report immediately on the kidnapping until the victims are in a safe hiding place.
This “lone cell” or “rogue” group theory was not news in late July — there had been much press coverage of the possible lack of central Hamas command involvement for weeks. For example, in late June Al Monitor documented the Hamas group involved and referred to it as “rogue,” Accused kidnappers are rogue Hamas branch.
Whether rogue or not, a “lone cell” or not, such speculation was not new or news at the time of the NY Magazine article.
It’s only when NY Magazine converted the alleged lack of a central Hamas (Gaza) command directive into a word game of whether “Hamas” was involved that the anti-Israel propagandists had the headline they wanted.
But there was no basis in NY Magazine’s report or sources for claiming no Hamas involvement at all.
There is a second level of deception in the post, the linkage of the Israeli reaction to the kidnapping and blame placed on Hamas to the current war. In fact, the actual fighting now going on in Gaza was a result of Hamas firing large scale rocket barrages at Israeli cities, not the kidnapping.
It’s true that Israel cracked down on Hamas in the “West Bank” after the kidnappings and during the search. But the fighting itself and subsequent ground incursion was a result of Hamas in Gaza firing large volumes of rockets at Israeli cities.
At multiple levels NY Magazine failed its readers, and knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the anti-Israel propaganda war.
NY Magazine now has toned down the headline and clarified that even the police spokesman originally quoted disputes the claim that Hamas was not involved, but it’s too late and too little. The damage was done (image Seth Frantzman):