U.S. President Joe Biden is welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 18, 2023. (Anadolu via Getty Images)

TGIF: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Casual blood libel in your local paper. Plus: NATO, Jon Stewart, McGriddle Wars, reparations, and much more.

Welcome back to another week, yet again focused on the inherently hilarious topic of Hamas and Israel. Hopefully, next week the world calms down and we can return to our normal balance of fun and absurd. 

→ The blood libel heard ’round the world: So let us get this straight: terrorists burst across the border of Israel, slaughtered innocents, raped women, took captives—including toddlers who remain in their hands—then accidentally exploded a rocket in their own Gaza hospital parking lot, and somehow, in all of this, Israel is still the bad guy. 

Let’s start with the rocket. As soon as it went off, Hamas blamed Israel, which in turn said it needed a minute to verify what happened. Do you know who doesn’t need a minute? The mainstream American press. Reuters, The Washington Post, and The New York Times blindly ran with the Hamas account: an Israeli strike, a hospital, hundreds of deaths—500, according to the Times. (A great collection of those headlines can be found here.) The Times even ran an image of a blown-up building—but it wasn’t the hospital. The news ricocheted around the world, leading to attacks on synagogues and marches on embassies. It is the dominant narrative now and likely forever. Even though it is a lie. In the information war, this was a spectacular win for Hamas. 

After Biden announced that U.S. intelligence confirmed the Israeli government account—it was a failed rocket from within Gaza—there were no apologies, no corrections, just subtle headline changes to make it slightly factual-ish. (Just compare this to the uproar after Tom Cotton’s op-ed, which led to the firing of the paper’s opinion editor.) And so it was a bit of an awakening for me. This is the week I realized that the adults I thought were flawed but trying are actually on meth and don’t care. Or maybe it’s even worse: they know it’s a lie.

Of note: one of the NYT reporters doing the liveblog on the Israel-Hamas war was an intern for Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. And Rashida? Even after the facts came out and her own government said the bomb was Hamas’s, Rashida was leading a rally, citing the much too useful blood libel: “I continue to watch people think it’s okay to bomb a hospital with children.” 

The main stance in U.S. media is that Hamas rockets are so delicate and sweet they could never kill so many people. Here’s Karen Attiah of The Washington Post

I love the high-minded tone we’re getting so often these days: “Fellow journalists, do your jobs.” What, in your mind, is my job? 

→ We may have been slightly too eager: The BBC on Thursday issued a statement that it was “wrong to speculate”—er, more or less announce—that Israel was behind the hospital explosion. It’s mushy and awkward, but at least the BBC acknowledges it wasn’t at its finest. 

This was the closest things came to an apology in the American media:

Translation: covering war is so hard, be nice, Hamas lied to us :( 

→ Prove to me that you’re not guilty, sir: Here is a Los Angeles Times investigations editor saying that when it comes to the Jewish state, the burden is on them to prove they didn’t do. . . anything he says they did:

The Jews are guilty until they prove their innocence, but all evidence that they and the U.S. government present is fake, so we return to our previous assessment: the Jews are guilty. His boss won’t give him any trouble, though, for this bulletproof logic.

The Los Angeles Times managing editor Sara Yasin is busy posting stories about how Israel is committing “genocide,” and promoting the idea that documents showing Hamas targeted Israeli civilians could be fake.

Yes, the new line you’ll see is that Hamas didn’t intend to kill any civilians at all. And my gosh, I think that’s right: Hamas crossed the border to bring everyone bagels! Then they ran into some super-aggro grandmas and dancing youth who literally fell on Hamas guns (have they heard of consent?), and all these annoying toddlers insisted on coming back to Gaza. Do I have it right?

→ Why do you want those babies back anyway? What are you implying by saying you don’t want your children kidnapped? And now you want them back? I suggest you ask yourself why that is. In cities around the country, Jews have been posting the faces of the Hamas-held hostages. And in cities around the country, activists have been tearing those images down. Those plaintive images of babies are really harshing my pro-Hamas march vibe. In New York, protesters are desecrating their faces (obviously, that’s happening everywhere in England). The images of the kidnapped victims are being torn down by all sorts of people, like this Florida dentist. Welcome to the new Keep the Hostages movement. Why deprive Hamas of hostages? Do you know how high a terrorist’s cost of living is these days?

But my favorite Keep the Hostages activists are the two young women at NYU—Hafiza Khalique and Yazmeen Deyhimi—running around gleefully holding the ripped images of those hostages. Worth looking at some pics, because they’re just having so much fun doing it. But their pleasure is not what makes these two girls my favorite; it’s that Yazmeen was an intern at the—wait for it—Anti-Defamation League. Her apology: “I have found it increasingly difficult to know my place as a biracial brown woman, especially during these highly volatile times.”

It’s been doubly upsetting because my intern, Julia, is running around Stanford posting images of me and the words DEATH TO THE WAR CRIMINAL. Which is normal freedom of expression. She has a paper due on Monday on deconstruction and postcolonial analysis, but she’s doing “a performance project” for it and wants to meet in person, for whatever reason.

→ Biden addresses the nation: I’m a sucker for a wartime address. Biden, from the Oval Office on Thursday night: “Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: they both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy—completely annihilate it,” he said, while calling for $105 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine and Israel. I know I have an anti-war faction in the comments section, so I’m sorry to all my peaceniks, but I was always honest with you guys about my love of Team America World Police

One whoopsie is the White House posted unredacted faces of the special forces soldiers who are being deployed to get the Israeli hostages back. Yikes, sorry guys!

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