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The latest blood libels against Israel - opinion

Despite Hamas’s disregard for morality, many reputable outlets continue to amplify the terrorist group’s figures and claims.

By Jordan Cope | Jerusalem Post | March 30, 2024

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus once noted: “In war, truth is the first casualty.” His words still ring true today. In the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, media outlets have repeatedly scrambled to amplify baseless allegations against Israel, even when they come from Hamas, a designated terrorist group devoted to Israel’s destruction.

On October 7, 2023, Hamas initiated this current war when it invaded Israel, murdered 1,200 people and kidnapped 250 others on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, torturing many of their victims. Today, the terror group still holds over 130 people hostage.

Despite Hamas’s disregard for morality, many reputable outlets continue to amplify the terrorist group’s figures and claims. First, media outlets claimed that Israel bombed Gaza’s Al Ahli Hospital, killing 500. It later turned out the hospital was not hit by an Israeli strike, but rather an Islamic Jihad misfire. 

Later, the media rushed to report that IDF soldiers had killed 112 Palestinians at a food convoy, forging the tale of the “Bread Massacre.” An IDF investigation has since concluded that the deaths were overwhelmingly the result of an unprovoked stampede. Then, media outlets platformed allegations accusing Israeli soldiers of rape during their latest counter-terrorism operation in the Al Shifa Hospital. That lie was also revealed to have been fabricated in order to incite fury.

A new dangerous allegation dually incubated by the United Nations agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry has been repeated in major headlines. It claims that “more children have been killed [in Gaza] in recent months than in four years of conflict worldwide.”

This latest horrific allegation couldn’t be further from the truth and dangerously revives the age-old antisemitic blood libel, which has long sought to portray “the Jews” as child killers. As it advances antisemitism, the current baseless claim being circulated by the UN and media outlets alike also erases the victims of human rights abuses around the world, while throwing a lifeline to one of its greatest perpetrators – Hamas. This false allegation must be dispelled immediately.

THE UN has a long history of bias against Israel. Its General Assembly and Human Rights Council have exhausted over half of all recent condemnatory resolutions against Israel. Reportedly, 2,135 UNRWA employees belong to Hamas, and about 400 participated in the October 7 massacres.

Biases aside, the numbers upon which the relief agency relies for its latest allegation against Israel do not make sense. Prof. Abraham Wyner, a statistics and data science professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, rejected the casualty figures provided by the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

“The numbers are not real,” Wyner noted. “The first place to look is the reported ‘total’ number of deaths. The graph of total deaths [as reported by the Gaza Health Ministry] by date is increasing with almost metronomical linearity.” Such an even and linear increase suggests the same number of people were killed each day during the beginning of the war in October as during the weeklong ceasefire in November.

Even when taking Hamas’s statistics at face value, UNRWA’s latest claim falters. Between 2020 and 2022, Ethiopia endured a devastating conflict as its government fought Tigray rebels in a war that fueled humanitarian disaster and famine. An estimated 300,000 to 400,000 civilians died as result of the Tigray War and the humanitarian catastrophe that accompanied it. The median age of Ethiopian citizens is 18.8 years. This means that there would have been 180,000 to 200,000 child deaths, accounting for roughly half of all civilian deaths — a figure that currently exceeds Hamas’s entire reported death toll for Gaza by roughly six times.

While every civilian casualty is a tragedy, it should also be noted that at least 13,000 of those killed in Gaza were Hamas operatives, according to the IDF. This sum accounts for more than a third of all deaths currently being reported by Hamas and its propaganda.

Why is UNRWA parroting Hamas propaganda? 

WHY UNRWA is propagating false allegations based upon Hamas statistics is a worthwhile question. The agency’s very-own chief Philippe Lazzarini invoked the statistic in his recent call for a ceasefire. It is likely others have followed his lead as they desperately seek to prevent Israel from invading Rafah and ridding Gaza’s last Hamas stronghold of their terrorists.

UNRWA and Hamas’s latest allegation is as dangerous as it is dishonest, playing into classical antisemitic tropes. For millennia, antisemites wrongly accused Jews of killing children. The original blood libel – which accused Jews of killing Christian children – served as “a major theme in Jewish persecution in Europe throughout the Middle Ages and into the modern period.” It provoked anti-Jewish riots and massacres.

Today, Jewish communities are being targeted by assailants and mobs as an illogical result of similar misinformation targeting the Jewish state and Jews in Israel. 

These lies are nothing new. In 1929, Hajj Amin Al Husseini, who is often regarded as the father of Palestinian nationalism, accused Jews during Ramadan of trying to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque. The lies were baseless but resulted in massacres of Jews in Hebron and Jerusalem as many followed his rallying call to “save” al-Aqsa. Similar lies also motivated Hamas’s October 7 massacres, known in Arabic as Operation al-Aqsa Storm. 

It’s time for such dangerous lies to stop, or at least not be parroted by journalists who care about their reliability.

The latest myth promoted by Hamas and the UN against Israel is not only recklessly false, but erases victims of human rights abuses around the world as it throws a lifeline to Hamas. 

Further, misinformation and disinformation about the war against Hamas have undoubtedly contributed to rising antisemitism, with US incidents having skyrocketed by 400% since October 7. For the sake of their own credibility and for victims of antisemitism worldwide, reputable media outlets must dispel this claim immediately.

The writer is an attorney and the director of policy education at StandWithUs, an international nonpartisan organization that combats antisemitism and misinformation about Israel.

Read full article here.



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