Columnist In University Of Toronto’s Varsity Newspaper Falsely Equates Hamas & Israel

In her November 12 opinion column in The Varsity, a student newspaper at the University of Toronto titled: “blockading media on Palestine is a bombardment against freedom of expression,” Charmaine Wu argued that Israel and social media companies are attempting to censor pro-Palestinian voices, both in the Middle East and around the world.

Wu lamented Israel’s temporary limitation of internet connectivity from the Gaza Strip, quoting a representative from Amnesty International – a group with a long history of anti-Israel animus – as saying that Israel’s actions made it difficult to access “evidence about human rights violations and war crimes being committed against Palestinian civilians” in Gaza.

However, Wu failed to add that, as a consequence of the Gaza Strip being under the control of the terrorist group Hamas (excluding areas of current wartime Israeli control), there is no independent media coming from the coastal enclave, rendering all reports from Gaza worthy of significant skepticism.

Wu gave a platform to those claiming that Gaza is at “grave risk of genocide,” a preposterously false and irresponsible claim given the total lack of evidence to suggest that Israel is attempting a war of extermination in Gaza.

While Israel is indisputably not attempting genocide, Hamas most certainly is, and has made no qualms about attempting exactly that against Israel.

In an interview on Lebanese television in October, senior Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad declared, “We must teach Israel a lesson, and we will do this again and again. The Al-Aqsa Flood is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth, because we have the determination, the resolve, and the capabilities to fight.”

Hamas’ charter is equally explicit in its call for the violent destruction of Israel.

Clearly, Israel’s war is with the fundamentalist Islamic terrorist group, Hamas. Israel is not targeting innocent Palestinian civilians, who are widely and cynically used by Hamas as human shields in its quest to score a propaganda victory against Israel. The group uses Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital as a command centre, as seen through recently released footage of the extensive tunnel system underneath the hospital. Yet on this, Wu is silent.

In her column, Wu writes that “Hamas’s killing of 1,200 Israelis is reprehensible, but so is the Israeli Defense Force (IDF)’s killing of over 12,000 Palestinians since October 7, as of November 11.”

Despite her admirable zeal for free expression, Wu has apparently neglected the important journalistic step of verifying information, and by uncritically citing Israel’s alleged “killing of over 12,000 Palestinians,” Wu has failed to properly cite her source, namely Hamas.

Hamas, through its “Gaza Ministry of Health,” is the singular source behind all casualty figures from Gaza. Not only is Hamas a skilled master at propaganda, the group does not distinguish between civilian and terrorists, nor between those killed in Israeli air strikes and those killed by errant Palestinian rockets, as happened in October at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital.

Additionally, by juxtaposing Hamas’ terrorist massacre in Israel with Israel’s counter-terrorism measures, Wu falsely equates terrorism and counter-terrorism, when the former targets civilians and the latter does not.

There is no evidence that Israe intentionally targets journalists, and Yu cynically disregards many facts in this piece to create an alternative narrative.

In the case of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot during clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen, Israel conducted a comprehensive investigation, which following the conclusion of, they confirmed there was no suspicion that a bullet was fired deliberately at anyone identified as a civilian and in particular at anyone identified as a journalist.

Following the conclusion of the investigation the Israeli military spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, apologized for her death, further stating “She was a journalist, a very established journalist. In Israel, we value our democracy and, in a democracy, we see high value in journalism and in a free press. We want journalists to feel safe in Israel, especially in war time, even if they criticize us.”

Yu is correct, people do need to “be extra conscientious of the content they consume”, in a time when there is extensive disinformation specifically targeting Israel, it is on journalists to give the entire story, not to create a narrative of disinformation.  In that respect, Wu failed to uphold these important elements of journalistic standards.

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