Walrus Magazine Commentators Ignore That Many Dead Palestinian “Journalists” Were Hamas Combatants

On January 30, with later edits on May 2, The Walrus ran an article entitled: “Attacks on Press Freedoms Have Chilling Effects Far beyond Gaza,” a piece so filled with wildly inaccurate claims and blatant falsehoods obviously designed to drive an anti-Israel agenda, that it’s difficult to know where to begin in addressing it.

Written by Asmaa Malik and Sonya Fatah, the commentary opened with a ‘Palestinian filmmaker’s’ recounting of the ‘Israeli warcraft’ (presumably meaning unmanned drones, as it’s not clear what this hyperbolic term is referring to precisely) buzzing around his neighbourhood, driving fear and psychological torment for “the last 20 years”. Of course, the small drones he seems to be referring to have not been around for 20 years, nor has Israel been in the Gaza Strip for essentially that same time frame, so what he has been hearing or who is behind it is anyone’s guess. But that didn’t stop the authors from taking his claims at face value. They bafflingly stated that “sonic warfare” is “the kind of thing Palestinians are used to.” Going from unmanned drones to sonic warfare is an amazing leap, but it doesn’t end there.

The article continued by establishing a backdrop of the predictable narrative that there is a ‘genocide in the making’ in Gaza (a claim that has no basis in reality), and unquestioningly reporting the Hamas Health Ministry casualty statistics which have since been debunked. The authors gloss over the October 7 attacks by Hamas terrorists that launched this war, without offering condemnation or even real context.

But perhaps most disgusting is their assertion, and one of the primary arguments of this piece, that journalists are being actively targeted by the Israeli army, implying a concerted attack on press freedom. They cited numbers by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), stating that since October 7, “at least 83 journalists have been killed in Gaza”. Contrast this with the fact “that sixty-seven journalists were killed around the world over the entirety of 2022, including fifteen fatalities in Ukraine and thirteen in Mexico. For further context, seventy-one journalists died covering the Vietnam war over twenty years.” These numbers would be astounding, and Israel a dystopian hellscape of censorship, if not for the simple explanation – that these so-called ‘journalists’ are not civilian members of the press, but themselves are complicit in Hamas’ terrorist crimes. When one embeds oneself within a terrorist hideout, or rides into battle atop an armoured car equipped with automatic weapons, no press credential is going to save you from becoming collateral damage when that terror cell is taken out. Given the abundant evidence from multiple sources that prove this to be happening, it’s unclear why Malik and Fatah can’t put these pieces together. Or, perhaps they can, they just hope that readers don’t.

Finally, in a blatant example of antisemitic tropes, the authors quoted Mona Chalabi, a journalist of Iraqi descent. In speaking about why Western coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict isn’t more Hamas-friendly, she said “I would wager there are fewer Arab journalists than there are journalists who have done Birthright” – a blatant reference to the trope that Jews control the media. Leaving aside the absurd suggestion that there is any censorship of pro-Palestinian voices in Canadian media, the suggestion that only Jews could be behind Western media’s distaste for terrorists is outrageous. Chalabi went on to throw in the additional trope that Israel pays people to write propaganda pieces for them, with the claim that the “Israeli government” is offering “all expenses paid trips to Israel” for those who would write sympathetic articles in Western media.

Ultimately, Malik and Fatah have written a piece decrying the lack of journalistic ethics and press freedom as it relates to the Israel-Hamas war, while simultaneously disregarding every established tenet of the profession. They have made no attempt to fact check, to establish the veracity of claims made by their subjects (or even themselves), and platform the worst kind of antisemitic tropes. Hardly the role models journalists should be following.

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