#1591 Broken News: Understanding traditional media and social media reporting on the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza (Transcript)

Air Date 11/6/2023

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JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] During today's episode, I'm going to be telling you about a show I think you should check out it's the Left Reckoning podcast. So take a moment to hear what I have to say about them in the middle of the show and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

And now welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast in which we should take a look at why media literacy is a basic requirement for understanding the war in Gaza as propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation is being distributed for both ideological and financial reasons. Sources of today include On the Media, Today Explained, Citations Needed, Deconstructed, Now This News, Democracy Now!, and CounterSpin, with additional members only clips from Citations Needed and Democracy Now!

Breaking News Consumer's Handbook Israel-Gaza Edition - On the Media - Air Date 10-27-23

Brooke Gladstone: Now our Breaking News Consumers Handbook: Israel and Gaza Edition. We begin with number one, the hardy perennial of breaking news advice. When perusing headlines about a war, don't swallow without [00:01:00] chewing.

Joe Kahn: The early versions of our coverage, the headline, and the news alert ended up attributing our description of what happened at the hospital to a Hamas government official. And the information that that government official passed along turned out to be inaccurate.

Brooke Gladstone: That's New York Times Executive Editor Joe Kahn, representing one of many major news outlets who failed to contextualize an unreliable source offering comment within minutes of an explosion at Gaza's Al-Ahli Hospital.

Joe Kahn: That early version with the benefit of hindsight was not as good or as accurate or verified as it could have been.

Brooke Gladstone: Conflicting video evidence is still being parsed. The prime evidence, fragments of the munitions responsible, cannot be examined because says, a senior Hamas official, "The missile has dissolved like salt in the water", something that bomb and shell fragments definitely are not known to do. 

On to point number two, be aware of the biggest spreaders [00:02:00] of bad information about this conflict. That's not so hard. We know who they are.

Mike Caulfield: Seven accounts. And for those top seven accounts, we saw over that three-day period, they accumulated 1.6 billion views across a total of 1,834 tweets.

Brooke Gladstone: Mike Caulfield is a research scientist leading the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public. His team analyzed the accounts on X that were getting the most views in the first three days after October 7th. Then they looked at popular news sources like BBC World, CNN Breaking News, and found that--

Mike Caulfield: Over the first three days of this crisis, we found that the seven accounts had 1.6 billion views. The highly-subscribed traditional news accounts had 112 million views.

Brooke Gladstone: Note that these non-traditional accounts usually don't link to the source of their information. If they do have a citation--

Mike Caulfield: Very often it's just typed out with no link, no article name. Just below it, it might say, BBC World, or something like that, but not a link to the [00:03:00] source.

Brooke Gladstone: Another common characteristic, most of these sites post a lot.

Mike Caulfield: Hundreds of times a day. Very quick granular posts. So, text posts very often with a image or with a video is decontextualized media, decontextualized rumor, and just coming to people in the stream.

Brooke Gladstone: Most of these sites are very emotionally charged.

Mike Caulfield: It's high intensity, one way or another, either the newness or the nature of what you're watching, which might be about violence. It might have a culture war angle. The thing that we found was the experience of going through it is very disorienting because you're just seeing intense video and hearing intense rumor one after another, and you're never getting to any deeper treatment of that.

Brooke Gladstone: They use the language of journalists posting breaking news.

Mike Caulfield: You might get a police siren or all-caps BREAKING, that sort of thing.

Brooke Gladstone: These accounts are not affiliated with any news outlets, which is partly what endears them to X's owner Elon [00:04:00] Musk, who has actively promoted some of them.

Mike Caulfield: One of the top accounts has been repeatedly promoted by Musk as an example of what he calls citizen journalism he wants to see.

Brooke Gladstone: One of those seven accounts is @WarMonitors known for misinformation and antisemitism, including using the word Jew as a slur as in, "Mind your own business, Jew." The other, @ sentdefender, is notorious for fake news and has been called by a researcher at the Atlantic Defense Digital Forensics Research Lab, a "absolutely poisonous account." That's two of the big seven massively trafficking in BS. You can find them all at U. Washington's Center for an Informed Public. 

Meanwhile, many of the worst sites love to pass themselves off as real open-source researchers, when in fact they're merely grabbing stuff from platforms like Telegram. More on that later. Real open-source intelligence or OSINT researchers stay up nights tracking images back to the source, scrutinizing landmarks and the angle of the light. [00:05:00] Aric Toler is one of those, a reporter at the Visual Investigations team at The New York Times. He says that in this conflict, he's seeing a lot of the bad stuff he's seen before.

ARIC TOLER: The classic things you see in every conflict. You find old misattributed videos, something from Syria or Afghanistan, or Yemen, they repackage. Or from Palestine that is just old that they repackage and reshare. That's par for the course. This happens in every conflict.

Brooke Gladstone: But he's noticed one change. In recent conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine war, Twitter is no longer a driver of new information. It's just another aggregator.

ARIC TOLER: Similar to what Facebook and Reddit and some other platforms became from other conflicts.

Hearts, minds, and likes - Today, Explained - Air Date 10-23-23

CHEYENNE SARDARZADEH: The technical definition that most people who do this job seem to stick to is that misinformation is mostly content that is shared online which is false, but there's no malicious intent behind it. But disinformation, it takes it a notch above that. That's when somebody is putting content out that is misleading and false, because they think there'll be something, there'll be some gain for them [00:06:00] from it.

NOEL KING - HOST, TODAY, EXPLAINED: Okay, so misinformation is mistakenly put out; disinformation is deliberate. During this war, for the past two weeks, what sorts of things, what sorts of misinformation and disinformation are you seeing being spread?

CHEYENNE SARDARZADEH: I have seen -- I think it reminds me of the first few days, first few weeks, actually, of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Very similar. We have had in the first two weeks of this war, a torrent of misinformation online: videos being shared and posted, viewed by tens of millions of people that have had nothing to do with the war. I have seen videos from past Israeli mass conflicts. 

NEWS ANCHOR: This video of an attack by Israeli forces on Gaza is in fact that what it purports to be, but it's from May, not from this current set of attacks.

CHEYENNE SARDARZADEH: From the war in Syria, from the Ukraine war, from some of the uprisings in the Middle East, I've seen content from football celebrations, I've seen video game footage. 

NEWS ANCHOR: Take this video, saying Hamas militants started a new airstrike on [00:07:00] Israel. You see that? That video, that is actually from a video game. That's not even real. You see the exact same video posted to YouTube here. 

CHEYENNE SARDARZADEH: I've seen military exercise videos on YouTube that have been shared on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, X, and have been viewed millions and millions of times. 

NEWS ANCHOR: This video allegedly shows dozens of Hamas fighters paragliding into Israel. Through a reverse image search, we were able to geolocate the area. The white building in the background is the Military Academy in Cairo. 

CHEYENNE SARDARZADEH: And it's not just videos, by the way. Same thing with images, and in some cases, same thing with posts that do not contain any video or image, but make a very incendiary claim during the fog of war that shocks people, and then it turns out it's completely unsourced. There's no evidence for it, somebody's just made it up. 

And then we get into people who, for whatever reason, create fake accounts, say, fake IDF account or fake Hamas account or fake account from an Israeli politician and try to get engagement off of it.

So I've seen all of those and some more.

NOEL KING - HOST, TODAY, EXPLAINED: I want to understand how your job works [00:08:00] in real time. Can you walk me through the process of checking one of these claims that you've discovered is misinformation? 

CHEYENNE SARDARZADEH: Yeah, sure. I'll give you two. One misinformation, one disinformation. 

So obviously we know the way this particular conflict started was that on the Saturday, 7th of October, Hamas militants infiltrated Israel and killed something between 1,200 to 1,300 Israeli citizens. And we know that some Israeli citizens were taken hostage during that attack that was unleashed on Israel. 

So a rumor began on the Sunday morning that some senior Israeli generals had been taken hostage by Hamas militants, and then a video came out in the afternoon, our time in the UK that got millions and millions of views online. It was on X, it was on Facebook, I saw it on Instagram, I saw it on TikTok. It's a 30-second video, and in it you see a big black van, and then you see several men wearing military uniforms who look like security agents and balaclavas, with three men being escorted by security agents and the caption on the video said [00:09:00] "several high profile Israeli generals captured by Hamas fighters," quote unquote. That's what it said. 

When I saw that, I was like, okay, we have reporters on the ground, they're not telling us anything like it. They've contacted the IDF. They're not saying any of the generals have been taken hostage. So let's properly check this. And if you check the video, there's a moment in the video that one of the security agents wearing a military uniform has the logo DTX on there. And I just searched for DTX and, lo and behold, DTX is the state security service of Azerbaijan. So then I thought, okay, this video must have been shared at some point, somewhere of the Azerbaijani security service arresting some people. So then I went on YouTube, went on Instagram, went on TikTok and started putting search terms, using Google Translate in the local language, in Azerbaijani language, looking for that video. And I found a video uploaded on the 5th of October on YouTube, by the official account of the Azerbaijani State Security Service, with, a verified YouTube channel, [00:10:00] that was the longer version of that video and of higher resolution. So somebody had basically taken a 30-second clip of that video, and all the captions were in there. And it made it perfectly clear that it was the state security of Azerbaijan arresting Karabakh separatist leaders. Then I searched online to see whether any Azerbaijani news sources had reported this happening on the 5th of October and I found several. So that was it. To me then, at that point, it was clear this video is false. It has got nothing to do with the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Those are not Israeli generals. This video was taken in Azerbaijan and is related to the dispute there between Azerbaijan and Armenia. 

The first instance of that video being shared was on the platform Telegram, which is a messaging app, which is really, really popular in some parts of the world, maybe not necessarily in America.

So it was initially shared there, wasn't very viral. Then some people who have big followings on platforms like Twitter or Instagram or TikTok had basically seen that video and they posted it to their accounts and that's how it took off and became really big.

NOEL KING - HOST, TODAY, EXPLAINED: That sounds like disinformation to me. That sounds deliberate to me. You [00:11:00] said it's misinformation. What do you think? 

MARC OWENS JONES: I would categorize that as misinformation because I think most of the people who shared it had no idea what it was. 

If I wanted to give you an example of disinformation that I've seen in the last two weeks, we saw a video shared online that it looked like, it was like a minute and a half, and it looked like a BBC News video. So somebody had gone through the effort to copy our branding and style and logo in a very convincing way. And the content of the video said that BBC News was reporting that the Hamas militants who infiltrated Israel and killed Israeli citizens had got their weapons from Ukraine. Now, this wasn't something that we had reported at all. This wasn't a video we'd created. It was 100 percent fake. Ukraine has got nothing to do with this conflict. And then, lo and behold, the day after that, Dmitry Medvedev, the former president of Russia, posted online, putting out exactly that same narrative that Hamas militants were using the weapons given to Ukraine by Western powers.

So you have to wonder why anybody would go through [00:12:00] the effort of producing a fake BBC video to say the government of Ukraine is actually in cahoots with Hamas. 

NOEL KING - HOST, TODAY, EXPLAINED: What tends to be the motive of people who spread myths and disinformation? 

MARC OWENS JONES: Misinformation, most of the time comes from people who are doing what is known as engagement farming. And on platforms like, say, TikTok or YouTube or Twitter, they can make significant sums of money off of it if they get massive engagement. One of the examples I saw was on TikTok, somebody was claiming that they were running live streams of the conflict from the ground in Israel, and they had something like two, three million people who were watching their live stream, the footage was actually from a military exercise from five years ago, but people were watching it, and he was making money off of it. 

Social media platforms, their algorithms are designed to make content that is shocking. The algorithms want that type of content, want us to see that type of content. That type of content goes viral, regardless of whether it's true or not. So that's one incentive. 

But then when, with the example I just gave you -- and I can give you several more -- either somebody is trying to shape the opinion [00:13:00] of a group of people, or a group of nations, some politicians, some influential people about what is going on, which is politically in their favor, or somebody has an actual economic interest mixed with politics in what's going on and they're doing this because they will have something to gain from it.

US Media, Washington Rush Head First into 9-11 2.0 - Citations Needed - Air Date 10-11-23

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: And you see all these "This is 9/11, this is 9/11" -- and not to say that 9/11 didn't also have antecedents -- although I don't think the comparison is good at all, because, again, I think the engineers and rich kids who actually did 9/11 with the help of Saudi intelligence, they weren't living in a cage, right? And their grievances were somewhat incoherent, to say the least. So I don't think the analogy is good other than it's " Hey, remember when Muslims did a violence?" It's a racist generalization. But that's why it's so important to 9/11; it aids through all these racist analogies. But also to say this is new, or this is something that is unprovoked or out of the blue, right? That sort of clear blue sky in New York on a Tuesday, out of nowhere. And of course, again, everybody knows that's not true. Haaretz knows that's not true. We all know that's not true. It's now taboo to say that, because then it's seen as excuse making or whatever. Or seen as insensitive. And why not to be careful about how we [00:14:00] talk about these things? Because I know that, it's sensitive for a lot of people watching this. 

But we have to be realistic about what the antecedents to these things are. And the fact that there is a total double standard. There's been a double standard since before I was born, and the double standard has been very acute this week. And the double standard is not just morally wrong, it's intellectually incoherent. And if you can't properly analyze a problem, you can't work towards any kind of meaningful solution. And all this jingoistic gung ho, Israel's 9/11, we stand with Israel, we stand with Israel, while they turned Gaza into rubble, which already was, and turning it into rubble even more, in the most gratuitous and cruel, inhumane, haphazard, and vindictive way. Cause as far as I know, the U S government doesn't fund and arm Hamas. I know Fox news wants you to think Joe Biden does. But as far as I know, my tax dollars don't pay for Hamas. My tax dollars pay for the F-22s, and the bombs, and the tanks, and the surface-to-surface missiles, which is why I think those within the US left have a unique obligation to speak out on that, because it's our country, in our name, doing these things, [00:15:00] and have been doing them for, again, before we were born. And it's gotten more acute, it's gotten more violent, it's gotten more desperate. 

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: But see, that idea is always completely suppressed in the media in favor of Hamas as an Iranian proxy, right? You always hear where Hamas gets their funding, Hamas gets their weapons. And then Israel defends itself against that, right? Defends itself against Hamas, defends itself against Iran, and against Hezbollah in Lebanon. But obviously the " who funds and arms Israel" is never explained in the same way, right? It's not like a kind of common Homeric epithet that is put along with Hamas. It's not US armed Israel as mirroring this Iran-backed militants, right? And so you get this asymmetry of language because we're supposed to see the evil and the villain in the one side, and then the noble, innocent defending itself from the savagery on the other side.

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: Yeah, and that basic lack of humanity, lack of [00:16:00] anyone giving a shit, relatively speaking, is so ingrained in our media culture I don't know how you undo it, I know people try, again, there's been a lot of viral clips on social media of older, more grizzled Palestinian politicians, activists, academics, politely explaining the situation.

One guy began by talking about how six members of his family, including nephews and cousins, had died. And the first thing they said was, do you condemn Hamas? The guy just said his children died. And again, this is not a question that's asked of anyone who does the Rah, right? Marco Rubio was doing incitement to violence, Nikki Haley. They don't say, do you condemn killing civilians by Israel? That's never, do you condemn the occupation? Do you condemn apartheid? They're never asked to condemn that. Because that's just not something you're obligated to do, even though you actually fund it and support it, right? 

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: And literally politicians are, even more so than just paying your taxes and knowing where it's going, billions of dollars every year. But then you actually have politicians or former politicians who are actually responsible for casting votes or approving funding, and they are never asked. They are never asked to condemn [00:17:00] any violence when it is Israel doing the violence, right? And I think, as you said, Adam, this kind of 9/11ing is now one of the standard talking points.

There were immediate analogies made with Al Qaeda and ISIS because of the Hamas attacks actually inside Israeli territory, something that has really never happened like this before. And then, almost immediately, you started really seeing this turn into one of the main narratives.

Representative Adam Schiff stated on Sunday, October 8th, this, quote, "Right now, Israel is being brutally attacked. It is a victim of terrorist attacks. And the only sentiment I want to express right now, when Israel is going through its own 9/11, is unequivocal support for the security and the rights of Israel," end quote.

You also had Eurasia Group's Ian Bremmer say this" quote, "Massive attacks by Hamas leadership into Israel. This is no less than Israel's 9/11," end quote. CNBC over the weekend had this headline: "Israel's [00:18:00] 9/11: Political analysts react to deadly Hamas attack." And PoliticoEU, Politico, had an article on Monday, October 9th, with this headline: "Israel's 9/11 put spotlight on Netanyahu," end quote. This is now becoming one of the main analogies for this, and very few of these articles use the 9/11 analogy as anything other than shorthand, Adam, for a wake up call, like a wake up call via violence that then needs to be reacted to, and, that there's going to be mass violence but it's righteous, as opposed to, I would argue, maybe more accurate historical analysis of what 9/11 did, which is the analysis that violent revenge visited on millions of people who had nothing to do with the actual instances of violence that you are really reacting to, that were so shocking and horrifying and motivating, that actually you then destroy entire countries, you displace millions upon millions, you kill men, women, children, et cetera with no regard to any [00:19:00] kind of humanity, any kind of restraint. That is the lesson of 9/11, possibly, but that is not how the media or politicians using this are assessing the situation. It is really just the shorthand for "this is a wake up call that needs to be avenged." 

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: Yeah. And I know we spent the last episode last week dumping on Ken Roth. To his credit, a lot of -- hey, I know he's not associated with Human Rights Watch anymore, but other organizations are calling for deescalation. They're calling the Israelis not to take their vengeance out on Gaza. This is not a fringe position outside the US political realm. It really is coming from a lot of, it's big, it's bipartisan, it's Democrats, it's the president. It's we stand with Israel no matter what they do, let them do their thing.

The New York Times had an extremely curious phrasing in their editorial, supporting Israel to this whatever shutdown platitude about defending yourself. They said, quote, "Already the Israeli government is cutting off power and water to Gaza, and it ordered a siege to starve Hamas of resources. This tactic, if it continues, will be an act of collective punishment." 

So it's not one now. It's a great liberal phrasing, because it's [00:20:00] like, if they do it for too long, they can have a little bit of war crimes as a treat, but if it goes on for too long, it makes liberals too squeamish, then we'll -- 

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Then we're gonna start tsk-tsking, tut-tutting, hand wringing. 

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: It's very specifically phrased to say, yeah, you guys can do it now, but if it goes on, if it drags on for too long and makes us squeamish, then we'll intervene. 

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: But don't worry, we haven't intervened for the past 17 years, let alone 75, so it'll probably be fine.

Fog of War The Media and the Israel–Palestine Conflict - Deconstructed - Air Date 10-13-23

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: As people have been trying to follow this, there’s been a confluence of — as Yousef was talking about earlier — basically no Western press in Gaza. Gazans running low on battery power, internet, finding it increasingly difficult to communicate, coupled with the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk, which … Twitter was never necessarily the most reliable place for news but, in previous crises, you could at least distinguish between more authoritative and less authoritative sources, and it just seems that there’s been a proliferation of hoaxes and fraud, coupled with outright propaganda, getting pushed to the point [00:21:00] where it’s very difficult for people to have any idea what to believe and what not to believe.

You’ve got a piece on The Intercept on this phenomenon. What are you finding that’s different this time? And do you have any advice for people to navigate this?

Alice Speri: Yeah. I think this has been a huge issue, and not just with this weekend’s violence, we’ve seen this also last year with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The amount of just unverified uncorroborated information that was going viral within minutes, and very little effort to verify. [It’s been] very challenging for journalists to verify, although I’ll say a lot of journalists have contributed to spreading some of the information.

There’s a lot we’ve seen in the last few days. We’ve seen horrific reports coming out of both Israel and Gaza, and then we’ve seen some really incendiary ones spreading, aided by U.S. political figures, by Israeli political figures …

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Including the president, even.

Alice Speri: Right, yes. Some of, basically, what we’ve been trying to do at The [00:22:00] Intercept is just tracing the origin of some of these claims which we have not independently verified, but the IDF has not independently verified. And I actually just spoke with the IDF about some of the most egregious claims about beheaded babies, for instance, which is something that multiple U.S. politicians have repeated, that it’s all over the networks. And the Israeli military itself would not confirm something that is being attributed to soldiers.

So, this kind of shows you some of the challenges. And I think, certainly, that the transformation of Twitter under Musk is contributing to that. It’s not the only problem, but it just kind of shows the enormous responsibility we have, particularly at a time when information is just so lopsided.

I mean, we know of people in Gaza losing electricity, not being able to report. Citizen journalists who usually document life in the strip that are unable to do so. We know that at least six journalists have been killed in Gaza since this started. And this is not unique to this latest violence, [00:23:00] of course; Palestinian journalists have been targeted, as we know very well. We, at The Intercept, have covered Shireen Abu Akleh's killing for the last year.

And so, we see, really, an attack on those that are kind of seeking to provide the information, at the same time when you have all of this unverified information that’s spreading online.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: Yousef, how have you been navigating this kind of information and media space?

YOUSSEF MOUNAYER: You know, there’s a tremendous amount of misinformation right now. Any time you have these massive events, there are people that look to take advantage of this. There are people who look to spread misinformation. You have to look at the role, also, of state actors trying to deliberately manipulate the scene, because of what their interests are on the battlefield or elsewhere in terms of diplomacy.

We saw that in 2021, when the Israelis flat out lied to the media, and then had to admit that they did. And, of course, they targeted a building belonging to the Associated Press — and Al Jazeera, as well — at that time.

RYAN GRIM - HOST, DECONSTRUCTED: What was the lie they told at the time? You [00:24:00] mean about Hamas being in that building?

YOUSSEF MOUNAYER: No, no. I think it was involving troop movements or something like that. They essentially used the media for operational purposes at the time, and outraged many, many people.


YOUSSEF MOUNAYER: And it’s certainly not the first time that there [was] disinformation sent out by the Israeli military. But, you know, at the same time, Twitter has become something of a wasteland, it is extremely unfortunate to see. But the first time I remember finding Twitter useful was around world events, because it is so hard to reach certain voices around the world and hear from them in the mainstream media here in the United States.

Many people remember the Green Revolution In Iran being one of these major moments where they started following world events on Twitter but, for me, it was Israel’s war in 2008/2009 on Gaza. The only Western reporters on the ground were working for Al Jazeera English, and the only way that they were getting information out was on Twitter.

And so, for people who are used to following events like [00:25:00] this in places like Gaza and other war zones, and other places where voices of people from the region are underrepresented, it remains an essential space to navigate despite all of the misinformation and attempts by others to manipulate the discourse.

Hate Crimes, American Media & the 'Free Palestine' Movement - NowThisNews - Air Date 11-1-23

ALIYA KARIM: There has been an uptick in violence and suspected hate crimes against Muslim Americans and supporters of Palestine. Since October 7th, the ugliness has only been increasing. A six-year-old Muslim boy was stabbed 26 times in Illinois. Across the nation, peaceful pro-Palestine marches have reportedly been met with hostility and violence.

In Cleveland, a Palestinian-American man was hit by a car. The driver allegedly yelled, "Kill all Palestinians" and "Long live Israel." Harvard students were doxxed for condemning Israel in a letter, with their personal information having been splashed across multiple websites. And social media platforms have been under fire for shadowbanning users from posting about Palestine, suppressing Palestinian voices, and even labeling some users as terrorists.

So why is this happening? We spoke with William Youmans, a professor at George Washington [00:26:00] University for some insight. 

WILLIAM YOUMANS: Even in this country, we see a constant attack on Palestinian-American free speech. Not just Palestinian-Americans, but anyone who's supportive of the Palestinian position. We see college students losing job offers. We see state laws being passed to make it impossible for people to support boycott, divestment and sanctions, despite this being a nonviolent source of resistance. 

ALIYA KARIM: Youmans, who is Palestinian-American, researches international communication with a focus on US-Arab relations. He's been attending demonstrations in support of Palestine since he was a kid.

WILLIAM YOUMANS: So to be Palestinian means to be displaced, it means to be in exile, it means to basically witness the homeland from far away. Every Palestinian-American is a student of history, not by choice, but by family folklore, by self-identity, by coming to realize who they are. 

ALIYA KARIM: The Council on American-Islamic Relations noted at least 15 hateful incidents and threats that have happened across the country since October 7th. And those are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Department of Homeland Security warns [00:27:00] there could be more that have gone unreported. Muslim congressmembers are seeing a spike in death threats as well. Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar told NBC News that one of the many voicemails she's received threatened, "I hope the Israelis kill every f*cking one of you." The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has been flooded with reports of FBI visits to mosques and individuals, echoing the post-9/11 era when thousands of Arab and Muslim men faced interrogations.

WILLIAM YOUMANS: Who really makes me worried are the partisans, the people who are ideologically committed to Israel. These are the people behind most of these physical attacks, so I'm not sure that they're going to go away. In many ways what they reveal to me is a degree of desperation, where you see your narrative being challenged in ways that you cannot counter.

ALIYA KARIM: This skewed narrative has deep roots. 

WILLIAM YOUMANS: Historically, Israel has not been a credible source of information for conflicts that it's involved in. We've seen this time and time again. In 1996, when Israel shelled a refugee camp that was run by the UN, killing over 160 people in Qana, [00:28:00] Lebanon, Israel denied it was responsible. We saw with the murder of the Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, which caused an international outrage, she was killed by a sniper. Israel denied that it was responsible. 

ALIYA KARIM: Despite the questionable credibility, Western media continues to rely on Israeli sources. In fact, a 2019 study that examined 50 years worth of headlines from major US newspapers found they were two and a half times more likely to cite Israeli sources than Palestinian ones.

And it's not just about narratives, it's also about harmful rhetoric. An October 16th tweet from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official account stated, "This is the struggle between the children of light and the children of darkness, between humanity and the law of the jungle." That tweet was later deleted.

On October 9th, Israel's defense minister ordered a complete siege on Gaza by saying this: [Hebrew language]. This sort of rhetoric has found its way into interviews with Palestinians and Palestine supporters on major news networks. 

BASSEM YOUSSEF: I'm gonna be even ahead of you because I see the question coming. Do you condemn Hamas for the atrocities? Yes, I condemn Hamas. 

DIANA BUTTU: If [00:29:00] you want me to renounce Hamas because they're anti-woman, anti-everything, then I'm also going to sit and renounce Israel, which is also anti-woman, anti-free speech, anti-gay, anti-everything. 

WILLIAM YOUMANS: The interview host would often ask them about condemning terrorism and then interrupting them constantly to make sure that they condemned Hamas, which is a vicious rhetorical move that forecloses the possibility of a conversation.

Unfortunately, in the United States, we don't have a robust debate on Israel policy, in part because politicians are completely aligned on this issue, and the clear explanation for that has to do with the power of the Israeli lobby, which is a well-organized, well-established set of organizations that have been around for more than 50 years.

ALIYA KARIM: The reality in Israel and Gaza is being reported on based off a mess of inconsistent accounts. Even President Joe Biden had to walk back claims about alleged Hamas atrocities. 

WILLIAM YOUMANS: Newspapers throughout the world picked it up uncritically. It was a perfect example of how misinformation can come from the top [00:30:00] in a way that can powerfully shape public opinion.

ALIYA KARIM: Yet there is some hope as activists challenge the status quo, and fight back against dangerously persistent rhetoric. 

WILLIAM YOUMANS: I find Gen Z far more informed about the world than my generation was and certainly the generation before me.

We've seen a dynamic protest movement emerge, led by groups like the Palestinian Youth Movement, by Jewish Voices for Peace, by If Not Now, by a whole range of organizations. And I would encourage anyone who cares about this, about bringing peace, about bringing justice for the Palestinians, bringing a resolution to this conflict now, should be joining these kinds of organizations.

Being active means being part of a community, of having places to go, of having people who you're working closely with, together towards a common cause. So it's not just enough to speak on social media. You have to get out and do things, and that will break the feeling of isolation or demoralization. 

It's important to remember that we can be empowered and that we can speak back and we can force those in power to hear [00:31:00] us, and eventually they will have to answer to these voices. 

ALIYA KARIM: Youmans is also shedding light on the past by producing a documentary about the unsolved 1985 assassination of Alex Odeh, a Palestinian American activist in Orange County, California.

WILLIAM YOUMANS: People should care about the murder of Alex Odeh, even though it was 40 years ago, because it's connected to the spread of a hateful ideology that's poisoned the Israeli political scene.

This is an ideology of hatred that calls for the mass transfer of Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza. And unfortunately, I think we're seeing this ideology at work in the massive bombardment of Gaza today.

12 Journalists, Mostly Palestinians in Gaza, Killed in Deadliest Time for Journalists - Democracy Now! - Air Date 10-16-23

AMY GOODMAN: In the first week of fighting in Gaza, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports at least 12 journalists have been killed. More are missing and injured.

We’re joined now by CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Sherif. In these last few minutes we have — we’ve heard the story of Issam — tell us what you understand about what’s happened to journalists. He was on the [00:32:00] Israel-Lebanon border. Israel says they’re looking into it. What’s happening in Gaza?

SHERIF MANSOUR: Well, this is the deadliest time for journalists in Gaza. That is, according to our count, one of the highest tolls for journalists covering the conflict since 1992. Since 2001, we’ve recently published stories of 20 Palestinian journalists who have been killed over the years covering IDF operations. Many of them, 13, were in Gaza before the start of this war. But right now we’re looking at at least 10 Palestinian journalists, mostly freelance photojournalists, for taking outsized challenge and risk in order to tell the story of what’s happening. But there are, in addition to Issam, from Lebanon, at least one or two journalists from Israel who have been killed and went missing since the beginning of the raid on October 7. We are also still investigating a lot of damages to media [00:33:00] facilities in Gaza that were bombed over the course of the week, reportedly at least 48 or so. Many were injured. Many lost their homes. And many cannot access the outside world because of lack of internet.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let me ask you: What are the international laws and conventions in place to safeguard journalists and hold those responsible for their killings?

SHERIF MANSOUR: Well, we call on Israel to immediately investigate what happened to Issam and his six colleagues who were injured. We support the Lebanon complaint in the U.N. to make an investigation. And we also call on Brazil, who is presiding right now, on this week, on the U.N. Security Council, to make sure that journalists’ safety is included in any talks that’s happening diplomatically.

AMY GOODMAN: And let me ask you — last week, BBC Arabic journalists Muhannad Tutunji and Haitham Abudiab were reportedly stopped, [00:34:00] assaulted and held at gunpoint by Israeli police in Tel Aviv. What do you know about this situation?

SHERIF MANSOUR: Unfortunately, censorship is widespread, not just on covering Gaza in Israel, and we’ve seen and reported a lot of journalists being threatened live, including from Al Araby TV just couple of days ago. And journalists have told us they have received threats, in addition to all the misinformation that has been spread to justify those attacks against those journalists. And we saw the Israeli government right now making decrees to censor and close Palestinian media outlets and inciting against even Israeli journalists who “harm national morale” during the war.

AMY GOODMAN: And I wanted to ask — on Friday, the U.S. news organization Semafor reported, ”MSNBC has quietly taken three of its Muslim broadcasters out of the anchor’s chair since Hamas’ attack on Israel last Saturday amidst America’s wave of sympathy for Israeli terror victims.” The article detailed how Mehdi [00:35:00] Hasan, Ayman Mohyeldin and Ali Velshi have all seen their roles reduced over the past week, even though the three have some of the deepest knowledge of the region at the network, Semafor reported. Your final comments on this?

Brooke Gladstone: Well, journalists must provide accurate and independent account of what’s happening, including in time of crisis. We rely on them so that the misinformation that we see does not fuel the conflict. We rely on them so that we know the motivation and the implication of all the warring parties. And we rely on them to expose the potential of human rights violation or war crimes. So, we call for the absolute resilience of journalists and the support of their editors so that they can do their job fairly, without censorship. . 

Breaking News Consumer's Handbook Israel-Gaza Edition Part 2 - On the Media - Air Date 10-27-23

Brooke Gladstone: You've been posting social media threads with tips and tricks for verifying information about the conflict. You created a fake BBC tweet. You showed how it was done. You showed how [00:36:00] you could identify a fake tweet.

Shayan Sardarizadeh: One of the textbook ways people mislead on the internet is they claim to have taken a screenshot of a genuine post and then they share it on another platform without linking to the actual post.

Brooke Gladstone: So you can't go to the actual thing, you're only looking at a picture.

Shayan Sardarizadeh: Yes.

Brooke Gladstone: One rule for a listener might be very suspicious if you can't link to the original tweet

Shayan Sardarizadeh: 100%.

Brooke Gladstone: That's point five. Check the attribution and be careful of the source you're pulling from and learn about some of the basic verification tools at your disposal. Apparently, it's easier than you may think. I ask Sardarizadeh, can you give me an example that people can go to of how you used readily available tools to verify a picture?

Shayan Sardarizadeh: Yes, of course. It was a picture of two children and a convoy of tanks with Ukrainian flags on them, and this was shared two days after the outset of the war in Ukraine, February 2022. This image [00:37:00] went really viral. I remember European politicians, US politicians, influencers shared it because it was a touching moment. The way I checked that one was I use a tool which is called Google Lens, and it allows you to crop a social media post in this case the image that I want in that post, and then go through the archive of pages that Google has and see the first use of that particular image on Google.

After searching for a while, I was able to find one example from Flickr from 2016 with that image shared by the official account of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry in 2016. Although that was a picture of two children seeing off a convoy of tanks of Ukrainian troops, it had nothing to do with that particular moment in time.

Brooke Gladstone: Now is Google Lens easily accessible?

Shayan Sardarizadeh: Anybody can go to it. Just type in images.google.com in your web browser, whatever browser you're using, and you will see in the search box what appears to be a camera logo. You click on that camera logo and all you have to [00:38:00] do, if it's a link with a social media post with an image, you just copy-paste that link into the search box and then it will do the job for you.

All you have to do is just go through the results that it brings up for you. The most important thing is try to find examples from authoritative sources, news organizations, people who you can trust at least to some extent, and then you want to find the earliest example of its use. Say with the image that we just spoke about, if you find the image shared on the internet in 2020, you already know something is wrong there. That image cannot have appeared on 2020 and also 2022 at the same time.

Brooke Gladstone: Right.

Shayan Sardarizadeh: If like me, you want to find a full context about it, you have to spend a bit more time go through the results, and I found the actual original use from 2016.

Brooke Gladstone: He's very keen on a plugin called InVID because it enables you to make simultaneous use of a bunch of different verification tools like Yandex or TinEye, each of which has particular strengths, but that's for the next class. I'm sticking to Verification 101 today. Still, it's all there [00:39:00] ready for you. All you have to do is be on the Chrome browser and install the InVID Chrome extension.

Shayan Sardarizadeh: You will find how much easier verifying images on the internet will become.

Brooke Gladstone: It's not just for experts anymore. [chuckles]

Shayan Sardarizadeh: Hopefully not, and it shouldn't be. This is something that in this day and age, in the 21st century, this is necessary knowledge for everybody.

Brooke Gladstone: Shayan Sardarizadeh is a journalist at BBC Verify. You can find his X feed @Shayan, S-H-A-Y-A-N, 86 for tips and tricks on how to interpret what you see online. You need some level of media literacy to navigate these muddy waters, but it also takes time. It takes commitment, and that's point six. Aric Toler of The New York Times described what it took his team to put out an investigation earlier this week that showed that a piece of video evidence US and Israeli officials were using related to the hospital explosion was [00:40:00] not what they believed it to be.

ARIC TOLER: These videos don't have timestamps on them. You have to watch hours and hours to find the right sequence of a flash here, a flash there, a missile goes up here, and like, "Oh, wait, those are the same," or, "Oh, the clouds match up." It's very labor-intensive work.

Brooke Gladstone: Of course, they're doing granular OSINT work, not just basic image verification.

ARIC TOLER: We looked at this data, we looked at these videos, you can look at them here, and this is how things line up on the satellite map, which you can look at the same as us, and if you don't trust us and you don't believe us, then that's fine. We've given you what we got. We've shown our work.

Brooke Gladstone: Even so, sometimes the experts get it wrong.

ARIC TOLER: Even if you go through all the same tools and you kind of do the labor and you get on the satellite maps and match up imagery and all that stuff, even then sometimes you don't get to the answer. It's not easy, I mean, you see the seasoned accounts, who've been doing this stuff for years and years and years who get fooled by some photos and videos that come out.

Brooke Gladstone: Point seven, is less a directive than a suggestion, that goes back to our very first handbook, think before you repost. Some of this is on you. What you do [00:41:00] matters. It's so easy to further pollute the toxic stew that is our media ecosystem with a casual retweet of bad but affirming information. Take a moment, look for the source, check and see if it's an easy-to-fake screenshot. Any of the stuff we talked about or if that's too time-consuming and it may well be, maybe just don't click 

Peter Maybarduk on Paxlovid, Maya Schenwar on Grassroots Journalism - CounterSpin - Air Date 11-27-23

JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: And, you know, I think we as media consumers, as people, are recognizing that you give us 18 minutes, we give you the world, is not really the proper relationship to information. You know, the idea that it just kind of washes over you, and if you watch 28 Minutes at 6 o'clock, you're going to learn everything and know everything that you need to know about what's happening around the world or even in your neighborhood.

MAYA SCHENWAR: Yeah, exactly. Well, and I think the expansion of all of these different types of online media has both [00:42:00] introduced kind of this increasingly vicious phenomenon of disinformation, but also has exposed people to more of this. And I think that's a reality that has always been true, that depending on your source, you can be getting a completely different version of the news.

You can be absorbing those 18 minutes as the truth, but not only is it too short, not only is it too brief, but depending on which channel you're watching, those 18 minutes will look completely different and I think this is the exact right moment to be discussing this because right now we're witnessing Israel perpetrating this rapid genocide in Gaza with U.S. complicity. And meanwhile, much of the dominant media is still completely misrepresenting the situation, removing the context of 75 years of colonization and occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and representing the [00:43:00] current situation as a both sides situation. And so, I think increasingly, even people who haven't realized this before, but are tuned in to that issue, are recognizing, Oh, media is such a political force.

JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Right. And that would point out, you just have a piece up on Truthout right now with Sara Lazar about the siege in Gaza, which I found hopeful ultimately in the awareness that safety can only come through collective liberation. I found it a useful exploration of ideas and folks should check that out.

But listeners will know Truthout.org as a publication, as a news source, uh, on a range of movement issues. But you see yourselves as part of an ecosystem. And it's that understanding that led to this new project, to the Truthout Center for Grassroots Journalism. Tell us about that. What is the need that you're looking to address? What kinds of work are you hoping to lift up with that project? 

MAYA SCHENWAR: So, we're in this moment that's pretty tough for [00:44:00] truly independent journalism, and particularly movement journalism. We have seen outlets shut down. We've seen some shrink, we've seen a lot kind of hovering on the edge of precarity and part of it has been because of the process changes in social media, some of it has been economic disruptions and so on. But also in some ways we've been seeing less collaboration among those media organizations nationally. There's certainly been some great collaborative regional projects, but on a national scale, we're seeing a little bit less of the collaboration than we did years ago when there used to be organizations, particularly in these media consortium, which brought together movement media around the country.

And that type of collaboration can help fields grow stronger, can help movements grow stronger. And at Truthout, we've been thinking a lot about, Okay, [00:45:00] like, we want to exist as a publication, but we can't do it alone. We don't want to be anyone's sole news source. We want to have this vibrant ecosystem of different publications that are helping enrich people's understandings of the world and propel them toward action on all these different fronts.

So the Truthout Center for Justice Journalism is a little corner of Truthout, which is focused on supporting and assisting smaller movement media organizations, using the lessons that we've learned at Truthout over the last 22 years of sustaining ourselves primarily based on small reader donations, of figuring out how to broaden our reach and bring in new audiences, and figuring out how to build a news organization that is able to approach even issues in which there's [00:46:00] a lot of controversy, and uplift particularly what social movements are doing.

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: So in addition to kind of that support and assistance and mentoring, we're also focused on bringing together movement media and social justice news organizations of all sizes around the country. This is aspirational, but working on it now. You know, we recognize that what's going to allow us to survive, and when I say us, it's not just Truthout, it's all politicians that have social justice at their heart, you know, who reject this idea of objectivity and are looking to make media that are going to ultimately help the human race survive, and support each other in ways that are going to uplift the movement that got us there. 

Gaza Siege and the Liberal Handwringing Industrial Complex - Citations Needed - Air Date 10-18-23

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: After October 7th, when it was retribution time, Israel and a lot of pro-Israel commentators thought was going to happen, that they were going to get the kind of Ukraine treatment, where, like, once this horrific attack unfolded, [00:47:00] that everyone was going to kind of rally around them to do this, you know, go get 'em. And I think that's what they were banking on. A lot of their messaging seemed to be banking on that. And then, but the problem is, is like, the Russian military is 10 times bigger than Ukraine military. So even while the CIA is helping and the U. S. Defense Department is helping one side, people intuitively can understand that Ukraine is a smaller country than Russia. They can understand that they are, in many key ways, the underdog in that conflict, very obviously, right? And they're the ones who were invaded versus the ones being invaded. 

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: And that is completely inverted. And that's not the case here.

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: Right. Because people aren't stupid. They can look at a map. They can see what Gaza is. 

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: The analogy simply doesn't work. 

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: They can look at the rubbled, you know, so that, again, even if you're pro-Israel, one can still understand that, like, Gaza doesn't have an airforce....

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Maybe the nuclear armed occupying state that is one of the most powerful militaries in the history of the world might not be the underdog here.

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: Right. And so they didn't really get that treatment because the apartheid has made it so cartoonishly one-sided, again, even with this "unprecedented" attack - which, you know, it is in terms of against Israel - that it was sort of a hard sell especially as the body count began, to mention it, as the genocidal rhetoric from senior leaders including the [00:48:00] president of Israel came out, where it was like, Oh wait, there's a very clear possibility here that the goal is to basically make Gaza unlivable so they all move to the Sinai and they're going to use IMF loans that Egypt has to try to parlay that into creating what has been a very popular plan on the right for some time now in Israel, which is what they call the "new state solution", which is to effectively make the Sinai and parts of Gaza and southern Gaza into a Palestinian state and hands it basically over to Egypt. Yeah, and completely militarize the border and then annex the West Bank. And, uh, that's been a plan that's been floated for many years. This seems like, you know, again, Netanyahu wouldn't be the first leader to ever use a crisis to advance ulterior agendas. So it's not like totally out of the question. 

This is where a lot of the fears from ethnic cleansing are coming, which is like, Oh, they're trying to get like, at the very least, half of the population or three quarters of the population to basically go to Egypt. Because in Zionist lore, right, sort of extreme right wing Israeli lore, Palestinians are just frustrated Egyptians and frustrated Jordanians. They're not a real people and so they may as well just go. They're just Arabs, right? This is why people [00:49:00] frame it as sort of Israeli-Arab conflict because it sort of flattens the existence of Palestinians. 

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Also, why Israel and a lot of Israel supporters call Palestinians who currently reside within the pseudo-borders of Israel "Arab citizens of Israel", as opposed to "Palestinians".

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: Because that necessarily implies existence. 


ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: And so this is why the fear, people started beginning to use the word genocide, which is a word I use very carefully. I sort of traditionally don't use it in the context of Israel-Palestine in a micro level, macro level. Like, yeah, what the Nakba was was a genocide. I think that's pretty clear. But if you're doing forcible population transfers from Gaza into Egypt, which is to say from taking Palestinians out of Palestine and putting them somewhere else, that is a textbook definition, right?

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: We're also talking about a, population in Gaza ,many of whom are refugees from Palestinian villages in what is now southern Israel, or at least the descendants of those refugees. So they understand what it means to be told to leave and then not be allowed back. [00:50:00] Terrorized into leaving your home, and then you will never be allowed to return. So there is really, I mean, I think the kind of strong thought, and this is beyond the fact that, like, there are a lot of elderly people, sick people, wounded people, wounded and dying people, people who are hospitalized, who literally cannot just pack up and leave. There's also no clear routes for them to take, ambulances are being bombed, roads are being bombed by Israel, as they say, " evacuate south". So, you know, our tagline includes, you know, the term "PR", along with "media, power in the history of bullshit", and there's so much PR going on in the evacuation call, in the reports that Israel spread all over that, you know, they've, returned water service. Well, you know, water pumps don't also work if the electricity's still off. Or if you bomb them. So, I mean, there's also this aspect of that evacuation order, Egypt needs to open the Rafah crossing, which now has been bombed multiple times by Israel, because also of the very real history of [00:51:00] ethnic cleansing. You know, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine to create the state of Israel, whereas Palestinians were threatened, terrorized, massacred, often, uh, out of their homes, never to be allowed back.

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: So, yeah, let's talk about the forcible transfer to Gaza and why even, like, normie mainline organizations are saying this looks proto-genocidal, right?, even, to sort of be reserved here, why people like Ken Roth, who, again, we criticized two weeks ago, but is actually pretty decent on this. 


ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: Well, the legal technical lawyer stuff I think only gets you so far, but Israel is this weird artifact from like the 19th century. They do like a 19th Century-style colonialism. And whenever you criticize that, they're like, Well, what about the United States? What about this? It's like, No, no, they're evil. They're just evil in like more sophisticated ways. Like you're doing, old school, and the issue with expelling people into the Sinai, and why it kind of reeks of that is because what they'll say is, they'll say, Oh, well, Hamas lives within the population. Therefore we have to move them out of the way to kind of, I don't know how that works exactly, I guess they can't go with the population, I don't know, they want to see the tunnels? I don't know. But like...

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: If you're a member of [00:52:00] Hamas, your feet are cemented into the floor, and so when everyone else leaves, you're left there.

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: Yeah, it's like when you pull the tablecloth, all the stuff stays there. Hamas just goes, what? Little cartoon eyeballs. They say, Oh, well, Hamas just sort of lives with the population, therefore we have to remove the population. That is literally what every ethnic cleansing in the history of ethnic cleansings has said. They've always said, This is not an ethnic cleansing, this is a military operation. They live amongst the people. Therefore... I mean, literally, I mean name one, that's the pretext they've used.

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: We are doing our best to save civilian lives. By moving them out of harm's way...

ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: This is why, when the first idea of like a humanitarian corridor came up, a lot of Palestinian academics and writers were like, Well, wait a second, you're spinning a humanitarian corridor as some humanitarian gesture, when really, again, without any kind of assurance or enforcement mechanism, which there's none, how do we know we're going to come back?

The easiest way to prevent the human suffering is to just stop the bombing, not sort of have a more humane way of doing a trail of tears into the Sinai. And yeah, this is what makes the humanitarian... because it became very trendy as well, for people like Elizabeth [00:53:00] Warren, and even some people who called for a ceasefire to call for a humanitarian corridor. And in and of itself, it's not necessarily bad because they have to go somewhere, but the obvious question that sort of no one was addressing, which is like how are they going to come back? Because the last time they were told they were going to come back... 

NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, COUNTERSPIN: Yeah. Israel denies the right of return, which is guaranteed under international law. 

Not in Our Name 400 Arrested at Jewish-Led Sit-in at NYC's Grand Central Demanding Gaza Ceasefire - Democracy Now! - Air Date 10-30-23

AMY GOODMAN: Israel is intensifying its aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza. Palestinian officials say the death toll has topped 8,300, including over 3,400 children. On Friday, Israeli ground troops, backed by tanks and armored bulldozers, entered Gaza amidst a communication blackout that cut off contact, electricity and cellular service between Gaza and the rest of the world. Communications have now been partially restored.

On Friday, the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in support of a humanitarian truce, but Israel and the United States voted against the resolution.

Massive demonstrations calling for a ceasefire in Gaza continued this weekend, including here [00:54:00] in New York City. On Friday night, thousands of members of Jewish Voice for Peace-New York City and their allies shut down the main terminal of Grand Central Station during rush hour. It’s the largest sit-in protest the city has seen in over two decades. Many wore shirts that said “Not in Our Name” Banners were unfurled, reading, “Palestinians should be free” and “Israelis demand ceasefire now.” One sign read, “Never again for anyone.” The multiracial, intergenerational movement says about 400 people were arrested, including rabbis, famous actors, and elected officials.

Democracy Now! was there. Today we bring you some of the voices at Grand Central, including Rosalind Petchesky, professor of political science at Hunter College.

PROTESTERS: Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now!

ROSALIND PETCHESKY: My name is Rosalind Petchesky. I’m here with maybe a [00:55:00] thousand others, a lot of us Jews. But we are here to protest the genocide that is happening in our name. It has to stop. We are crying every minute. When we listen to your show, we are crying. I have a dear friend, Mohamed, with his little family in Gaza. He almost got blown up today. We can’t let this go on. We believe in justice and the right to live for everyone. But Palestinians have been the victims of oppression for 75 years, and it has to stop. That’s why we’re here, to say 'Not in our name.' I am older than the state of Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: [00:56:00] There’s Jewish prayers in the background. The sun is going down, and it’s the Jewish Sabbath.

ROSALIND PETCHESKY: It is. And on Shabbat, we have to pray. We have to recommit ourselves to justice. I believe that Judaism and Jewish ethics — this is how I grew up thinking — are about justice and about Rabbi Hillel’s statement: If I am not for myself, who am I? And if I am only for me, what am I doing here? I glossed over it a little bit. And if not now, when? Now! Peace now. Ceasefire now. President Biden and Blinken, listen to what people are telling you, especially the young people and lots of Jews.

PROTESTERS: Not in our name! Not in our name! Let Gaza live! Let Gaza live! Let Gaza live! Let Gaza live!

INDYA MOORE: My name is Indya Moore. I am standing here, I’m resisting and protesting in solidarity with Jews, trans people, queer people, Black and Brown victims of colonization, and [00:57:00] Americans, just like you and I, to stand against our tax dollars being used to decimate Palestinians. And we’re standing for peace. We’re standing for compassion. And we’re standing for self-determinating justice and liberated Palestine.

PROTESTERS: Stop the genocide! Free, free Palestine! Stop the genocide! Free, free Palestine!

SUMAYA AWAD: My name is Sumaya Awad.

AMY GOODMAN: And why Grand Central?

SUMAYA AWAD: Because this is a symbol of New York. This is a symbol of the United States in many ways. And so, we’re here. We’re saying this is ours. This is where we go to work. This is how we get to our children. This is how we go to school. And we want the same thing for Palestinians in Gaza. We want them to be able to live their lives in dignity and freedom.

DR. STEVE AUERBACH: My name’s Dr. Steve Auerbach. I am a pediatrician, licensed physician in the state of New York. I’m here to say that many Jewish pediatricians are [00:58:00] calling for stopping the killing of children and their families, calling for a ceasefire now, and not in our name.

I’ve never been prouder to be a pediatrician than when, back on Friday, October 13th, thoroughly mainstream organization, the New York state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said that “We stand with the children of Israel and the children of Gaza. We love all children, all families equally,” and calling for an immediate ceasefire. So, that was back on October 13th. Unfortunately, children and their families continue to be killed. These sorts of collective actions, collective responsibility is illegal. These sorts of mass killings of civilian areas, mass bombings of civilian areas are illegal and immoral.

The United States should be leading to call for a ceasefire now. I’ve never been prouder of the 18 congresspersons who have called for a [00:59:00] ceasefire now. And I’m calling on President Biden and Senator Schumer and my assemblyperson, Nadler: Please, please, these are not Jewish values. It is not a Jewish value to be dropping bombs on children, killing children and their families.

SEN. JABARI BRISPORT: I am state Senator Jabari Brisport, the 25th State Senate District in Brooklyn. And I’m here calling for a ceasefire in order to allow for the release of hostages and humanitarian aid. I carry the Not on Our Dime legislation with Assemblymember Mamdani, which will stop New York from allowing for fake charities that claim to be charities to help Israeli citizens but actually fund displacement and destruction and settler violence in Palestinian territory.

Summary 11-6-23

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with On the Media, giving tips on the need to check sources. Today Explained looked into the differences between mis- and disinformation and the motivations for spreading them. Citations Needed discussed the use of 9/11 rhetoric to rally support to [01:00:00] Israel. Deconstructed looked at the changing role of Twitter now acts in following world events from traditional and citizen journalists. Now This News looked at the structures of narrative in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Democracy Now! discussed the dangers faced by journalists covering the war. On The Media gave more advice on being skeptical of images without links to their sources. And CounterSpin had a conversation with a guest from Truthout discussing the importance of understanding the differences between the sources of news. That's what everybody heard, but members also heard bonus clips from Citations Needed diving into some of the deeper details behind the rhetoric of the war, and Democracy Now! highlighting the voices of mostly Jewish protesters in Grand Central Station opposing a war in Gaza in their name. 

To hear that and have all of our bonus contents delivered seamlessly to the new members only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support or [01:01:00] shoot me an email requesting a financial hardship membership, because we don't let a lack of funds stand in the way of hearing more information. 

And now we'll hear from you.

The influence of calling congress - Craig from Ohio sequence

VOICEMAILER: CRAIG FROM OHIO: Hello, Best of the Left. It's Craig from Ohio, and I just wanted to call in to respond to Andrew's question about whether it makes sense to contact your representatives. Because I appreciated your response, Jay, which was basically any action that you can take is helpful, and I totally agree with that.

But I really wanted to emphasize and answer specifically his question about calling because it's something that has frustrated me for a long time that progressives, the left, however you think of yourself, are not as active in contacting our representatives as the right wing is, and it's part of why we do not have the kind of influence that the right does on their party.

So I try to make it a habit to once a week [01:02:00] call both my senators and my representative, even though my representative is a Republican toady, who's really, I mean, as far as I can tell, not very bright and just does whatever the party wants him to do. He's a rubber stamp for their agenda. But I still call, because know a lot of people on the left like to rationally point out that is kind of futile because nothing seems to change and we're a minority. Which is true, even the Democratic coalition, the larger faction of the liberals they don't, as far as I can tell, call their reps a lot, either, but they also have a further right wing perspective so that's why we see Joe Biden and the Democratic majority take actions like in the one currently in Israel that we, I disagree with.

So basically, I called my reps this week, I told them, Please do [01:03:00] not send any more weapons into that conflict. I don't think weapons are the answer. Now, do I expect that's going to have any, you know, change or result in any perspective that I would like? No, but if we really could start to realize our power, and on any issue, whatever it is, every week, make phone calls, that does impact power. So, please, I implore you, if you listen to Best of the Left, you're obviously engaged, start calling your representatives on a regular basis.

Thank you very much. Bye bye.

Final comments on a case study in war media manipulation

JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Thanks to those who call into the voicemail line or write in their messages to be played as a VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record or text us a message at 202-999-3991, or send an email to [email protected]. 

Also thanks for your patience as we come back from vacation a little later than expected due to a badly timed cold that actually knocked me out for [01:04:00] several days. You may even be able to still hear it in my voice. I certainly can.

Today, just real quick, I want to give a bit of a case study. And we're talking about media, bad media, understanding media. 

And I came across a debunking of a -- very small -- this is not like the New York Times putting the wrong headline on the hospital bombing kind of story. This is like a small inconsequential person on Twitter who calls themselves a journalist, but I have no idea really how much experience they have. 

But I came across this little debunking because this person posted something that went a little bit viral and it was worth it to Snopes to check into the claims. So the person is James J. Marlow, never heard of him before. His Twitter bio describes him as a foreign and defense [01:05:00] analyst and broadcast journalist with focus on Israel, middle east, and USA, and has contributed to a variety of sources, GB News, LBC Radio, Talk TV, I 24 and others. That's what the bio says. So this person on November 1st, posted a picture of Gal Gadot. She is an actress who played Wonder Woman. And with the caption: " Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who played Wonder Woman in the Hollywood movie, turns up for army service." And the picture is of her wearing a backpack and giving a little salute. And to post that on November 1st of this year certainly makes it sound like she's signing up for Israeli military service now, because, if that's not the case, why in the world would you post that? And this person's tweet was written in the [01:06:00] present tense. However it doesn't explicitly say that the photo is recent. But really, I mean, if it isn't, then what's the news value? So they posted a followup tweet after it, after the original started to go a little viral, and it says, "To clarify, this is not a new picture. And when it was sent to me today, I automatically posted it without checking. But many have liked it. And the words do not say it is from today. So I hope this clarifies the post." End quote. 

And that leaves me with so many more questions than answers. First of all, who sent it to him? He automatically re-posted it without checking. Who sent it? Was it someone who wanted to use a journalist, maybe a particularly dopey journalist, to spread propaganda like implying that Gal Gadot had just signed up to support Israel in this current war. Did the person who sent [01:07:00] it already know that this person would share it without checking, either because they're kind of dopey or because they're a little bit of a propagandist? I'd be interested to know.

And a quick look at his Twitter feed shows that he is clearly a pro-Israel person. So that begs the question, did he share it because he thought it was newsworthy, because he was tricked into thinking it was recent, that he thought, " Oh, great! She signed up for the army! I'll post that." Or did he share it because he knew others would be tricked, but he could claim that he didn't write anything untrue, because technically he didn't. Snopes pointed out Hey, technically, he didn't write anything that wasn't accurate. It's just incredibly misleading. Or did he really just think that it was a neat picture of Gal Gadot serving in the Israeli military from 15 years ago? 

So Snopes got in touch with this person James [01:08:00] and his clarifications to Snopes are not much better. He says, " I was going to take it down because it misled some into thinking Gadot joined this week. But I couldn't believe how many were re-tweeting and liking it. And so I added a tweet to clarify and left it up because I thought it did no harm. It was not my intention to add to the false news all over X, Twitter, and I never wrote it was this week. It was just a nice pic and I clarified it with a second tweet." [ laughs]

So again, so many questions. But ultimately, how bad of a journalist -- not to mention how dumb of a person -- must one be to have had no idea how a post like that would be misinterpreted by people on the internet.

And of course the bottom line is there is no good answer to any of these questions for this person, James Marlow. And we are left with the eternal question of cause and effect [01:09:00] between stupidity and ill intent. 

But I liked this story because it is such a great example of how media manipulation is everywhere. It is going to be everywhere. It can be in the stupidity of a journalist, as this person seems to claim. Actually he seems to try to have it both ways. He tries to say, well, I didn't check, so I didn't know. But he also said, Hey, I never said it was from this week, so that's your fault for misinterpreting, right? So he's having it both ways. But is he dumb? Is he a bad journalist? Did he do something without thinking? Did he actually think a 15-year-old photo was newsworthy? There are so many reasons why people might put misinformation -- or potentially disinformation -- onto the internet to serve their needs to get more clicks to whatever their personal motivations are. Or [01:10:00] maybe he just has a weird thing for Gal Gadot and really enjoyed posting that photo of her. 

There's no telling.

But this is why media literacy is -- no, I don't know if it was ever a luxury, but you got to be on your toes for every single thing you see. And, I admit, it's exhausting. Which is why the propagandists are kind of winning. That's why they get a lot more views, a lot more clicks and people are being misled, left, right and center. 

I do want to clarify, this is not something that I think like, well, because he supports Israel, he'll put out propaganda or do stupid things. It's not like this is one side or the other. People may follow their biases or want to push their perspective using misleading information on either side. This one just happened to be from the Israeli side and it was a perfect, right down the middle example of total buffoon [01:11:00] or cynical propagandist. It is almost impossible to tell. 

As always, keep the comments coming in. You can leave us a voicemail or send a text to 202-999-3991, or send an email to [email protected]. 

That is going to be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ken, Brian and LaWendy for their volunteer work helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on all of our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at BestOfTheLeft.com/support, through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple Podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good and funny bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes, all through your [01:12:00] regular podcast player. 

So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to twice weekly, thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from BestOfTheLeft.com.

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  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2023-11-06 15:38:08 -0500
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