Fake news 'narratives' reign supreme in Mideast media

 April 1, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Propaganda including journalists using political narratives rather than facts long has reigned in the Middle East.

It's now routinely found in the West, too, but "nowhere has narrative reigned over journalism more completely – propaganda over actual news – than in the Middle East, especially in Arabic-language media," a new report from the Middle East Media Research Institute explains.

Almost all news outlets there do it, but the champion undoubtedly would be Qatar's Al-Jazeera Arabic Satellite Channel, the report said.

The danger of the influence of false information was pointed out just this week in Israel, where lawmakers have approved a law giving "the government temporary powers to prevent foreign news networks from operating … if they are deemed by the security services to be harming national security."

The law specifically already has been dubbed the Al-Jazeera law.

According to the Times of Israel, "Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, who spearheaded the effort to pass the law, vowed immediately after the final vote that the Qatari-funded Al-Jazeera news channel would be closed down 'in the coming days,' saying 'there won’t be freedom of expression for Hamas mouthpieces in Israel.'"

In America, White House Press spokeswoman Karine Jean Pierre said "freedom of the press" is important, but the MEMRI report noted the U.S. already has had its share of similar behaviors.

The report said, "One way of telling the difference between a credible news outlet and a propaganda source is the subservience of news coverage to an ideological narrative. Given the dynamic nature of news, coverage would flow in all sorts of directions, a propaganda narrative only flows in one direction. In a normal, free media environment, the misdeeds of the offspring of the powerful are an irresistible topic. And yet in 2020 (and beyond), we saw the dominant news media outlets and social media companies in the United States intentionally suppress reporting on Democratic candidate Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden. The 'Biden Laptop' scandal is a signal example of the triumph of narrative over journalism, the narrative in this case being Joe Biden's rise to the presidency."

Giving rise to concern in the Middle East was a recent Al-Jazeera report claiming Israeli soldiers had raped Palestinian women as they were attacking Muslim terrorists "holed up at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City."

The false report was deleted later "with no explanation."

MEMRI reported, "Additional detail on the incident came from an interesting source – Jordanian journalist Yasser Abu Hilaleh, who had been Al-Jazeera Arabic's general manager from 2014 to 2018 and before that had served as the channel's bureau chief in Amman for many years. Abu Hilaleh noted on Twitter in Arabic (in a tweet with almost two million views) that the news was fabricated, according to an investigation conducted by Hamas."

The report said the claims were broadcast to "arouse the nation's fervor and brotherhood."

Al-Jazeera has been known for its past uses of "false or exaggerated information," and it always follows an ideological agenda – against Israel.

The report said, "Early on in the war both Al-Jazeera and much of the world's press (including the BBC and the New York Times) promoted and amplified a lie, that Israel had intentionally struck a hospital in Gaza and killed hundreds of people. It turned out that not only had Israel not struck the building, a PIJ rocket struck nearby, but hundreds had not been killed in the blast."

The rape lies became powerful because of the earlier claims by eyewitnesses that Hamas terrorists raped and sexually assaulted female Israeli hostages following their invasion of Israel on October 7 in which some 1,200 civilians were butchered by the terrorists.

The new Israeli law, for now, is temporary.

MEMRI reported, "As Ilan Benatar has noted, Hamas mastermind Yahya Sinwar has written a script where Israel is the villain and the goal was to 'harness the entire world as a force multiplier to fight Israel on Hamas's behalf.' The fuel for such a scenario is Palestinian suffering – real or imagined – in Gaza (and anywhere else that serves the narrative)."

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