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Countering media bias: CAMERA's fight for truth in Middle East reporting after Oct. 7

LISTEN: Tricia Miller discuss inaccuracies, charges of genocide, civilian protection and humanitarian aid amid Israel-Hamas conflict

The scene where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in a village in central Israel, November 3, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) is a vigilant media watchdog organization that’s been closely monitoring worldwide media coverage of Israel since 1982.

CAMERA’s Director of Partnership of Christians and Jews Tricia Miller, who focuses primarily on Christian news media coverage, said that almost six months into the war, mainstream news coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict has been ”horrible” and ”very biased.”

”It's very inaccurate. It's deceptive,” Miller continued, during her recent interview with Paul Calvert, a Christian journalist based in the Middle East. ”They use little bits of information to make the rest of their story sound credible. They use misleading headlines. They leave out context. I can go on and on. But it's very deceptive and very biased and if you watch all the mainstream media, you can see that they're all putting out the same narrative,” she told Calvert.

The watchdog group CAMERA not only identifies and challenges inaccuracies and misinformation concerning Israel but also corrects the media’s false narratives. Its role is more significant than ever since Oct. 7, calling out bias and holding news outlets accountable for its lack of integrity.

Miller told Calvert that Christian media reporting is predominately more factual than secular media – mentioning CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) in Jerusalem as an example of accurate reporting – but said there are also anti-Israel Christian narratives to be wary of.

Her reaction to secular media reporting on Israel is mixed: both shocking and expected.

"It's disappointing that they can't be more objective and look for the facts and look for the truth. But, on the other hand, it's not shocking because what they're doing and saying is nothing different. They just have a different format.”

According to Miller, the news coverage aligns with historical patterns of antisemitism that have persisted for more than two millennia, before Christian history. The difference is now that the State of Israel is perceived as the collective Jew.

”But then for the last 2,000 years, there's also been antisemitism in the Christian world. And what is striking is that everything that's been said about Jews for more than 2,000 years is now being said about Israel.

”Israel is the corporate Jew,” she added.

She noted the  ”incredible animosity towards the Jewish state,” which is being held to standards not applied to any other nation.

Miller shared some of the distortions she observes in news media, including civilian casualties and the false charge of genocide against Israel, calling it a deception and a lie. She reflected on the story of Esther, the biblical heroine of the Jewish holiday of Purim that Israel celebrated in March.

"That story is a story of self-defense," she began. The Jews did not initiate killing. They were allowed. They were given permission by the king to defend themselves against those who came to kill them. But what Haman ... said to the king to get the king's permission to have an edict to kill the Jews, was a mixture of truth and lies.”

Haman blended truth with falsehoods, Miller explained. While it's true that Jews followed their own laws, as given to them by Moses on Mt. Sinai, Haman also told the king they are not obeying his laws to falsely portray them as a threat. That’s how he was able to secure the king's approval to exterminate the Jews.

”The media uses a mixture of truth and lies. So if you mix in a little bit of truth, it makes their lies sound credible.”

This strategy, Miller says, reflects how modern media sometimes combines facts with inaccuracies to shape misleading narratives, particularly about sensitive issues like civilian casualties in Gaza.

"The only source of numbers that we have for so-called civilians being killed is Hamas... They do nothing but lie. We can't trust their numbers," Miller argued.

”They're currently saying 31,000 civilians have been killed by Israel, which is...what's leading to the world, you know, crying out the Israelis committing a genocide, which is also totally false. And we need to debunk that, as well. But Hamas figures don't differentiate civilians from the number of terrorists. They're just throwing out a number, 31,000 dead. And they're not saying if they're terrorists or civilians.”

She said Hamas inflates casualty numbers and that terrorists disguise themselves as civilians, knowing the IDF aims to avoid them. These misleading claims suggest Israel intentionally targets civilians.

”The truth is that any civilian deaths are the result of actions on the part of Hamas....and that the IDF goes to extreme measures to protect civilian life,” she said.

Hamas militants disguise themselves as civilians to avoid being targeted by Israel Defense Forces.

”They're intentionally deceptive. They don't walk around with their weapons. They have their weapons stashed in the doorways of buildings where they ... can grab them when they need them, but they don't want to be targeted. The Israelis have drones up...very good surveillance, and they don't want to be targeted by the IDF. So they dress as civilians."

Miller said that terrorists are exploiting Israel's efforts to prevent civilian casualties, as the urban warfare expert John Spencer wrote on 𝕏 in a January post.

Regarding the IDF's handling of the civilian population in Gaza, Miller said: "They warn civilians ahead of time when they're going to take out a site; they drop leaflets; they make calls on people's cell phones; they send texts. They warn the civilians to get out of the way...’"

”No other army does that. And that's a really bad strategy because you lose the whole element of surprise. But that's what [IDF] do to try to protect civilians,” she added.

Despite claims, Israel's efforts in minimizing civilian harm are evident, with a significantly lower combatant-to-civilian casualty ratio compared to other conflicts, Miller added.

She continued, explaining that Hamas intentionally uses civilians as human shields.

”All of their rocket launching sites, their weapons storage, they're all in civilian sites,” she said. ”As the IDF has been going house to house in Gaza, they are discovering that in the vast majority of homes, there are weapons stored and there are openings to the ... vast, vast network of tunnels that Hamas uses to move around...Gaza and use for terrorist attacks. So they put their rocket launching sites in hospitals and mosques and schools.”

Miller called out the double standard and bias of the media in its reporting, including accusations of Israel committing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, such as: ”How dare IDF go in there and to get terrorists who are hiding there?”

”There's no mention made of the fact that the terrorists are in the hospital...and the terrorists are shooting out the windows at the IDF. They're shooting from the maternity ward...They are having doctors accompany them to make sure that they can take care of patients along the way,” Miller argued.

”And the IDF is also carrying food and water and medical supplies in for the patients who are in the hospital. They are doing more than any other army has ever done to protect civilians.”

Countering the claims of genocide, Miller added: "If Israel wanted to commit a genocide – the definition of genocide is wiping out an entire people. If they wanted to do that, they could have just bombed Gaza. They could have just destroyed it all in a day if they wanted to, to commit genocide.”

The enemy of the people in Gaza, Miller said, is the Hamas leadership itself. For example, Hamas is not helping distribute aid to the most vulnerable and needy Gazan civilians.

”One of the big lies that Israel's trying to starve, trying to create a famine in Gaza” by ”not letting any humanitarian aid. The exact opposite is true. Many, many trucks are going over the border every day with supplies. However, the Hamas takes control of the trucks, they take control...and they shoot civilians trying to get them.”

Miller suggests that global humanitarian efforts to support Gaza's civilians unintentionally bolster Hamas, which often intercepts and steals supplies. Instead of distributing the food, there are “tribes” who eventually sell on the black market for “very inflated prices.”

Some Gazans have shown support for Israel, hoping to be liberated from Hamas, Miller said. Even so, approximately 80% still support the terrorist organization and share its hostility toward Jews, even endorsing the attack on Oct. 7.

”Because they're so brainwashed from the time they're born, really. And all their school books in school, the kids are taught this... they grow up with this mentality” that Jews should be destroyed.

Miller questions the notion of innocence among Gaza civilians, suggesting the line is blurred when a significant portion supports Hamas, and some have participated in the Oct. 7 atrocities, including kidnapping hostages.

”The released hostages have testified they were kept in civilian homes. They were imprisoned by, you know, so-called civilians. So that's if a civilian is taking a hostage and keeping a hostage in their home. Is that are they still identified as a civilian? You know, this is very murky territory here...” she told Calvert.

Miller suggests ways Christians can pray for Gaza, focusing on the need for the IDF to be permitted to complete its objectives to eliminate Hamas for the safety and security of Israel.

"Based on everything that we're hearing from the Israeli government, Israel must be allowed to finish this war even though Israel is getting opposition from the world at this point.

She said the recent UN resolution for an immediate ceasefire, without making it contingent on the release of Israeli hostages, has essentially strengthened Hamas' position, adding: "All you have to know to know that this was a really bad resolution is that Hamas likes it.”

Miller condemned the U.S. for not vetoing the resolution, saying that the move indicates diminishing support for Israel.

”The prayer would be that Israel would be strengthened. Israel is really on its own now. It's really alone with even the United States not supporting it and the United States threatening to withhold weapons if they go into the last stronghold that they have to go in to get the rest of the Hamas battalions.”

She asked that Christians pray for strength and wisdom for Israel's leaders, the government and the IDF. After suggesting that the U.S. might restrict military aid to Israel, she asked Christians to pray for supplies.

”You can't fight a war without bullets, and the U.S. is threatening to cut off supplies. Even so, again, Israel's on its own. And they just the the IDF needs really supernatural wisdom, insight, strength and physical supplies.”

The U.S. initially demanded a ceasefire be tied to the release of hostages but changed its stance.

”I am sure that there is antisemitism as part of the foundation,” she said and noted that the U.S. decision to allow the UN resolution to pass underscores the complexity and pressures of global politics.

Nevertheless, Miller said, the IDF must finish the job to eliminate Hamas.

They can't stop now. They have to finish the job," she told Calvert.

”You can't leave that many battalions in place...Israel has the right and the responsibility of taking out people who are intending to kill them...It's in the Hamas charter: They intend to destroy Israel.”

”If you leave, it's just like if you have a surgery; If you have cancer and you have a surgery, what if the surgeon only took out, you know, part of it and left part? It wouldn't...What's the point?...a lot of this would be a waste of time. You have to get it all,” Miller argued.

Click here to learn more about the CAMERA watchdog organization and how they expose and counter media bias against Israel.

Click below to listen to the full interview.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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