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The Gaza War and the battle for Truth - How the Hamas invasion exposed the threat of fake news and misinformation

Panel discussion by journalists and government spokesmen tackles media and social media bias

Palestinians take control of an Israeli tank after crossing the border fence with Israel from Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 7, 2023. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

At a recent event organized by the Government Press Office (GPO), a panel of journalists and Israeli spokesmen spoke about their experiences covering the Gaza War. 

The panel discussion entitled, “Israel and the Foreign Media in the October 7th War,” was moderated by Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman of the Jerusalem Post. 

Chris Mitchell, the Jerusalem bureau chief for the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), spoke about the importance of prayer as he covers difficult events. After covering about 20 years of conflict in Israel, Mitchell said, “You get an idea of who’s the good guys and who’s the bad guys, and it seems pretty obvious because we’ve seen this before.” 

Chris Mitchell speaking on the panel discussion “Israel and the Foreign Media in the October 7th War” (Photo: ALL ISRAEL NEWS)

The CBN chief said he was surprised to see so many foreign journalists simply accept statements from Hamas. 

Mitchell stated, “It seems like some in the foreign media just play along with what Hamas or other terror groups have done.” 

Eylon Levy, spokesperson for the Israeli National Public Diplomacy Directorate, agreed with Mitchell’s assessment of many foreign media outlets, saying that they show a biased attitude toward Israel. 

Levy recounted a moment when Sky News anchor Kay Burley accused Israel of valuing Palestinian lives less than Israeli lives. Levy said that one of the major challenges he faces when speaking to foreign media is explaining “how much we don’t want this war, but how much we nevertheless have to fight and win this war. Because otherwise, there’s simply no future for this country.” 

“The world is right to be outraged and deeply hurt, and traumatized by the suffering taking place in Gaza,” Levy said. “We don’t mean to downplay it for a moment. But that suffering has an address. And that address is the brutal terror organization [Hamas] that declared a totally needless war on October 7, and which has chosen to wage that war from underneath and behind civilians.” 

Eylon Levy speaking on the panel discussion “Israel and the Foreign Media in the October 7th War” (Photo: ALL ISRAEL NEWS)

In his video address to the special GPO event, Israeli President Isaac Herzog thanked the journalists who had gathered and called on them to tell the hostages’ stories until they are released from captivity.

Herzog also spoke about the danger of simply accepting Hamas’ statements to the media, calling them fabrications. 

“The world, and the media especially, must not swallow the fabrication and falsehood of Hamas,” Herzog stated. 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog in a video message to the media summit (Photo: ALL ISRAEL NEWS)

Keynote speaker Lt.-Col. Richard Hecht said the recognition that the lies of Hamas and the media bias would rapidly dilute the severity of the Hamas invasion. For that reason, he said, like former U.S. General Dwight Eisenhower, who requested journalists document Nazi war crimes, the IDF decided to open the southern communities to the media as soon as possible. 

“I deal every day with people from the media, and people have short memories,” Hecht said. “From the outset, we knew that in our age of disinformation, filled with fake news and AI, there would be many actors who would distort what Hamas did on that day, and would claim that these events did not happen.”

Herzog further emphasized that a critical hurdle lies in determining the primary source from which the majority of people are getting their news.

“More people today get news not from professional journalists reporting from the field, but from ill-informed social media influencers posting from their bedrooms thousands of miles away,” Herzog stated. 

The government spokesmen on the panel, as well as journalists who attended, said that reporting on the war in Gaza has been a battle for truth and honest reporting in a world of AI-generated articles, fake news, and social media algorithms that influence public discourse. 

Freelance journalist Zach Anders said that “freedom of information and free speech, the pillar or foundation of our democracy, are under attack from every angle.”

He warned about the role that AI and social media algorithms play in distorting reality.

“You’re going to see a video of me someday, and it’s not going to be me, and I’m going to tell you something and it’s not going to be the truth.” 

Zach Anders speaking on the panel discussion “Israel and the Foreign Media in the October 7th War” (Photo: ALL ISRAEL NEWS)

ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg shared that the problem of media bias was a major influence in his decision to start the two news media outlets – ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS – four years ago.

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

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