How the Israeli media reports a story spoon fed to it by the security services. And are government officials and the courts capable of acting any differently?
The story of a Gaza man indicted for diverting millions to Hamas from a major international charity for terror activities is roiling headlines in Israel. The incident is important both for how it is being portrayed, and used, and what it says about the actual situation.
Mohammad el-Halabi worked for World Vision, an evangelical Christian charity that collects funds from the U.S., UK, and Australia among other countries for humanitarian projects in dozens of the world’s most troubled places, including the Palestinian territories. Much of its activity focuses on relief for children.
The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, says that in addition to working for World Vision, Halabi was simultaneously working for Hamas and systematically siphoning off up to 60 percent of all funds for humanitarian projects to support its terror activities. Israeli authorities publicized his arrest on Thursday, 50 days after he was apprehended, following his interrogation and alleged confession, which led to the charges.
Therefore even my first thoughts here should be read with the advisory that there’s much we just don’t know. But that doesn’t seem to bother the Israeli media and authorities; they have embraced the story with gusto and barely controlled vindication.
Channel 2 covered the event on Thursday without bothering to include even a journalism 101 response of anyone involved. If they had asked World Vision, they would have found, as The Guardian did, that the head of the group in Australia expressed shock, cited scrupulous forensic auditing processes, and the both the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Germany suspended their aid to World Vision in Gaza pending further developments.
Coincidentally, a recent story indicates that World Vision does not always portray its programs meticulously to donors, but these combined responses don’t support “the whole world is complicit” approach Israel promotes.
Not all media approached the story this way. Interestingly, Walla! News ran a piece about Hamas denying that Halabi was even a member of the organization, and about World Vision’s denial. But overall the Israeli media projected facts and a conviction, rather than allegations...Read More