“Neutrality,” the Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel famously said, “helps the oppressor.” Yet in the West’s war against Islamic terrorism, a key U.S. agency is feigning neutrality instead of forthrightly standing for American values. The culprit is the U.S.-owned and operated news network Voice of America (VOA).
VOA’s reporting on the war between Israel and Iranian-backed proxies such as Hamas has fallen woefully short. Journalism demands both specificity and accuracy. But the taxpayer-funded VOA has refused to call Hamas “terrorists.”
In an Oct. 23 report, journalist Jimmy Quinn revealed that VOA’s management told staff not to call Hamas and its members “terrorists.” Three days before Quinn’s dispatch, VOA associate editor for news standards Carol Guensburg told employees that VOA must maintain neutrality and its reporters should “be especially careful with word choice in dealing with a conflict.”
VOA added that while it was permissible to call the Oct. 7 massacre of hundreds of civilians a “terrorist attack,” the news outlet must “avoid calling Hamas and its members terrorists, except in quotes.” Instead, “useful alternatives” like “militant group or militants or fighters” should be used. VOA’s decision echoes that of some other news outlets, including the Associated Press.
Yet Hamas is, in fact, a U.S.-designated terrorist group — and it has held that designation since 1997. The European Union, Israel, and others have similarly designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. And they’ve done so for good reason: Hamas is a terrorist group that commits acts of terror.
The group, which has its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood, has targeted civilians in suicide bombings and other acts of terror that go back decades. Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the genocide of Jews. The Brotherhood’s founders supported Hitler.
Hamas’ barbarism isn’t up for debate. During the Oct. 7 massacre, Hamas invaded Israel and murdered more than 1,200 people in one day. It was the largest slaughter of Jewish civilians since the Holocaust. The terrorists were so proud of their atrocities that they filmed themselves. They shot babies to death in car seats and cribs, they set the elderly on fire in their own homes, and they tied up and dismembered families in front of each other. They gouged out children’s eyes while eating their food. They raped women on the dead bodies of their friends before executing them. They raped some women so savagely that they broke their pelvises.
At one music festival, more than 360 attendees were slaughtered, many shot to death while they ran from Hamas operatives who had paraglided in, a tactic that they apparently learned in Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Hamas took an estimated 240 hostages, including Americans and other nationalities, and brought them back to Gaza. Some are reportedly being held in the underground tunnels that Hamas has built underneath schools, mosques, hospitals, and universities, pilfering international aid to do so.
If this is not terrorism then nothing is terrorism. The word becomes devoid of meaning.
Importantly, VOA’s standard is selective. VOA had no problem labeling al-Qaeda or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “terrorists.” Yet Hamas, a similar Islamist movement, is given a pass. There is little difference between the groups. Indeed, proportionally to each country’s population, the Oct. 7 massacre led to more casualties than the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack by al-Qaeda. The only difference is that Hamas’ primary focus is on destroying Israel, though the group has murdered dozens of Americans throughout the years.
VOA’s coverage of the latest war has been replete with anti-Israel bias.
In a Nov. 9 report, the outlet regurgitated Hamas claims that an Israeli missile hit Shifa Hospital. In fact, it was an errant terrorist rocket that fell short. Shifa Hospital has long been used as a primary base of operations for Hamas — a fact confirmed by U.S. intelligence and noted by U.S. administration officials. Indeed, one can go back more than a decade and find reports from The Washington Post, PBS, and others detailing how Shifa is used by Hamas. Nonetheless, in a Nov. 11 tweet, VOA presented this as merely an Israeli “claim” that “Hamas and hospital staff deny.”
Some former VOA employees are rightfully outraged at the organization’s bias. Ted Lipien, formerly VOA’s acting associate director, has called for a bipartisan effort to replace the agency’s management.
VOA was established on the eve of World War II. In its first broadcast on Feb. 1, 1942, VOA promised, “We shall tell you the truth … today and daily from now on.” This vow was made when the U.S. was at war with Nazi barbarism. Eight decades later, the West is at war with another group of genocidal antisemites, and one of America’s information arms is taking the wrong side.