ICYMI: The Atlantic Reveals How Mainstream Media Distorted Israeli Leaders’ Statements

Jan 22, 2024

January 22, 2024
Contact: [email protected]


WASHINGTON, D.C. – New reporting from The Atlantic exposes how the U.S. mainstream media has distorted Israeli leaders’ statements during the Israel-Hamas war. Various media outlets, including NPR, BBC, and New York Times, have incorrectly quoted both Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – wrongly framing them as indicating genocidal intentions towards Gazans. For example, the independent reporting verifies by video evidence that Gallant’s remarks about “eliminating everything” were explicitly directed at the terrorist group Hamas, not Gaza’s civilian population.

The mainstream media’s distorted version of these quotes have been amplified in print and broadcast news, on social media, in speeches from the House floor, and even cited in legal arguments, misleading the public, politicians, and potentially judges at the International Court of Justice.



  • On October 10, as the charred remains of murdered Israelis were still being identified in their homes, Gallant spoke to a group of soldiers who had repelled the Hamas assault, in a statement that was captured on video. Translated from the original Hebrew, here is the relevant portion of what he said: “Gaza will not return to what it was before. There will be no Hamas. We will eliminate it all.” This isn’t a matter of interpretation or translation. Gallant’s vow to “eliminate it all” was directed explicitly at Hamas, not Gaza. One doesn’t even need to speak Hebrew, as I do, to confirm this: The word Hamas is clearly audible in the video. The remainder of Gallant’s remarks also dealt with rooting out Hamas: “We understand that Hamas wanted to change the situation; it will change 180 degrees from what they thought. They will regret this moment.” It was not Gallant who conflated Hamas and Gaza, but rather those who mischaracterized his words. The smoking gun was filled with blanks.
  • Politicians and lawyers are not always known for their probity, but journalists have fact-checkers. How did an error this substantial get missed so many times in so many places? One New York Times article that cited Gallant’s mangled misquote sourced the words to an op-ed in another outlet, which sourced them to an X post that featured an embedded TikTok video. But the cascade of media failures appears to have begun with a 42-second video excerpt of Gallant’s talk that was uploaded by Bloomberg with incomplete English subtitles. The clip, since viewed more than half a million times, simply skips over “There will be no Hamas” in its translation. (Bloomberg did not return a request for comment at press time.)
  • The original Hebrew media report did not say that Netanyahu was considering the surrender and deportation of Gaza’s residents. It said that, in a meeting with families of the Israeli hostages, Netanyahu expressed openness to the surrender and deportation of Hamas’s senior leadership in exchange for the remaining captives—a theoretical proposal for ending the war that has been raised by the United States but rejected by Hamas. The title of the TV segment was “Recordings of the Prime Minister in a meeting with the families of the abductees and a statement regarding the possible exile of senior Hamas officials.” That was also the headline in the Israeli media. Haaretz quietly corrected its blog days later, though the uncorrected Times column still links to it as evidence, and viral screenshots of the erroneous English translation continue to circulate on social media.
  • In the days since, this seemingly straightforward reference to a surprise attack on the innocent and the need to punish its perpetrators has been adduced as evidence of Netanyahu’s genocidal intent. The allegation has appeared in outlets including The New York Times and Mother Jones, as well as in South Africa’s arguments at The Hague. But to make the leap from Netanyahu’s citation to genocidal ambition, all of these accounts conflate the biblical story he cites about Amalek with a completely different one in another book of the Bible that takes place hundreds of years later. The verse from Deuteronomy that the Israeli leader quoted—which is explicitly cited in the official translation of his speech—recounts the time of Moses. Netanyahu’s critics mistakenly source his words to the book of Samuel, in which King Saul is commanded to wipe out every member of Amalek, down to their children and livestock. Tellingly, none of those citing Samuel ever quote the verses from Deuteronomy that Netanyahu actually referenced, which clearly illustrate his intended meaning.
  • These omissions and misinterpretations are not merely cosmetic: They misled readers, judges, and politicians. None of them should have happened. The good news is that they can be avoided in the future by making sure to check translations at their source; pressing writers to link to primary sources when possible; and placing scriptural citations from any faith into their proper theological and historical context. Certainly, no outlet or activist should be cavalierly accusing people or countries of committing genocide based on thirdhand mistranslations or truncated quotations.


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