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Media Literacy

The Los Angeles Times program enables future “storytellers” to get the story about Israel wrong


HS Insider, the Los Angeles Times “For Students, By Students” initiative, seeks to “promote media literacy and empower the next generation of storytellers.” Accordingly, the program allows students to publish articles under the LA Times banner. These stories are then combined into news by websites like Google News and Yahoo News, reaching tens of millions of people.

“HS Insider was created as a forum for young journalists to develop their skills and share their experiences,” said then-LA Times editor Austin Beutner, when the initiative launched in 2014 apparently publishes articles that meet basic editorial standards lag far behind.

On Saturday, HS Insider gave a platform to an article, “The Story Behind #istandwithpalestine,” written by a Fountain Valley High School student. Virtually every paragraph in the 980-word piece misrepresents the facts and contains historical falsehoods, which raises questions about the LA Times’ commitment to educating future journalists.

For example, the article begins by blaming the Jewish state for the war of independence. “The conflict began in 1948 when Israel went to war with the Arab neighbors Jordan, Syria and Egypt,” it says.

In reality, on June 15, 1948, barely a day after Israel gained independence, the Arab armies launched a comprehensive attack on the Jewish state. Six months earlier, the Arabs had rejected the UN partition plan, which advocated the creation of Jewish and Arab states side by side. The Yishuv – the Jewish community in the then British-controlled Mandate Palestine – accepted the proposal, while Arab nations rejected it.

Related reading: The War of Independence: The Sin of Creating Israel?

Similarly, the article in question rewrites the history of Hamas’ development: “Hamas, which translates as Islamic Resistance Movement, has been identified as an Islamist, militant and nationalist group that has been launching attacks against Israel from residential areas in the hopes since the 1980s to restore the power that Palestine once had. “

Describing Hamas’ aim as a mere interest in “restoring the power that Palestine once had” is misleading in two ways. First, the genocidal charter of the US-designated terrorist organization (1988) calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews worldwide. Second, there has never been a sovereign state called “Palestine”.

The article also falsely blames the then Likud leader and future Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the Second Intifada – the Palestinian wave of terror that rocked Israel between 2000 and 2005. The author claims that his visit to “the third holiest site in Islam, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem” [sic]”Sparked the intifada and eventually” led the Palestinians to take over Hamas as their leader “.

Related reading: Did Ariel Sharon start the second intifada?

The article then claims that the conflict between Israel and Gaza-based terrorist groups in May 2021 was the “result of a decision by the Israeli Supreme Court to evict Palestinian families.” [sic] in districts of East Jerusalem like Sheikh Jarrah with a series of police raids. ”In reality, the Supreme Court has not yet passed a judgment in the Sheikh Jarrah case.

The highly controversial court session was postponed in May at the request of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. According to local media, Israeli security services feared the process could further fuel tensions in the Holy City. The Palestinian squatters will remain on the property until a new trial date has been set.

Related reading: Media supports Palestinian squatters in turning a real estate dispute into an international incident

More importantly, the sentence quoted above reinforces the false narrative that the Sheikh Jarrah / Shimon Hatzadik property dispute sparked the final round of hostilities. In fact, the real sequence of events began with a wave of Palestinian attacks on Jews that spread through TikTok. HonestReporting has repeatedly exposed this simple framing (see here, here and here).

HS Insider’s editorial process is not transparent and submissions such as “The story behind #istandwithpalestine” and others (see here and here) clearly do not comply with the outlet’s ethical guidelines.

Although the HS Insider Quick Start Guide claims that an editor reviews articles before they are published, it does not appear to be. Not only does this effectively spread falsehood, it also serves to reinforce the inaccuracies that students appear to be taught that distort their views and opinions about Israel.

Contact Molly Heber, Project Leader at HS Insider, and demand that the LA Times adhere to its own ethical guidelines.


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