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Know Your Sources

There is no way to avoid falling into these traps 100% of the time; even the most seasoned journalists will get fooled. However, there are certainly ways you can mitigate believing bad info, and that's by KNOWING YOUR SOURCES.
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December 24, 2023
Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

If you are to trust the links of articles and videos I am sharing, it is important for you to understand my process, as well as how to locate good ones yourself. Knowing your sources should be a guideline that doesn’t bear repeating, but yet it does more than ever. I have seen countless articles, videos and especially memes which have been patently fake news – we all have. And although the vast majority of it comes from the anti-Israel side, I have also seen some shared by the pro-Israel camp. It’s crucial for things you trust on either side to retain intellectual honesty, as well as credibility, and that you not allow yourself to fall into a trap of believing and even sharing such misinformation (stories that get the facts wrong), and disinformation (stories deliberately created with the intent of presenting the facts incorrectly).

Remember the Gazan photo of the dead baby that went viral recently, with everyone mocking how fake the baby was? Well the sick joke is on them, because it was a real infant, and only appeared fake due to the biological reality of rigor mortis. I saw it shared by dozens of friends and sources, so how did I discern the truth? By verifying it first, using one of the suggestions I will list below.

There is no way to avoid falling into these traps 100% of the time; even the most seasoned journalists will get fooled. However, there are certainly ways you can mitigate believing false information, and that’s by KNOWING YOUR SOURCES. Get to know journalists who have great track records, and follow them. Be aware of the sources that you SHOULDN’T trust. And if you are about to repeat something you’ve read or seen, at least TRY to verify it first, as coming from somewhere you know to be reliable. (I would like to believe I am vetting my links carefully enough to put me in that trusted category, but I too will inevitably miss some things).

It is crucial to understand one more thing. It may sound like a paranoid conspiracy theory, but there has been ample evidence proving that fake content has been deliberately placed out there, and we fully expect it to only get worse as election season grows near. My friends in the US Government have told me that they are confident there will be a large amount of deliberate, AI-generated misinformation coming from Russia, Iran and North Korea, among other places. The trouble is, you might be savvy to this, but not everyone is. In a situation we have seen play out numerous times, the AI, or a real person will create a fake journalist, start with a kernel of truth, and fabricate a story from it. What happens next is you’ll see politicians and less savvy media quoting that fake article, thus lending it instant credibility as a real story which helps it goes viral.

Here I will present some key resources to help you navigate this treacherous road of misinformation and disinformation:

1. Shayan Sardarizadeh is basically the Snopes of Middle East News. I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen him confirm or disprove the legitimacy of posts, stories and even journalists who are going viral. This is where I learned of the legitimacy of the aforementioned dead baby photo. He might be the best thing coming out of the BBC (though admittedly that’s a low bar when it comes to the BBC journalism on Israel). Before you press the share button on some shocking story, I suggest following him:
https://x.com/Shayan86

And read an interview about his process here:

https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/news/bbc-expert-debunking-israel-hamas-war-visuals-volume-misinformation-twitter-was-beyond

2. Shayan helped author a really important story about DC Weekly. This so-called news source has been proven to take grains of truth, and using AI-generated fake journalists, release AI-generated fake stories. An example proven here is about Zelensky allegedly selling off yachts and rolling in money. This is patently fake info, designed by Russia to weaken support for him. I haven’t checked if they have stories about the Middle East, but I sure as heck wouldn’t trust a single one from them:
https://x.com/Shayan86/status/1737605544121434591

3. Honest Reporting has been a bigger name at finding inaccuracies in Israel reporting, but it is important to note that they focus on ones that make Israel look bad. Whereas the BBC journalist I shared above is helpful at finding the truth in reporting, whether it shows Israel in a good or bad light, Honest Reporting is great at finding the countless anti-Israel false stories; but it does not really report on false stories the other way around. And that’s a key thing to know. So whereas one has a goal to find the truth wherever it lands, the other has an agenda to find the lies that harm Israel. I find value in each, since we are in a war of misinformation and disinformation, and Honest Reporting has gotten many harmful stories to offer corrections or apologies; but I do appreciate those who offer equal opportunity corrections:
https://honestreporting.com/about/

4. Hillel Neuer is the Executive Directive of UN Watch, an NGO that tries to hold the UN accountable for their hypocritical anti-Israel bias. For example, they pointed out that the General Assembly condemned Israel 14 times this year, but all the countries in the rest of the world, (including Russia and Iran) just 7 times total. I recommend following not only UN Watch, but Hillel himself; this is really important work given how consistently the UN singles out Israel:
https://x.com/HillelNeuer

5. Do NOT trust Al Jazeera News. As per FDD, a non-partisan nonprofit Think Tank in DC, “In practice, the network toes the line of its patron, the state of Qatar. Qatar sponsors Hamas politically and financially…”
This has long been known and proven; their news is one of the main platforms for Hamas to spew its propaganda into the world. If you choose to read or watch their news, just be aware it bleeds blatantly anti-Israel and pro-Hamas bias down to its core:
https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2023/11/24/al-jazeera-must-register-as-a-foreign-agent-of-qatar/

6. Do not trust any information that comes from the Gaza Ministry of Health, or any other Gaza Ministry. Why? Because that is merely Hamas releasing information to the public. They are the reigning government in Gaza, and the ministers are thus them. To this day, all official Gaza death counts are reported via them. I have shared links that demonstrate their numbers to be bogus.

We know for certain that when they announce death tolls:
1. They make up numbers entirely, as evidenced by the hospital incident when they blamed Israel and announced 500 dead, but then when it was proven to be their own rocket misfire, the announced numbers plummeted.
2. They do not differentiate between the deaths of Hamas terrorists, versus civilians.
3. They do not differentiate between the deaths caused by their own misfires against Israel, versus being killed by the IDF. (Over 10,000 rockets have been fired FROM Hamas at Israel, with approximately 10% screwing up and landing in Gaza, killing who knows how many)!
4. They do not differentiate between those killed as collateral damage, versus ones they use as human shields.
Did I mention they literally make up numbers regularly?

And yet, in spite of everything mentioned above being the worst kept secret in town, their numbers are still reported and taken at face value by so many. When numbers are reported they range between the following journalistic descriptions:

A. This many have been killed per the Hamas led Gaza Ministry of Health, however they have not allowed anyone to verify their count, which has often proven to be fabricated. (THE GOLD STANDARD & RARE)
B. This many have been killed per the Hamas led Gaza Ministry of Health. (SOME)
C. This many have been killed per the Gaza Ministry of Health. (COMMON)
D. This many have been killed. (THE MOST INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST & SADLY COMMON)

Even if the numbers being listed in those examples are the same, can you sense how crucial a choice a news organization is making when they report in one of those ways versus another? Unfortunately, the UN and so many other organizations simply regurgitate the numbers given to them by the Hamas-led Ministers, and at that point the news will sometimes bypass the source of the numbers, and simply quote the UN. But all they are doing is quoting a secondary source that repeated the numbers from Hamas in the first place. One lie can easily spread like a virus, and become more insidious as a result.

Here once again is FDD giving a great explanation on this matter:
https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2023/11/02/5-things-to-know-about-the-hamas-run-gaza-health-ministry/

Fake information is only becoming easier to turn into viral propaganda, especially as savvy people continue to advance the technology of AI. Thus it’s all the more crucial that we each try our darndest to know the good from the bad, especially if we are going to press the share button ourselves.

To find the “Chosen Links by Boaz”, follow him on Facebook, or go to:
https://jewishjournal.com/tag/chosen-links/

 


Boaz Hepner works as a Registered Nurse in Saint John’s Health Center, and provides health education to the community at large. He grew up in LA in Pico/Robertson and lives here with his wife Adi, daughter Natalia, and son Liam. He helped clean up the neighborhood by adding the dozens of trash cans that can still be seen from Roxbury to La Cienega. He can be found with his family enjoying his passions: his multitude of friends, movies, poker and traveling.

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