Hannity in Israel: Moral Clarity in the Media

Moral clarity. Or moral relativity.

The Prime Minister of Israel, sitting across from a visiting Sean Hannity, looked Hannity and his Fox News audience in the eye, using the phrase “moral clarity” with reference to Israel’s on-going battle with Hamas and the larger conflict with radical Islamists. Hannity himself has used the phrase. Yet the phrase Benjamin Netanyahu used can just as easily apply to Hannity himself, Hannity’s trip to Israel bringing desperately needed moral clarity to the larger media coverage of the current events in the Middle East.


The shameful fact of the matter is that the liberal media’s obsession not with moral clarity but its opposite - moral relativity -  has them bending over backwards to play patty-cake with Hamas. Unable, unwilling - and in some cases just plain too terrified - to call the group exactly what it is: a terrorist organization. Reporters in Gaza who are willing to report the truth on Hamas - as seen in this Times of Israel story  - have had their equipment confiscated - and/or their lives threatened.

Here in America Stephen Colbert seems to find terrorism hilarious. Over at The Young Turks, Cenk Uygur was busy playing the moral relativity game and attacking Hannity’s treatment of a Hamas defender on an earlier show. And as noted here at NewsBusters by Dan Gainor:

ABC, CBS and NBC journalists referred to Hamas as "militants," "fighters" or "soldiers" 13 times more often than they called them "terrorists." (65 stories to 5 stories.) All three networks were almost equally bad – ranging in coverage from 12-to-1 to 15-to-1, calling Hamas militants/fighters/soldiers vs. terrorists.

Hannity’s trip to Israel this past week was a much needed antidote to all of this "on-the-one-hand-this-and-on-the-other-hand-that" business that so preoccupies the Left when confronted with evil. Taking Fox cameras into the belly of the beast to show exactly how Hamas plies its trade.

Hannity took viewers into one of the Hamas tunnels, (see video here) showing exactly what they look like, how they are constructed (well and expensively - using cement from…Israel) and illustrating exactly why Netanyahu was so determined to take them out.

Viewers were taken on a tour of the Iron Dome, the Israeli version of the Strategic Defense System envisioned by Ronald Reagan. Aside from the technical wizardry, Hannity shows exactly what life is like when the all-too-frequent alarms go off and Israelis have fifteen seconds - say again, fifteen seconds - to get to shelter.

The Gaza border was highlighted, with Hannity talking to two Israeli Defense Forces soldiers just returned from Gaza.

This is war, not a war movie. People are getting killed in Israel - and recall this latest episode began when Hamas began launching rockets into Israel. Here Hannity takes Fox viewers into Soroka Medical Center in southern Israel to interview a doctor dealing with the wounded, talks to the parents of a wounded soldier and to a wounded soldier who, among other things, talks of friends killed.

The week ended with that sit-down between Hannity and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Among other things, Fox reported Netanyahu noted, speaking of America

“You’re the 'Great Satan.' You’re ultimately the target. They attack us because they believe that we are you and that you are us," he said.

"And in one sense of things, they are right. We are you and you are us. We are that enlightened, civilized, beleaguered democracy – not without fault – trying at best as we can to stop the hemorrhaging, protecting ourselves against these vile enemies.”

Put another way, this was Netanyahu exhibiting the “moral clarity” of which he spoke.

Now here’s a story that wasn’t on Hannity, and fair warning, the pictures being linked are gruesome beyond imagining (hat tip: Dan Friedman.) The site is Catholic Online, found here. Catholic Online bills itself, as here on its Facebook page as “the #1 Catholic publication on the Internet.”

What you will find when you go here are not pictures of Hamas and Israel - but the victims of ISIS in Iraq. The victims are Christians. And yes, they have been beheaded. As mentioned, they are awful - but they are stark reality. In fact, a report of beheadings like this have now made their way to CNN.

The Catholic site contains a quote reported here in The Washington Post as follows, taken from a story  in The Post on the Christians of Mosul and their treatment by ISIS:

“According to Human Rights Watch which interviewed local Christian authorities, the Islamic State painted the letter “N” on Christian homes. It stood for “Nasrani“ — Arabic for Christian. Then, the phrase: “Properties of the Islamic State.” Days later, on July 16, Human Rights Watch said the Islamic State presented the Christians of Mosul with three choices: Convert to Islam, pay a tax paid by non-Muslims — or leave. And if not: “Then there is nothing to give them but the sword.”

The photographs on the Catholic Online site shows in horrible detail exactly what that means. It is the beginning of genocide.

Which brings us back to the Hannity trip to Israel and the American media’s mind boggling moral relativity.

There is Stephen Colbert thinking it is hilarious to make fun of Hannity’s trip to Israel, editing video clips to make Hannity look the fool. Hannity, fresh from a week of seeing the reality of Hamas at work close-up and personal would have none of it, replying to Colbert’s idiocy:

“Look, Stephen Colbert. . . . I understand that people have their job to do. First of all, he’s not as funny as Jon Stewart. Stephen Colbert will have the lowest-rated late night show. There are issues that just aren’t funny. Terrorism isn’t funny. I didn’t see the bit. I won’t see it. I don’t care.

Maybe Stephen Colbert needs to come over here and get a dose of reality. He sits in the comfort of his studio, reading jokes written for him by 30 writers. So, I have a challenge for Stephen Colbert: I’ll pay for your flight. I’ll pay for your hotel, your meals. Then you sit on the border. You talk to the people. You sit across from the mother of an Israeli solider who was killed, and then make a joke about it.”

Will Colbert have the guts to take up Hannity’s offer? Don’t hold your breath - which tells you something right there.

As mentioned earlier there was Cenk Uygur playing the oh-so-clever kid in the class, going after Hannity’s moral clarity with a pro-Palestinian guest shimmying around on whether Hamas was a terrorist organization. Has Uygur read the Hamas Charter? You know, that uncomfortable business about exterminating the Jews? Would he look at the photos of those beheaded Christians and be concerned about being polite to the guys with the swords?

Apparently - yes. After which he would doubtless lose his head.

And let’s not leave out a site like Intifada: Voice of Palestine that, like Uygur, was furious with Hannity for confronting that Hamas apologist. Writes the site’s critic of Hannity:

“The exchange is a perfect example of how simple-minded Fox News’ approach to the conflict is. Nuance is brushed away or attacked as “distractions” and the narrative that is left is appallingly cartoonish. “

Or this site, billing itself the Daily Slave, which ran this glistening jewel of anti-Semitic garbage on its distinctly anti-Semitic site with the headine:

Insane Jew Shill Sean Hannity Refuses to let Palestinian Guest Speak During Interview

All of which says that there is, as the saying goes, nothing new under the sun.  There will always be dupes, collaborators and fools in this world.

Hannity’s willingness - and that of others at Fox - to call out Hamas and the larger problem of  the rise of Islamic radicalism is a reminder that there were, in fact, courageous journalists in the 1930’s who covered Germany and understood exactly what all that anti-Semitism that was at the core of the rise of the Nazis actually meant. As noted here in the pages of The Atlantic a couple years ago,  (in a Q&A with Andrew Nagorski, author of Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power) journalists like Edgar Mowrer of the Chicago Daily News understood exactly what Hitler was about, Mowrer writing of Hitler: "What he's saying about the Jews is serious. Don't underestimate him.”

So too did CBS Radio’s William L. Shirer, a foreign correspondent for print outlets as well, understand exactly what he was seeing in Germany. As with Hannity in Israel,  Shirer in Germany was unafraid to report what he was seeing in unvarnished, straight-up fashion - with moral clarity. Wrote the New York Times at Shirer’s death in 1993:

“While reporting the 1936 Olympics from Berlin, he was publicly condemned by Joseph Goebbels's propaganda ministry for exposing Nazi anti-Semitism.

"All Jew baiting is officially off in Germany during the Olympics," he wrote, because Hitler meant to turn the games into "a huge propaganda triumph." Mr. Shirer was accused of being a "German hater" and was threatened with expulsion.”

In today’s world reports like that from Shirer would make him the target of anti-Semitic Twitter feeds. As in fact Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy site illustrates with the wildly anti-Semitic responses to Hannity’s Israel reports that have flooded Twitter

There’s nothing new, either, with dismissing Jew-hatred as cartoonish as was done at the Intifada site. In fact, Hitlerland’s Nagorsky writes that back there in the 1930’s “you had Americans meeting Hitler and saying, "This guy is a clown. He's like a caricature of himself." And a lot of them went through this whole litany about how even if Hitler got into a position of power, other German politicians would somehow be able to control him. A lot of German politicians believed this themselves.”

The fact of the matter is that anti-Semitism, yet again, is on the rise. As Ben Stein has noted over in The American Spectator “It is happening again.” “It” referring to the latest surge of anti-Semitism in Europe repeating the anti-Semitism syndrome that flooded Europe in the 1930’s. At Fox, Charles Krauthammer has zeroed in on what he correctly terms “raw, negative, deep-seated anti-Semitism.”

So back to where we began - with the need for “moral clarity.”

What Sean Hannity accomplished with his four days in Israel was to educate and illustrate - with moral clarity. To do exactly what a serious media that has a real understanding of history should be doing. To go where those in today’s media who -at best- play the game of moral relativity cannot bring themselves to go. Those who look at Hamas and see “militants” or “fighters” or “soldiers” - instead of terrorists. Those who look at Hannity’s treatment of someone who slyly refuses to say that he, the guest, doesn’t see Hamas as a terrorist group.  Not to mention that Hannity went where those in the media who hide their anti-Semitism with diatribes against Israel cannot and will never go. The latter including those who really do believe Israel should be wiped from the face of the earth.

But as those ghastly pictures from Catholic Online so graphically illustrate, there is more going on here than anti-Semitism. As with the Nazi’s, what began with the Jews wound up killing Christians and millions of others as well. This, in fact, is what making a Nazi empire or a global caliphate is all about. In the words of that story from the Washington Post, if the rest of the world does not pay serious attention, we will, in this nuclear age, have only three choices just like those given to the people of Mosul: “Convert to Islam, pay a tax paid by non-Muslims — or leave. And if not: “Then there is nothing to give them but the sword.” Eventually - as became true in the 1930s - there was very little place left to go. And the sword - the death camps, the executions - was the order of the day.

Moral clarity. Or moral relativity.

Sean Hannity understands the difference, even if others in the media do not. And that, without doubt, is a genuine  public service.

Jeffrey Lord
Jeffrey Lord
Jeffrey Lord is a contributing writer for NewsBusters