World News

On Gaza, CODEPINK Now Engages in Yellow Journalism

On May 15, CODEPINK’s Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies published a piece in Fair Observer labeling the US the “Arsenal Of Genocide” for providing weapons to Israel. But the numbers they cite do not tell the story of a genocide. Neither do these numbers establish that the US has bad reasons for arming its Middle Eastern ally or even mala fide intent on the part of Israel that faces the threat of Hezbollah, the Houthis and Iran in addition to Hamas.

Reporter wearing journalist pass at news event, press conference or journalistic media interview holding yellow microphone. Broadcast journalism concept with copy space. © wellphoto /

May 28, 2024 06:30 EDT

“Genocide,” “war crimes,” “massacre,” “merchants of death.” Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! CODEPINK is back at it, and much like the over-the-top all-caps organizational name, they want to shout from the rooftop. “Arsenal of Genocide” — yikes. It’s a helluva title but one that doesn’t bother to prove its underlying premise: that there actually is a genocide. They don’t even bother to substantiate war crimes or a massacre. Frankly, such bald assertions are precisely what Fair Observer typically avoids, and that avoidance is one of the reasons I write here.

Related Reading

The summary talks about Israel’s “bloody invasion of Gaza” without a peep about how this started. As Bill Murray’s character asks in the movie Ghostbusters, “Where do you think all of this is coming from, the sky?” Where is the discussion of crimes, war or otherwise, of Hamas’s brutal, indiscriminate attack on kids at a concert and private citizens on kibbutzim?

Alas, these points aren’t raised; the questions aren’t asked. We’re just told Israel is lousy and doing all kinds of scary-worded things with US assistance. I don’t mind a difference of opinion, but when you call something a genocide, and particularly when you do it in your title, you kinda have to prove genocide.

The numbers do not support a genocide

The only piece of data they provide for their horrific claims is the 35,000 deaths cited from the Ministry of Health in Gaza. Guess who pays the salaries there? Hamas. The numbers are propaganda, and I wish the media would stop credulously citing them. In a virtually unremarked admission, Hamas said they can’t account for 10,000 of their own number. If you want to say those are merely unidentified, well, it may be, but then you have to explain why, mathematically, the books are cooked. They simply don’t add up, and yet every media outlet dutifully reports this nonsense.

The headline everyone always grabs is the total number of deaths or how many women and children have been killed, and while I’m sure some women are Hamas fighters, most are men. By definition, the balance will be women and children. With that said, see the aforementioned math problem. Even if we assume these numbers are correct, which seems far fetched, how many are Hamas fighters? Whatever it is, that number isn’t zero. Hamas isn’t interested in the subject, but Israel maintains at least one third of the dead are Hamas soldiers/militants. 

As for the “genocide” supposedly occurring, if at least one-third of the dead are militants, as per Israel’s estimates, and if we give Hamas the benefit of the doubt with it’s estimate of 35,000 total dead (seems a fair trade), then by removing the terrorists from the death tally, civilian deaths represent at most 1% of the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million population.That’s a much lower civilian casualty rate than America achieved in Iraq and Afghanistan. Considering Hamas cowardly cloaks itself with women and children — in particular using the “triangle” of schools, mosques, and hospitals — I see restraint in those numbers rather than genocide.

CODEPINK’s narrative assumes malicious intent

If it’s genocide, then why has Israel assisted with the delivery, prior to the US-led Gaza pier operation, of half a million tons of assistance to a war zone where even America has found aid distribution difficult? If it’s a genocide, why warn refugees of violence and drop fliers and make social media posts showing where the fighting will occur? If it’s a genocide, then why now? In 1967, the population of the Gaza Strip was a little more than 350,000. By 2024, Gaza’s population has grown by more than a factor of six. 

John Spencer, a chair of urban warfare at West Point, recently said, “Israel has done more to prevent civilian casualties in war than any military in history.” Israel’s approach to the war, he says, is “setting a standard that will be both hard and potentially problematic to repeat.” If this is a genocide, it’s a damn poor one.

I’ll give CODEPINK’s Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies research plaudits and the benefit of the doubt as to the quantity and types of weapons the US supplies, but their narrative is wild and unsubstantiated. It’s also illogical. The authors quote a retired US colonel who says existing Israeli stocks suffice for the Rafah assault and actually could “level” the place. This quote is to suggest the US need not give Israel any more arms or related materiel. This suggestion is simply untrue.

If Israel’s goal was genocide, it could have simply leveled Rafah. In fact, Israel probably wants other munitions to avoid that very outcome. Certain kinds of missiles permit more targeted strikes. Apparently, it didn’t cross the authors’ minds that they and the Israelis might be on the same page.

Also, mayhap the Israelis don’t want to exhaust their stores and be vulnerable to Hezbollah’s 150,000 to 200,000 rockets to the north. Or what about Iran’s weapons? The Houthis have been taking potshots at Israeli and US vessels in response to the war in Gaza. Does anyone think these groups aren’t working in coordination? If you do, notice that attacks on US forces from Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria ceased during the November 23–30 ceasefire.

Israel is surrounded by enemies, and it cannot let its citizens be raped, murdered and kidnaped without a response. The authors seem to have forgotten who is the David and who the Goliath in what is effectively a regional war. If so, a glance at the star on Israel’s flag or the yellow patch Jews were once made to wear would serve as a reminder of both the odds Israel faces and the strength of Jews to persevere and prevail.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


Only Fair Observer members can comment. Please login to comment.

Leave a comment

Support Fair Observer

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.

In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.

We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.

Will you support FO’s journalism?

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

Donation Cycle

Donation Amount

The IRS recognizes Fair Observer as a section 501(c)(3) registered public charity (EIN: 46-4070943), enabling you to claim a tax deduction.

Make Sense of the World

Unique Insights from 2,500+ Contributors in 90+ Countries

Support Fair Observer

Support Fair Observer by becoming a sustaining member

Become a Member