PBS Repeats Debunked Hamas-Published Child Casualty Statistics

PBS/CNN host Christiane Amanpour likes to say that journalists should “be truthful, not neutral,” but when she welcomed author Reza Aslan to Wednesday’s Amanpour and Company to promote his new children’s book on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, she could not be bothered to fact-check his debunked casualty estimates from Gaza.

Ironically, the whole segment was a violation of Amanpour’s dictum, as the duo portrayed the conflict as a massive tragedy between two sides who refuse to understand that they both have legitimate aspirations and historical grievances against each other. Amanpour began, “So, you know, it just seems to be such a daring thing to do right now, to write a children’s book about the hottest conflict, well, obviously Russia and Ukraine as well, but one of the most difficult ones to broach and to think about. So, just tell me why you did it and who actually you’re targeting.”

Aslan began, “Well, as you know, over the last seven months of this conflict, since the attacks of October 7th, which led to the death of 1,300 Israelis, including 33 children, some 14,000 children have been killed in Gaza. That’s more children than in all the other global conflicts around the world since 2019.”

Critics have long argued that Hamas’s numbers cannot be relied upon and recently they were proved correct as the U.N., which relies on Hamas for its reports, halved its estimates. Specifically, it revised the female casualty estimates from 9,500 to 4,959 and from 14,500 to 7,797 for children.

Amanpour didn’t step in to correct the record, nor did she point out the truth once Aslan was done speaking.

Instead, Aslan broadly summarized the book:

And when you’re, you know, confronted with that kind of devastation, that kind of horror, I could understand why, as parents, we want to shield our children from it. But I truly do believe, as a parent of four children myself, that this conflict is actually an opportunity to teach our kids and give them the tools necessary to cultivate compassion and empathy, the critical thinking skills, because, yes, this war has been devastating for the children of Israel and Palestine, but children all around the world, including here in the United States, have also been impacted by this conflict. They’re inundated with these images of destruction and despair. It’s unavoidable, Christiane.

And as parents, I get it. Most of us feel like we ourselves barely understand this conflict. I do it for a living and I barely understand it. And so, what I wanted to do was provide a text that would allow caregivers, parents to have the meaningful conversations necessary with their children that could give them context, a sense of understanding about where we are in this conflict. And most importantly, to counter some of the stereotypes and the prejudices that are just flooding them from all sides.

If Aslan wants to portray the conflict as tremendously complicated and argue that starting the process of solving it requires both sides to look in the mirror, he cannot use the fake statistics that one side uses to hurl libelous charges of genocide.

Here is a transcript for the May 14 show:

PBS Amanpour and Company

5/14/2024

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So, you know, it just seems to be such a daring thing to do right now, to write a children’s book about the hottest conflict, well, obviously Russia and Ukraine as well, but one of the most difficult ones to broach and to think about. So, just tell me why you did it and who actually you’re targeting.

REZA ASLAN: Well, as you know, over the last seven months of this conflict, since the attacks of October 7th, which led to the death of 1,300 Israelis, including 33 children, some 14,000 children have been killed in Gaza. That’s more children than in all the other global conflicts around the world since 2019.

And when you’re, you know, confronted with that kind of devastation, that kind of horror, I could understand why, as parents, we want to shield our children from it. But I truly do believe, as a parent of four children myself, that this conflict is actually an opportunity to teach our kids and give them the tools necessary to cultivate compassion and empathy, the critical thinking skills, because, yes, this war has been devastating for the children of Israel and Palestine, but children all around the world, including here in the United States, have also been impacted by this conflict. They’re inundated with these images of destruction and despair. It’s unavoidable, Christiane.

And as parents, I get it. Most of us feel like we ourselves barely understand this conflict. I do it for a living and I barely understand it. And so, what I wanted to do was provide a text that would allow caregivers, parents to have the meaningful conversations necessary with their children that could give them context, a sense of understanding about where we are in this conflict. And most importantly, to counter some of the stereotypes and the prejudices that are just flooding them from all sides.

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