Longtime KYW reporter gives advice for sussing out wartime truth

By Carl Zebrowski

Hadas Kuznits was an inspired choice to address the Lehigh Valley Jewish community about two important problems today’s Jewish communities are facing: coping with and fighting against antisemitism and evaluating the accuracy of news stories related to the war in Israel. 

The idea came to Barry Halper when he was listening to KYW Newsradio recently and heard Kuznits reporting on an issue related to Israel. He followed up on that idea, and weeks later, Kuznits came to the Valley to spend the day, May 20, talking to an audience of older adults in the morning, students at the Jewish Day School around lunchtime, and teens in the late-afternoon with pizza and refreshments on offer.

Kuznits knows a lot about the gathering and reporting of news, having worked for over 20 years at KYW, one of the most respected news organizations in the Philadelphia region. She also is Jewish, meaning she knows what it’s like to feel a close connection to the Israelis who suffered the Hamas attacks of October 7, 2023, and to the Israelis and Diaspora Jews who have lived through the many challenges and losses of the subsequent months.

She also knows what it’s like to read, watch, and listen to the news, through traditional outlets and social media, and wonder how much of it is true. At best, too much of the information being circulated at this time—during a war in Israel that coincides with an ongoing rise in antisemitism around the world—may be questionable. In her talk with the teens, Kuznits offered practical guidance on, among other things, evaluating reports from news organizations and on social media. Here are some tips she gave the audience:

Use common sense and research to determine the truth
It’s no surprise that there are a lot of lies and inaccuracies being scattered about. Use common sense. “I want you to be skeptical when you see things online.” While you’re reading something on a screen, open other browser tabs to do real-time fact-checking on information and claims that seem questionable. 

“I want you to think about the ‘why’ all the time. What is somebody’s motive to say they love Russia, Iran, Gaza?” Some people post clickbait to make money, while Russian operatives, for example, may spread lies to sew divisiveness in the United States and elsewhere.
Don’t mistake commentary for news
Keep the two separate in your head. The first is reporting. The second is opinion. The tone of the presentation can be a giveaway. “News sounds like this,” she said in an even voice: “Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.” Then she tinged her delivery with agitation. “Commentary sounds like this: Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah!”

Find reliable information sources
Don’t look to TikTok. What’s to be learned from “sound bites” posted by kids with only superficial knowledge of situations? Watch all cable news, not just one channel. “Sometimes they get it right. Sometimes they don’t.” And remember that sources change.   “Just because something is good today doesn’t mean it’s not going to deteriorate later.”

For background information of greater depth, “read books.” Get recommendations from people and sources you trust. “Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth,” the 2021 New York Times bestseller by Tel Aviv native and Los Angeles resident Noa Tishby, is one solid place to start.

Think twice about responding to posts
Don’t argue with social media posts for argument’s sake. “Your end goal is to make positive change.” So it’s better to ignore the irrational, though one possible alternative is to screenshot a post and post that yourself with a simple “You can see what I’m dealing with.” Remember: “When you engage with a crazy person, an extremist, you can’t tell who’s the crazy person.” 

Otherwise, the answer to this question may depend on whether you know the person who made the post in real life. If you do, you could respond offline: “Consider picking up the phone.” Make sure to lead with curiosity and empathy. “If you do this one on one with people, you will make change.”


Concluding the afternoon program was Jeri Zimmerman, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, a sponsor of the Kuznits visit. “We always want to solve problems,” she said, but reality can be tricky. “There is no magic bullet for what we are feeling right now.”

Kuznits acknowledged that there was no avoiding the fact that Israel and the Jewish community are going through an extremely trying time right now. “Take care of your mental health,” she said, explaining that it’s OK to take breaks from keeping up with the news and actively advocating for Israel. “We’ll come back to it.” 

She promised that things will work out in the end. “We’re going to be OK,” she told the teens. “We will not be destroyed. We do have allies in this world.”