Gaza Burns and the NY Times Saves Its Pity for Israel

Israel has a tough choice, The New York Times tells us: it can stop killing Palestinians and allow them to keep a few means of resistance or it can continue killing them and face international criticism.

Once again, the Times gives emphasis to Israeli angst over Palestinian suffering. In a front page story, “Israel is Facing Difficult Choice in Gaza,” Jodi Rudoren focuses on the strategies of Israeli warfare without a similar look at how the situation looks to Hamas and the people of Gaza.

“If it stops now,” she writes, “[Israel] faces the prospect of a newly embittered enemy retaining the capacity to attack. But if it stays the course, it is liable to kill many more civilians and face international condemnation.”

She says nothing about a more excruciating choice faced by the people of Gaza: reject the ceasefire terms as offered and continue to face Israeli bombs or accept these terms and continue a “slow death” under the pitiless blockade imposed by Israel since 2007. Many Gazans are saying they prefer the first of these two painful options.

A story by Anne Barnard on July 17 describes this attitude, which is pervasive in Gaza, even among non-Hamas supporters, but the editors would rather not delve further into this issue.

In other reports, however, we can hear the voices of these Gazans. Ali Abunimah in the Electronic Intifada shares some of them with us via tweets that have come directly out of the battered strip: “We’d rather not waste this blood by going back to misery,” wrote one. Another wrote with bitter irony: “Let’s call it a day and announce a ceasefire so we can go back to killing you slowly like we’ve been doing for 8 years. Sincerely, Israel.”

The anguishing choice imposed on the people of Gaza is a far more compelling story than that of Israel’s effort to balance its desire for “legitimacy” in the eyes of the world with its determination to wipe out Hamas and anyone else who tries to resist its domination over the people of Palestine.

If the ideal imperatives of journalism were at work in the Times, we would have equal coverage of the anguish in Gaza; we would hear about Hamas ceasefire offers (reasonable and longstanding); we would hear the voices of Gaza civilians expressing their determined resistance. But the Times, like the United States government, is blindly Israeli-centric and appears to have never entertained such a possibility.

Barbara Erickson

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