A Moral Morass at the NY Times

As the death toll tops 1,650 in Gaza, The New York Times highlights the loss of one Israeli soldier, and as thousands protest the Israeli assault in Washington, D.C., the newspaper ignores the event and runs a column calling such opposition anti-Semitic.

Today’s Times shows the newspaper sunk into a moral morass in its coverage of the carnage in Gaza. The page 1 story briefly touches on the terrible toll among the residents of Gaza in the fourth paragraph of the article and devotes the rest to the captured soldier and a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A page 11 graphic of damage in the Gaza Strip indicates lost infrastructure and agricultural land but gives no mention to the loss of lives. And an op-ed by Roger Cohen tells us that protests in Europe are misguided and encourage anti-Semitism.

We get only a piece of the real story out of Gaza in an article at the bottom of page 10, “Hospitals in Gaza Overwhelmed as Attacks Continue.” Unfortunately, this is provided for color, not for news, and the story is missing the hard information readers need—reports from human rights organizations and the United Nations, percentages of civilians killed and other details.

As for the story out of Washington, D.C., the news that thousands from around the country massed outside the White House to protest the massacres in Gaza, the Times provides no coverage at all.

Readers must look elsewhere for news censored in the Times; fortunately, it is not hard to find.

A good start is an  Al Jazeera story titled “Palestinians struggle to ‘dig out bodies’” and subtitled “Dozens of dead bodies remain under the rubble in Rafah, as Israel’s assault on southern Gaza kills scores of civilians.” Here we find the real news of the day, the timelines, data and human stories missing from the Times.

They can also visit The Institute for Middle East Understanding, which documents the destruction of entire families in its report, “Israel’s Mass Killing of Palestinian Families in Gaza.” The article features a photo of the Kelani family (two girls, three boys and two adults), completely wiped out by an Israeli airstrike, and it lists other families destroyed during the present operation.

Readers may also want to see a blog post by Richard Silverstein, which informs us that the Israeli army deliberately killed the captured soldier under the terms of what is known as the Hannibal Directive (See yesterday’s TimesWarp post). It is probable that Times reporters know this but are unwilling (and also forbidden by military censors) to write about it. The story today simply says the “circumstances surrounding his death remained cloudy.”

For information about the demonstration in Washington, D.C. yesterday, readers can turn to The Washington Post, “Thousands from across country protest in support of Palestinians near White House.” Here they will learn that the protest included many American Jews, including members of Jewish Voice for Peace.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is nearly beyond imagination, and Israel bears responsibility. The Times today evades these facts and deliberately obscures the terrible carnage a military powerhouse has inflicted on a helpless population.

Editors and reporters cannot plead ignorance here. They have chosen to avoid and obfuscate the real news, betraying their own stated values as journalists and the universal values of a moral society.

Barbara Erickson

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