Playing to Israel’s Tune, The NY Times Turns Its Back on the Suffering in Gaza

The editorial team at The New York Times has told readers what to think about the latest ceasefire in Gaza: Hamas is to blame for the devastation, it says, and Israelis are feeling psychological and social pain in the wake of the attack.

“Making the Gaza Cease-Fire Last,” acknowledges the numbers of Palestinian dead but goes on to emphasize how awful this has been for Israelis. In a list of “important but less tangible costs,” it names not a single cost on the Palestinian side. We have nothing but Israeli concerns—the fear of rockets, strains on relations with the United States and international criticism.

Even a casual reader can see what is wrong here: This is all about Israel once again. Yes, the editors say, more than 1,800 Palestinians have died, but let’s look at how Israel is hurting.

Thus, on the list of intangibles, Israeli fears of rocket attacks (which have killed a total of three people) get mention, but there is nothing about the traumatized children of Gaza, who have seen their companions killed and have often suffered crippling injuries themselves. This is most certainly an “intangible” worth noting.

Also on the editors’ list is the fact that Israel’s assault has created “bitter strains” with its allies. This is more important in their eyes than a devastated health system in Gaza, the lack of potable water and tens of thousands of displaced persons.

The editorial also provides us with a list of conditions that should come out of negotiations between the parties. Here the editors give first place to the end of rocket attacks against Israel and a halt to the smuggling of weapons. Nothing is said about Hamas’s reasonable demand to end the blockade. Last on the list is “an international donors’ conference to rebuild Gaza.”

We should note that in proposing this conference, the Times is not saying Israel should help rebuild the structures and lives it has destroyed. This, as usual, would be up to the international community, even though Israel, as the occupying power, is obliged by law to provide for the people under its control.

The Times takes it cues from Israel, not from the international organizations working to help the people of Gaza nor, of course, from the Palestinians. Thus, we have no mention of the major issues highlighted in the latest situation report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, an organization experienced in tallying data and assessing needs in the occupied Palestinian territories.

This office, which draws on information from a number of groups, listed these urgent concerns:

  • “Thousands of explosive remnants of war are posing a major threat to children, farmers, [internally displaced persons] returning home and humanitarian workers.
  • “Alternative housing will be needed for the approximately 65,000 people whose homes have been destroyed or damaged beyond repair.
  • “373,000 children require psychosocial support.
  • “87,000 people are still in [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] shelters.”

None of this appears in the editorial today. It is not even news within the pages of the newspaper. All the concern is for Israel, although it is responsible for immense suffering. Once again Times editors have turned their backs on the anguish in Gaza, doing their best to have us look elsewhere, playing to the tune of Israel’s leaders.

Barbara Erickson

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