New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren informs us in the first sentence of a page 1 story today that Hamas “is the party that keeps extending the summer’s bloody battle in the Gaza Strip, repeatedly breaking temporary truces.”
This is an amazing statement to find in a newspaper that claims to provide balance, fairness and “the complete, unvarnished truth” (as stated in its code of Standards and Ethics). In her leading statement, which is reported without any backup details, Rudoren ignores evidence of Israeli intransigence during peace talks and research that shows Israel as a serial truce breaker.
Readers should have been informed of very different news from Palestinian sources: Israel was bombing Gaza yesterday even as Hamas was offering a peace deal. The “Palestinian negotiations delegation accused Israel of failing to respond to an offer for peace,” a Ma’an news agency story states.
“A member of the Palestinian delegations team at ongoing indirect peace talks in Cairo told Ma’an that they were still waiting for a response from Israel on a truce offer they had submitted.” It was a new proposal that offered “some concessions” to Israeli demands, the story added.
None of this appears in Rudoren’s article. Instead, her lead paragraph states that Hamas has vowed “to endlessly fire rockets into Israel until its demands are met.” This fails to acknowledge the latest peace offer (and earlier offers) and also ignores the nature of the demands Hamas has made.
In fact, the demands are reasonable and aimed at relieving the suffering Gaza residents have endured under the blockade imposed by Israel. Hamas has repeatedly asked for relief from this siege and made a ten-point peace offer only last month, which went unreported in the Times.
As for truce breaking, research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty member Nancy Kanwisher showed the following systematic pattern: “It is overwhelmingly Israel, not Palestine, that kills first following a lull. Indeed, it is virtually always Israel that kills first after a lull lasting more than a week.”
After the last ceasefire in 2012, Israel immediately broke the agreement, killing Gaza residents and failing to honor promises to lift the siege and stop incursions into the strip. Another researcher looked at Times’ coverage of these breaches and found that “just 17 of the nearly 120 Israeli ceasefire violations over one year following the 2012 ceasefire were reported on by The New York Times.”
And now today we have the bald assertion in the first sentence of a front-page article that Hamas is to blame for extending the carnage. It is striking that Rudoren does not offer any backup details to bolster her charge nor, apparently, did Times editors ask for it.
Equally disturbing is the lack of reporting from the Palestinian view. Hamas spokespersons appear only at the end of the story and then only to comment on the deaths of three military leaders.
Here we have a Times story that has thrown all efforts at responsible journalism out the window, presenting Israeli assertions as facts, failing to provide data to support these claims and ignoring contrary evidence. Perhaps it is best to end this post with a statement by journalist Glenn Greenwald. After reading Rudoren’s story, he tweeted thus: