Believe in the Tooth Fairy? Then Read the NY Times

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:

Barbara Erickson

In the Service of Israel, The NY Times Opts for Incoherence

It’s mainly about Hamas in today’s New York Times story out of Gaza. Even as we hear of Palestinian resilience in the face of a prolonged assault, the subtle secondary message is straight out of Israeli propaganda: These people are suffering because of Hamas.

It’s not an easy spin to make in the face of broad support for the resistance in the beleaguered territory, but Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren gives it her best. The result is an internally inconsistent story with assertions that contradict its own reporting.

High in the article she states that Gazans are angry at Israel, Arab leaders, Western officials and “even quietly at the Palestinian militants who built tunnels under their neighborhoods.” The implication here is that ordinary citizens are afraid to speak out and criticize Hamas for endangering their lives by fighting in residential areas.

This fits neatly into the Israeli claim that the civilian death toll has been high because Hamas and other militants operate in densely populated neighborhoods. It also fits into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s charge that Hamas prevents the truth from coming out. (He recently told this to a group of international journalists, who firmly rejected his charge.)

Rudoren asserts in her story today that open dissent against Hamas “is seen as dangerous.” To bolster her claim, she quotes a woman who insults Hamas and is told off by a man who disagrees. We are expected to take his words as a warning for her to be careful, but in fact, it tells us that people are not afraid to speak their minds openly and in public.

This is underscored in Rudoren’s interview with a local resident, who says that “he and his neighbors ‘do not allow the resistance to strike from here.’” This makes one thing clear: that the residents themselves have the final say in whether militants are fighting in their neighborhoods. It flies against the claim that they live in fear and are afraid to express their thoughts.

Her story also makes a general statement about Gazan attitudes toward the resistance: “They were proud of the performance of militants led by the Islamist Hamas faction, who managed to kill 64 soldiers and repeatedly penetrated Israel underground and even briefly shutter the airport in Tel Aviv.”

Rudoren goes on to quote a woman who called the tunnels “brilliant” and a stroke of “genius.” She also tells of a former Hamas critic who wrote that Israel had created “thousands—no millions—of Hamas loyalists.” None of this jibes with her message that the tunnels endangered the people of Gaza and they resent Hamas for getting them into the war.

It is likely that Rudoren was fishing for quotes to use in her effort to present Hamas as the villain, not as the protector, asking residents if they resented the tunnels in their neighborhoods. She found some critics, of course—one said the idea “bothered him,” another said the cement should have been used for homes—but in quoting them she undermines her claim that dissent is “dangerous.” Neither man was afraid to give his name to a reporter nor to speak out in front of others.

The effects of Israeli spin are also evident in a story by Isabel Kershner and Merna Thomas on ceasefire talks. They report (far down in the article) that more than 1,900 Palestinians have died, “a majority of them probably civilians.”

This is a serious erosion of the facts. The United Nations, which is experienced and trusted in collecting such data, has put the civilian toll at “at least 1,395” out of a total of 1,960, including 458 children and 237 women. There is nothing probable about the fact that the vast majority of victims were civilians.

The Times, however, gives deference to Israeli efforts to deny the evidence of this terrible toll, even though the government has a clear agenda in doing so. The newspaper would rather stand with Israel, the party responsible for this massacre, than report information from an independent source.

In the ceasefire story, this Israeli-centric bias gives us a deliberate distortion of reality. In the story out of Gaza today, the same dynamic is at work, and here it creates an incoherent narrative, an attempt to undermine its own findings and more obfuscation in the service of Israel.

Barbara Erickson

[For those of you who would like to let the Times know what you think about their coverage of Palestine and Israel, there is a perfect opportunity right now in an ongoing effort by the US Campaign to End the Israel Occupation. Click here and find out what you can do.]

Israeli War Crimes: Too Much Even for the NY Times

The New York Times has at last come out with two good front-page stories about Israeli atrocities in Gaza. After weeks of blatant and subtle efforts to obscure the reality of war crimes, it seems that Israel’s bloodbath has finally become too much even for the Times.

We have a breaking news account of an Israeli missile strike that killed 10 people lined up for food rations at a United Nations school in Rafah, and we have a look at a past shelter attack in Jabaliya. Both stories finger Israel as the culprit.

The article about the Jabaliya attack tells of vain efforts to get detailed information from the Israeli army and throws doubt on an army video purported to show that no one was present when one of their shells struck the compound.

Such reports are refreshing when we consider the usual deference Times reporters show to Israeli security forces pronouncements. But today’s approach does not extend to Israeli officials’ claims about the number of combatants killed. Rather than accept the carefully acquired and documented data supplied by the United Nations, the Rafah story gives equal weight to  unnamed Israeli officials who throw out their own claims about the combatant toll.

Thus, we do not read that more than 80 percent of the dead have been civilians, as UN research has shown, but that estimates “varied widely, with some Israeli officials suggesting that the number [of combatants killed] was more than 700 [out of a total of 1,822].”

Nevertheless, we can be grateful for the stories today and perhaps note that the two stories fall into line with the reaction of U.S. officials. The White House and state department also finally broke their silence on Israeli war crimes and expressed outrage at the latest killings. Thus we find the Times in its usual posture of supporting the official American stance.

The big question now is whether the Times will continue to question Israeli spin and begin to place the latest assault in the context of the seven-year siege of Gaza and the occupation of Palestinian land.

We should hope that Times readers will soon receive a comprehensive look at what the present attacks have done to agricultural land, utilities, water resources, schools, homes, hospitals and other necessities of life. And we should hope that the Times would do this in the context of international law, taking a hard look at Israel’s intentions in inflicting such grievous damage on an already impoverished population.

We can express these hopes, encouraged by today’s change of tone, but based on past experience, we cannot do so with any confidence.

Barbara Erickson

When Israel’s in the War Crimes Dock, It’s Time to Shout, “Hamas!”

When the news points to Israeli war crimes, what do you do at The New York Times? You give prime booking to the enemies of Hamas and hustle the real news offstage.

Thus, although the big story concerns Israel’s role in two massacres in Gaza yesterday, we have a front page article about how Arab leaders hate Hamas so much they are lining up behind Israel in the present conflict. (The Arab street, however, is another issue, only glossed over here.)

Times readers have to look inside the print edition or search the World or Middle East section online to find a story about the most recent Israeli bombing of a United Nations school. (Another attack took place last week and left 16 dead.) This latest strike killed at least 20 people and brought swift condemnation from UN officials, who did not hesitate to blame Israel.

Also buried in this story is the news that 17 people died when Israel shelled a market place (identified in the story only as “an area in east Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood”) during a declared humanitarian pause. The story by Ben Hubbard and Jodi Rudoren gives Israel the benefit of the doubt by saying there was “confusion” over the ceasefire.

The headline on this article also fudges the issue: “Israel Shells Are Said to Hit a U.N. School.” A front-page caption and the story about Arab states, however, state outright that Israel was at fault.

With all this evidence of Israeli war crimes, the Times prefers to talk about Hamas, and in today’s page 1 story we are expected to conclude that Hamas is so beyond the pale that even other Arabs cannot support them. All this is very much in line with Israeli talking points, and it is ultimately destructive to the efforts to reach a just peace accord.

As an antidote to the “let’s all hate Hamas” (and thus let Israel off the hook) mantra, TimesWarp readers might want to visit a recent blog post, “Cruelties of Ceasefire Diplomacy,” by international law expert and former UN special rapporteur Richard Falk. In this article, Falk lays out the sensible argument that it is necessary to stop demonizing Hamas and speak with the group directly.

He refers to similar moves that have brought peace in Northern Ireland and Turkey:

“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [was congratulated] for ending the violence in Turkey two years ago by agreeing with the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, to initiate conflict-resolving negotiations in good faith and abandon the ‘terrorist’ label.

“Some years ago I heard former British Prime Minister John Major say that he made progress toward peace in Northern Ireland only when he stopped treating the Irish Republican Army as a terrorist organization and began dealing with it as a political actor with genuine grievances. If a secure peace were ever to become Israel’s true objective, this is a lesson to be learned and imitated.”

Rather than sum up the latest Times efforts to obfuscate the news out of Gaza, I would like to end with two quotes from UN officials:

“After three weeks of conflict, no one can doubt that there are no safe places for the children of Gaza. Today, another UN school, used to shelter 3,300 displaced people was hit by Israeli shelling, despite clear information provided to the Israeli army from the UN that the school was housing IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons]. Civilians, including children, were killed and injured. I strongly condemn this grave violation of international law.” Statement by Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, 30 July 2014.

“Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced. … I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces. … We have moved beyond the realm of humanitarian action alone. We are in the realm of accountability. I call on the international community to take deliberate international political action to put an immediate end to the continuing carnage.” Statement by UNRWA  [United Nationa Relief and Works Agency] Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl, 30 July 2014.

Barbara Erickson

IDF Lies and NY Times Reporting

It seems that even The New York Times has begun to doubt the Israeli army’s protestations of innocence when yet another civilian structure and yet another group of children are bombed in Gaza. Within its pages we find a mismatch between reports and quotes, a sign that today, at least, healthy skepticism is at work.

Under a page 1 print edition photo of Israelis taking cover from a rocket attack, the caption includes this sentence: “In Gaza on Tuesday, an Israeli strike hit the territory’s only power plant, cutting electricity.” (The sentence is missing or has been removed from the online caption.) The same information is repeated fairly high in a story on page 6, “Loss of Shelter and Electricity Worsens a Crisis for Fleeing Gazans.”

That article, by Ben Hubbard, also quotes the ubiquitous Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, the Israeli army spokesperson, as saying he did not know the source of the attack. Hubbard makes no attempt to reconcile this with his straight- out statement of Israeli responsibility earlier in the story.

Another page 6 story by Isabel Kershner and Fares Akram gives more weight to Lerner, quoting his insistence that the electric facility “was not a target.” It reports only that “Palestinian sources” had charged Israel with hitting the plant.

But someone at the Times did not buy the army’s version of the affair. Whoever wrote the caption stated clearly that Israel is responsible, and Hubbard’s report is left intact.

We have only one named source for the information about Israeli responsibility, Jamal Dardasawi of the Gaza power company, quoted in Hubbard’s story. Normally, a single Palestinian voice would weigh less than an army spokesperson in the Times, but it seems that new factors are at work here.

Either the Times has developed a healthy skepticism about army claims or it has other information that it has not revealed. (Perhaps both.) This is all for the good, but it would be better yet if the newspaper could state outright that Lt. Lerner’s statements are to be taken with a grain of salt and show us why this is so.

Times editors are not lacking in proof of Israeli army mendacity. In a March 2013 cover article in the Sunday magazine, Ben Ehrenreich tells of his arrest during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. He had presented his press card to the soldiers and stated outright that he was a journalist. The soldiers acknowledged this but took him into custody anyway.

Ehrenreich, who was taken to an army base, describes the following: “While I was sitting on a bench an I.D.F. spokesman called my cellphone to inform me that no journalists with press cards had been detained in Nabi Saleh. I disagreed. (The next day, according to Agence France-Presse, the I.D.F. denied I had been arrested.)”

The arrest of a journalist is a minor matter compared with the killing of children on a beach or the bombing of a hospital. If the army has been proven untrustworthy even in relatively benign circumstances, the Times should treat its claims with care. This seems to be the case today. It would be nice to believe that today’s coverage signals a change within the Times, but such hopes have proven false before.

Barbara Erickson

As More Children Die in Gaza, the NY Times Frets over “Israeli Fear”

Eight children died on a Gaza beach yesterday, but The New York Times has buried this news inside its pages. It has preferred to give bigger play elsewhere, in yet another story about tunnels and how these have shaken the Israeli psyche.

Tunnels Lead Right to Heart of Israeli Fear” by Jodi Rudoren appears on page 1. This is the third article about tunnels leading from Gaza into Israel in as many weeks. Like both of the others, there is no mention of a single terrorist attack via these tunnels even though they have been in place for months and years.

Nevertheless, the Times continues to dwell on the possibility of such attacks, and Rudoren tells us that Israelis are talking of “nightmare scenarios that are the stuff of action movies.” The tunnels “have lurked in the dark spaces of Israeli imagination,” she writes, since Hamas used one to abduct an Israeli soldier in 2006.

Meanwhile, the residents of Gaza face concrete threats, not chimeras of the imagination. In one terrible moment yesterday 10 people died on a beach as they celebrated the end of Ramadan. The dead included eight children, dressed in new holiday clothes, who had been playing on the sand when a missile fell from above.

Times readers learn of this tragedy three paragraphs into a story on page 6 under the headline “New Strikes Shatter Lull in Israel and Gaza.” (Online the headline is even more off the point: “Israeli Leader Sees no Quick End to Gaza War.”) The story states that Hamas blamed Israel for the attack, but it gives more space to the army’s denial of responsibility and its claim that the missile was an errant rocket launched by Hamas.

The article by Isabel Kershner and Ben Hubbard fails to include the news that eyewitnesses said the missile came from an airstrike. We find this information in other media accounts (here and here) but not in the Times.

About the time of the beach massacre, another missile damaged the outpatient clinic of Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza. The Times duly notes the Israeli denial of responsibility for this strike also and takes pains to say that the clinic was obviously unused.

As if the play of stories in the Times today were not enough to reveal an Israeli-centric bias at work, we also have a column by David Brooks, which tells us that this is really not a war between Hamas and Israel, but a “proxy war” driven by forces beyond the borders of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

“No War Is an Island” is the title of this piece, which ignores the fact that Israel is the occupier while Hamas and all Palestinians are the occupied. “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become just a stage on which the regional clashes in the Arab world are being expressed,” Brooks writes. To make such an assertion about this particular conflict is absurd to the point of no return.

But even worse is Brooks’s charge that Hamas is deliberately sacrificing the people of Gaza in order to gain points. He states, “If Arab TV screens were filled with dead Palestinian civilians, then public outrage would force Egypt to lift the blockade. Civilian casualties were part of the point.”

He ignores the Times‘s own reports revealing that even Hamas opponents in Gaza reject a ceasefire unless it eases the misery of the Israeli blockade. Brooks disregards the facts of Israeli provocation, the blockade itself, the occupation and dispossession of Palestinian land and Israel’s responsibility for the deaths of innocent civilians.

His is an unsubtle, in-your-face argument, but the Times is holding out a similar view even as it strives to give the appearance of a “balance” in its pages. In its omissions, its choice of headlines and placement of stories, the newspaper attempts to deflect our gaze from Israeli responsibility for the carnage in Gaza.

Barbara Erickson

As Gazans Pull Bodies from the Rubble, the NY Times Strives to Give Israel the Moral High Ground

There is a bright spot in The New York Times today, a story out of Gaza by Ben Hubbard, but the editors would rather you placed your attention elsewhere, on their efforts to sell the Israeli point of view over the news of Palestinian deaths.

The front page of the print edition gives us a teaser, “One-Sided Cease-Fire in Gaza,” directing readers to a Page 10 article on Israel’s acceptance of a ceasefire extension, an agreement rejected by Hamas. The online edition also prominently displayed this story.

Meanwhile, Hubbard’s story is relegated to the bottom of the page and tagged with a skewed headline: “Pause in the Fighting Gives Civilians on Both Sides a Moment to Take Stock.” This implies parity in the experiences of the two populations, but the article makes it clear that there is no such thing.

“The 12-hour lull granted people an ability to move,” he writes, “with Israelis visiting their troops and Palestinians discovering damaged neighborhoods and dead bodies.” The story tells of “vast destruction” that “in places stretched for blocks.” In the Gaza area called Beit Hanoun, “scores of buildings, including a hospital and a mosque had been damaged or destroyed.”

And then there are the dead, a total of 1,139 at that point, the vast majority civilians. Hubbard tells of one attack, just before dawn, when the truce was to take effect. This assault on a home killed 21 people in the al-Najjar family.

Hubbard asks the Israeli security forces to explain this massacre and tells us that the army has nothing to say. A spokesperson “could not explain the airstrike some 19 hours after it happened,” he writes.

This is all worth reading, but the Times places its emphasis elsewhere, on the ceasefire story, which seeks to disparage Hamas because it rejected terms that left Israeli soldiers still deployed in Gaza. The paper also runs a lengthy article on the opposite page, “Amid Outcry Abroad, a Wealth of Backing in Israel for Netanyahu.”

This story, by Jodi Rudoren, mentions “mounting international outcry over civilian casualties” but provides no details about these protests. She says only that Israelis are feeling isolated and “outraged over the anti-Semitic tinge of pro-Palestinian protests around the world.”

Readers hear nothing about the specific charges against Israel, the numbers of protestors taking to the streets nor the expressions of condemnation and alarm emanating from the United Nations and human rights groups. We also learn nothing about what has given the protests an “anti-Semitic tinge.”

We do hear a lot about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is presented in the best possible light as a “guy who has a historical view of events,” patient even with his opponents and “very human.”

Readers need to look elsewhere to learn about the “international outcry.” They can read that more than a million people have taken to the streets to protest the carnage in Gaza, that the International Red Cross has protested Israel’s attacks on medical workers and that even evangelical Christians are abandoning support for Israel.

They can also see photos of some of the massive demonstrations taking place in cities around the world.

Fortunately, we had Ben Hubbard in Gaza even though Times editors would rather that you give his reporting less attention than their attempts to promote Israel. We shall see how long this journalist is allowed to report from the beleaguered territory and what happens to his future articles in the Times.

Barbara Erickson

How to Spin an Atrocity: Lessons from the NY Times

More than a dozen civilians die under a barrage of fire at a United Nations shelter, and The New York Times is faced once again with a dilemma: how to report the news and at the same time deflect any blame directed at Israel.

In today’s story about the tragic shelling of a school in Gaza, the Times draws on its own arsenal of spin: blurring the focus of the article and withholding information that is crucial to understanding what happened.

Although the event merits a breaking news story with a direct statement of the facts, the Times begins with a “soft” opening about families seeking shelter. This provides a broader (and fuzzier) emphasis and delays mention of the actual event until the third paragraph.

Even before the relevant information comes to light, however, the story by Ben Hubbard and Jodi Rudoren tells us that “war approached” the area where the shelter, a UN school, was located. In fact, it was the Israeli army that was approaching the area, and it was Israel that had invaded Gaza in the first place.

Times readers are told that “the source of the blasts remains unclear,” and the paper quotes an Israeli army source who said, “There was combat there.” He also suggested that the shells may have come from Hamas rockets.

Careful readers will note that this claim is thrown into doubt by the quotes at the end of the article where the families of victims “all denied that there had been Hamas fighters in the area.” If they had been present, one Palestinian told the Times, “We would have died a long time ago.”

The story omits a significant development: The Israeli army later stated that it had fired in the area of the school (claiming that Hamas was shooting rockets there). It also omits crucial information found in other news reports.

In The Christian Science Monitor we hear from those who were present at the scene: “Multiple witnesses described multiple explosions in the attack on the shelter, and said they appeared to be shelling from Israeli tanks positioned within range of the school.”

And in The Guardian we get a firsthand inspection of the site: “There was no visible evidence of debris from broken Palestinian rockets in the school. The injuries and the number of fatalities were consistent with a powerful explosion that sent shrapnel tearing through the air, in some cases causing traumatic amputations.

“The surrounding neighbourhood bore evidence of multiple Israeli attacks, including smoke from numerous artillery rounds and air strikes. One building was entirely engulfed by flames.”

A simple look at the scene of a crime should be basic journalistic practice, but the Times, with all its resources and staff in Gaza, failed to give its readers anything like this. In its eyes, it is better to stick with officialdom, no matter how far from the scene these spokespersons are and no matter how biased.

The Times also runs an editorial today, insisting that “there are competing claims” over who was responsible and “that could take time to sort out.” The editors certainly knew of the Israeli army admission and the reports from the scene, but they preferred to look the other way.

Fortunately, readers do not have to rely on the Times with its obfuscations and unconscionable omissions. The real news is available elsewhere, only a few clicks away on the Internet.

Barbara Erickson

UN Report: “One Child Killed in Gaza Every Hour”

For the story that should appear in The New York Times today, go instead to a recent United Nations report by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. There you will find the news that the Times is avoiding, as it prefers to write around the peripheries of the carnage in Gaza.

The OCHA Gaza Situation Report for July 22 tells us: “One child has been killed in Gaza every hour for the past two days.” It highlights “intense overcrowding in shelters” and concern about “eight shelters and thousands of households that could not be reached for two consecutive days, due to intense fighting.”

The report also informs us that, “a request for a humanitarian pause has been rejected by the Israeli authorities.”

All this is alarming news and eminently newsworthy, but rather than give due attention to Israel’s massacre of Gaza’s civilians, especially its children, the Times today features a front page story on how Hamas came to “gamble on” this war. It also presents a cluster of articles on the following topics: how an Israeli soldier went missing, the cancellation of flights to Tel Aviv over safety concerns and Israelis who find entertainment in watching the battle from a hilltop.

This is smoke and mirrors in the newspaper world, providing the appearance of reporting on an issue but evading the real story unfolding in Gaza.

The UN, however, tells us this: “The killing of multiple members of the same families as a result of the targeting of homes became increasingly frequent in the past few days, with at least five families (36 individuals) almost completely erased during the previous reporting period alone.”

And this: “The huge loss of civilian life, alongside credible reports about incidents where civilians or civilian objects (including homes) have been directly hit by Israeli shelling, in circumstances where there was no rocket fire or armed group activity in the close vicinity, raise concerns about the principles of distinction and proportionality under international humanitarian law.”

Readers who depend on the Times to inform them are unlikely to know any of this. Even though the newspaper provides a daily body count, this gives no breakdown of Palestinian casualties into civilians, women and children. The “Toll in Gaza and Israel, Day by Day” is more smoke and mirrors from the Times.

One exception to Times coverage today is the blog by Robert Mackey, “Palestinian Family Finds Missing Son in YouTube Video of His Shooting.” The video shows a man lying helpless and wounded in the rubble of Gaza and the moment he is shot and killed by a sniper. Mackey frequently provides news omitted from the more easily accessed pages of the Times.

In addition to Mackey’s blog, TimesWarp readers may want to read:

Journalist Jonathan Cook on how the media ignored Hamas’s claim of capturing an Israeli soldier, “Media follow Israeli line on captured soldier.”

Larry Derfner on how Netanyahu provoked the war with Hamas. This article provides the background and timeline missing from the front-page story today on how Hamas has gambled on a war with Israel.

[TimesWarp remains somewhat abbreviated as we continue to travel in the Pacific Northwest.]

Barbara Erickson

 

 

 

 

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