This is amazing. The Israeli government held the hundreds of illegally-arrested people from the Gaza Flotilla incommunicado for several days to give Israel's version of the deadly raid time to harden. But yesterday, Israel started to release and deport the prisoners.
The London Financial Times then did exactly what a newspaper is supposed to do; it asked the detainees for their side of the story. In a short article, Vita Bekker found people like Norazma Abdullah, from Malaysia, who challenged the Israeli account:
[The Israeli commandos] fired with some rubber bullets, but after some time they used live ammunition. Five were dead on the spot, and after that we surrendered.
Let us turn now to The New York Times. In today's print edition, the main article, on page 1, is not directly about the Gaza Flotilla at all -- but a dispatch from Washington quoting "senior American officials" suggesting Israel should relax the blockade. Inside the paper, on page 4, we do see a story about the actual events, written by Michael Slackman, with contributions from 4 other Times reporters. The story repeats the Israeli version, that
soldiers opened fire when they said they were attacked by passengers with chains, knives, bars and clubs.
But none of The Times's army of correspondents found a single activist to interview. The Times did manage to locate Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, and a couple of Israeli experts, but not one of the people who had just seen (at least) 9 people killed were worthy of inclusion.
The current online version of the Times story still has no direct quotes from the actual participants, although it adds the news that one of the dead may have been an American citizen (of Turkish background). But it does include an intriguing revelation,
The senior Turkish official also said forensic examination of the bodies showed that one of the dead had been shot at very close range.
This startling new fact is buried in the 7th paragraph of the online article.
Will The Times pursue this angle? Or will we continue to have to look at other publications to find out the simple truth?
P.S. Keith Olbermann interviewed Ambassador Peck yesterday, Peck was aboard.