The latest Israeli assault on Gaza is being covered in a new way in the United States mainstream. Slowly but surely, an alternative voice is trickling into the stream. Not much but a trickle, changing the picture of Palestinians in the American discourse.
Exhibit A, Ayman Mohyeldin. The NBC reporter is in Gaza and had the first report on the Nightly News last night. Brian Williams introduced him by saying that Palestinians are “trapped” in Gaza in a “lopsided” conflict, and don’t have a warning or defense system like the one that the U.S. helped buy for the Israelis. Williams:
While what we are watching in the Middle East is not an all out war, at least not yet, it is so far a rather lopsided conflict. While hundred of rockets fired by Hamas continue to rain down on Israel, causing a huge number of Israelis to take cover every single day, their air forces and defenses are far superior, from their warning sirens to their jets and bombs and helicopters and drones. And the rocket shield they call Iron Dome, paid for in part by close to $1 billion US dollars. The Palestinians are more or less trapped in Gaza, with no sirens to warn civilians of an incoming strike– as the Israelis continue to hit back when stuck. The Palestinian death toll in Gaza stands at 90, mostly civilians.
Mohyeldin’s sympathies are clear: He regards the people of Gaza as…. people. The great thing about his report is that it wasn’t about civilians being torn limb from limb by bombs, as they are being torn. It was about an ordinary individual whose dreams were destroyed by the bombs: a young woman who wants a baby and who has undergone years of expensive fertility treatment, and was at last pregnant. She miscarried after her house was destroyed by bombs.
— Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) July 10, 2014
More trickles. ProPublica has a report up from Uri Blau about how an Israeli extremist organization gets a tax subsidy from the US government for contributions:
A controversial Israeli organization that’s representing the six men recently arrested in the recent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager is receiving thousands of dollars in tax-deductible support from Americans. The group, called Honenu (which roughly translates to “pardon”), supports Israelis charged with or convicted of violence against Palestinians.
Honenu’s work goes well goes beyond legal aid.
The group says it also provides “spiritual” and “financial” assistance to prisoners and their families. Among those Honenu has helped: Yigal Amir, assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; an Israeli convicted of murdering seven Palestinians at a bus stop…
The New York Times also mentions Honenu in a front-page story on extremists in Israeli society: “Killing of Palestinian Youth Puts an Israeli Focus on Extremism.” Steven Erlanger quotes a lot of Jews shaking their heads over the crazy nutbags in our religion and in Israeli society. Here’s the message:
“[Deborah Weissman, a Jewish educator] said that though the killers appeared to represent ‘a very marginal phenomenon,’ their very existence demanded that Jewish Israelis reflect on their identity and history.”
The piece overlooks the Israeli government’s role in this extremism; it says nothing about Benjamin Netanyahu’s talk of “vengeance” and “human animals” that preceded the Jewish terrorist murder of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, let alone his incitement before the murder of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. But it’s a step forward for the Times to be talking about Jewish extremism on the front page, a year after Max Blumenthal published Goliath, a landmark book on the subject that the NYT has studiously ignored.
Another trickle. Adam Bronfman, son of the late Israel lobbyist Edgar Bronfman, writes in the Times of Israel that the occupation is to blame for endless “vitriol,” including the latest round of violence. He calls it “the settlements,” but he means occupation.
the settlements are the greatest impediment to enduring peace in Israel, and the deaths of four innocent children last week [three Israeli teens and Mohammed Abu Khdeir] should cause us to examine our own beliefs and actions….
In the last few days, the forces of battle have once again unleashed over Israel and the Palestinian territories as missiles rain down on major Israeli population centers and the Israeli air force strikes in Gaza. The violence escalates and more families will be ripped apart and more children will die. Inevitably, the chasm between Jew and Arab widens. As a father of four, my heart breaks for the families who lost their young sons and I fear for the families in harm’s way. As a Jew and a supporter of Israel, I feel compelled to speak. I strongly believe that we can trace the trail of missed opportunities and increased vitriol directly from the first self-righteous construction of settlements. We must call for an end to settlements now and begin to heal from the destruction and suffering they have brought with them.
There’s also American Jewish reaction to report. A day after Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer attacked the New York Times in Buzzfeed for a moderate editorial on the conflict– “5 Reasons Why New York Times Editorial Today Is An Embarrassment To Journalism–”
The New Republic ran a remarkably similar attack that offered three reasons the NYT editorial was so bad, by Yishai Schwartz. I seem to hear an echo:
1. The New York Times writes that “after days of near silence,” Prime Minister Netanyahu condemned the murder of a Palestinian teenager on Sunday.
1. The editorial chides Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his “days of near silence” after the brutal murder of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir…
The New Republic piece doesn’t plagiarize him, it parrots the Israeli ambassador. “Taking a foreign government’s propaganda as a template and publishing it as an independent view just slightly adjusted– that’s pure propaganda, not journalism,” observes a shrewd friend.
More reaction. Will Saletan at Slate says that Israel is bending over backwards to avoid killing civilians. “Israel, unlike Hamas, isn’t trying to kill civilians. It’s taking pains to spare them.” I think this counts as supreme indifference to Palestinian suffering:
As of Wednesday afternoon, the death count ranged from 30 to 50 or more, depending on where you mark the onset of the conflict. Every death is tragic, and the longer the assault goes on, the higher the toll will go. Still, given that Israel has launched more than 500 airstrikes, you’d have to conclude that either Israel is failing miserably to kill people or, more plausibly, it’s largely trying not to kill them.
“Largely” covers a multitude of sins, or civilians.
More propaganda. Fox News has a horrifying report up, an interview of the conservative columnist Ben Shapiro in which he describes the Obama administration as “borderline Jew-hating.” Media Matters has publicized the matter: Host Megyn Kelly primes the pump, faulting Obama for failing to call Benjamin Netanyahu till after other world leaders had called him, then Shapiro slams Obama for undermining Israel’s ability to target “its enemies” by pressuring Netanyahu– “asking a state that is under the constant threat of rocket attack aimed at civilian centers to ratchet down its targeting of those rockets.”
Shapiro says that the Obama is “creating daylight between the United States and really its only ally in the Middle East.”
This is an anti-Israel administration. It’s the first administration in American history that is obviously anti-Israel. It’s a borderline Jew-hating administration… The daylight that has been created between Israel and the United States has emboldened Israel’s enemies and enemies of the United States.
Shapiro may be right about the daylight; Obama is said to dislike Netanyahu, and who can blame him. The media are finally giving him a little bit of room. Even as Obama is giving a green light to Israeli violence, White House aide Philip Gordon gives a speech saying that the occupation “is not only wrong but a recipe for resentment and recurring instability” that emboldens “extremists on both sides.” Also, note this piece at Foreign Policy in which Michael A. Cohen says that the Democrats are “finally turning against Israel. And it’s high time they did.” The piece offers no real evidence of such a trend; but its publication is itself evidence of a shift.