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‘NYT’ ignores gigantic elephant named Gaza in the room

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Post-Gaza massacre, it’s easy to see the changing discourse about Israel/Palestine across the country among Americans and American Jews.

The diverse coalition that supported the divestment resolution at U.C. Berkeley, including prominent Jewish voices like Judith Butler, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky, is but one indication of how Israel’s war crimes in Gaza and the ongoing blockade have shaken people to the core. It’s part of the “consequences” that Israel is dealing with after the world witnessed the “truth” in Gaza–one of the main points Norman Finkelstein makes in his latest book. As Finkelstein said at a recent lecture at New York University, most students are not going to run around defending a state that drops white phosphorus on a trapped and densely-packed civilian population. Over 300 dead children, the massacre of the Samouni family, the continued closure of Gaza from the outside world, the Goldstone report—that’s a big reason why dissent about Israel is growing.

The New York Times continues to ignore the gigantic elephant in the room named Gaza in a piece that ran yesterday titled, “On Israel, Jews and Leaders Often Disagree.” Instead, the Times points to the diplomatic spat between Obama and Netanyahu over the construction of illegal settlements in East Jerusalem as the reason why there are “serious questions about whether the traditional leadership of the American Jewish world is fully supported by the mass of American Jews.”

That’s probably true, but it’s certainly not the whole story.

It follows a pattern of corporate media when discussing Israel/Palestine: the emphasis is on the "peace process,” the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, and the Israeli government. There’s very little discussion about the people of Gaza’s suffering, the leadership of Hamas, and the deep divisions in Palestinian politics caused, in part, by the U.S. arming Fatah and trying to overthrow Hamas after the Islamist group won elections in 2006.

It’s as if the media is actively aiding the continuation of a “West Bank first” approach pushed by the Bush administration, and continued by Obama, where Hamas is ignored and isolated instead of being seen as an important player in Palestinian politics, and the Palestinian Authority is propped up by the U.S. and Israel.

The times may be a-changing at the grassroots, but whether it’s ignoring the Gaza massacre when discussing why some American Jews are sharply criticizing Israel and joining the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, or ignoring the politics of Gaza when talking about a Palestinian state and the “peace process,” the Times is lagging behind.

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