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Surprise– ‘NYT’ publishes straightforward report on Israeli human rights violations in Gaza

US Politics
on 27 Comments

In today’s New York Times, reporter Isabel Kershner devotes a substantial article to a new report from B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, saying that Israel likely committed war crimes in its attack on Gaza last summer.

An Israeli human rights group said Israel’s attacks on residential buildings in Gaza during the 50-day war against Hamas last summer appeared in at least some instances to violate the provisions of international law and raised grave legal concerns in others, according to a report to be published on Wednesday…

[B’Tselem] investigated 70 cases in which more than 600 Palestinians were killed inside homes, a majority of them — children, women and men over the age of 60 — considered unlikely to have been involved in the fighting.

Simple as that. How much clearer can you be?  A few paragraphs down, we get the denial from Israeli authorities. But then it goes back to the charges. The bulk of the story is what B’Tselem says in its 49-page report, which is titled “Black Flag: The legal and moral implications of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, summer 2014.” There’s even an interview with B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad. And a paragraph that begins, “The B’Tselem report contains wrenching testimonies from the survivors of 13 houses that were hit.”

Of course the Times should have been doing this all along. As I reported last summer, the Times’s failure to quote B’Tselem’s reports has been a serious omission in its coverage.

In the past two years, B’Tselem has been mentioned only 20 times — and 9 of those appearances were in “The Lede,” a blog by Robert Mackey that is not part of the printed newspaper.

But better late than never. I feel like I’m reading a normal report in a normal newspaper. We salute Kershner.

Now let’s brace for the backlash. This is the kind of thing that will get hasbara worked up, and the full-scale counterattack on the Times is probably already under way. I cannot recall ever reading a news article in the Times that is so clear about Israeli human rights violations.


James North
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27 Responses

  1. just
    January 28, 2015, 4:30 pm

    What can I say?

    Maybe it’s the Baquet effect:

    “Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, believes his newspaper – in company with the US mainstream media – failed their audiences after 9/11.

    He told the German news magazine Der Spiegel that he agreed with the criticism originally made by an NYT reporter, James Risen,

    Baquet said: “The mainstream press was not aggressive enough after 9/11, was not aggressive enough in asking questions about a decision to go to war in Iraq, was not aggressive enough in asking the hard questions about the war on terror. I accept that for the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times”.

    Baquet, in charge of the NYT since May 2014, was previously editor-in-chief of the LA Times. In his wide-ranging interview with Der Spiegel, Baquet also spoke about the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden having chosen to tell his story to the Guardian.

    He said he regards the Guardian as “a new competitor [for the NYT] in the digital age.” He said: “Does it make me nervous that they compete with us and in fact beat us on the Snowden story? Yes.”

    We can only hope for more honest reporting on the issues. Thanks, James.

    • January 28, 2015, 5:57 pm

      Get ready for a deluge of hysterical letters from those raised to believe in fantasyland Israel.

      • Krauss
        January 28, 2015, 6:08 pm

        One of the benefits of seeing an increasingly diverse America is an aversion to neocon(which is really just “liberal” interventionism by another name) ideology.

        That’s because a lot of these people have either relatives or friends whose relatives are being bombed by white-dominated countries.

        As for the NYT. I’m not that surprised that this report came into light of the NYT. It’s an organization of liberal Jews. And most people have forgotten about the Gaza slaughter except for the activist core(on either side). When the issue was hot and the general public was engaged, Judi Rudoren went into the tunnels on IDF-sponsored propaganda tours. We shouldn’t forget that.

        Finally, when will the NYT have a non-Jewish (or even Palestinian) reporter in Israel? And when will they start making reports based on numerous Palestinian organisations’ work? Which is work that is often much deeper and more comprehensive?

        This follows the old pattern: recognize the war crimes once the issue has been forgotten as a half-assed concession to the liberal readership, but only do so quoting Jewish sources, so as to strengthen the narrative of “change from within”(i.e. the liberal Zionism must go on!).

        Despite the rhetoric of massive change, this is more of the same.

    • annie
      January 28, 2015, 7:45 pm

      What can I say?

      Maybe it’s the Baquet effect

      no! it’s the james north effect!

      When will the Times find a Jewish woman who works for the human rights organization B’Tselem and makes challah, and profile her, and tell us how she got to be a leftist? Or tell us how Haneen Zoabi got to be such a compelling political leader in Israel?

      We expect equal treatment. We’re not saying don’t write about Darshan-Leitner, but humanize the other side, too. Tell us what foods they prepare.

      – See more at:

      • just
        January 28, 2015, 7:51 pm

        :-o Annie!

        I am quite sure that the editors are influenced by Mr. James North, his patient and meticulous scrutiny, and his fantastic journalism!!!

        (Kudos to him and Phil Weiss and MW in general for their honest and fair reporting, and their omnipresent & great media watch!)

      • annie
        January 28, 2015, 7:59 pm

        they (nyt publishers, editors, and journos) all probably wake up everyday and check mondoweiss! ;)

  2. Blownaway
    January 28, 2015, 4:40 pm

    What is amazing is to use the interactive tool that shows the destruction before and after. Besides the wholesale destruction evident is the erasure of everything green near the border. Clearly a scorched earth of the agricultural land designed to cause starvation and misery. That slide alone is prima facia evidence of war crimes

  3. just
    January 28, 2015, 5:20 pm

    Via Max B’s twitter:

    “Newly published raw video from @Jehadsaftawi showing Israeli attacks on his neighbors in Gaza this summer”:

  4. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    January 28, 2015, 6:14 pm

    That makes the second time in one week that the NYT has told the painful truth about the Palestinians.

    In the Sunday book review (1/25/15), Ilene Prusher reviews a biography of Ben Gurion by Israeli historian Anita Shapira. Prusher writes…

    Some readers may find it hard, as I did, to read Shapira’s brief treatment of the moment in 1948 when the commanders Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin came to Ben-Gurion asking whether to carry out “a large-scale population evacuation.” Rabin reported that Ben-Gurion responded with a wave of the hand, saying “Expel them.” Shapira explains here that while he forbade the evacuation of some areas, like Nazareth, “like most of his ministers, he saw the Arabs’ exodus as a great miracle, one of the most important in that year of miracles, since the presence of a hostile population constituting some 40 percent of the new state’s total populace did not augur well for the future.”

    There it is! The NYT, the newspaper of record, officially admits that Ben Gurion ordered the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. All that propaganda over the decades (“the Arabs left voluntarily” etc) is now down the drain.

    I know nothing about Ilene Prusher. Anita Shapira is a retired Israeli historian who was well connected with the early Zionists, especially the Labor Party leaders.

    You can read the entire review here.

    Twice in one week ?! Seems like a trend!

  5. Mayhem
    January 28, 2015, 6:18 pm

    I don’t need to resort to hasbara. A report that does not even discuss the use of human shields by Hamas in order to hinder or deliberately compromise IDF attacks is fundamentally flawed if not a complete joke. 

    • amigo
      January 28, 2015, 7:45 pm

      “I don’t need to resort to hasbara. A report that does not even discuss the use of human shields by Hamas “Mayhem

      Just like every Israeli report that includes references to the IDF beating children or the theft of money and equipment from private family homes or pissing on their beds or scribbling anti Muslim insults on their walls.

      Take a hike Mayhem.You are full of hasbara.

    • annie
      January 28, 2015, 7:51 pm

      mayhem, did you read the nyt article or b’tselem’s report?

      According to B’Tselem, Hamas acted “in complete contravention” of international rules, firing from civilian areas at civilian communities in Israel. But B’Tselem said that violations by one side do not give a carte blanche to the other side regarding international obligations.

      • just
        January 28, 2015, 7:54 pm

        Beat me to it, Annie. Thanks!

        (pitiful, Mayhem~ a completely unfounded, knee- jerk response)

      • annie
        January 28, 2015, 8:00 pm

        and that was kershner’s article. here’s b’tselem:

        Hamas and other organizations operating in the Gaza Strip do not abide by IHL, nor do they purport to do so. As B’Tselem stated both during and after the fighting, Hamas has breached these provisions, and particularly its duty to distinguish between civilian objects and military targets. Not only did Hamas fire at Israeli civilians and civilian targets, it did so from within the civilian population. Hamas operatives fired from sites located near civilian dwellings, concealed weapons and munitions inside them and dug tunnels under them.

        clearly, mayhem just shot from the hip, easier than fact checking!

      • just
        January 28, 2015, 8:11 pm


        He/she probably only needs to see the name ‘B’Tselem’ and he/she runs for the hills.

        I was going to mention that perhaps the reason for the NYT publishing this piece was because it did not exonerate Hamas at all.

        (Of course since Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world with a captive population, it’s a conundrum… to say the least)

      • Blownaway
        January 28, 2015, 9:02 pm

        Human shields is a uniquely Israeli concept denounced by the Israeli Supreme Court and documented extensively. I can speak first hand as my cousins who live in Palestine have been used as hips an sheikhs ny israeli soldiers. However it’s a lie that Hamas uses human shields as there is no place in Gaza that is safe for civilians, not hospitals not schools not UN refugee centers not mosques because it’s a big barrel and the Israelis unleashed so many weapons that they had to re supply from th US stockpiles..mayhem is appropriate for Israeli war crimes

      • Kay24
        January 28, 2015, 9:07 pm

        The B’Tselem official who was interviewed on Al Jazeera International also said that just because Hamas breaks international laws, does not give Israel the right to do the same.
        Which makes sense, we are talking about a so called democratic nation here, and we now know that it makes any excuse it can, to justify the killing of civilians.

        If the situation was reversed and there were some militants shooting from Israeli homes and from within a densely population area in Tel Aviv, would the IDF send in precision bombs into those areas? We know the answer to that.

    • January 29, 2015, 7:52 am

      I thought Mayhem was being sarcastic — showing how predictable ridiculous the arguments of the Israeli apologists are. No?

    • Shingo
      January 29, 2015, 10:22 am

      I don’t need to resort to hasbara.

      Apparently you do, seeing as there is ZERO evidence that Hamas used human shields. All reporters in the ground refuted that very allegation.

      Meanwhile, there is ample evidence of the IDF using them.

      Hasbaea fail!

  6. just
    January 28, 2015, 11:26 pm

    wrt NYC~ could De Blasio suck up any more?

    “President Reuven Rivlin met with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday, his first formal meeting with an elected official during his N.Y. visit, at the Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South.

    While the meeting was closed to press, the two leaders let in a number of hand-picked reporters for a photo op and brief comments.

    According to the pool report, the Israeli leader and the mayor discussed the recent blizzard that shut down the city for almost 12 hours. Rivlin told de Blasio how beautiful Jerusalem was when it snowed, and de Blasio joked that he wished his New York constituents agreed.

    “We have a lot in common,” Rivlin said, to which de Blasio responded, “A lot in common.”

    De Blasio said it was an “honor” to meet with the Israeli leader, and congratulated him on becoming president this past summer.

    De Blasio also expressed condolences for the two Israeli soldiers killed in a Hezbollah strike Wednesday. “It’s very sad, and we feel it here because of the ties between New York and Israel … I offer my condolences to the nation and to the families,” he said.

    NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism John Miller, Avi Fink, the mayor’s deputy director of Intergovernmental Affairs and International Affairs Commissioner Penny Abeywardena were also present at the meeting.

    The mayor said Bratton does an “extraordinary job” protecting New York, and makes a point of treating international terror incidents with high priority. “I think this is a great model for how western governments should respond,” de Blasio said.

    Rivlin told de Blasio, “We appreciate very much what you are doing for your community, and of course for the Israelis and Jews who are in New York … Mr. Mayor you are almost the mayor of everyone in Israel because there are two cities for every Israeli. One is the old city, and the other one is New York.””

    Wonder how the “other” New Yorkers feel about this:

    ” “We appreciate very much what you are doing for your community, and of course for the Israelis and Jews who are in New York … Mr. Mayor you are almost the mayor of everyone in Israel because there are two cities for every Israeli. One is the old city, and the other one is New York.””

    BARF, etc.

  7. Kay24
    January 29, 2015, 8:18 am

    No one in the US media, ever discusses this ugly side of Israel’s consistent and almost predictable attacks on Palestinians. Those poor people are used like lab rats when their weaponry is used. A recent Al Jazeera documentary deals with this issue, and it shows gloating Israeli officials talk about how they research, learn, and put into effect, when the opportunity presents itself, the violence against the Palestinians. The documentary also mentioned the billions of dollars they make by selling weapons, after each massacre. One said publicly officials from other nations condemn their methods, yet privately ask them how they do it so successfully. Dirty rotten scoundrels.

  8. afmeyers
    January 29, 2015, 10:27 am

    Yes but. The NYT article says : “The study was at least the third by a human rights organization on the Gaza conflict, coming after reports by Amnesty International and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, but as the first major one written by an Israeli group, it could have more resonance here than the others.” ??? PHR-Israel *is* an Israeli group – is the NYT dissing/ignoring them?

  9. hophmi
    January 29, 2015, 11:25 am

    Your statistics are wrong. B’Tselem has been mentioned in Times reportage at least 11 times in the last two years. Adalah has been mentioned at least six times. Yesh Din has been mentioned four times. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has been mentioned twice. Breaking the Silence has been mentioned twice. The Public Committee Against Torture has been mentioned once. Rabbis for Human Rights has been mentioned once. That adds up to 27 mentions of Israeli human rights organizations in printed reportage (not blogs) over the last two years alone.

    The real question is whether there is any country in the world with as many homegrown human organizations per capita as Israel has, and whether the New York Times mentions the human rights organizations of any countries in the world as often as it does Israel’s.

  10. Doubtom
    January 29, 2015, 4:26 pm

    Dare we hope that this represents a new trend at the NYT?

  11. Parity
    January 30, 2015, 12:11 am

    See for a critique of the New York Times’s initial story on the physicians’ report. The Times references the report, which had come out the day before.

  12. SonofDaffyDuck
    January 30, 2015, 12:22 am

    Sure this was just a slip by NYT.
    Don’t expect another any time soon.

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