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’16 people were killed in Gaza’– How the ‘NYT’ whites out Israeli violence

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Let’s say you’re the leading American newspaper and the one-year anniversary of Israel’s attack on Gaza is looming. How do you cover the story? That’s a problem. It’s hard to acknowledge this important milestone without pointing out the Israeli violence, which included war crimes and a continuing blockade.

But as the New York Times just showed us, it can be done. Here’s how:

— Ignore all Palestinians. Instead, have a reporter who is all but indifferent to Palestinian life (and once said Palestinians are ho-hum about their family members’ deaths) produce a profile of a Canadian whose very job requires him to be measured and discreet: Robert Turner, the departing Gaza director of the UN Relief and Works Agency.

— Don’t follow up when he says “there was less hope and far more poverty and unemployment in the Gaza Strip now than when he arrived.” No: seize on the fact that Turner mentions mild Israeli concessions such as allowing a few more exports into Gaza and call that “a sliver of opportunity.”

— Don’t describe any of the destruction in Gaza, and the fact that the Israeli blockade doesn’t allow any rebuilding. Instead, distract the reader by publishing a photo of Turner relaxing with a cigar in his 10th-floor apartment in Gaza City and include an utterly pointless quote to keep the reader’s attention on what matters.

“This is my refuge,” he said. “It’s beautiful up there. I read or watch a show or smoke a cigar.”

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— Include a dramatic wartime vignette that insinuates that it is the Gazan people who are violent.

The lowest moment of his tenure came on July 24, 2014, when 16 people were killed at a school-turned-shelter in Beit Hanoun, a city in the northeast of the strip. Mr. Turner raced to the scene, where he was pelted with water bottles.

“We were attacked; we had to get back in the car,” he recalled.

“I’ve never seen rage like that. It was just this deep anger, it was like hatred, and we were the target, because we were the only ones there.”

— Don’t dare tell a reader how those 16 people died.  No; cunningly use the passive voice in the vignette — “16 people were killed” — without mentioning who killed them. Don’t try and find any of the relatives of these 16 people or of any of other 2200 victims. Above all, don’t try and find the al Bakr family, whose four children were killed while playing soccer on a Gaza beach, even though this site and other reporters have been welcomed by family members.

— Be sure and slip in another Turner quote in which he explains: “the problem is not just Israel’”.

— Leave it vague about whether you even visited Gaza at all for this story. Send a Times photographer to Turner’s tenth floor apartment, to catch him smoking his cigar, but dateline the story JERUSALEM.

— Put a sweet headline on the story:

A Sliver of Opportunity Emerges in the Gaza Strip

Mission accomplished.



James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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17 Responses

  1. annie on July 10, 2015, 2:21 pm

    unreal. i can’t even bare to open the nyt link. this just sounds … ‘irresponsible’ is not the word, doesn’t begin to describe it. really, i am flabbergasted.

    • Refaat on July 11, 2015, 7:01 am

      Hey Annie,
      Also as Palestinians we view the local journalists working for New York Times and Judi Rudoren in particular as lowly and despicable because they help NYT whitewash their reports.

      And btw, these are usually heavy-edited half-wits who can’t find a job at a decent place. A friends was kidding last week saying we must sue NYT for child labour.

      • CigarGod on July 11, 2015, 9:38 am

        Not just child labor…child prostitution.

  2. Qualtrough on July 10, 2015, 2:31 pm

    Brilliant take-down Mr. North, thank you!

    • Krauss on July 10, 2015, 3:04 pm

      Agreed, I love these takedowns of the NYT. They are humorous and brutal – and compounded by the fact that the target deserves the derision and the acid every step of the way.

  3. Dutch on July 10, 2015, 2:54 pm

    Thank you, Mr. North. Thank you.

    From the Netherlands: shame on you, New York Times. Are your people getting paid for this filthy job? Or is it just ideology? Is this who you are?

    We haven’t forgotten your contribution to the Iraq War. A million innocent people died there. The paper said it had ‘learned its lesson’. The truth is you didn’t. You’re doing it again.

  4. Krauss on July 10, 2015, 3:07 pm

    The types of book on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict which we read are mostly, and understandably, about the situation on the ground.

    But it is nevertheless useful to once in a while read a book about the social dynamics in the oppressor countries – or in this case the enabler countries. For I am hoping for someone, maybe Phil + James, to write a definite account about the Times’ I/P “coverage” (or service for Apartheid).

    I don’t think it is just useful for this conflict. People will be going back decades from now and compare the coverage they read in such a book to the coverage they are reading about a conflict which is also lied about, and covered up by the powerful.

    The shocking fact here is that the NYT is supposed to be liberal; supposed to be standing for human rights. It’s laughable.

  5. Citizen on July 10, 2015, 4:25 pm

    Kafka or Celine could do a good job capturing the NYT mentality. But at least we have Mr. North. What rock did Turner crawl out from in the first place?

  6. Citizen on July 10, 2015, 4:33 pm

    Last May Turner announced he was resigning his position; he gave no reason, but he leaves the job sometime this month.

  7. Bornajoo on July 10, 2015, 6:44 pm

    This is simply unbelievable. this zionist propaganda rag gets worse by the day. Adelson and Saban don’t need to buy it, the NYT already sold its soul

    Many thanks for this James North!

  8. John Douglas on July 10, 2015, 9:46 pm

    Keep at them, James North. Little by little the “paper of record” will be forced to become a real news source. And thanks.

  9. elephantine on July 10, 2015, 9:53 pm

    Sick. Sick. Sick.

    Unfortunately.. not surprising.

  10. Mac on July 11, 2015, 1:49 am

    Thank you Mr. North. You wield your words like the sword of Zorro, slashing left and right to tear away the dark curtains that the creaking old dame of the MSM has woven around the truth in Palestine.

  11. DaveS on July 11, 2015, 8:48 am

    Thanks, James, for your tireless efforts to analyze NYT bias. Times articles such as this one superficially appear to be innocuous, but actually serve to perpetuate false myths and suppress hard truths. I am quite sure the Times hears it from both sides, and that Israel’s supporters view it (or claim to do so) as an anti-Israel rag. The Times people probably see themselves as delicately walking a fine line of neutrality between two very passionate viewpoints. Constant criticism from our side is a must. The Times would like to avoid embarrassment, and I don’t think your brilliant analyses go un-noticed.

  12. RockyMissouri on July 11, 2015, 12:10 pm

    Thank you for an informative article!

    I am horrified.

  13. dahnjeff on July 14, 2015, 3:29 am

    Thank you Mr. North. Let’s keep nipping at their heels.

  14. Mahmoud El-Yousseph on July 14, 2015, 6:32 pm

    This is what I call kosher reporting about the Israeli war crimes and genocide in Gaza. I don’t want my tax dollars to support Israeli war crimes against Palestinians and the illegal and inhumane siege imposed on 1.8 million Palestinians living in Gaza by ISISrael and the Butcher of Egypt, Gen. SISI.

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