This is not a joke. Today the New York Times published a fluff piece about Benjamin Netanyahu’s dog. Titled, Netanyahu’s Dog Sinks Teeth Into Guests, the article reports:
Mr. Netanyahu announced Friday on Facebook that under Israeli law he had to quarantine Kaiya, a 10-year-old mix with black eyes and fluffy fur, after she bit two guests… attending a Hanukkah candle-lighting party at his Jerusalem residence on Wednesday.
I have nothing against dog stories. I love them. But Israel is a faraway FOREIGN country, and such an offbeat feature on the kooky PM is only justifiable if the Times is doing its job covering Palestinian stories, some of compelling human drama. Here are a couple of stories from the last few days that the Times hasn’t managed to send a reporter out to cover:
— A Palestinian man, Oday Ersheid, 22, was shot and killed with live fire by Israeli forces in occupied Hebron on Friday, just five weeks after his 17-year-old sister Dania was killed by Israeli forces after allegedly producing a knife. Amnesty International says Dania’s killing was likely a summary execution in a report titled, “Israeli forces in Occupied Palestinian Territories must end pattern of unlawful killings.” Here’s Amnesty’s account of Dania’s death. Chilling:
On 25 October, a short distance from where [Sa’ad Mohammed Yousef] al-Atrash was killed, Israeli border police shot dead Dania Jihad Hussein Ershied, 17. Shortly before she was killed, she had passed through a checkpoint equipped with a metal detector and two revolving gates, between which Israeli forces frequently lock people they deem suspicious. At a second checkpoint in front of Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque she was called for a second inspection by more than five border police officers, who began searching her bag and yelling at her to show her knife.
Warning shots were fired at her feet, prompting her to step back and raise her hands in the air. She was shouting at the police that she did not have a knife and still had her arms raised when police again opened fire, shooting her six or seven times.
The Times covered Oday Ersheid’s killing with an AP report, but the human angle? Nothing. I would note that the Times has never told us about a family tragedy I really would like to know about: the killings of Tharwat Al-Sharawi and her husband Fouad Al-Sharawi, by Israeli forces, 27 years apart.
– One of the Israeli settler suspects in the horrifying Dawabsheh arson/murders of last July 31 was released to house arrest today, something that Israel would obviously never do with a
Palestinian suspected of involvement in a serious crime like this. The quarantine of a dog is more important to the Times. The Times covered the arrests last week, but not the release.
– Haaretz published a series of articles this week detailing how US tax-deductible donations are being used to build illegal settlements and fund the legal defense of violent Jewish extremists. One of those articles detailed how two Netanyahu associates, deputy defense minister Eli Ben Dahan and Kenneth Abramowitz, the head of American Friends of Likud, gave money to groups working towards building a Jewish temple on the Noble Sanctuary/Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a lunatic plan that the US government opposes. The Times has covered the Haaretz investigation with an AP report, but not sent a reporter to cover this outrage. It has, for that matter, done very little to expose the extensive American Jewish support for the illegal settlement project.
Again, we have nothing against fluff stories (for instance, I did a stupid story about Netanyahu’s watch). Not every story from a conflict has to be one of moral urgency. But the dog story goes to the heart of our problem with the New York Times: Jewish and Israeli trivia, often of an endearing character, are held to be eminently newsworthy for an American audience, while matters of life and death involving Palestinians living for decades under occupation are regarded as news bulletins to be disposed of with a paragraph. When will Palestinians lives matter as much as Israeli dogs? And P.S. The Israel lobby involves deeply-embedded prejudice in US political culture.