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‘NY Times’ uses old tricks to distort Israel’s latest attacks on Gaza

Media Analysis
on 13 Comments

Once again, Israel has launched attacks on the open-air prison called Gaza. Once again, the New York Times has distorted its coverage to try and reduce Israel’s guilt. The Times used the following standard techniques in today’s online story by David Halbfinger:

Distort the timeline to try and blame the Palestinians. The Times recounts yesterday’s latest news: Israeli airstrikes that killed 2 Gazans and mortar fire from Gaza that wounded 4 Israelis. But the paper nowhere mentions that 5 days earlier, on July 9, Israel had further choked off cargo shipments into Gaza, a territory which was already under a punishing blockade — a drastic act that any neutral observer might have concluded contributed greatly to the latest escalation.

Spend more time on Israeli victims than on Palestinian ones. Today’s online article has 6 full paragraphs on Israelis in the town of Sderot who were hurt by rockets or mortars. Three different Israelis were quoted, including one, Refael Yifrah, who said, “It’s better to be in Gaza where they get warning that they’re going to be fired upon in one neighborhood or another and they evacuate.  .  .  Here, there’s an alert, no one knows where it going to land.”

By contrast, the Times cited only one Palestinian by name, even though the paper has two reporters in Gaza City. The Times did report that Muhammad Abdelaal, a 30-year-old, “was interviewed at Shifa Hospital while soaked with blood and being treated for his wounds” — but, unlike the Israelis, he apparently didn’t say anything quotable.

Don’t challenge Israel’s framing of the events. The Times headline calls yesterday’s exchange the “Most Intense Fighting Since 2014 War” — without quotation marks. In fairness, the first sentence of the report does make clear that the “most intense” assessment comes straight from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But Israeli soldiers have shot dead at least 137 Gazans in the months-long Great March of Return and wounded more than 4000. Israeli snipers murdering un- or barely-armed protesters hardly qualifies as “fighting,” but it has certainly been more “intense” than yesterday’s events. Clearly Netanyahu wanted to distract world attention from those 137 dead Palestinians, and the thousands more wounded — and the New York Times let him get away with it.

(There is one minor mystery. The version of the Times report that appears on page 12 of the print edition this morning is moderately less biased: no headline about “Most Intense Fighting,” less coverage of the Israeli victims. Maybe the print editors are more aware of the blistering criticism that Times articles have gotten in recent months? Of course, many more readers will see the online version.)

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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13 Responses

  1. zaid on July 15, 2018, 12:03 pm

    DId they mention that the two Palestinians that were killed were children aged 15 and 16

    • just on July 15, 2018, 3:10 pm

      They don’t give a damn.

      But this happened (via Haaretz):

      “Top Court Orders Release of Suspect Involved in West Bank Arson Murder of Palestinian Family

      State appealed against the release of the man, who was a minor during the incident, in which a 18-months-old and his parents were murdered …

      Zion Amir, the attorney representing the suspect, known as A., for the right-wing legal rights group Honenu, said: “Without a doubt the rejection of the state’s appeal was done legally and rightfully. Although it has taken two and a half years of difficult legal battling, we can take comfort in two things: the release from detention, and the court’s decision on the torture the minor underwent during his interrogation, as a result of which the confessions obtained were excluded.”

      A., who was 17 when he was arrested, is accused of involvement in the murder of three members of the Dawabshe family in the firebombing of their home in July 2015. Eighteen-month-old Ali Dawabsheh was burned alive in the fire, while both his parents died from their injuries within weeks. He is not accused of murder because the prosecution could not prove that he was present in Duma on the night of the attack. He is also accused of involvement in the arson attack on the Dormition Church in Jerusalem and of other hate crimes.

      In the ruling on his release, District Court Judge Ami Kobo wrote: “There is no dispute that the time that has passed in this case is significant… with the passage of the significant amount of time and the fact that the respondent was 17 years old at the time the offense was committed, the magnitude of the required considerations to justify changing [the conditions of] the detentions and the balance shifts from the public interest to the right of the respondent to liberty.” …

      However, in consideration of the lengthy detention and young age of the suspect he ruled that those matters would not hold sway, especially since the strength of the evidence might now undermine the possibility of a conviction in the case of the Duma arson and damage to the Dormition Church. Justice Grosskopf thus rejected the state’s appeal against the decision of the lower court. He also rejected an appeal by A.’s attorney against the conditions of his release. …”

      Poor wittle terrorist/murderer. Different strokes for different folks…

      (Check out the illegal settler youth celebrating at the link…)

      • Kay24 on July 15, 2018, 5:53 pm

        There is a revolving door in Israel’s criminal justice system, when it comes to brutal murders of Palestinians, even babies, by Israeli criminals, they get a farce of a trial, a few months, and then they are out much earlier than their sentences warrants. These scumbag criminals are then treated like heroes.

  2. Maghlawatan on July 15, 2018, 10:42 pm

    “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part”

    The NYT is caught in a trap. It can’t walk out. Because it loves Zionism too much, baby

  3. Kay24 on July 16, 2018, 8:29 am

    Has the New York Times covered this? Israel continues to strangle Gaza, but the US media continues to ignore it.

    “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”

    I guess this should come under “cutting of all social services”:

    “Death penalty’: Gaza merchants suffer as trade crossing shuts
    After Israel’s measure, 55 percent of goods can no longer enter the Gaza Strip, exacerbating already dire conditions.”

  4. drhmay on July 16, 2018, 9:38 am

    And once again Mondoweiss uses old tricks to completely ignore Palestinian complicity in their misery.
    To turn a blind eyes towards war crimes of Hamas, towards fanaticism, refusal to compromise, genocidal aims, eco terrorism, etc, etc. it’s hard not to see that Palestinians suffer. Why is it so hard to see that Israelis do as well and live in their own psychological hell of fear and trauma from an enemy that constantly threatens them.

    • echinococcus on July 16, 2018, 10:02 am

      Good point:

      completely ignore Palestinian complicity in their misery

      The Palestinian complicity in their own misery is undeniable. As soon as the British announced their intent to take over from the Ottoman Empire and bring a colony of invader-settlers, a general insurrection may have sent the invaders packing. Or again, it might have lost. No use bitching about that.

    • bcg on July 16, 2018, 10:14 am

      Refusal to compromise? In the West Bank Fatah is basically an extension of the Israeli security apparatus, how much more can they ‘compromise’ as the settlements slowly expand? As for Hamas there are more references than I care to provide on their proposals for either a long term truce and/or a state on 67 borders.

      We’re past the point where ‘compromise’ means much – two states are almost certainly impossible. The future looks like apartheid.

    • Misterioso on July 16, 2018, 11:02 am


      Sigh. Another pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible.

      “Cry Baby Israel,” by Vacy Vlanza, Counterpunch, June 27/18

      “Israel, one of the most technologically advanced military superpowers, is making a colossal fool of itself on the global stage by crying Wolf – ‘We have the right to defend ourselves from – from ?- hold onto your hats, folks, from – Kites, Balloons, Stones, Cameras, a Slap, a Poem.

      “Seriously? Damn Right. These aren’t just any kites, balloons, stones, cameras, slap, poem. These are terror toys of Palestinian mass defiance and of monster maquisards, mainly teenagers and youth, that strike fear and panic in the mighty Israeli armed forces.

      “With Israel’s back to the wall, Israeli leaders predictably huddle behind the ‘Terrorist’ Card and the Victim Card that hide Israel’s cowardice and cruelty and justify its atrocities against Palestinian resistance.”

      “On March 30, the disgrace and international censure, induced by Israel’s precision massacre of 60 defenceless, nonviolent participants in Gaza’s Great March of Return, was immediately deflected by the Israeli hasbara machine that churned out a barrage of lies, mindlessly rerun by lackey media and vassal states, asserting ‘clashes’ between Jewish snipers in fear of their lives and members of ‘terror’ groups belying the grass-roots non-violent uprising.

      “Neither that massacre, nor the daily massacres since, have stopped the brave Great March of Return protests. The demented Israeli might-over-right mindset that has prevailed for 70 plus years simply cannot comprehend, ‘as with a green plant, that what matters most is rootedness; what truly holds up, nourishes and supports all else is underground’ , that Palestinian sumoud, i.e., steadfastness has ancient roots to the land. Such rootedness defeated the USA in Korea and Vietnam. It is itself undefeatable.”

      “Now imagine at future arms fairs and weapons expos, ex-IDF generals representing the major Israeli military firms- Elbit, Rafael, IAI, IMI, tearfully blubbering on the shoulders potential clients how they have been forced into a kite war or coerced to use disproportionate force against their mortal enemy – Palestinian children and youths throwing stones who are dubbed ‘terrorists’ by the Injustice Minister Aylet Shaked.

      “Palestinian children, even as young as 5, are imprisoned, maimed or executed for throwing stones at the most ‘moral’ army in the Middle East.

      “Palestinians don’t have an air force, army or navy, and thus they don’t attend weapons expos. They depend on Mother Palestine to arm them with her flesh of stones against Goliath Israel.

      “Ironically, the fable of David defeating Goliath with a slingshot and stone is revered by Israeli Jews. They even named an archeological site in Al Quds after the non-existent David, but then all of Israel’s claims to Palestine are fake based on myth.”

      “The Slap
      Although Israeli military operators are covered with the maximum advanced protective gear to prevail against the toughest physical challenges, they are unable to withstand a slap, (boo hoo, boo hoo) from a slight,16 year old Palestinian girl. Rather than play down this embarrassment, the Jewish state burst into a hysteria of tears charging the teenage Ahed Tamimi as a ‘danger to public security’ which in turn triggered hundreds of protests around the world instantly turning Ahed into an icon of Palestinian resistance.”

    • Rashers2 on July 16, 2018, 1:05 pm

      “Why is it so hard to see that Israelis do as well and live in their own psychological hell of fear and trauma from an enemy that constantly threatens them[.]?” Do you really want the answer to your question or is it just a case of, “The poor Israelis are just as traumatised, too, you know…”?
      It’s so hard to see from a position of any objectivity because a) any “trauma” Israelis experience is entirely, 100% self-inflicted and results from Israelis’ behavior towards the Palestinians; and b) because it isn’t trauma of the kind you, I or any MW reader would experience if condemned to live in Gaza! The “trauma” suffered is a result of generations of conditioning and “education” which ensure – no, demand – that even mild inconveniences are perceived as manifestations of an irrational hatred of Israelis by every extant group of “other” because the former are Jewish and for no other reason. Furthermore that, because of such irrational hatred every act, however disproportionate, cold-blooded, spiteful, depraved or “pre-emptive”, by Israelis is wholly justifiable and legitimate. This is the projection, the falsehood, the wrong that is at the very core of the collective psychological disease of Ziopathy.

  5. Rob Roy on July 16, 2018, 9:44 am

    The NYT is a tabloid of lies and omissions and has worsened with Trump in office. It must be difficult for the newspaper “reporters” when the president slobbers over Israel (embassy move) which the NYT also does, defending Israel’s inalienable right to exist no matter how vicious, at the same time trying to destroy Trump whom they hate, stating as gospel truth the Russiagate farce.

    But wait, there’s even a worse happening: The New Yorker, having prided itself for decades on its fact checking, has swallowed the Russiaphobia Kool Aid and prints one ridiculous article after another by, say, Susan B. Glasser or Masha Gessen on how Russia hacked our democracy, when they have not one shred of evidence. If they’ve ever taken Israel apart, I missed it.

    When the two most respected print outlets for news (oh, yes, let’s include WaPo) have lost any moral compass, it’s more than distortion, it’s criminal.

    Thank heavens for Mondoweiss, Consortium News, the electronic intifada, et. al. without which we would have no real journalism.

  6. Maghlawatan on July 17, 2018, 10:03 pm

    The NYT as a media outfit believes in the discovery model. What is revealed today is more important than what we already know. The NYT can thus control the narrative.
    But as John Trudell understood, the past is in the present. IsraeL today is the result of millions of past decisions.

    And Israel is heading for Masada.

  7. Maghlawatan on July 21, 2018, 1:30 pm

    Israel does not care about US Jews. It is going to be impossible for the NYT to straddle the 2 horses of US liberalism and Sabra fascism while retaining a sense of coherence. The NYT should dump Zionism before the brand gets poisoned irrevocably.

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