Yesterday in the New York Times, Bret Stephens characterized the shootings on the Gaza protesters as a “military quagmire.” Just a throwaway line, but the former Jerusalem Post editor turned columnist said Benjamin Netanyahu was seeking to “shore up his popularity in the face of corruption allegations and a military quagmire in the Gaza Strip.”
Stephens’s swipe is merely the latest instance in a near-constant defense of the killings of unarmed protesters by op-ed columnists of the New York Times. Israeli forces have shot more than 4000 Palestinians with live ammunition during the 4-1/2 months of protests on the Gaza border, killing at least 124.
But that violence has been echoed in a barrage of New York Times hasbara columns. Tom Friedman in May blamed Hamas for “the tragic and wasted deaths of roughly 60 Gazans by encouraging their march.” He said the Palestinian protesters were going about it it all wrong.
What if all two million Palestinians of Gaza marched to the Israeli border fence with an olive branch in one hand and a sign in Hebrew and Arabic in the other, saying, ‘Two states for two peoples: We, the Palestinian people of Gaza, want to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish people–a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed adjustments.’
Bret Stephens said three months ago that the Palestinians created the killings, with their culture of violence:
Why is nothing expected of Palestinians, and everything forgiven, while everything is expected of Israelis, and nothing forgiven?… No decent Palestinian society can emerge from the culture of victimhood, violence and fatalism symbolized by these protests.
Shmuel Rosner offered an uncompromising defense of Israeli slaughter– you have to be cruel to be kind.
Guarding the border was more important than avoiding killing, and guarding the border is what Israel did successfully.
Why so many thousands of Gazans decided to approach that fence, even though they were warned that such acts would be lethal, is beyond comprehension…
[S]ometimes there is no better choice than being clear, than being firm, than drawing a line that cannot be crossed by those wanting to harm you.
Matti Friedman also put the blame on Hamas, saying it had ordered up civilian casualties so as to hurt Israel’s image with a simple story about “villains and victims.” Many of the demonstrators are jihadists, he said, and maybe Israel should have responded more aggressively.
Israeli soldiers facing Gaza have no good choices…. Knowledgeable people can debate the best way to deal with this threat. Could a different response have reduced the death toll? Or would a more aggressive response deter further actions of this kind and save lives in the long run? What are the open-fire orders on the India-Pakistan border, for example?
To be sure, the New York Times has run several Palestinian voices during the same period. Novelist Atef Abu Seif wrote a piece right after the May 14 slaughter, more sad than angry, in sharp contrast with the arrogant smug racists on the other side.
This one, “Why I March,” was written by Fadi Abu Shammalah, before the main massacre. Again his is a quiet dignified voice.
And Rawan Yaghi wrote, “Gaza Screams for Life,” days after the protests commenced, with superb observations of the life of the protests.
A group of clowns with white face paint and red noses squeaked noisily in the rising and falling tones of Gaza’s Arabic dialect and hopped around. One of them grabbed a mic in front of a TV camera and started imitating news correspondents, quacking unintelligibly but as determined as if he were saying real words.
So yes, the Times has allowed some Palestinians to speak, and they were quiet and dignified.
And yes, one Times columnist, Michelle Goldberg, called the massacre a “massacre” (and quoted Amnesty International condemning the “excessive, illegal” use of force). And surprisingly David Brooks, though biased against Palestinians, did say that the Israelis should have had a nonviolent response ready.
But again, at least four regular or semi-regular columnists in the Times are apologists for the massacre, in characteristically smug and racist and arrogant tones.
The inevitable journalistic questions (and answers) are:
–Would the New York Times print defenses of the shooting of protesters in any other case? (No.)
–The Israeli writer Shmuel Rosner is clearly in the Times entirely to convey hasbara to an elite American audience. Does the New York Times have a regular Palestinian columnist just to keep us updated on Palestinian issues, usually churning out condemnations of Israel? (No.)