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Another biased pro-Israel ‘NY Times’ report about the latest violence in Gaza

Media Analysis
on 9 Comments

Once again, the New York Times puts a pro-Israel slant on the latest violence in the beleaguered open air prison of Gaza. The paper’s correspondents, who are veterans at distortion, deployed some of the usual time-honored techniques in an article that appeared today:

Dwell on victims in Israel, but brush past dead or injured Palestinians. One person died in Israel, but he got 10 full paragraphs of coverage. We learned about his personal history, his family, and what his apartment in Ashkelon looked like after the Palestinian missile hit it. (The dead man, Mahmoud Abu Asaba, turned out to be a Palestinian himself, originally from the West Bank, who worked inside Israel as a contractor.)

Here was the Times article’s lead paragraph, which describes how Abu Asaba’s wife barely escaped:

The woman emerged dazed from the rubble, suffering from multiple injuries and barely able to speak. Her new husband, Mahmoud Abu Asaba, 48, had been pulled from beneath her amid the ruins of their fourth-story bedroom . . . 

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes killed seven people in Gaza. Even though the Times has a reporter in Gaza City, Iyad Abuheweila, none of those victims were even named. Only one Gazan who escaped the Israeli attack was quoted.

Total space for the Gazan victims: 3 paragraphs.

Distort the timeline to implicitly blame the Palestinians for the escalation of violence. Until today, Times reports had been uncharacteristically accurate, explaining that Israel triggered the latest outbreak by violating a cease-fire on Sunday night and sending a raiding patrol into Gaza that killed 7 Palestinians. But today’s article buries the trigger in the 10th paragraph, well after the reporters have informed us that Hamas rocket attacks had “terrorized [Israeli] residents in the bustling cities of Ashkelon and Sderot and in smaller communities across southern Israel.”

Take stenography from the Israeli military. This time around, the Times didn’t even attribute to the usual Israeli spokespeople. The paper simply stated flatly the Israeli military’s official line — that the attack that triggered the latest violence was “a military mishap” after “an elite undercover squad on an intelligence mission in [Gaza]. . . had its mission blown.”

How does the Times know? Maybe in fact the Israelis sent in a death squad to kill Hamas leaders? Possibly dissidents in the Israeli military deliberately wanted to sabotage the ceasefire because they think Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has been too soft? 

Use biased language where possible. The Gazans were said to have unleashed “a staggering bombardment of at least 460 projectiles,” and Israel’s southern cities were “blasted from the sky.” By contrast, Israel’s air attacks merely “pounded military targets” and “leveled several tall buildings” in Gaza. Nor did the Times estimate the number of missiles that Israel’s warplanes launched at Gaza. 

The Times report ends with a touching propaganda gem. The man who died in Israel, Mahmoud Abu Asaba, will “receive survivor benefits from the Jewish Agency, which has a fund for victims of terrorist attacks in Israel. Isaac Herzog, the agency’s chairman, said it will be the first such award to a non-Israeli citizen.”   

James North
About 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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9 Responses

  1. annie
    annie on November 14, 2018, 9:44 pm

    james, did you see the NYT “botched mission” story?

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso on November 15, 2018, 9:21 am

      @annie, et al

      The Real News Network interviews Shir Hever.

      VIDEO: “Lieberman Quits Netanyahu For Not Being Violent Enough to Gaza,” The Real News Network, Nov. 14/18

      “The resignation of far-right Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in protest of the Gaza truce could trigger early elections as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu already grapples with the biggest corruption scandal in Israel’s history. We speak to author and Real News correspondent Shir Hever.”

      • annie
        annie on November 16, 2018, 3:08 pm

        Misterioso, wow, what an incredible interview w/Shir Hever. he’s so smart. the stuff about lieberman pulling the so called botched attack i already assumed by the way netanyahu left paris so fast. and the replication of cast lead MO certainly wasn’s lost on me (as demonstrated my tweet), totally obvious actually, but this is the first time i’ve encountered any other analysis factoring that in.

        there’s a bunch of stuff i didn’t know tho, specifically that netanyahu wanted early elections. i thought early elections were a threat to netanyahu. and i REALLY didn’t know anything about the ThyssenKrupp investigation. how that escaped my radar considering what a huge story it is i have no idea. here’s the article shown in the video and now i am going to do more research on it. amazing. thank you. omg. it’s all coming together.

    • peacenotapartheid
      peacenotapartheid on November 16, 2018, 1:41 pm

      That was 11/12. 11/11 was “Deadly Gaza Raid by Israel Threatens Nascent Cease-Fire” blaming Israel:

      • annie
        annie on November 16, 2018, 3:27 pm

        thanks peacenotapartheid, yeah, they blamed israel but they ran w/the very same “botched mission” narrative and pushed the line that ‘oh yeah, israel does these “surveillance” missions routinely and they were not trying to kill anyone’. so tht’s not really “blame” because there’s no hint the mission was to provoke a response. it’s the exact opposite of Shir Hever (and my) analysis.

        one thing that almost astounds me is how people have such short memories. after the 2014 summer slaughter the memory of the 2012 war on gaza (in the run up to the UN statehood bid) was almost wiped from memory, and the circumstances of the initiation of 08-09 slaughter seems to have faded from view. for review, the night obama won the election when all the world was revitted on that event israel invaded gaza in a very similar way and killed 6 or 7 hamas soldiers and the nyt published (israel breaks ceasefire) and a few days later that circumstance was wiped out of the press and throughout the remainder of the news cycle during that war they referenced the beginning with hamas rockets (a response). so i expect the media to “forget”, but i don’t expect activists to forget. yet i didn’t witness any ah ha moments in my social media this time around –although one would assume it was in the arab press.

        anyway, thanks for the heads up. doubling down on the branding of botched mission and routine surveillance mission, which i don’t believe for one minute, comes as no surprise.

  2. Boomer
    Boomer on November 15, 2018, 2:14 pm

    It’s good that you document these biased reports, though it must be tedious work. The Times can still do good work when it wants to on other topics, of course, e.g., the recent report on Facebook’s attempt to blame Soros for criticisms of Facebook. One would expect more group loyalty among the Elders, if such a group existed.

  3. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan on November 15, 2018, 4:26 pm

    Meanwhile a great friend of mondo is in a spot of bother

    And he is a libéral democrat

    • Boomer
      Boomer on November 15, 2018, 7:20 pm

      Thanks for the links; good reporting. What a piece of work!

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