Here’s today’s misleading headline in the Times; “Gaza Militants Fire 250 Rockets, and Israel Responds With Airstrikes.” This is a classic Times tactic to rig its Israel/Palestine coverage; distort the timeline to make it seem like the Palestinians started the violence, and that Israel is (reluctantly) “responding.”
Amos Harel, who covers the military for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, is hardly a supporter of Hamas. But he is an honest reporter, and you can turn to him (or one of his colleagues), rather than to the New York Times whenever there is a new outbreak of violence so you can try and figure out what is actually happening.
Amos Harel tells a more complicated story. He reports that the day before the rocket barrage, during Friday protests along the Gaza border, an Israeli jeep came under fire; one Israeli officer received “moderate” wounds and a soldier was wounded lightly. Then,
Israel responded with tanks and aerial strikes, killing two Hamas military wing members. Two more Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli fire in separate incidents along the border.
Four dead Palestinians. Only then did the Gaza militant groups “respond,” with the rocket attack.
Of course Israeli has placed Gaza under siege for years, an act of war, so that if anyone is “retaliating” here it is the Palestinians. The Times almost never makes this point. But the paper also distorts the immediate background to the latest outbreak of violence.
Times reporter Isabel Kershner writes that the militant armed groups in Gaza are increasingly frustrated “over what they consider the slow pace of Israeli concessions meant to ease an acute economic crisis in Gaza.” Notice her biased use of the term “Israeli concessions” when she should say something like “ease up slightly on strangling Gaza economically and militarily, which has created one of the worst humanitarian crises anywhere in the world.” But you have to turn to Amos Harel and his colleagues to learn that Israel was in fact dragging its feet in implementing the slight easing of the blockade, which had been negotiated by Egyptian officials.
(The Times report deploys another classic technique of bias. Kershner writes about “weekly protests [along the Gaza border], which have often turned violent. . .” Notice the “turned violent,” like a change in the weather for which no humans are responsible. In fact, human rights groups agree that Israel’s military is overwhelmingly responsible for the worst violence, reflected in the death toll; 183 Gazans since the Great March of Return protests started last year, vs. 0 [or 1] dead Israelis.)
The Haaretz reporters make clear that the Eurovision Song Contest, which Israel will host on May 14-18, is also motivating Gazans. Tens of millions of Europeans will be glued to their television sets during this extravaganza, and as one Hamas political source told Haaretz, “The Eurovision can’t happen in Tel Aviv when no relief is felt in Gaza. It can’t be that they will sing and enjoy while we suffer.” (The Times online version did mention the Eurovision contest, but only in passing.)
Haaretz’s thorough coverage went even further. Reporters Yaniv Kubovitch and Jack Khoury cited contacts within the Israeli military who had cautioned before the latest wave of violence that Israel’s delay in easing the blockade as agreed upon risked weakening the ability of Hamas to restrain other armed groups in Gaza:
Israeli defense sources warned the political echelon in recent weeks that if significant steps are not taken to implement the undertakings with Hamas, the group controlling the Gaza Strip will struggle to prevent other organizations in the coastal enclave from acting against Israel.
None of this nuance appears in the New York Times report, which characteristically leaves the reader with the impression that Hamas is simply a bloodthirsty, terrorist movement that attacks at every opportunity without provocation.
Sadly, the Times is not alone in its bias. The headline in the Washington Post also read, “More then 200 rockets fired into Israel from Gaza; Israel responds, killing 3.”