NY Times Frets Over 'Asymmetry' in Death Toll for Israel vs. Terrorist Hezbollah

Has Israel already gone too far, waged too successful of a counterattack against an incursion and double kidnapping by the terrorist group Hezbollah?

As the assault on the Syria-and-Iran backed terrorist group goes on over Lebanon, the Times takes a breath and begins to revert to its usual biases.

Jerusalem bureau chief Steven Erlanger frets about "asymmetrical" death rates in his lead story, "With Israeli Use of Force, Debate Over Proportion."

"The asymmetry in the reported death tolls is marked and growing: some 230 Lebanese dead, most of them civilians, to 25 Israeli dead, 13 of them civilians. In Gaza, one Israel soldier has died from his own army’s fire, and 103 Palestinians have been killed, 70 percent of them militants.

"The cold figures, combined with Israeli air attacks on civilian infrastructure like power plants, electricity transformers, airports, bridges, highways and government buildings, have led to accusations by France and the European Union, echoed by some nongovernmental organizations, that Israel is guilty of 'disproportionate use of force' in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and of 'collective punishment' of the civilian populations."

There's an echo there of an infamous comment by the late NBC newsman John Chancellor on the March 12, 1992 Nightly News, after the first Iraq war, when he seemed embarrassed that more American soldiers hadn't been killed:

"Greenpeace, the public interest organization, believes that the Iraqi death toll, civilian and military, before and after the war, may be as high as 198,000. Allied military dead are counted in the low hundreds. The disparity is huge and somewhat embarrassing."

Erlanger does let Israelis provide context:

"Israel has heard these arguments before. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, 'Proportionality is not compared to the event, but to the threat, and the threat is bigger and wider than the captured soldiers.'

"Israel is confronting a regional threat, she and the government argue, which begins with Iran and Syria and their proxy, Hezbollah, and stretches to the radical Islamic Palestinian group Hamas.

"Nor does Israel deliberately single out civilians, she argued, as Hezbollah and Hamas do through rocket attacks and suicide bombings. Intent matters, she said.

"But in Gaza and Lebanon, civilians are inevitably harmed when militants hide among them. And in Lebanon, she said, some of the dead may be civilians associated with Hezbollah, assisting it or storing its rockets....'When you go to sleep with a missile,' she said, 'you might find yourself waking up to another kind of missile.' Those arguments leave Lebanese and Gazans cold."

For more of this article and further examples of bias in the New York Times, visit TimesWatch.

Clay Waters
Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.