More Emotional Anti-Israel Slant from the New York Times: 'A Wave of Terror and Death'

As the fighting rages on in Israel, the New York Times again showed its anti-Israel slant in two days of stories that went beyond dispassionate journalism and into emotional manipulation.

Times readers on Monday were greeted with a large front-page photo of a Palestinian man carrying an injured child. Also on Monday's front: Ben Hubbard and Jodi Rudoren's "Questions of Weapons and Warnings in Past Barrage on a Shelter." The front-page text box placed Israel in the paper's favorite spot -- on the defensive: "After a 'Safe Zone' Becomes Deadly, Fire from Israelis Comes Under Scrutiny." And the Times even asked an Israeli military spokesman "to point out where Israeli forces were operating." You know, the way you always do during battle.

An examination of an Israeli barrage that put a line of at least 10 shells through a United Nations school sheltering displaced Palestinians here last week suggests that Israeli troops paid little heed to warnings to safeguard such sites and may have unleashed weapons inappropriate for urban areas despite rising alarm over civilian deaths.Inspection of the damage, a preliminary United Nations review that collected 30 pieces of shrapnel, and interviews with two dozen witnesses indicate that the predawn strikes on Wednesday, July 30, that killed 21 people at the school, in the crowded Jabaliya refugee camp, were likely to have come from heavy artillery not designed for precision use.

Israeli officials have argued throughout their 27-day air-and-ground campaign against Hamas, the militant group that dominates Gaza, that it is the enemy’s insistence on operating near shelters and other humanitarian sites that endangers civilians. But in the Jabaliya case, they provided no evidence of such activity and no explanation for the strike beyond saying that Palestinian militants were firing about 200 yards away.

This paragraph leapt out:

The New York Times emailed Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, a map of where the strikes hit and asked him to point out where Israeli forces were operating, and from where in the 200-yard radius around the school they saw enemy fire; he did not respond. Colonel Lerner and the general refused to say what ordnance was deployed. 

Surely the Times didn't actually think any army would give away the location of their forces to a group of journalists, did it? Much less to hostile ones.

Incredibly, Hubbard and Rudoren leaned on the notorious Goldstone report, a United Nations report from 2009 named after Richard Goldstone, who headed the "fact-finding" mission to Gaza and came up with "facts" that cheered Palestinian activists. The report initially asserted that Israel (but not Hamas) intended to kill civilians, even though Goldstone himself withdrew that accusation. (The Times maintained some faith in his findings.) Hubbard and Rudoren wrote:

In Israel’s last ground invasion of Gaza, in 2009, mortar shelling outside a shelter at Al Fakhura School -- also in Jabaliya -- killed up to 40 people in what a United Nations panel led by Richard Goldstone found was “indiscriminate in violation of international law.” While Mr. Goldstone later retracted his report’s most explosive accusation -- that Israel had intentionally killed civilians -- he did not specifically change his assessment on Al Fakhura.

In that case, Israel at first claimed that militants were firing mortar shells from the school just before the strike, but after a preliminary inquiry, said that the fire was 80 meters away. The Goldstone report could not determine whether there had been Palestinian fire from the school or nearby, but concluded that the attack “cannot meet the test of what a reasonable commander would have determined to be an acceptable loss of civilian life for the military advantage sought.”

The slant of Monday's lead story by Steven Erlanger and Fares Akram was clear from the stacked deck of headlines: "Missile Strike Near U.N. School in Gaza Kills 10 – Jihadists Were Targets – Outrage at Israel Grows; U.S. Calls Attack 'Disgraceful.'"

As Israel began to redeploy significant numbers of its troops away from populated areas of Gaza on Sunday, an Israeli Air Force missile struck near the entrance of a United Nations school sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah, killing 10 people and wounding 35 others and drawing a new round of international condemnation.

The growing civilian death toll has stirred outrage in Europe and large parts of the Arab world and, combined with Sunday’s strike near the Rafah school, prompted Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations to call the attack a “moral outrage and a criminal act” and to demand that those responsible for the “gross violation of international humanitarian law” be held accountable.

Hubbard and Akram's report in Sunday's edition, "Hospitals in Gaza Overwhelmed as Attacks Continue," contained more emotional woe from the Gaza Strip, a tone notably absent from the Times' traditionally cool coverage of Israel's victims of Palestinian terrorism. As an example, compare this unemotive July 1 headline, after the bodies of three missing Israeli teens were found murdered ("Israel's Search for 3 Teenagers Ends in Grief") to this July 15 headline, after Israelis committed a revenge killing: "A Boy Set Ablaze: Details Emerging in a Revenge Case." Here's a taste of how Hubbard and Akram manipulated language to Israel's detriment:

Israel’s offensive had emptied neighborhoods, shuttered the city’s central hospital and killed more people than its remaining health facilities could keep up with. But for the residents of this dusty city of 150,000 people -- until recently famous as the endpoint for hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt -- the assault had unleashed such a wave of terror and death that Lieutenant Goldin, whose fate was unknown when the assault began on Friday, was scarcely considered.

“It is just an excuse,” said Dr. Abdullah Shehadeh, director of the Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital, the city’s largest. “There is no reason for them to force the women and children of Gaza to pay the price for something that happened on the battlefield.”

Sunday's front page featured Steven Erlanger and Jodi Rudoren's story on an Israeli soldier, once thought kidnapped by Hamas, now confirmed to have been killed. It was also an excuse to deploy more loaded language pitched to incite anger at Israel.

As the death toll mounted Saturday to more than 1,650 Palestinians, many of them women and children, and images of homes, mosques and schools smashed into rubble filled the media, Mr. Netanyahu was under considerable international pressure, from Washington and Europe, to end the conflict. The United Nations warned of “an unfolding health disaster” in Gaza with little electricity, bad water and a lack of medical supplies.

Israel is facing ideological pressure from the New York Times as well.

Israel/Palestine Double Standards War on Terrorism New York Times Ben Hubbard Fares Akram Jodi Rudoren
Clay Waters's picture

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