Once again, the New York Times took sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, being dismissive of Israeli victims of Palestinian violence. Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem on the wave of stabbings of Israeli Jews by Palestinians under Monday's headline "Israeli Retaliatory Strike in Gaza Kills Woman and Child, Palestinians Say." There is an extremely strange emphasis in both that headline (what, precisely, was Israel retaliating against?) and the underlying article, which skipped what Israel was retaliating against until paragraph seven, while beginning with the deaths of Palestinians during the "retaliation."
A follow-up article faulted the Israeli government's "clampdown" for contibuting to the "cycle of violence," a phrase that puts Palestinian murderers and Israeli self-defense on equal moral footing.
From Monday's edition:
Violence and bloodshed radiating outward from flash points in Jerusalem and the West Bank appear to be shifting gears and expanding, with Gaza increasingly drawn in.
Kershner blamed the Israeli army:
The mounting death toll in Gaza seemed to contradict the Israeli Army’s stated policy of trying to avoid civilian casualties that could escalate the situation further.
So why this awful behavior from Israeli forces? Kershner finally gets around to the reason in paragraph seven.
So far this month, four Israelis have been killed in Palestinian gun and knife attacks in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and several more have been wounded. Israeli forces have fatally shot at least 20 Palestinians, many of them teenagers, according to data compiled by the Palestinian Health Ministry and Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group. More than 1,000 Palestinians have been reported injured.
The large photo that accompanied the article showed two Palestinian victims of a retaliatory airstrikes by Israel. No Israeli victims were shown. As usual with the Times, Jewish victims of Palestinian violence are an afterthought.
On Tuesday, under another slanted headline "Stabbings, and Deadly Responses, Add to Israel's Security Challenge," Kershner suggested that the Israeli defensive response was too harsh. And again, the accompanying photos showed not Israeli victims but: a Palestinian who'd been killed by Israeli security forces after a stabbing attack; mourning relatives of a Palestinian teenager. That photo caption included the tired, incorrect phrase, "cycle of violence," that lumps Israeli self-defense tactics with the violent acts of Palestinian killers and would-be killers.
Despite an Israeli security crackdown that includes giving the police greater leeway to open fire and mobilizing 1,400 border police reserve officers, Israel is struggling to contain a spasm of violence.
Palestinians carried out four attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem on Monday alone.
In one, a 13-year-old Israeli boy in Pisgat Zeev, a Jewish area of East Jerusalem, was riding his bicycle when two Palestinians from a nearby neighborhood stabbed him, wounding him critically, according to the police. The assailants, cousins 13 and 15, also severely wounded a 25-year-old man.
Two Israelis have been killed and more than 20 hurt in more than 15 knife attacks across the country just this month. About 10 Palestinians have been fatally shot by the security forces while they were carrying out, or attempting to carry out, attacks, or after snatching weapons from soldiers or police officers.
The Israeli authorities say they are unable to pre-empt or halt the attacks through intelligence or other means since they are largely being carried out by so-called lone wolves: Palestinian individuals, many of them teenagers, unknown to the security services, apparently acting without the backing of any organization and almost spontaneously.
By paragraph seven Kershner had found more comfortable ground: Faulting Israel.
But the resort to live fire, often with lethal consequences, is increasingly opening Israel up to criticism, placing the government in a quandary.
Under domestic pressure, the Israeli government wants to project an iron fist in an effort to deter further attacks and to restore the Israelis’ shattered sense of personal security. Yet human rights groups, Palestinian activists and Arab members of the Israeli Parliament say that at least in some episodes that were caught on video, officers appeared to have acted too aggressively, firing at suspects who did not appear to be presenting any immediate mortal danger, and at times shooting to kill.
Kershner counseled Israelis not to go overboard in defending themselves.
Some critics argue that too tough a reaction only pours gasoline on the bonfire, inspiring more attacks and protests that sometimes escalate into deadly clashes. Some of the videos of police shootings have had the added effect of turning the Israelis, in the eyes of some people, from the victims of terrorism into aggressors.
Israeli analysts say there are no easy answers.
“When somebody is standing with a knife, whether a man or woman, and threatens to stab you and your assumption is they intend to kill you, you want to protect yourself,” said Michael Herzog, a retired brigadier general and Israel-based fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Kershner went to a notoriously anti-Israel "human rights group" for confirmation:
Amnesty International, which has accused Israel of using excessive force, said that killing “appears to have been an extrajudicial execution.”
Video of the shooting and wounding of an Arab Israeli woman wielding a knife at a bus station in the northern Israeli town of Afula has also raised doubts about the threat she posed.
And like many Palestinians who are skeptical of Israeli police accounts, relatives of Mr. Khateeb, the suspect from Lion’s Gate, said they found it hard to believe he had done any harm.
As Palestinian teens continued to attack Jews with knives, causing panic among the populace, the reports became slightly more in line with reality, with Kershner and Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren writing Wednesday under the headline "Attacks by Palestinians Kill 3 Israelis and Wound More Than 20." But the large accompanying photo showing only a dead Palestinian being removed from a bus "where an attack took place." The photo caption failed to clarify that it was an attack on Israelis.
And Thursday's Times included a large photo from a funeral of an Israeli murder victim and two others from scenes of attacks on Jews. But even that story, also co-written by Kershner and Rudoren, devolved into a list of Palestinian grievances, as shown in the headline, which ignored the continuing killing of Israelis in favor of faulting the Israeli government's attempts at self-defense: "Clampdown Turns Jerusalem Grim and More Polarized." The jump also included a photo of a Palestinian killed by Israeli troops with an even more finger-pointing headline: "Clampdown by Israel Leaves Jerusalem Even More Polarized."
Alex Griswold at Mediaite rounded-up similar bias from other newspapers.