The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
The violent conflict in Israel and Gaza may have reached an uneasy and imperfect ceasefire, but the New York Times just can’t let go.
The Times published an August 10 article hyping its video coverage of the May hostilities. The article repeated some of the errors that had characterized the initial and subsequent Times coverage. “In May, hostilities erupted in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs the coastal territory,” the article says. Note the “hostilities erupted”—as if that happened all by itself, rather than “the Hamas terrorist group rained down rockets on Israeli civilian targets” or some other more plainspoken or accurate description.
Why wouldn’t the Times say it more straightforwardly? Here the Times article is admirably more transparent than some of the earlier coverage. The article reports: “After a cease-fire was declared, Yousur Al-Hlou, a video journalist for The New York Times, and Neil Collier, a former Times staff member who now works as a freelancer, traveled to Gaza, a process that took several days and involved going through numerous security screenings, quarantining in Jerusalem and securing permission from Hamas.”
“Securing permission from Hamas.” Now they tell us. What precisely that entailed is a mystery, though we can guess, via knowledge of brutal Hamas treatment of other independent or skeptical voices, what might happen to the journalists if they did something to cause the permission to be precipitously withdrawn.
The Times reports, “The project was a rare opportunity to examine the toll that perpetual warfare and rebuilding has on residents there, Mr. Collier said.” Not so rare, actually, as the Times covers it obsessively. And is the toll really that of “perpetual warfare”? Or is the toll more accurately the consequence of choosing (at least initially) to be ruled by Hamas terrorists?
“The resulting 11-day war killed 260 people in Gaza and 13 people in Israel,” the Times article reports, without mentioning that at least 112 of the Gazans killed were reportedly operatives of terrorist groups and 21 of the Gazans killed were victims of “friendly fire” when Gazan rockets misfired and fell on Gaza.
At least the Times commenters are starting to wise up to the newspaper’s techniques. One wrote, “Hamas holds Gaza hostage and it is Israel’s fault, according to the NYT and many of the commenters on the site. The NYT continues to beat a dead horse on this one. Meanwhile, across the border in Syria, thousands are dead and millions displaced and the NYT and commenters on this board have forgotten about it. Likely because they cannot blame Israel for this, nor can they sit safely in Syria and attack the Assad regime, unlike sitting in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and attack the Israeli government.”
Another commenter, David Albert of Columbia, Maryland, wrote, “The situation in Gaza is tragic, but covering the suffering of Gazan civilians without examining why the ‘hostilities erupted’ is propaganda, not journalism. Hamas regularly attacks its larger, more powerful neighbor precisely to draw this sort of sympathetic, uncritical coverage. The brutal theocrats who rule Gaza will continue to do so, causing and then exploiting the suffering of Gazan civilians, as long as this sort of reporting continues; the NYT should not be complicit.”
Ira Stoll was managing editor of the Forward and North American editor of the Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here