New York Times reporters Ethan Bronner and Sabrina Tavernise went to Gaza (2/4/09) to look into stories of civilian atrocities, and turned up some very powerful examples. Unfortunately, the impact of that reporting was undermined by the all-too-familiar tendency to "balance" these facts with criticisms of Palestinians. Fora piece that is attempting to get a better sense of who's "version" of events is more accurate, the Times reveals its bias from the start,rendering a white phosphorous attack on a house as a"phosphorus smoke bomb," the qualifier "smoke" helpfully suggesting that the bomb, which accidentally incinerated most of a family in […]
Two newspaper stories today provide a false account of the context of the Israeli attacks on Gaza. The Washington Post: Hamas and its allies have fired thousands of rockets into Israel in the past eight years. The pace accelerated after the Islamist movement, which won Palestinian elections in 2006, routed forces loyal to the rival Fatah party in June 2007 and seized control of the narrow coastal strip. Since then, Israel has implemented a crushing economic blockade and carried out regular military raids that it has said were a response to rocket fire. This is an extremely selective history. The […]
When white phosphorus was used by Saddam Hussein, the weapon was identified by U.S. intelligence as a "chemical weapon." The New York Times (3/22/95) seemed to concur; In an article noting that white phosphorus was technically classified as an "incendiary weapon," the paper nonetheless described it as one of "the worst chemical weapons" in existence: a "waxy substance [that] adheres to flesh, and when it is exposed to air, it bursts into flame." As Seth Ackerman observed in an article for FAIR's magazine Extra! (3/4/06), in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, "U.S. media vividly evoked the cruel effects" […]
Writing for the Nation (1/7/09), Alexander Cockburn finds that in "the major media, aside from some passable stuff on the cable news shows, the flow of ignorant drivel seems as toxic as ever," maybe worse, since Israel has tried to empty Gaza of all reporters. The Israelis wipe out whole families, phone apartment blocks to terrify the occupants with boasts that their homes will shortly be blown up, and the Israel claque here stresses the consummate humanity of the attackers. Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post celebrates the birth of the new year by extolling Israel for being "so scrupulous […]
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer continues to support Israel's assault on Gaza in today's paper (1/9/09). He displays a remarkably odd notion of what a cease fire is for, citing the lessons of Lebanon as a cautionary tale: The U.N.-mandated disarmament of Hezbollah in Lebanon is a well-known farce. Not only have foreign forces not stopped Hezbollah's massive rearmament, their very presence makes it impossible for Israel to take any preventive military action, lest it accidentally hit a blue-helmeted Belgian crossing guard. In other words, the Lebanese cease-fire is problematic because it is currently preventing an outbreak of violence.
When you routinely report about Israel and Gaza through the eyes of Israelis, the results can be awkward, like today's New York Times front-pager that frames what was a human catastrophe for many Palestinians–the killing by Israel of some 40 Gazans at a U.N. school–into a mere military and PR "pitfall" for Israelis. As the headline read, "For Israel, Lessons from 2006, but Old Pitfalls." In the third paragraph of the story, reporter Steven Erlanger mentions the killings along with other earlier "pitfalls": And then there are the sudden events that can throw off so many careful calculations and come […]
The Associated Press reported on December 27 that "thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons." In his latest column (1/2/09), Charles Krauthammer pointed to that report to prove just how obvious it is that Israel is the moral actor in this battle of good and evil: Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel/Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating. Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in […]
One of the facets of the Gaza crisis not getting enough media attention is the fact that Israel has barred reporters from entering the Gaza Strip to report on the war–despite an Israeli Supreme Court ruling that stated that foreign journalists should be allowed into the territory. It was good, then, to see the issue raised on CNN's media program Reliable Sources on January 5. Not so good, though, were host Howard Kurtz's comments: And when we do see video of the attacks in Gaza or the aftereffects, much of that video, as my understanding, is supplied by Arab media […]