Nov
15
2012

When Does Israel/Palestine Violence Start?

A rare sight in U.S. media: A grieving Palestinian father on the front page of the Washington Post.

Military attacks and other violence in the Gaza Strip and Israel have resulted at this point in over a dozen deaths, most of them Palestinians, and sparked fears of an Israeli ground invasion similar to the 2008-09 assault that claimed over 1,000 Palestinian lives. The past 24 hours of violence was sparked by Israel's killing of Hamas military leader Ahmad al-Jabari on Wednesday. The question, then, is a familiar one: What prompted this action? The conventional corporate media timelines usually stress, whatever the facts, that Israel is responding to violent attacks by Palestinians, as FAIR documented over 10 years ago […]

Aug
26
2011

Why Is Israel Bombing Gaza?

The coverage of the Israeli attacks on Gaza is following some predictable patterns. The New York Times has a headline today (8/26/11), "Israeli Strikes in Retaliation Kill Nine Gazans." Readers should ask: Retaliation for what? It's widely understood that this violence stems from the attack last week in the southern Israeli town of Eilat. As the Times puts it: "The recent round of violence started a week ago, with a terrorist attack on southern Israel in which eight Israelis were killed." The real question, though, is who committed these acts. The Times says: Israeli officials said the perpetrators and planners […]

Dec
21
2010

NYT vs. WaPo on Life in Gaza

Today's Washington Post (12/21/10) brings a story by Janine Zacharia headlined, "Aid groups decry Israel's Gaza constraints." The lead: Despite recent moves by Israel to ease construction in the Gaza Strip, restrictions on building materials are hampering international humanitarian efforts while doing little to impede the Hamas-led government they are designed to weaken, aid and nongovernmental groups say. The groups say thatIsrael is "snarling the delivery of materials to international relief organizations struggling to build much-needed housing, schools and infrastructure projects." Zacharia goes on: But even as Gaza's economy shows signs of improvement, its humanitarian needs remain widespread. Thousands of […]

Oct
09
2009

NYT: Gaza War Worked

Isabel Kershner writes a piece in the New York Times (10/9/09) that starts out as a profile of an Israeli artist who makes flowers out of Qassam rocket pieces. The main point, though, is to discuss thechanged reality in southern Israel, thanks to the invasion of the Gaza Strip late last year that killed over 1,000 Palestinians: Israel said its three-week offensive was intended to change the reality in the south. Since January, when the military campaign ended, the rocket fire has significantly fallen off and residents here are trying to accustom themselves to a kind of normalcy amid the […]

Sep
16
2009

NewsHour Poses a Moral Conundrum

PBS's NewsHour's Gwen Ifill (9/15/09), quizzing Richard Goldstone on his U.N. fact-finding mission that found that both Israel and Palestinian fighters had committed war crimes in the Gaza conflict: The term "even-handed" is the problem that Israel has with the conclusions in the report. Your criticism of Israel seems so much harsher than that of the Palestinians. Why is that? CBS News (9/9/09), summarizing a report by Israel's leading human rights group: Well over half of nearly 1,400 Palestinians killed in Israel's Gaza war were civilians, including 252 children younger than 16, a leading Israeli human rights groups said Wednesday, […]

Mar
04
2009

Palestinians as Alien Creatures

Sometimes when you read reports about the Middle East, you get the impression that corporate journalists think Palestinians are another species entirely. Here's the New York Times' Mark Landler (3/4/09) explaining the theory of how better relations with Syria could help create a peace deal between Israel and Palestine: By seeking an understanding with Syria, which has cultivated close ties to Iran, the United States could increase the pressure on Iran to respond to its offer of direct talks. Such an understanding would also give Arab states and moderate Palestinians the political cover to negotiate with Israel. That, in turn, […]

Feb
19
2009

Only English Gaza News Shut Out of U.S. Cable

Even though "Al Jazeera English is also on the cusp of a carriage deal in Canada," Broadcasting & Cable's Marisa Guthrie reports (2/18/09) that the channel has "had little luck getting picked up by U.S. cable and satellite providers." As part of an effort to "appeal to consumers via a grassroots marketing campaign that attempts to dispel long-held attitudes about the network," AJE has "launched a website that bluntly addresses popular perceptions about the English language offshoot of Al Jazeera, the most-watched news network in the Middle East": The site, IWantAJE.net, lets consumers send electronic letters directly to their cable […]

Feb
04
2009

NYT and the Perils of Mideast 'Balance'

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 […]

Jan
16
2009

Still Getting the Simplest Gaza Facts Wrong

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 […]

Jan
16
2009

NYT Hypocrisy on White Phosphorus

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" […]

Jan
12
2009

News' 'Ignorant Drivel' as 'Toxic as Ever'

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 […]

Jan
09
2009

Krauthammer vs. Peace

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.

Jan
07
2009

Israeli Pitfalls, Palestinian Lives

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 […]