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New York Times’ Parallels Are Forced, And False
Tue, 07/15/2014 - 20:00
Editor and Publisher
Gary Rosenblatt
Gary Rosenblatt

I’ve long been a defender of The New York Times’ Mideast coverage, arguing that for all of its flaws on occasion, there is no consistent, inherent bias against Israel.

But I’m having second thoughts these days, based on the coverage of the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Case in point: an editorial, “Four Horrific Killings” (July 7), and a news report the next day, “Israel Warns Gaza Targets by Phone and Leaflet,” both of which seem to me guilty of striving so hard for symmetry to the point of ignoring or playing loose with some basic facts about how the Palestinians and Israelis wage war.

One might think that a story about how Israel seeks to warn civilians in Gaza of impending attacks via cellphone calls and leaflets in Arabic would be portrayed as a humanitarian effort. Yet the Israeli policy of giving advance word to occupants that the building they are in is going to be bombed is described as “contentious.” To whom? I wondered. The Times cites “groups like Human Rights Watch,” which assert that such warnings “do not absolve the armed forces” of ensuring that “the warnings are effective.”

In the specific incident cited, Israel called the cellphone of someone in a house in Gaza that the air force was about to bomb, saying everyone must leave in five minutes. According to a survivor of the attack, as the occupants were fleeing, “our neighbors came in to form a human shield.” (This was after an Israeli drone fired a flare at the roof of the house, a common practice the Israelis call “the knock on the roof” to make sure people leave.)

As a result, the house was not abandoned and seven people were killed and 25 were wounded when the bomb hit. Israeli officials said they had done their best to convince the occupants to get out; the IDF maintains that targeted houses belong to Hamas members who use them to plan military actions.

Israel contends that terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah deliberately operate in civilian areas, often near schools or hospitals, hoping that Israel either will not attack so as to avoid shedding innocent blood, or will attack and be condemned by the international community for the use of disproportionate force when such unintended tragedies take place. (In fact, Israel maintains that the mosque it hit over the weekend housed a cache of weapons. Israel is currently investigating a weekend strike on a facility for the disabled.)

One of the serious flaws of the infamous Goldstone Report to the United Nations after the 2009 round of fighting between Israel and Hamas was that it refused to deal with the fact that the Arab militants wear civilian clothes and operate in civilian neighborhoods to cynically exploit the Israel Defense Force’s ethical code of avoiding innocent deaths whenever possible.

The Times article also stated that “Israel does not always give warnings, of course.” It noted that an Israeli missile hit a car in Gaza, killing its three occupants, one of whom “was reportedly a senior Hamas military official, Muhammad Shaban, and it seemed unlikely that anyone had called them to warn that a missile was on the way.”

Is warning your enemy the standard procedure called for in warfare against leaders of an acknowledged terror group? More to the point, is any other country, including our own, expected to act this way?

The Editorial the day before, on the tragic killings of the three Israeli teenagers followed by the murder, presumably by Jews, of a Palestinian youngster, calls upon “leaders on both sides to try and calm the volatile emotions that once again threaten both peoples.”

The Times writes that “after the attack on the Israeli teenagers, some Israelis gave in to their worst prejudices,” and points out that “hundreds of extreme right-wing protesters” chanted “Death to Arabs,” a “Facebook page named ‘People of Israel Demand Revenge’ gathered 35,000 ‘likes’ before being taken down,” and “a blogger gave prominence to a photo, also on Facebook, that featured a sign saying: ‘Hating Arabs is not racism, it’s values.’”

The Times acknowledges, in a phrase, that “Palestinians have been fully guilty of hateful speech against Jews.” But it does not point out that Israeli officials publicly and regularly speak out against racial prejudice while ongoing incitement against Jews as evil baby-killers is supported, if not promoted, almost daily by the Palestinian government, which glorifies suicide bombers as “martyrs” and teaches children that Jews are apes or devils, among other sub-human descriptions.

Finally, the Editorial reports that both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas denounced the murders. But it does not mention that Abbas is now a partner in a unity government with Hamas, whose charter is to destroy the Jewish state and kill Jews, and currently is trying to do so through scores of daily rocket attacks against the Israeli population.

Without leaflets, phone calls or other advance notice.


Hamas rockets, New York Times

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You have got to be kidding, Gary. The Times is so pro Israel kids ridiculous. If I were Palestinian I'd cancel my subscription. Oh wait, if I were Palestinian I'd probably be dead or wounded. In the end you'll all see, as you all see at the end of every battle, Israel could have refrained. Israel, my country, my period, are not acting as a light into the nations. I'm embarrassed for bibi and his agressions. Shame on the Times? Shame on Israel.

I like the New York Times. Sometimes, though, articles seem to go off track, and to presume that this is never the case, with any written source, is just foolishness. Gary Rosenblatt's comments strike home, in my opinion, on coverage of issues that benefit from a perspective that encompasses a wider array of facts than would be needed to buttress simple observations that may be misguided.
Little coverage, but some coverage, was given to Netanyahu's visit with the family of the murdered Arab boy. In fact there is little or no coverage of Israeli Arabs in the Times at all. A house guest recently voiced the opinion that Arab Israeli's can't vote for members of the Knesset. He's educated, reads the Times, got it wrong.
What has happened over the last 15 years is that the ability of Arab extremists to say one thing in English ('this bombing is a tragedy') and quite another in Arabic ('this martyr now rests in heaven') has diminished. However, the extreme nature of anti-Jewish rhetoric among Arab states is still so far off the scale of rational thought that it is invisible to most Western media that I encounter. I think one fault of the Times is to not cover more of the extremist views, particularly when these views are funded by pockets of extreme wealth (Iran and others) that promote these 'wars by proxy'.

Be advised that many in America even if Obama is clueless to the need of support for Israel , many of us American's are on our knees praying for you. It is sad that most Americans are not voicing the facts about what is going on in Israel. I pray that someone sends this to Fox News so it gets air time, because it is clear that most media is not interested in presenting both sides! I am unable because I am a senior and not informed about CP's but I will wait for my granddaughter to help me with this important task and get it out to as many people we know... G-d Help us all

I cancelled my subscription to the Times many years ago as I just did not want to start each day angry. Worse than an Arab that hates a Jew is a Jew that hates a Jew. That has been the attitude of the Sulzberger and Oaks families for generations. There are probably no longer any Jews in those families because of intermarriage but the hatred of Jews has been passed down to the current generation. Unfortunately, the Times has a large audience and therefore your editorial is beneficial to the Jewish cause.

Mr. Rosenblatt could also mention the one-sided columns by Roger Cohen and Tom Friedman and some Palestinian woman blaming Israel for problems, she herself created. Yet, not a single pro-Israel voice has appeared in the Op-Ed pages. Reading Cohen and Friedman you would think that peace prevails throughout the world, despite 150,000 killed in Syria, thousands killed in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world dysfunctional, where death and lawlessness prevail. Every day there are large photos of Palestinians, something you don’t see about the suffering in any other conflict. Each Palestinian death is portrayed as a war crime, yet we killed 200,000 Japanese civilians in the waning days of WW II. A picture of a bloodied Palestinian American is given a front page picture. No other bloodied person in the world gets such coverage. The Times is beyond biased. Its true name should be The Palestinian Times, “with just the news critical of Israel will they see fit to print” as their motto.

I greatly appreciate the insight as I am a subscriber to the ny times. Lately I have felt the sympathies in photos and comments not with Israel in the past two years. Thanks for article

The column is correct but too gentle and kind to the Times. Even when stories are less blatantly anti-Israel, the selection of stories to feature or highlight, the selection of photos and their placement in the paper are consistently slanted against Israel. Most recently, the lead story about the killing of the Arab teen (clearly horrific but already old news) appeared in an issue which ignored Afghani suicide bombings on the same day, extensively covered by other news media. It may be cynical to say so, but odd that the paper that could hardly manage during WWII to get six million murddred Jews on the front page was quick to do so with one Arab boy.