A short Introduction.
The following is a translation of an article I just read in Maariv, one of Israel’s daily newspapers. It analyses the way the New York Times covered Operation Breaking Dawn. The timing of posting it onto the website was more critical, in my opinion, than perfecting the English to be proper and more readable. That will come later.
Quoting Harvey Ardman, “most people see the Times as a great newspaper, responsible, accurate, truthful, deeply informative, almost a necessity for the intelligent citizen.” Adding to it the admirable fact that the same family owns it for over 100 years, one can understand Mr. Ardman’s statement in the perspective of history.
When it comes to the way the New York Times (NYT) handles issues related to Israel and the Jewish World, there are question marks arising. The latest is in the following translation. Another one is published in a book by laurel Leff, ‘Buried by the Times’. Her book was highly acclaimed, and received the award of Best Media History Book from the American Journalism Historians Association.
My lesson learned is that I should seek my knowledge about news from more than one source, preferably from sources known to be on different sides of the spectrum of views and opinions.
Covering of Operation Breaking Dawn In the New York Times does not do grace with Israel.
Lilach Sigan, August 13, 2022
The threats of the Islamic Jihad to execute a terror attack weren’t mentioned, the firing on Israel was hidden, and the death of the 5-years old girl was extensively covered – without mentioning that she was used as a human shield to her father; Here is how Operation Breaking Dawn was covered by the New York Times.
The celebrations over the successful PR campaign of the operation in Gaza were somewhat premature. There is no doubt that it could be much worse. Yet, we have a long way to go forward until we reach the point that we the point that we can call Israel’s PR campaign a successful one. We got used to be beaten by the international media, and when they “only” being rude and unfair to us, as opposed to grind us down to dust, we feel a relief.
Within the framework of the daily monitoring of the New York Times (NYT) that I took upon myself this year, one can get somewhat deeper glimpse at the way a single very central media enterprise reports on the three-days operation, an operation that the Israelis experience in a whole different manner. The coverage was quite intensive: a total of 10 headlines that will remain eternally in the NYT Archives, in addition to 9 update headlines in the “Live” streaming channel.
First and foremost, it is interesting to note that the NYT missed the whole prolog. Specifically, the arrest of Bassam A-Saadi, the head of the Islamic Jihad organization in Jenin was not reported at all. Following that, none was reported about the curfew that was imposed on the settlements and towns in the South [next to the boarder with Gaza].
Apparently [according to the NYT], the operation started out of nowhere, with a headline that announces that “A senior member of an armed group in Gaza got killed”. The subtitle reported the arrest of A-Saadi as an after the fact event, along with the expectation for a retaliation.
The prevented massive terror attach was not described as a significant reason for the operation in any stage of the reporting. It was only the “standard background” description that Gaza is under siege since 2007, without any details regarding the reasons for that siege. In fact, the Quartet Principles and the Hamas refusal to comply with are being handles exactly the same way as the Disengagement.
Searching for the appearance of both the words “Hamas” and “Quartet” in the same article within the last year produces zero results, and only 3 in the last 5 years. One of those was in an article written by Tzipi Livni and another one in Danny Danon’s article. For the sake of better illustrating the context of the above analysis, the count of times that both words “Israel” and “Occupation” appeared in the same article during the last 5 years is more than 12,000 times. That what happens when one event, news item, is obsessively reported on, and the other is simply erased.
Out of the ten headlines that followed Operation Breaking Dawn, eight covered only the attacks Israel conducted in Gaza and their outcomes. One reported on the negotiations for a ceasefire, and the last one was about the fact that Hamas was not involved in the fighting this time. No headline, nor a sub-headline, mentioned even with a single word the situation in Israel.
All that represented the hundreds of alarms and half of the State sitting in bomb shelters was reduced to one laconic statement in a summary article, that mentioned by a way the 1,10o rockets that were fired on Israel.
One of the ten headlines was dedicated to the killing of the 5-years old girl. Her story was told in details, without clearly mentioning that she was the daughter of the Jihad’s high official that was eliminated by Israel. The other children that got killed as a result of failed rockets the Jihad launched towards Israel did receive no mercy, no mentioning at all nor a headline.
So was the handling of the fact that about 15% of the Jihad’s rocket launches fell and exploded within Gaza, some of them causing damage and fatalities. These were framed as “Israel claims”. The same frame of reference was given to the plot to fire Anti-Tank missiles on civilian busses.
It might sound petty and narrow minded; yet it is so important to better understand the meaning of this kind of reporting. Given the consistency of the narrative along extended time creates the turnaround of minds, of the concepts. There is no reference whatsoever to Israel’s vulnerability and the suffering of its residents, nor to Israel’s effort to avoid collateral damage and hurting those who are not involved.
In parallel to the above, there is no reference at all that neither the Hamas nor the Jihad care that innocent, uninvolved human beings get hurt. That they knowingly and intentionally aim to hit areas with high concentration of civilian population. That most of their bases are within schools, hospitals and mosques. The result of this combination is that it is very difficult not to get the perception that the Jihadists are a mere bunch of poor, miserable, Palestinians, and that the Israelis are simply pure villains.
Within the concurrent updates the NYT mentioned once the firing towards Jerusalem as a retaliation to the increase of casualties in Gaza. However, this headline did not remain in the website’s archives. Beyond that – there was simply no coverage at all on the shooting towards Israel. One of the updates aimed at providing some background to the readers, its headline asked: What is the Islamic Jihad?
What can one say? We wished that the Islamic Jihad was as gentle as the New York Times described it. One can find comfort in the fact that the educated explanation mentioned that Israel and the Untied States define the Jihad as a terror organization (it failed, though, to add that the EU, Australia, Canada, UK, New Zealand and Japan also officially define the Jihad as a terror organization).
This article did not say that the Jihad has publicly declared that it strives to eliminate the existence of the State of Israel for over than 40 years now. Nor it mentioned that the Islamic Jihad rejected the Oslo Accords, or that it is connected to Syria and the Hizballah. Neither the article mentioned that it has a base in Jenin and it is responsible to many suicide attacks and the killing of many civilians. All that information, by the way, is readily available and easy to find, even in Wikipedia.
Palestinians and Terrorists
The biggest problem in this seemingly pro-Palestinian approach of the NYT is the lack of distinction between innocent people and terrorists, between citizens to Terrorist Organization activists. During the Operation, the NYT reported the number of casualties, without distinguishing who they were. When the Head of Al-Qaida was eliminated by the US last week, the NYT defined him very clearly as a terrorist. The attitude is completely different when the subject matter is Palestinian Terrorism.
One can assume that the excuse is that the Palestinians are “Freedom Fighters” or something similar. Therefore, even when they dedicate their lives to kill Israelis, they are not terrorists. Apparently, they have an excuse: the Occupation. But this concept is exactly the one that get the Palestinians stuck, stripping them down of any hope.
After all, we all know that had the Palestinians not being engaged in terrorism, somehow an arrangement, an agreement, could have been achieved with them. Similarly, if they were giving up their dream to reoccupy the whole territory of Israel and abandon the concept of “right of return”. Needless to say, that none of these concepts is ever mentioned in the reports of the NYT. Many of us also know that hadn’t the Terror Organizations control Gaza since the Disengagement; it was possible to have an independent flourishing entity developing in Gaza.
The mere attempt to normalize the terror as a part of the legitimate Palestinian struggle and not calling it Terror (so as not to tarnish the overall image) sets the Palestinians in a reality of terrorism. No one sets out against the zealous and torturing regime, no one criticizes the recruitment and mobilization of children, the incitement to hatred, or the use of civilians as a human shield. Therefore, there is no reason to stop that bahavior.
The whole framing of this picture is not correct. We tend to say for quite some time that we are not anymore David but Goliath instead. Our real conflict is not with the Palestinians, it is with the Terror Organizations. Primarily with the Hizballah that is operated and financed by Iran. This is the real framing of the overall picture; the story of Israel vs Gaza is a small and sad part of the overall picture.
So, yes, the bottom line is that it could be much worse. But it is not exactly a week that contributed to the image of Israel in the world. Here, again, major elements of the story have been ignored, and Israel is continued to be presented to the readers through very negative lenses.
PS: Another Opinion About the Coverage of the NYT on Israel
Mr. Mitchell Bard is a foreign policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books on the subject. He have recently published an Op Ed in a Column in the Jewish News Syndicate, regarding the way the NYT promotes antisemitic and anti-Zionist propaganda under the disguise of “Journalistic News”. It pretty much coaligns with what I wrote in the article above. You may Read it Here.