I picked up a copy of the New York Times in Grand Central Station today. There’s something much more satisfying about reading a hard copy of this flagship paper rather than scrolling through the digital version online. It’s particularly satisfying to purchase it at the iconic Grand Central Station. Wish I could do this every day!
Sadly, the joy ends there.
The headline on the front page today (August 27, 2014) screams a pro-Israel bias but will the average reader understand?
Cease-Fire Extended, but Not on Hamas’s Terms.
It would have been just as accurate to write Cease-Fire Extended, but Not on Israel’s Terms……or Not on Netanyahu’s Terms. Neither side got all of its demands satisfied in this agreement, so why trumpet one side versus another?
Because the New York Times has been Israel’s cheerleader since before the beginning of this most recent military campaign. A cheerleader, not a neutral professional news agency. A cheerleader can’t admit defeat or even a draw, but must keep the team’s spirits up.
I read Ms. Rudoren’s piece (she’s been the NY Time’s Jerusalem bureau chief since May 2012) and was disappointed but not surprised. I’ve been trying for the past 4 months to get a response from her or someone else working the international desk at the NY Times about why her paper has decided not to use the term “occupied” when referencing Gaza. No luck yet.
Giving Ms. Rudoren the benefit of the doubt . . . maybe she didn’t write the headline . . . maybe some copy editor back in New York did.
However, the very first words in her piece again mislead the reader.
“After 50 days of fighting that took some 2,200 lives . . .”
Whose lives? An uninformed reader might think this was a symmetrical battle with each side losing many 100s of people. Although there may be some controversy about exactly how many Palestinians in Gaza have perished, no one tries to make the argument that this has been a match between two equals suffering similar losses.
Palestinian civilians in Gaza have borne the overwhelming brunt of Israel’s firepower, on the order of 30:1 if my math is correct. If the reader makes it to page A11, Rudoren finally notes that more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians. Israel lost 64 soldiers and six civilians.
Naturally, each side must claim victory, but was there really a victor?
Netanyahu failed to demilitarize Hamas, his stated goal for launching Operation Protective Edge.
Hamas failed to lift the 7-year siege (but Israel agreed to allow humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials in). Hamas failed to win agreement on opening its seaport and airport. It’s not even clear yet whether the Rafah border with Egypt will be opened. Discussions about the release of Palestinian prisoners has been postponed. This doesn’t look like victory to me.
Netanyahu might claim that he has “restored quiet” and destroyed 34 “terror” tunnels, and damaged a vast amount of the “terror infrastructure” aka businesses, hospitals, schools, banks, Mosques, water and sewer lines, private homes and even multistory apartment buildings. Palestinian officials claim the destruction from Israel’s Operation Protective Edge adds up to more than $6 Billion USD.
Netanyahu has certainly raised the ire of millions of people around the world against Israel and galvanized the BDS movement.
Hamas might claim they have succeeded in showing the world that they can hit targets deep into Israel — including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion Airport. Their resistance fighters can strike behind enemy lines and exact a punishment on the IDF in greater measure than in earlier battles. Hamas can also claim some success in the way it worked with the international media and social media to get its side of the battle out to the public, certainly better than in November 2012.
Despite the celebratory gunfire in the major squares in Gaza today, this ceasefire certainly feels like a return to the status quo and I wonder how the survivors will manage to pick up their lives from the rubble left behind.
I also wonder if Americans will ever get clear, unadulterated, unbiased news coverage of Palestine and Israel from the mainstream press.