Tag Archives: Occupied

Truth in the New York Times

Truth

The New York Times has been waging a not-so-subtle war on Trump’s “Fake News” campaign with its full page messages, such as the one above.  Or this one.

Facts new york times

Clearly, this is a very thoughtful campaign by the Editors at the New York Times to discredit Trump’s war on facts and on the news media. Good for them.

We should be asking ourselves, however, why the NYT Editors chose to focus on “truth” and not “facts.” Some might argue that “truth” and “facts” are synonymous, there is no difference. In an ideal world, I might agree.

The wise ones know we don’t live in that utopia.

We live in a world where the media giants, the consolidated empires like the Sinclair Broadcast Group, massage and filter and repeat ad nauseum the “truth” they deem fit to share.

Few media sources disseminate outright lies and fabrications. There’s an element of “truth” in every story, whether you find it on Fox News, Rachel Maddow’s show or The New York Times.  (I can hear my liberal friends howling “you can’t compare Fox News and The New York Times in the same breath!”)

What’s new is the relatively recent attack on the “truth” our commander-in-chief doesn’t like.  He prefers the way Fox News massages the “truth” rather than the mainstream media that criticizes him, even trying to punish journalists with whom he disagrees.

But don’t be fooled.  Both Fox News and The New York Times massage the truth to fit a worldview that they want you, the news consumer, to digest and accept.

One small example.

In the Spring of 2014, I read a New York Times story online that referred to the Gaza Strip as “occupied.” This story was published years after the State of Israel had formally removed its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, and Israel’s position was that it no longer “occupied” Gaza.

I was shocked and pleasantly surprised that The New York Times was not parroting Israel’s line, but instead acknowledging international law in a back-handed sort of way. Under international law, since Israel maintains “effective control” over the people of Gaza, it occupies the Gaza Strip.

A few hours later I returned to that same article online and found that the Editors had removed the term “occupied” and “occupation,” followed by a short disclaimer at the bottom noting that the original version had been a mistake. Over the next month, I engaged in a volley of letters back and forth with the Editors about this change. The New York Times Editors’ response to me is here.

Anyone who has been following The New York Times’ coverage of Israel-Palestine for any length of time understands that the paper massages the facts, at times more subtly than at other times, to favor Israel’s perspective.

If Americans are interested in the “truth” as presented by Israel and The New York Times, then some facts will be highlighted and other facts ignored or deliberately buried, as in the case of Gaza.

The Gaza Strip is occupied; the State of Israel is the occupation power; the future of the Palestinians and Israelis depends on Americans understanding the facts.

A good place to begin is by watching The Occupation of the American Mind, Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States. (The video link is here.)

Then let’s tell The New York Times and every media outlet that we want the FACTS. With the facts we will be the judge of what is the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Media, Uncategorized, Video

Obfuscating “occupation”

The Democratic Party bosses don’t want to include any mention of Israel’s occupation of Palestine in the party’s platform. Why?

Isn’t the occupation a well-established fact, just as climate change is today?

Unfortunately, there are climate change deniers and occupation deniers. Facts mean little to either.

The State of Israel has a very clear strategy to obfuscate their occupation of Palestine in order to escape legal responsibilities as the occupier, and to shift the burden of the plight of the Palestinians onto the Palestinians themselves and the international community. Attorney Noura Erakat educated me about Israel’s legal strategy in her law review piece that I summarized here.

The New York Times, in this respect, is Israel’s handmaiden by deliberately avoiding the term “occupation” in the context of Gaza, as I wrote about here.

Most members of Congress have sipped AIPAC’s koolaid and refuse to touch anything with the term “occupation” attached. Thankfully, 20 members had the courage last month to call it what it is.  See here.

The lawmakers sent the president a letter on June 20, urging him to appoint a “special envoy for Palestinian youth” in order to monitor the Israeli government’s violation of Palestinian children’s human rights.

The letter notes that Palestinian children are “growing up under military occupation with very few opportunities to improve their lives.”

The letter describes the occupation as “an unimaginably difficult and at times hopeless environment,” where children “live under the constant fear of arrest detention and violence at the hands of the Israeli military.”

Even pro-Palestine activists are confused about the term. Some label the creation of Israel and the ensuing Nakba that displaced thousands of Palestinians from their homes, businesses and villages as an occupation dating back to 1947. I completely understand their feelings, but wish we could use the term precisely and correctly. Activists only play into Israel’s strategy when they throw the term “occupation” around; just as unhelpful as politicians indiscriminately labeling everyone a terrorist.

We should be absolutely clear about the term “occupation” and use it correctly. Under international law, Israel has occupied portions of Palestine since 1967 and must be held accountable as the occupier. That doesn’t mean Israel shouldn’t be held accountable for the Nakba, but the Nakba does not equal “occupation“……not legally.

And the Democratic Party bosses must wake up and smell the coffee. “It’s an occupation, stupid.”

1 Comment

Filed under Israel, Occupation, People, Politics, Uncategorized, Video

NY Times should change its standards

Gaza superimposed on Manhattan, NY

Gaza superimposed on Manhattan, New York

April 14, 2014

To: Mr. Phillip Corbett, Editor, The New York Times

I wrote the Public Editor last month about my concerns regarding the New York Times’ decision to delete any reference to “occupation” or “occupied” in connection with the Gaza Strip.

I received the following response: “The term “occupied” has a specific resonance in the Israeli Palestinian conflict, and we have stopped referring to Gaza as occupied. This is not a new decision. We stopped when Israel ceased its formal occupation of the territory, and have since used other terms to describe Israeli pressure on Hamas and Gaza. “Occupied” is not among them.”

The Public Editor suggested that I contact the international desk at foreign@nytimes.com for further explanation. I followed up but never received a response and so I’m turning to you as the Editor in charge of standards.

The Gaza Strip and the 1.8 million Palestinians living there are physically, practically and legally occupied in every sense of the word, and I urge The New York Times to reconsider its decision.

1) PHYSICALLY — Although there are no Israeli settlers living in Gaza now, and the Israeli military has no boots on the ground (except for its many incursions with tanks and troops, such as Operation Cast Lead – Dec.’08 – Jan.’09), Israel maintains effective control over the borders. No one enters or leaves without Israel’s permission. I would argue that the Rafah border with Egypt is effectively controlled by Israel because there is close cooperation between Israeli and Egyptian authorities. The Gaza Strip has been called an ‘open air prison’ by U.N. officials, visiting diplomats and many journalists. Israeli drones fly in Gaza airspace. Israeli gunboats shoot and kill Palestinian fishermen in Gaza waters less than 3 miles from shore although international law permits fishing up to 12 miles. Israeli warships shoot and kill international passengers attempting to travel to Gaza by sea. Israeli snipers shoot and kill farmers working on their lands within the so-called “buffer zone” that Israel unilaterally designated inside the Gaza border. In addition to land, air and sea, Israel maintains effective control over Gaza’s telecommunications networks, electromagnetic sphere, tax revenue distribution, and population registry.

2) PRACTICALLY — The 1.8 million Palestinians living in Gaza must depend on Israel for much of their sustenance, and Israel’s long-term siege on Gaza (since June 2007) has deliberately destroyed the local economy. During Israel’s 23-day bombardment in ’08-’09, the Israeli military slaughtered thousands of chickens, uprooted hundreds of olive trees, demolished utilities and infrastructure, a sports stadium, a bank, Mosques, schools, and a university laboratory building. These actions, in addition to killing 1,400 men, women and children, were cynically designed to assert control over the population, destroy their ability to grow and flourish, and make life in the Gaza Strip a living hell. Today, Israel maintains effective control of the economy in Gaza, the movement of every Palestinian in and out of Gaza, and the natural resources that rightfully belong to the Palestinians (including pumping the lion’s share of the water from the aquifer below Gaza and exploiting the natural gas fields off the coast of Gaza).

3)  LEGALLY — The Gaza Strip is legally occupied, despite Israel’s attempts to erase that nomenclature. Israel has also made the argument that it does not occupy the West Bank because there was no State of Palestine in 1948 when it seized the land. Instead, Israel says it’s merely “administering the territories” despite the fact that the UN Security Council, the International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly and the Israeli Supreme Court all reject that argument. If there is no occupation, then Israel has no legal obligation as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention, but if there is an occupation, her responsibilities to the Palestinians are greater and she cannot invoke the right to self-defense in the same way. Israel wants to avoid the term “occupation” because the permissible use of force under occupation is limited to law enforcement and policing. If Israel does not occupy Gaza, the permissible use of force is expansive. The principles of distinction and proportionality apply but Israel can probably use greater firepower than would be allowed under occupation. That is why it’s very important to understand why Israel is working so hard to control the messaging about the occupation.

Israel is trying to avoid the constraints of international humanitarian law when it invokes “self defense.”  Israel cites two UN Security Council Resolutions adopted in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks (Res. 1368 and Res. 1373) which give states the right to defend against terrorist attacks. Israel frames all acts of Palestinian violence as terrorism triggering these resolutions. Israel has rendered Gaza into a legal black hole where the only applicable law is its own. I encourage you to read It’s Not Wrong, It’s Illegal: Situating the Gaza Blockade Between International Law and the UN Response by Noura Erakat, UCLA Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, Vol. 11, No. 37, 2011-2012 available online here.

The readers of The New York Times deserve the unadulterated facts about Israel’s occupation of the Gaza Strip. Deleting the term “occupation” from your standards when referencing the Gaza Strip is a cynical manipulation of the messaging which comports with Israel’s attempt to manipulate international law. The New York Times should not be in the business of obfuscation.

Sincerely, Lora Lucero

 

3 Comments

Filed under Gaza, Israel, Media, Occupation