New York Times Masquerades Israeli Propaganda as Journalism on Gaza Killings

The New York Times initially blamed the Palestinians for the outbreak of violence that left Gazans dead and wounded on March 30. A subsequent Times editorial tacitly acknowledges that initial report was Israeli propaganda masquerading as journalism.

On March 30, under the headline “Israeli Military Kills 15 Palestinians in Confrontations on Gaza Border“, the New York Times reported (bold emphasis added):

JERUSALEM — Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered along Gaza’s border with Israel on Friday to vent their pent-up frustration in a protest that quickly turned violent, with Israeli forces killing 15 at the border fence.

As many as 30,000 arrived early in the day at tent encampments on Gaza’s side of the fence to stage what was billed as the start of a peaceful, six-week sit-in. They were protesting against Israel’s longstanding blockade of the territory and in support of their claims to return to homes in what is now Israel.

But as some began hurling stones, tossing Molotov cocktails and rolling burning tires at the fence, the Israelis responded with tear gas and gunfire. The Israelis said they also exchanged fire with two gunmen across the fence and fired at two others who tried to infiltrate into Israel.

Compare this, first, with how Human Rights Watch reported the same incident the same day, under the headline “Israel: Gaza Killings Unlawful, Calculated“:

Senior Israeli officials who unlawfully called for use of live ammunition against Palestinian demonstrations who posed no imminent threat to life bear responsibility for the killings of 14 demonstrators in Gaza and the injuring of hundreds on March 30, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today.

Both before and after the confrontations, senior officials publicly said that soldiers stationed along the barrier that separates Gaza and Israel had orders to target “instigators” and those who approach the border. However, the Israeli government presented no evidence that rock-throwing and other violence by some demonstrators seriously threatened Israeli soldiers across the border fence. The high number of deaths and injuries was the foreseeable consequence of granting soldiers leeway to use lethal force outside of life-threatening situations in violation of international norms, coupled with the longstanding culture of impunity within the Israeli army for serious abuses.

But we don’t need to compare what the New York Times reports with what international human rights organizations report to see that what the Times did was to present the Israeli propaganda version of events. To see proof of that, all we need to do is to turn to the Times‘ own editorial on April 2, in which the editorial board wrote:

Competing videos told competing stories. The Israeli version appeared to show a Hamas fighter shooting at Israeli forces while other Palestinians were seen hurling stones, tossing Molotov cocktails and rolling burning tires at the fence. Palestinian videos on social media appeared to show unarmed protesters being shot by Israelis.

Now compare again what was reported by the Times the day of the incident.

I rest my case.

Incidentally, the lead reporter on the Times initial Israeli propaganda piece was Isabel Kershner. If you want to see more examples of how Kershner does little more than regurgitate Israeli propaganda, presenting it as journalism in the pages of the Times, read my book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

In it I destroy not only Kershner, but also Ethan Bronner, the editorial board, and the newspaper in general. You do not want to miss my demolition of their shameless propagandizing, which serves, of course, to manufacture consent for the US government’s policy of supporting Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians.

Click here to learn more about Obstacle to Peace and your copy.

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