New York Times Masquerades Israeli Propaganda as Journalism on Gaza Killings

by Apr 14, 2018Foreign Policy14 comments

The New York Times building in New York City (Haxorjoe/Wikimedia Commons)

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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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

My writings empower readers with the knowledge they need to see through state propaganda intended to manufacture their consent for criminal government policies.

By recognizing when we are being lied to and why, we can fight effectively for liberty, peace, and justice, in order to create a better world for ourselves, our children, and future generations of humanity.

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  1. Kagey1

    Mr. Hammond your bias against Israel shows in how you present the two sides. You implicitly dismiss the Israeli version and imply that the version by Human Rights Watch is gospel truth, when that organization is biased against Israel. The Times editorial did not lend support to that it at least showed that there were two sides but it, as well as you fail to acknowledge that the Palestinians frequently put up photo-shopped videos and photos. You fail to acknowledge that the fault is more on the Palestinian side than on the Israeli side.

      • Kagey1

        We disagree as to what is propaganda and what is not propaganda. You appear to believe that the Israeli version is all propaganda and the Gazan/Hamas version is the truth. Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, has used ambulances in its terror operations and has hidden missiles in schools. The Hamas version cannot be believed. Human Rights Watch and other such organizations are biased against Israel in that they give no credibility to what Israel reports and unwavering credibility to anything reported by the PA and Hamas dominated organizations like the Red Crescent in the Gaza strip.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        I am using the dictionary definition of the word “propaganda”:

        2: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
        3 : ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect

        So, like I said, propaganda is propaganda, and your suggestion that Israeli propaganda is somehow credible can hardly be taken seriously, given the actual historical record.

      • Kagey1

        Mr. Hammond with all due respect, under those definitions the statements of Human Rights Watch would also fit the definition of propaganda. Both versions of what occurred appear to agree on certain facts, that there were demonstrators, tire burning, and rock throwing. The Israeli version also claims to have a video of a Palestinian shooting, the Human Rights Watch version takes no position on this. The rest of both sides statements are differing interpretations of international law. The portion of the statement you quoted from Ms. Kershner accurately reflected what really happened according to both sides and she added the Israeli claim, labeling it as such. She clearly implies in the article the Israeli version is not to be believed. The statement from Human Rights Watch is its interpretation of what the law is, not what everyone agrees it is. Parts of both versions are propaganda by your definitions, but neither is more entitled to be considered as true and not mere propaganda.

      • TecumsehUnfaced

        Human Rights Watch shuttles personnel with the Zionist loving U.S. government, thereby abandoning all its credibility.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        Yes, I suppose what Human Rights Watch reported could be said to meet the definition of “propaganda”, inasmuch as HRW reporting facts to further its cause of seeking accountability for human rights falls under that definition.

        “She clearly implies in the article the Israeli version is not to be believed.” If that was so, she wouldn’t have presented the Israeli version as though objective.

      • Kagey1

        Mr. Hammond, I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on how Ms. Kershner presented the Israeli version. I thank you for a civilized discussion even though I disagree with many of your positions.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        It is not a matter of opinion. Kershner literally, observably presented as though objective journalism what the Times later acknowledged was the “Israeli version” of events, as I show above.

      • Kagey1

        Mr. Hammond, the Human Rights Watch article does not take issue with what Ms. Kershner and Mr. Abuheweila reported as having occurred. It did not say the hurling stones, burning tires and Molotov cocktail throwing, did or did not occur. The Human Rights Watch article took issue with whether those actions were life threatening, warranting a shooting response, while admitting there was some violence. It appears to be undisputed that there was violence on the part of the Palestinian demonstrators, what is in dispute is the level of the violence and how threatening it was.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        You are simply highlighting my own point: It is not just about whether stones were thrown, etc., but whether those actions were life threatening, warranting a shooting response.

        Kershner, by reporting the admitted “Israeli version”, characterized those very actions as though warranting that response. Contrasted with HRW, which noted the lack of evidence that any of those actions that did occur posed a threat to Israeli soldiers.

      • Kagey1

        I understand your point. I respectfully disagree. I read Kirshner as just reporting not judging whether the Israeli response was proper or not. That is what Human Rights Watch did. It assumed that the Israeli version of what occurred was correct and judged the propriety of the Israeli reaction to those supposed Gazans’ actions to be in violation of international law. Ms. Kirshner is supposed to report not judge, Human Rights Watch is supposed to be an advocacy group and supposedly judge other’s actions by an objective standard. They serve two different functions and have different responsibilities in what they write. Mr. Hammond thank you for the discussion. You have given me much to think about. I hope I have done the same for you.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        I understand your point. I respectfully disagree. I read Kirshner as just reporting not judging whether the Israeli response was proper or not.

        You are missing my point entirely. It isn’t a matter of Kershner judging Israel’s response as proper or not. It’s a matter of the fact that she presented the Israeli version without identifying it as the Israeli version; that is, she presented the Israeli version as though objective journalism.

      • Kagey1

        Mr. Hammond here is the quote from Ms. Kirshner that I think is relevant “The Israelis said they also exchanged fire with two gunmen across the fence and fired at two others who tried to infiltrate into Israel.” She identifies that as from Israel, the rest seemed to be straightforward reporting. Am I missing something? If so what is it?

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