As readers of this blog know, I frequently write about the shameful nature of the New York Times’ coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sometimes its distortions, omissions, and factual errors are so blatant as to amount to outright lying, in practical effect if not as a judicial proceeding might find.
Today’s example is not so obvious; maybe I shouldn’t even count it. Still, here it is. The fifth paragraph of today’s page one lead story, on the Israeli blockade of Gaza, states that “the Israeli government has said that the blockade was necessary to protect Israel against the infiltration into Gaza of weapons and fighters sponsored by Iran.”
The next sentence should have said something like this: “However, the blockade also sharply limits or totally bans more than a thousand other items necessary for rebuilding Gaza or even vital to ordinary civilian life.”
Among those items are many food products; clothing items; cooking gas; industrial fuel; electrical appliances like refrigerators and washing machines; cement, iron, wood and other materials necessary to rebuild homes and factories destroyed in last year’s Israeli attack on Gaza; spare parts for tractors, machines and automobiles; irrigation pipe systems; mattresses, blankets, and sheets; kitchenware–and even lightbulbs, books, music, and toys.
To be sure, in the continuation of the story on the inside pages, Ethan Bronner does discuss the damage to the Gazan population created by the Israeli blockade—or, better said, siege--and now he does juxtapose Israeli claims with reports of international aid groups.
However, he should have done so, up front and on page one; his failure to do so, deliberate or inadvertent, may leave a seriously misleading impression on readers who are not familiar with or have forgotten the true nature of the Israeli blockade, and who may not read beyond the first page.
The question is: Is it fair to regard the story as yet another example of the failure of the Times to convey the full realities of Israeli policies? I think so, but maybe I’ve been oversensitized about the issue.