Thursday, June 3, 2010

Does This Count?

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.


Anonymous said...

"I think so, but maybe I’ve been oversensitized about the issue." - I don't think so but I do think it is always good, if not necessary, to be ready to question oneself. A trivial statement, I know, but given the current "war of the worlds" (Israeli JudeoNazis vs. Palestinian Islamofascists) - it needs to be reminded...

Paul Lookman said...

“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.”

A Flemish household word reads: “putting the question is answering it”. I feel nobody can be oversensitive about the consistent media efforts to downplay the drama in the Middle East, which becomes more dangerous by the day. I feel Mondoprinte oversimplifies the “war of the words” (worlds is typing error?) as Israeli JudeoNazis vs. Palestinian Islamofascists.

Just a question to professor Slater. The article: “Is there a connection between the Balfour Declaration and 9/11” ( in my weblog produced a reaction from a certain “Tapanoeli, who said (and I summarize his Dutch text): “It was felt that the Declaration could help win support from Jewish financial interests. For America, this type of support would be essential once the allies had used up their financial resources destined for purchase of war materials in the US. That was the main motive for the British government to make this arrangement with Judaism. In other words: the Balfour Declaration was a precondition to obtain the necessary American credits to finance the war. Europe had no alternative than to turn to the wealthy Jewish bankers in the US, who, not quite by chance, in 1913 were co-sponsors of the establishment of the FED, which since then makes monetary policy and - following from it - determines US foreign policy.”

An intriguing thesis, which I would like to research in-depth. Can you lead me to sources?

Jerome Slater said...

I am no expert on the Balfour Declaration, but Tapanoeli sounds suspiciously simplistic, and perhaps anti-Semitic--a charge, I know, that is made much too often, but this is a classic argument: Jewish financiers run the world, etc.
The motives for the Balfour Declaration are usually described as partly owing to genuine British sympathy for Zionism and the historic plight of the Jews, combined with British realpolitik: the advantages of having a pro-Western state in the Middle East, and one grateful to if not beholden to Britain.

Before trying to research the question, I would see if Tapanoeli actually provides any evidence for his argument, or is it just an assertion, as I suspect. If so, the burden of proof is on him/he. The first two motives I mention are more than sufficient to explain the Balfour Declaration. If no other explanation seems necessary, and the argument takes the form of classical anti-Semitism.....

Paul Lookman said...

Dear professor, you might like to take a look at, where I have compared the attitude of the New York Times with that of the leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, and found a few potential similarities... It's a small world.

Anonymous said...

I have been following the NYT reporting on Palestinian issues for 20 years at least. Nothing, but nothing, on this subject is by chance. Any story about Israel is severly reviewed and often edited to make sure it is "clean" by AIPAC's standards. Every semantic choice, every nuance, must pass pro-Israeli muster. Prof. Slater is the expert on this.