BY OMISSION, THE NEW YORK TIMES WIPES ISRAEL’S CRIMINAL RECORD CLEAN

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Truth, Lies, and Omissions
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According to The New York Times, there is no siege of Gaza, no occupation of the West Bank, and never was there a  Nakba (the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine). Three recent articles erase these key Israeli crimes from the historical record.
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How The New York Times erases Israel’s crimes

Robert Ross* 
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The New York Times keeps the American public in the dark about the true nature of Israel’s occupation.

(Nedal Eshtayah / APA images)

According to The New York Times, there is no siege of Gaza, no occupation of the West Bank, and never was there a Nakba (the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine). Three recent articles erase these key Israeli crimes from the historical record.

In a 13 December 2012 article entitled “Hamas Gains Allure in Gaza, but Money is a Problem,” Steven Erlanger explores the reasons for Gaza’s increasingly debilitating poverty. Never once in this 1,300-word piece does Erlanger even mention the Israeli siege on Gaza or the 2008 and 2012 Israeli bombardments as factors (much less the principal causes).

Instead, Erlanger goes through a long list of regional developments (the weakening of the Assad regime in Syria, sanctions on Iran) and, most emphatically, decisions by Hamas(new taxes and fees), which have supposedly left Palestinians in Gaza not only increasingly impoverished but also more resentful than ever of Hamas. “Gazans recognize that there is more order here,” Erlanger explains, “more construction and less garbage. But many resent the economic burden of financing Hamas and, implicitly, its military.”

No siege

So to the extent that the most recent Israeli onslaught is considered at all, it is Hamas’rockets, once again, that are blamed for Gaza’s misfortune. As if to prove his point, a 43-year-old butcher says to Erlanger, “things have steadily declined in Gaza.” Another Gaza resident adds, “it is a life of depression and deprivation.”

Erlanger does include the word “siege” in his analysis, but only amidst a quoted laundry list of problems Palestinians in Gaza now endure: “poverty, mismanagement, siege,unemployment, little freedom of movement,” Mkhaimar Abusada is quoted as saying.

And the siege, among these other conditions, is implicitly attributed not to Israel, but to Hamas: “If it can’t deal with these same issues,” Abusada concludes, “Hamas will find itself in the same position as it was before the war.” While Abusada, a political scientist at Al-Azhar University, certainly knows the origins of these conditions, Erlanger’s placement of his quotation makes it seem that even Abusada blames the siege on Hamas.

Either way, Erlanger does not provide any sense of how totalizing and devastating a ground, air and naval blockade (much less the two recent military assaults) of the densely populated territory actually is. An uninformed reader could easily conclude that the siege is something for which Hamas is responsible, not an imperially-imposed form of collective punishment foisted upon Palestinians by Israel, and not something that is directly responsible for Gaza’s poverty and “little freedom of movement.”

Thus, according to The New York Times, Hamas is responsible for Gaza’s problems; Israel has nothing to do with it.

No Nakba

Times article about Palestinian refugees in Syria published three days after Erlanger’s Gaza story obscures the reason that Palestinians are refugees in the first place (“A Syrian airstrike kills Palestinian refugees and costs Assad support,” 16 December 2012).

With just eight words, the Times absolves Israel of any responsibility for the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to make way for a Jewish state.

Reporting on the Syrian regime’s recent attack on Yarmouk camp in Damascus, home to thousands of Palestinian refugees, the Times explains that the Palestinians there were “refugees from conflict with Israel and their descendants.” The Nakba, the original sin ofZionism and the State of Israel, is thus smeared into obscurity. It is transformed into something it is not, changed from the wholesale removal of one group of people by another to a conflict between two presumably equal sides, from which a bunch of Palestinians evidently fled.

The newspaper of record does not, of course, go on to explain that while UN Resolution 194 specifically grants the Palestinians in Syria (as well as those in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere) the right to return to their homes in what is now Israel, the Israeli government has always — and, at times, violently — denied this right.

No occupation

An article published the following day, on the so-called E1 land east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, fails to mention that this land and the broader territory of which it is part, is considered by international law to be a Palestinian territory currently under Israeli occupation (Steven Erlanger, “West Bank land, empty but full of meaning,” 17 December).

Reporting on Israel’s recent declaration to build settlements on E1, Erlanger reproduces the oldest Zionist myth in the book: that this is an “empty” land, over which now the “two sides” are struggling: “E1 [is] a largely empty patch of the West Bank,” Erlanger writes. And the “fight” over E1 “speaks to the seemingly insurmountable differences, hostility, and distrust between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Erlanger informs us.

Thus, the occupied Palestinian West Bank, with all its illegal Israeli settlements, Jewish-only roads, Israeli checkpoints, Israeli military incursions and Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes, is reduced to a territory to which two different groups are laying equally legitimate claim. The closest Erlanger gets to even hinting at the occupation is where he writes toward the end of the article that E1 is “largely state land.”

But this, like the unidentified and unexplained “siege” in Gaza, is far too vague for an uninformed reader to understand which “state” controls this land, under which conditions, and against whose rights, livelihood and sovereignty.

So there you have it: no siege, no Nakba, and no occupation. Such reporting is, at best, delusional. At worst, it is intentionally misleading. In any case, The New York Times serves Israel’s interests by keeping the American public in the dark about the true nature of Israel’s occupation.

It is easy to understand why so many Americans find the situation so apparently confusing when the people who report on it are themselves confused about the very basic historical, geographic and political realities.

*Robert Ross is an Assistant Professor of Global Cultural Studies at Point Park University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His research and teaching focus upon the political-economic geographies of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and the United States. He is also a member of the Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

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7 Comments

  1. January 1, 2013 at 00:54

    [...] BY OMISSION, THE NEW YORK TIMES WIPES ISRAEL’S CRIMINAL RECORD CLEAN « Desertpeace. [...]

  2. Albert said,

    January 2, 2013 at 06:16

    Then mabye we can say that Hitler did not do any crimes against the European nations and that he did not start the WWII.

  3. justme said,

    January 2, 2013 at 08:29

    “when the people who report on it are themselves confused”

    not confused. deliberately ‘misleading’ their readers.

  4. Augustbrhm said,

    January 2, 2013 at 09:53

    america has long gone down the tubes and they did not wipe out 43million native americans. It was the media that helped with the genocide.

  5. tokugawa said,

    January 2, 2013 at 19:17

    Reasons why the New York Times is biased towards Israel:

    1. New York city is the home of one million Jews,

    2. The New York Times depends on advertising, and many businesses which buy ads are owned by Jews,

    3. The mission of “Operation Mockingbird,” started in the early 1950’s by the CIA, is to promote U.S. foreign policy in the media (and eliminate opposing points of view,) especially the elite media outlets, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. Recall the many front page stories by Judith Miller of the New York Times during the drum beat leading to the invasion of Iraq, were later found out to be delibretly misleading or outright falsehoods. Well, it’s deja vu all over again with respect to Iran. The same lies and innuendo about how we are going to be wiped out unless we invade Iraq first (Secretary of State Rice, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be in the shape of a mushroom cloud.”)are being repeated again, almost verbatim, with respect to Iran.

  6. Rico said,

    January 3, 2013 at 00:01

    this is in reality a Good thing, so intelligent people can see for themselves how unfair and corrupted some media outlets are. The more we get exposed to this disinformation and stupidity the more the alternative media grows and the more people discover the truth….


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