Today’s New York Times features a headline that reverses the sequence of events described in the story it is allegedly representing. It also omits significant information.
The headline reads: “Israel Launches Airstrikes After Attacks From Gaza” in a story bylined by Isabel Kershner. In other words, in its usual fashion, the New York Times headline tells readers that Israeli violence is defensive and came after Palestinians initiated the violence.
In reality, it was the opposite, as the lead paragraph states: “Palestinian militants from Gaza fired a barrage of rockets and mortar shells into Israeli territory on Monday, causing no casualties but some property damage, AFTER an Israeli airstrike wounded at least 10 Palestinians in southern Gaza on Sunday [emphasis added].”
Farther down, the story reports, “The latest flare-up began with the [Israeli] missile strike on Sunday against two men who Israel said were members of jihadist groups…. at least eight passers-by were also injured.”
In addition to reversing the party responsible for the initiation of violence, the Times story also omits information about the 8 people who were “also injured.” Were they old men? Women? Children? What is the nature of their injuries? Will any be permanent?
The Times doesn’t tell us. Yet, while reporter Isabel Kershner didn’t bother to obtain or convey this information, she does tell us, “Several goats were killed in a petting zoo in an Israeli communal farm…”
Other news media provide some of the missing information. According to the Middle East Media Center (IMEMC), an infant and four other children were among the injured. Three of the injured are in serious condition. IMEMC reports that the missiles were fired into a crowded area that included school students heading home from evening school.
The New York Times story also doesn’t disclose the fact that the reporter, Isabel Kershner, is an Israeli citizen. (The Times refuses to answer questions about whether she has served in the Israeli military, or whether she has family members currently serving in the Israeli military or that served in it in the past.)
The previous New York Times bureau chief for the region, Ethan Bronner, had a son serving in the Israeli army, and many of the journalists in the area have similar personal connections to the Israeli military. The New York Times has a history of appointing bureau chiefs with ties to Israel.
A 2005 study found that the Times had reported on Israeli children’s deaths at a rate seven times greater than it reported on Palestinian children’s deaths.
While the New York Times and other US media frequently report that Palestinian violence has interrupted what the media call “a period of calm,” a 2009 study by an MIT professor revealed, “[I]t is overwhelmingly Israel that kills first after a pause in the conflict.”
The study found, “79% of all conflict pauses were interrupted when Israel killed a Palestinian, while only 8% were interrupted by Palestinian attacks (the remaining 13% were interrupted by both sides on the same day).
In addition, the researchers stated, “…of the 25 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally interrupted 24, or 96%, and it unilaterally interrupted 100% of the 14 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than 9 days.”
An alternative headline, and story, could have been something like: “Israeli airstrikes injure infant and 4 other children.” This might be the kind of reporting we would get if the Times would ever stop assigning partisans to cover the conflict.