Ms. Murphy ignored the glaring reality, documented by Noah Pollak in The Weekly Standard, that Times coverage all but ignored pictures of Hamas fighters, tunnels, rockets, and human shields. Virtually its only photos exposed the civilian casualties caused by Israeli retaliation for Hamas attacks. These are “balanced” by photos of Israeli tanks and soldiers. It is not difficult to discern who, according to the Times, are the aggressors.
Even its front-page headline “Israel Says Hamas is Using Civilians as Shields” (7/24) implied doubt about what could not be more obvious. Although Israel “says” so, Barnard and Rudoren wrote: “Nothing is ever so clear in the complex and often brutal calculus of urban warfare.”
The Times reporters claimed “There is no evidence that Hamas and other militants force civilians to stay in areas that are under attack — the legal definition of a human shield under international law.”
False. The Geneva Conventions assert: “The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.”
“At the root of the dueling allegations,” they wrote, “are the two sides’ very different views.” The retreat to moral equivalency was blatant. It ignored the reality that justified the Israeli bombing of Al-Wafa hospital in Gaza City, which housed a Hamas military command-and-control center and access shafts to its tunnel network. The Israeli attack triggered damaging secondary explosions, suggesting a substantial arms cache beneath the hospital.
The death of Sergeant Max Steinberg, the Golani Brigade “lone soldier” who made aliyah from Los Angeles and was killed in battle fighting for his adopted homeland, reverberated throughout Israel, and in media outlets worldwide. In a remarkable outpouring of sorrow and respect, 30,000 Israelis attended his funeral at the Har Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. The Times, however, mentioned his name (7/24) only in the caption of a photograph taken far from the burial site showing nothing more than two dozen spectators and an Israeli flag.
Given the Sulzberger legacy,an American Jew fighting and dying for Israel could only arouse primal anxiety at the Times over allegations of divided loyalty.
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It took three weeks of rocket attacks before Times coverage displayed any sign of moderating the paper’s prevailing narrative of blaming Israel for responding to Hamas aggression. There was a discernible shift in its coverage (7/25) of terrible explosions at a UN school killing 16 Gaza civilians who had gathered there for safety. The page 1 story by Ben Hubbard, its young Cairo-based reporter, was distinctive for its refusal to fault Israel, noting “the source of the blasts was unclear.” Even the lead Times editorial conceded that Israel “has reason” to respond with “strong military action” against rocket attacks while Hamas deserved “the strongest possible condemnation” for locating weapons in densely populated areas.
But the Times quickly recovered its equilibrium. Editorial board member Serge Schmemann, hewing to Times dogma, proposed (7/27) the creation of “two separate states” as the “only solution,”with the United States as “the only viable mediator.” Rudoren, who had returned to Jerusalem, glibly described her underground tunnel “tour” as “part of the propaganda push” conducted by the IDF (7/29).
Only displaced Gaza civilian victims of Hamas warfare were deemed worthy of Times attention. Nearly four weeks into the fighting the Times still ignored the mass exodus from border kibbutzim as thousands of Israelis fled Hamas rockets for safety elsewhere. Nor had it mentioned Hamas responsibility for the deaths of scores of Gaza children who had died in “workplace accidents” while building its tunnels.
It also ignored the rocket fired from the parking lot of Al-Shifa hospital, a war crime reported by a Finnish TV journalist despite Hamas warnings of retribution for such revelations. The booby-trapped UNRWA clinic whose explosion killed three Israeli soldiers was not mentioned. Similarly, only near the end of a lengthy Page 1 article (8/3) did Times reporters refer to five mosques concealing Hamas weapons attacked by Israel.