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Thursday, July 10, 2014

David Brooks, "Baseball or Soccer?": New York Times Coverage of Israel, Professional Wrestling or Prostitution?

World Cup fever abounds, and David Brooks, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Baseball or Soccer?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/11/opinion/david-brooks-baseball-or-soccer.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), would have us know that our lives are more akin to soccer than baseball. Brooks writes:

"Most of us spend our days thinking we are playing baseball, but we are really playing soccer. We think we individually choose what career path to take, whom to socialize with, what views to hold. But, in fact, those decisions are shaped by the networks of people around us more than we dare recognize."

Is my life a subconscious soccer game? Frankly, my dear Mr. Brooks, I don't give a damn.

In fact, I am far more intrigued by whether New York Times coverage of Israel and its current war with Hamas is more akin to professional wrestling or prostitution.

First, there was the July 7 editorial of the Times entitled  "Four Horrific Killings" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/08/opinion/can-israeli-and-palestinian-leaders-end-the-revenge-attacks.html?ref=opinion), in which the Times related to the recent murders of four teenagers - three Israelis and one Palestinian. As Mr. Yishai Schwartz wrote in a New Republic article entitled "The New York Times's Editorial on Israel Was a Sloppy Hack Job" (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118605/new-york-times-israel-editorial-was-hack-job):

"I take the deteriorating situation in the Middle East very seriously, and just yesterday I wrote about some disturbing trends in Israeli society. But it’s precisely because of the high quality of the Times’ Middle East news coverage that the glaring factual flaws in yesterday’s editorial, 'Four Horrific Killings,' are so astounding."

Indeed, the Times falsely asserted that Netanyahu had belatedly condemned the murder of the Arab teenager and speciously claimed that a Netanyahu quote of a Bialik poem was intended to incite vengeance.

This editorial was followed by a preposterous Times guest op-ed entitled "A Palestinian Mother’s Fear in East Jerusalem" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/10/opinion/a-palestinian-mothers-fear-in-east-jerusalem.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0), in which Ms. Rula Salameh lambasted Israel for not building bomb shelters for Palestinians in East Jerusalem and blamed Israeli authorities for her divorce (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/07/rula-salameh-palestinian-mothers-fear.html).

Today, in a lead Times article entitled "Gaza Deaths Spike in 3rd Day of Air Assaults While Rockets Hit Israel" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/11/world/middleeast/israel-gaza.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpSum&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news), Isabel Kershner writes:

"As the air campaign entered its third day, the Palestinian death toll rose to at least 78, a majority of them civilians, according to officials in Gaza. No Israelis have been reported killed."

My goodness, according to "officials," 78 people in Gaza have died in a conflagration in which Hamas has fired more than 500 missiles at Israeli civilians during the past week! Of course, we are not told how many of the 78 were Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives and commanders (Hamas does not want you to know this information).

Also, no real mention of the use of civilians in Gaza as human shields. See the following July 8, 2014 MEMRI video in which Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri adulates this human-shield policy and commends "the character of our noble, jihad-fighting people":



Yup, when women and children are used as human shields to protect Hamas fighters, inevitably there are going to be civilian casualties.

But more to the point, the death of 78 persons in Gaza, many of them combatants, rates a New York Times headline, notwithstanding the fact that more than 200,000 people are dead in neighboring Syria.

Or "closer to home," civilian deaths in Afghanistan caused by the United States, its allies and Afghan government forces total some 6,500 (see: http://www.thenation.com/afghanistan-database), but it's so much more fun to point a finger at Israel.

So, is New York Times coverage of Israel and its war against Hamas more akin to professional wrestling, i.e. harmless theatrics involving leotard-clad buffoons engaged in acrobatics, or prostitution, i.e. tendentious reporting intended to promote the agenda of the Obama administration?

I will let you decide.

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