When the Evidence Fails, the “New York Times” Libels Israel by Insinuation

During one of the episodes of rioting at the Gaza border fence, which have occurred every Friday since last March, a Palestinian medic was killed. Last Sunday, the New York Times featured a lengthy front-page story on the subject, with elaborate graphics, produced by ten journalists and one photographer. The article concludes, with certainty, that the medic, Rouzan al-Najjar, was killed by a ricocheting bullet fragment. Ira Stoll comments:

The problems with the article begin with the front-page subtitle: “Israel Killed a Medic. Was It an Accident?” . . . Usually [a question mark in a] headline is a veil for journalism that falls short of reaching a conclusion. In this case, the Times wants to accuse Israel of murdering this woman, but it can’t prove its case. . . .

The Times poses as evenhanded. “Each side is locked into an unending and insolvable cycle of violence,” the Times claims, using a cliché of moral equivalence. It adopts an above-the-fray pose, like the umpire at a tennis match: “To the Palestinians, [Najjar] was an innocent martyr killed in cold blood. . . . To the Israelis, she was part of a violent protest aimed at destroying their country.”

But a closer examination shows the Times isn’t really evenhanded at all. [For instance, it] describes the conflict as “insolvable,” but it also complains that Israel “continues to focus on containment rather than finding a solution.” It seems unfair to criticize Israel for failing to solve a problem that the Times itself concedes is “insolvable.” [Likewise], the Times reports that “rocket attacks and bombings after the second intifada erupted in 2000 prompted Israel to cordon off the strip and eventually abandon its settlements there.” . . . The rocket attacks and bombings just “erupted” on their own, to hear the Times tell it, rather than being launched or perpetrated by Palestinians with violent, murderous intent. The Times doesn’t tell us about the victims of those rocket attacks and bombings. . . .

For whatever reason, [however], the Times has decided that this Gaza death is worth the time of ten journalists and three pages of the Sunday newspaper, while it didn’t deem the death of an Israeli American, Ari Fuld, [murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in September], fit to print at all.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Journalism, Media, New York Times

A Better Syria Strategy Can Help Achieve the U.S. Goal of Countering Iran

While the Trump administration has reversed much of its predecessor’s effort to realign Washington with Tehran, and has effectively used sanctions to exert economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, Omar Hassino argues that these measures might not be enough:

Iran and its militias control more territory and natural resources in Syria and Iraq than before President Trump took office. . . . The U.S. should back the low-cost insurgency approach that has already shown potential in southwest Syria to bleed the Iranian forces and increase the costs of their expansion and [of Tehran’s] support for the Assad regime. It makes no sense that Iran can fund low-cost insurgencies to bleed American allies in the region, but the United States cannot counter with the same. The administration should also consider expanding support to the proxy forces that it currently works with—such as the Revolution Commandos near the [U.S.] al-Tanf garrison in southwest Syria—for the purpose of fighting and eliminating Iranian-backed militias. This limited escalation can curb Iranian expansion and put pressure on the Assad regime in the long term.

Furthermore, in this vein, the U.S. should empower peaceful Syrian civil-society groups and local councils operating outside Assad-regime control. Last year, the Trump administration eliminated assistance for stabilization in Syria, including funding going to secular anti-Assad civil-society groups that were also combating al-Qaeda’s ideology, as well as the Syrian [medical and civil-defense group known as] the White Helmets, before quickly [restoring] some of this funding. Yet the funding has still not completely been resumed, and if this administration takes an approach similar to its predecessor’s in relying on regional powers such as Turkey, these powers will instead fund groups aligned ideologically with Muslim Brotherhood. This is already happening in Idlib.

The United States must [also] jettison the Obama-era [strategy of establishing] “de-escalation zones.” These zones were from the start largely a Russian ruse to help the Assad regime conquer opposition areas, and they succeeded. Now that the regime controls most of Syria and Iranian proxies are dominant within the regime side, support for de-escalation is tantamount to support for Iranian expansion. The United States must [instead] prevent further expansion by the Assad regime and Iran in parts of the country that they still do not control.

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More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy