In the Guise of a Tribute to Dead Children, the “New York Times” Offers a Mixture of Half-Truths, Distortions, and Propaganda

Last week, the New York Times published a graphic on its front page, titled “They Were Only Children,” made up of thumbnail portraits of children killed in the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas. This was accompanied by a lengthy feature about the 69 children who had lost their lives—67 Gazans and two Israelis. Shortly thereafter, the Times issued a correction: one of the pictures was misidentified; it was not of Rahaf al-Masri, but of a random photo of an Arab child that had been circulating the Internet for years. In a separate story, published on Sunday, the Times noted that among those included in the list was a seventeen-year-old Hamas fighter—technically a child, but not a civilian. Yet these corrections do little to fix the fact that the report, masquerading as a neutral memorial to war’s most horrific effects, was little more than carefully crafted propaganda. Robert Satloff writes:

[First], readers have a right to know if the blandly referenced “Palestinian officials” cited as sources for the “identities of the children killed, their photographs and the circumstances of their deaths” were, in fact, Hamas officials, members, or sympathizers. Readers have a right to know if the reporters traveled to Gaza and interviewed family members face-to-face, inspected sites where children reportedly died, and assessed claims and counterclaims about the precision of Israeli bombing that allowed the story repeatedly to ascribe responsibility to Israel and what role, if any, Hamas minders played in this effort.

In “They Were Only Children,” Israel is characterized as the aggressor and initiator of the entire Gaza conflict, as the article states “An average fifteen-year-old [in Gaza] would have lived through four major Israeli offensives.” Whatever one’s view of the 2021 Gaza conflict, it was certainly not “an Israeli offensive,” as Israel’s May 10 airstrikes were a response to Hamas rockets fired on Jerusalem and there was no attempt to retake territory.

To these Satloff adds many other examples of how the report was misleading or mendacious. But the heart of the problem, he suggests, is the use of a format normally reserved for “singular events for which the cause is clear and the perpetrator is readily identifiable,” such as natural disasters or mass shooting, for something very different:

As tragic as the deaths of the Gaza children certainly are, . . . “They Were Only Children” brought together images for what was not a singular event but eleven days of fighting; it provided no substantive, independent accounting for the cause of individual deaths, and offered an implicit free pass to the terrorist groups that, at least in some cases, were responsible for placing children in harm’s way and, in all cases, chose to provide no basic defense for civilians (e.g., bomb shelters) as they launched their own attacks from heavily populated areas. By applying a format normally reserved for the black-and-white of terrorist attacks or natural disasters to the gray, unknowing reality of Gaza, New York Times editors debased its use.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Guardian of the Walls, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New York Times

Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden