In light of the recent political demonstrations that have swept the country, Venezuela has received considerable attention from both the US State Department and mainstream media. In recent days, President Obama, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and several others have issued numerous statements regarding the protests. In the US major media, The New York Times has published articles nearly every day since the protests began. Extensive reporting can also be found in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Washington Post.
It is worth comparing the extent of this coverage to protests of similar importance next door to Venezuela. In August of last year, Colombian farmers launched large-scale demonstrations in opposition to Colombian trade policies that are strongly supported by the U.S. government.
Unlike the protests in Venezuela, the Colombian protests received very little coverage from mainstream media, as CEPR pointed out at the time. The graph below compares the amount of coverage, in total number of articles published, given by four of the United States’ most influential newspapers to the protests and violence in Colombia and Venezuela. The difference ranges from more than two times to 14 times as many articles devoted to the Venezuelan protests as compared with Colombia, despite the fact that the period covered for Colombia is twice as long.
This is especially remarkable if we consider the high levels of repression carried out by the Colombian police and military in response to these protests. The International Office for Human Rights Action in Colombia described the violence as “unprovoked” and “indiscriminate” and attributes all of the violence to state forces.
The incidence of deaths in both Colombia and Venezuela[i], so far, is only slightly higher in Venezuela, with 13 deaths versus 12 deaths in Colombia.[ii] Yet there was very little coverage, and almost no criticism of the Colombian government as compared to the harsh attacks on the Venezuelan government in the U.S. media.
As mentioned earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama made public statements regarding the protests in Venezuela. Both demanded that students arrested in Venezuela be released, without regard as to whether any had been arrested for allegedly committing crimes such as arson and assault. There were no such statements from U.S. officials regarding the hundreds arrested in Colombia.
It is possible that both the huge differences in the amount of media coverage, and the responses to these two sets of protests by both the media and U.S. government officials has to do with the protesters and their aims, and the respective governments. The Colombian farmers were protesting against policies strongly supported by the U.S. government; they were also protesting against a government that the U.S. sees as a strategic ally, home to U.S. military bases and receiving billions of dollars in U.S. aid. The Venezuelan protesters are demanding the ouster of a government that the U.S. government has [spent] millions of dollars trying to get rid of, including U.S. support for the 2002 military coup against the government.
[i] The total amount of deaths reflects data from the most recent figures from Venezuela Transparencia, as of Monday, February 24 2014.
[ii] It is important to note that so far only six of the 13 deaths in Venezuela are confirmed to be opposition protesters.
Merida – A 34 year old man, Jimmy Vargas, died on Monday while he was involved in a violent street blockade. Some opposition leaders and media blamed the government, however video footage shows it was an accident. Two other people have died this week as a result of the blockades.
Vargas died at the Camino Real residential area, in San Cristobal, Tachira state. Footage, sent to CNN shows that it was an accident. However, CNN and other news agencies also broadcast repeatedly footage of Vargas’ mother blaming the National Guard and president Nicolas Maduro for the death.
Carmen Gonzalez, the mother, stated, “Maduro and those around him killed [my son], they are the ones who killed him, they killed him, they are the ones who gave the orders for him to be killed, they are killing all of Venezuela… and I’m going to go out and fight for my son, my son died fighting for his country, fighting for the freedom of his country…”
On social networks the story was spread that Vargas had been hit by a rubber bullet in his left eye, and other stories claimed a tear gas canister shot by the National Guard had hit him.
The newspaper El Nacional also blamed the government, headlining “Two deaths this Monday because of attacks by GNB [National Guard] and motorbike riders [government supporters] on protests”. Madurados.com headlined “Another tragedy! In rubber bullet attack by the GNB Jimmy Vargas dies in San Cristobal”.
Similarly, The New York Times included a ¼ page full-color photo of Jimmy Vargas on a stretcher, with the caption, “Carmen Gonzalez, 58, cried over the body of her son, who was killed Monday in clashes with the police.”
However Vargas’ doctor, Luis Diaz, reported that he had suffered severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) after falling from the second floor of a building, the newspaper Ultimas Noticias reported.
Vargas’ sister, Jindry, told NTN24 that her brother fell from the second floor the building after the National Guard fired rubber bullets and tear gas bombs at him, causing him to lose his balance. In the video Jimmy Vargas tried to climb down on to a balcony ledge and he lost his balance on the ledge, out of line of shot of the National Guard.
Further, the opposition mayor of San Cristobal, Daniel Cebellos, told the public that Vargas had been murdered. He tweeted on Monday night, “Since late night…the brutal attack of the GNB continues, more than 10 injuries (3 by bullet) and 1 youth of 34 years murdered”. He continued, “I call on the MUD [opposition coalition] that while they continue to kill our people in the streets there’s no peace for the government. The dialogue they propose is one big lie”.
Despite the evidence, Cebellos further tweeted this morning, “We are accompanying Jimmy Vargas and his family in this moment of grief. We reject the violence and repression.” Cebellos included a photo of Vargas’ funeral procession.
Tachira governor, Vielma Mora accused Cebellos of using a public funeral procession to “inflame” people “against the national government”.
“A citizen who, may he rest in peace, fell from the second floor, he was in guarimba (violent disturbances), it seems he lost his balance… do you know what the mayor of San Cristobal did with a few people? They paraded him through the city… like a war trophy”.
Meanwhile, there has been another death as a result of violent opposition blockades. El Carabobeño reported that a motorbike rider died last night after crashing into a barricade. Eduardo Anzola, 29, in Valencia, died instantly, the paper reported, after he didn’t see the barricade because of the darkness. Two other people have died as a result of crashing into barricades, in Caracas and Merida, and one other motorbike rider was killed when wire at a barricade cut his throat.
On Monday, Alba Ciudad and Panorama report that Antonio Valbuena, 32, died of a shot to the head, in Maracaibo. Valbuena was participating in a demonstration of motorbike riders, who were removing barricades so that their procession could get through. At one point, a witness said that a “man in a balaclava came out and began to shoot… one of the bullets hit Antonio in the head”.
A decade ago, I wrote a commentary for the International Herald Tribune (now the International New York Times) arguing that Israel’s wall that was then just starting to be built in the West Bank was really a land grab. Difficult to believe now, but in those days that was a controversial opinion.
The paper then received the “largest postage in our history”, as an editor told me – possibly not surprising as the Anti-Defamation League, a Zionist organisation, had urged its followers to complain and had even published a template letter of condemnation on its website to help them. The result: the paper published a whole page of letters attacking me and dropped me as a writer.
So it is with some pleasure I see that the same paper has again been overwhelmed with letters following three recent articles on BDS in both the NYT and INYT : Omar Barghouti making the case, and Jodi Rudoren and Roger Cohen attacking it, the former implicitly and the latter explicitly.
What’s so different this time is that the INYT’s letters page is dominated by readers backing Barghouti and attacking Rudoren and Cohen. Not only that, but the arguments used to support BDS are intelligent and well-informed, while the few letters attacking BDS sound tired and formulaic.
The fact that the NYT has allowed the BDS debate into its pages is a triumph for the cause. That its international sister publication (and the NYT website) has then allowed its letters page to be dominated by BDS supporters is another small landmark.
We can mark a further victory when the NYT itself publishes a page of such letters. The time cannot be far off.
The NY Times is spinning the recent IMF report on Iran in order to portray the sanctions on Iran has having forced Iran to negotiations, one aspect of a recent “frame” that is being built around the nuclear talks by the US mainstream media which seeks to portray the Iranians as the intransigent party seeking nukes, never mind that it was the US that had blocked talks and killed off compromises even under Obama
However, lets remember the reaction to the previous IMF report, which had also said that while Iran’s economy would dip due to sanctions, it would return to growth. This report was issued before the talks were even imagined. Those reports caused such an uproar that the regular Iran bashers, who wanted to see a report that confirmed the effectiveness of sanctions, started casting doubt on the IMF. But in effect, there is no real difference between the previous IMF report and this one except that this one has gone into more detail, as was promised in the previous IMF report.
Thus, the NY Time’s spin on the IMF report as proof of the effectiveness of sanctions, fails.
In fact, if you compare Iran’s economic growth to that of the US by %GDP growth, you’d be surprised to see that Iran actually has done better on a pretty regular basis (even if you ignore 2009)
With the publication of Gareth Porter’s book about the history of Iran’s nuclear program entitled appropriately “Manufactured Conflict” and the up-coming publication of Daniel Joyner’s book which touches on the legalities of Iran’s nuclear program, I pretty much have nothing to write about these days but I have been enjoying the mess that we see in the media as the Gatekeepers of Opinion scamble to re-tune their messages:
The current meme they’re trying to sell is that the negoatiations are the result of a shift of policy by Iran, which was itself the result of the sanctions — rather than conceeding that the sole item which had stifled negotiations for years until now was the US insistence that Iran first abandon enrichment before engaging in negotiations about abandoning the rest of the nuclear program, and that the sanctions did not force Iran to the negotiating table but in fact prevented a resolution that could have been reached years ago in accordance with Iran’s multiple compromise offers.
For example, according to the Washington Post,
“But Khamenei has approved a less combative approach to the West, especially in negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. That is fueling hope here that Iran can win a lifting of tough international sanctions, the root of its economic woes”
Nonsense. Whatever Ahmadinejad’s faults, it was he that went before the UNGC and re-announced Iran’s long-standing offer to suspend 20% enrichment — the subject of the much lauded agreement reached recently with the Rouhani government. In fact Iran had been offering to place additional, non-legally required limitations on its nuclear program for YEARS but was consistently snubbed by the US which continued to insist that Iran has to first abandon enrichment before any talks could happen.
Don’t let them re-write the history to suit themselves.
Oh and Carnegie Endowment head Jessica Matthews is back to writing fiction about Iran’s nuclear program. It makes for quite entertaining reading as a purely fictional account of history, in which for example the Iranians,
“For more than fifteen years, intelligence and on-the-ground inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed nuclear facilities, imports of nuclear technology, and research that had no civilian use.”
Actually the IAEA has repeatedly and consistently stated that it has never found any evidence of non-civilian nuclear program in Iran.
And in fact IAEA officials complained that US intelligence failed to back up the allegations.
According to Jessica Matthews’ :
“There is no formal, legal “right” to enrichment or any other nuclear activity.”
Yes, world. The 14 nations that enrich uranium today do so by virtue of the fact that God gave them special permission to do so, or was it Jessica Matthews? — and did not give that permission to Iran. Sorry Iran, you don’t have the same sovereign rights as other nations.
But I won’t go into a fib-by-fib analysis here.
Anyway, even after the Obama administration finally gave up on the “zero enrichment” precondition to talks, they tried to claim that the ultimate agenda of the talks was still Iran abandoning enrichment — though this has been looking less and less likely too. AIPAC and Nuttyyahoo are left flopping in the wind nonetheless.
For its part, the New York Times has been trying its hardest to try to blow some life into the carcass of the “alleged studies” claims, first by promoting the “Polonium studies” nonsense that the IAEA itself said was resolved to Iran’s credit years ago, and now by failing to mention that the “neutron initiator” claims involving the bridgewire detonators which are the subject of today’s news, were dismissed by the IAEA as frauds according to IAEA Director ElBaradei’s book, which apparently none of the journalists bothered to read — Oh yeah, lets not forget that the Israelis accused Elbaradei of being an “Iranian agent” and a “despicable person” for that.
Journalistically, there’s a problem with this passage from Monday’s New York Times: “Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon of Israel … castigated Iran as being dedicated to a nuclear weapon and acting to deceive, and he repeated Israel’s warning that it would not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon.” Can you tell what the flaw is?
If the New York Times were acting in a professional and objective manner, the next line would have read something like: “Of course, Israel itself developed a nuclear bomb in secret decades ago and now has possibly the most sophisticated undeclared nuclear arsenal on earth.” But the Times chose not to remind its readers of Israel’s stunning hypocrisy as a rogue nuclear-armed state condemning Iran for supposedly harboring a desire for a nuke, a weapon that Iran doesn’t have and says it doesn’t want.
That sort of double standard is common in the mainstream U.S. news media when reporting on Israel and its Muslim adversaries. But to let an Israeli official get away with castigating Iran for contemplating something that Israel has already done – without mentioning the hypocrisy – is a clear violation of journalistic standards. Indeed, it is evidence of bias.
Meanwhile, the neocon editors of the Washington Post are continuing their new campaign to pressure President Barack Obama into issuing more military ultimatums to Syria, another Israeli “enemy.” The logic seems to be that if Obama keeps issuing ultimatums eventually Syria won’t comply or won’t be able to comply, thus creating a casus belli, much as when President George W. Bush demanded that Iraq surrender WMD that it didn’t have.
In a double-barreled blast on Tuesday, the Post published a lead editorial and then a separate op-ed by its editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt making essentially the same argument – that Obama’s diplomacy over Syria has failed and that it’s time for more military threats or even a military intervention in Syria’s civil war. That “theme” was quickly picked up by other U.S. news outlets, including “liberal” MSNBC.
Yet, the real problem with Obama’s Syria strategy is that it is still based on his blustering pronouncements during Campaign 2012 when he was trying to sound tough in order to fend off the more hawkish, neocon rhetoric of Republican Mitt Romney.
During that period, Obama was drawing “red lines” regarding Syria and declaring that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “must go.” Obama insisted that the purpose of any peace talks must be to dissolve Assad’s government and replace it with one organized by Assad’s opponents, in other words, Assad’s negotiated surrender.
But that was never realistic, however unsavory Assad and his regime might be. He still represents major segments of Syrian society, including blocs of Alawites (an offshoot of Shiite Islam) and Christians. Plus, the strongest part of the rebel movement, seeking Assad’s ouster, is the contingent of radical jihadists representing extreme Sunni groups, including some affiliated with al-Qaeda and some even more extreme who are vowing to exterminate the Alawites and other “heretics.”
In the midst of this complex and dangerous mix, the Post’s neocon editors are baiting Obama to stop being so weak, so “inert,” as Hiatt wrote.
On Sunday, the Post’s editors demanded that Obama issue a new military ultimatum regarding delays in Assad’s delivery of chemical weapons to a UN agency for destruction. On Tuesday, the argument was that Obama must intervene militarily to prevent Syria from becoming a base for al-Qaeda militants to plot attacks against the American “homeland.”
“Once again, terrorists linked to al-Qaeda may be using territory they control to plot attacks against the United States, even as [Secretary of State John] Kerry pursues his long-shot diplomacy and Mr. Obama offers excuses for inaction,” the Post’s editorial read.
“With or without U.N. action, it is time for the Obama administration to reconsider how it can check the regime’s crimes and the growing threat of al-Qaeda. As Mr. Kerry reportedly conceded, for now it has no answers.”
Hiatt reiterated the same points in his companion op-ed: “It is no secret that the Obama administration’s Syria policy, to the extent that one exists, is failing. Now the man with the unenviable task of implementing that policy, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, has acknowledged as much, according to two U.S. senators who spoke with him Sunday, John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).
“Kerry said that the Geneva negotiating process hasn’t delivered, they said, and that new approaches are needed. … Now, though, a new factor has emerged. Last week, in Senate testimony that got less attention than it deserved, Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said Syria ‘is becoming a center of radical extremism and a potential threat to the homeland.’”
Hiatt continued: “Havens in Syria, in other words, could play the same role that Afghan refuges offered al-Qaeda before 9/11. As the West cold-shouldered moderate and secular forces, extremist ranks have swelled in Syria to as many as 26,000, including 7,000 foreigners, Clapper said.”
Not surprisingly, given the always-hawkish views of McCain and Graham, their proposed “new approaches” to this new threat involved military interventions in Syria. Graham wanted to unleash armed drones over the country, while McCain called for establishing “a safe zone in which to train the Free Syrian Army and care for refugees, protected by Patriot missiles based in Turkey,” Hiatt wrote.
Of course, a big part of the Syrian problem is that al-Qaeda-connected extremists are fighting as part of the rebel coalition against Assad’s army. Indeed, the jihadists are considered, by far, the most effective part of the rebel force. To a significant degree, the Sunni jihadists – funded and armed by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states – are the rebel army.
In other words, the semantic trick that the Post is pulling off is to conflate the existence of al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria with the Syrian government when they are actually on opposite sides, bitterly fighting one another. The Post’s argument is a bit like blaming Fidel Castro for harboring al-Qaeda operatives in Cuba without mentioning that they are locked up at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo and thus outside Castro’s control.
Currently, the Syrian government is engaged in a brutal campaign to root out these “terrorists” – as well as other armed rebels – and is killing lots of civilians in the process. While there may be no easy solution to this catastrophe, the idea of another U.S. military intervention could easily lead to even more death and destruction.
As Hiatt noted, “Obama has doubted that the United States could intervene in such a messy conflict without making things worse. He reportedly worries that even a limited commitment would inexorably suck the nation into something deeper. There certainly is no public clamor to intervene.”
But lack of public support for another Mideast war is no concern to Hiatt and other Post editors who have never really apologized for helping to mislead the American people into the Iraq invasion which resulted in the deaths of nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Indeed, the Iraqi bloodbath — initiated by President Bush and promoted by the neocons — has already been forgotten, as the Post cited the Syrian civil war as the worst humanitarian disaster since the Rwanda genocide in the 1990s, jumping over the Iraqi carnage of the past decade.
Now, Hiatt and the other neocons are promoting “themes” designed to maneuver Obama into another Mideast conflict, pushing the hot button of al-Qaeda “refuges” as if Assad is protecting the extremists, not trying to kill them.
Yet, if preventing al-Qaeda from establishing a safe haven in Syria is now the top U.S. concern – and not just the latest neocon excuse for another U.S. invasion of a Muslim country – then a more logical approach might be to seek a power-sharing arrangement between Assad’s government and the more moderate opposition, creating a united front against the jihadists.
Such an agreement could be followed by a coordinated strategy to rid Syria of these extremists. Obama also might put the squeeze on the Saudis and other oil-rich sheiks to stop funding the Sunni jihad inside Syria.
But the U.S. insistence that Assad negotiate his own surrender – especially when his forces have gained the upper hand militarily – will simply ensure more fighting and killing, while the neocons ramp up their pressure on Obama for one more “regime change.”
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Last December, the New York Times’ David Carr reported on Vice President Biden’s trip to China, where he “spoke plainly about the role of a free press in a democratic society.” The benighted audience was surely keen to learn about this Western institution, and “it was heartening to see the White House at the forefront of the effort to ensure an unfettered press,” Carr affirmed. No doubt. Down here on Earth, meanwhile, Washington has long been at the forefront of an effort to promote cultural devastation, targeting journalists, artists, and independent thinkers more generally. This cultural ruin is a predictable consequence of U.S. support for repressive regimes—a tradition Obama has worked hard to uphold.
Consider the June 2009 coup against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, which four School of the Americas graduates helped orchestrate. Even the attorney responsible for giving it a legal veneer admitted the ouster was “a crime,” and in its aftermath Obama recognized Porfirio Lobo, winner of a fraudulent election marred by political violence and ballot irregularities, as the country’s new leader. Now, Honduran journalists are weathering a “deluge of threats, attacks and targeted killings,” PEN International reported recently. Honduran “economic elites have established unwritten limits as to what can be investigated by major news agencies,” and independent journalists face similar restrictions. Whoever ignores these limits pays the ultimate price.
Nahúm Palacios “opposed the 2009 coup and turned his TV station into an openly pro-opposition channel,” PEN notes. The military threatened him, but he persisted, and he and his girlfriend were murdered in March 2010. Israel Zelaya Díaz covered politics and crime, and managed a program aired on San Pedro Sula’s Radio Internacional. Assailants torched his home in May 2010, and then shot him to death three months later. A group of men stopped television producer Adán Benítez, who had put out a story on gang activity, in July 2011; they demanded his valuables, and then killed him. Medardo Flores Hernández was a volunteer reporter and finance minister for a pro-Zelaya organization when he was gunned down in September 2011. Early the following month, Obama received Honduran President Lobo at the White House, commending his “strong commitment to democracy.” Radio journalist Luz Marina Paz Villalobos, a coup critic, was murdered on December 6, 2011.
Mexican reporters are also at risk, as theirs “has become the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere for journalists,” Emily Edmonds-Poli wrote in a Wilson Center report last April, reviewing the situation in this “drug war” ally. In the state of Veracruz, for instance, there was a series, in the spring of 2012, of high-profile killings: a group of men invaded investigative reporter Regina Martínez’s home in Xalapa, and murdered her there. The dismembered bodies of three photojournalists pursuing stories on organized crime were discovered on the side of a highway four days later. “The fear is terrible and well founded,” an ex-reporter told the Guardian’s Jo Tuckman. “The heroes are in the cemetery.” This woman is hardly the only one to have abandoned the profession. A university official in Veracruz, quoted by Edmonds-Poli, surveyed the corpse-strewn landscape: “It’s not that they’re just killing reporters, they’re killing the drive to become one.” The destructive effects are equally far-reaching in Honduras. PEN quotes Honduran activists who “stressed that the neglect, marginalization and underfunding of cultural spaces” have gutted the nation’s creative sector, sharply delimiting the range of questions to which artists and independent researchers can safely respond.
The Honduran and Mexican governments restrict inquiry with generous U.S. assistance. Both states have strong ties to organized crime: efforts to distinguish legitimate from outlaw Honduran institutions, for example, are often meaningless, given the government’s illicit origins in the June 2009 coup. “A representative from a leading NGO in Honduras says at least four high-ranking police officials head drug trafficking organizations,” InSight Crime’s Charles Parkinson wrote on January 29, and Honduran history reveals that such activity is no obstacle to continued U.S. funding. When a Reagan-era DEA agent amassed evidence implicating the country’s top military officials in prohibited activities, for instance, the organization responded by shutting down its Honduran office in 1983. At the time, Washington’s core concern was the vital role Honduras played in the anti-Sandinista crusade. Their ally’s involvement in drug-smuggling was a non-issue, as irrelevant then as today, when the projected 2014 U.S. governmental military and police aid is over 1.75 times the 2009 figure.
Mexican institutions resemble their Honduran counterparts: ties between political elites and organized crime can be traced back at least a century, and this connection was blatantly obvious by the 1970s. That was the decade the national intelligence arm—the Dirección Federal de Seguridad (DFS)—aided by “the attorney general’s office and Federal Judicial Police,” established itself as “the country’s major criminal mafia,” Paul Kenny and Mónica Serrano point out. U.S. officials knew DFS facilitated drug trafficking’s expansion, and “continued to defend and protect the agency” because it “played a central part in Mexico’s fight against left-wing subversion, both directly and through a death squad organized under [DFS head Miguel] Nazar’s supervision, the ‘White Brigade,’” Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall write. Years later, Mexican law enforcement committed “one out of every three crimes against journalists” from 2009-2011, Edmonds-Poli reports in her Wilson Center study. That three-year span overlaps with the period—between 2008 and 2010—when Washington “allocated over $1.5 billion to Mexico” via the Mérida Initiative, and “U.S. military and police aid in each of these years marked nearly a 10-fold increase over 2007 levels,” according to Witness for Peace. Obama then extended the program—a true Nobel Peace Laureate, reminiscent of luminaries like Henry Kissinger.
In June 1976, for example, Kissinger proclaimed his support for Argentina’s military dictatorship: “We have followed events in Argentina closely,” he stated. “We wish the new government well. We wish it will succeed.” These remarks came six weeks after “military officers organized an exemplary event to combat immorality and communism,” Fernando Báez—author of A Universal History of the Destruction of Books—notes, when they burned volumes “confiscated from bookshops and libraries in the city of Córdoba,” loudly condemning Freud, Marx, Sartre and others. In August 1980, “trucks dumped 1.5 million books and pamphlets… on some vacant lots in the Sarandí neighborhood in Buenos Aires.” After a federal judge gave the command, “police agents doused the books with gasoline and set them on fire. Photos were taken because the judge was afraid people might think the books were stolen and not burned.” The situation was much the same in neighboring Chile, under Pinochet, when “thousands of books were seized and destroyed” during his dictatorship. In 1976, Kissinger met with Pinochet in Santiago, assuring him Washington was “sympathetic with what you are trying to do here.”
Washington also sympathized with South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem, who in the late 1950s “banned works of fiction that presented the government in an unflattering light,” Joint Chiefs of Staff historian Willard J. Webb wrote. Diem thus proved himself a worthy heir to Pope John XXII, who in 1328 “ordered a book burned because it cast doubt on his omnipotence,” Báez observes, arguing that we have to look further back in time, to 1258, to comprehend the effects of the recent U.S. assault on Iraq. It was in the mid-13th century that “the troops of Hulagu, a descendant of Genghis Khan, invaded Baghdad and destroyed all its books by throwing them into the Tigris.” Hulagu’s particular form of savagery was unsurpassed until the U.S. occupation—“nation-building,” liberal commentators insist, but in reality just one case of Washington-supported cultural destruction.
Nick Alexandrov lives in Washington, DC.
The New York Times’ oped pages have recently been opening up to much more critical commentary on Israel. This trend has not been quite as dramatic as it may appear. Two strong recent opeds by Ali Jarbawi and Avi Shlaim looked like they had been made available to US audiences in the NYT but were actually only available in the international edition – or what used to be called the International Herald Tribune.
In a recent email, John Whitbeck explained that the NYT had made them all but impossible to find on its website:
I have subsequently discovered that [Shlaim's article] is invisible on the Times’ website to anyone trying to check out published opinion articles. As was the case with the article by Ali Jarbawi entitled “The Coming Intifada”, … Avi Shlaim’s article can be found on the site only by searching the author’s name. … Accordingly, not only were these articles not deemed “fit to print” for domestic American readers, they can only be accessed online by someone who is already informed of their existence and is actively and assiduously searching for them.
However, by all accounts the NYT domestic print edition is going to print an oped by BDS leader Omar Barghouti tomorrow. If that happens, it will mark quite a milestone. Omar includes many issues usually unmentionable in the NYT. But more so than the content of his article, the fact that the NYT is prepared to give a platform to him and the boycott movement – currently viewed by Israel as an enemy potentially even greater than Iran’s supposed nuclear weapons – would truly constitute a revolution in what can be said in the US establishment’s paper of record.
Here is a link to the piece:
It is always fun to start out the morning with a funny, over-the-top and so obviously completely bullshit “news article” about Iran of the sort that you can only find in the New York Times.
Today they have an article by Alan Cowell and Rick Gladstone entitled “U.N. Inspectors Visit Uranium Mine in Iran, Media Report.” Had Mr Cowell and Gladstone been actual reporters and the New York Times an actual newspaper that actually covered the actual news when it comes to Iran, the article could have noted that IAEA officials had first visited Iran’s uranium mines years ago, when Iran officially invited them there, and furthermore that uranium mines were never required to be shown to inspectors in the first place. In fact the entire controversy about this mine — whether it was supposedly related to the military or not — is not terribly relevant, legally, since nothing in the NPT prohibits such an arrangement nor requires its disclosure. The reporters could have confirmed this with a bit of effort.
But instead of you know, actual news and analysis, we get this beauty of an attempt at fear-mongering which sounds like government talking points, dumbed-down to the point of absurdity for you the mass consuming audience to chew on:
“The Arak plant produces heavy water for a plutonium reactor still under construction, which Iran describes as designed to generate energy. If it became operational, however, it would produce plutonium that could be used in a nuclear weapon. Inspectors visited it in December.”
Wow. Gotta love it.
OK, for a start, they fail to note that Iran was never under any obligation to allow any inspections of the heavy water plant. The authority of inspectors, under Iran’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA, extends only to nuclear material and the places where they are kept and related records etc. — in fact the inspector’s authority is specifically stated TWICE in the safeguards agreement to be limited “exclusively” to verifying Iran’s declarations and that’s all. Heavy water is not nuclear material, and therefore the IAEA has no legal authority to demand to see it. But yet again, Iran compromised an allowed it.
Secondly, “Which Iran describes to generate energy…”
Well, I’m not aware of any reactor that is NOT designed to generate energy. Every reactor generates energy — that’s why they are built.
Third: “If it became operational, however, it would produce plutonium”
Well, similarly, every reactor produces plutonium once it becomes operational. That’s just physics not an Iranian conspiracy. The Tehran Research Reactor and the Bushehr reactor are right now producing plutonium as you read this sentence. OH MY GOD! RUN FOR THE HILLS! SEEK SHELTER!
Fourth: “that could be used in a nuclear weapon”
No, it can’t. The plutonium is the byproduct of the nuclear reaction, and is accumulated in the highly radioactive fuel rods that are placed inside the reactor. In order for it to be used for weapons, those extremely deadly fuel rods have to be removed (typically when the reactor is being refueled) and then put through a dangerous and complicated process called “reprocessing” — basically crushing up and chemically removing the plutonium. And then all you have is some plutonium — you then have to actually make a nuke with it.
Aside from the fact that the reactors and their fuel rods are subject to standard IAEA monitoring, Iran doesn’t even have the reprocessing facilities according to the IAEA itself. The fuel rods at Bushehr go back to Russia for reprocessing. The Iranians have repeatedly stated that they have no interest in developing reprocessing facilities and are willing to agree to “Refrain from reprocessing or producing plutonium” as part of a compromise with the US.
Needless to say these Iranian compromise offers were consistently ignored or undermined by the US, which was not interested in actually resolving any actual proliferation threats but instead was using the “Iranian nuclear threat” as a pretext, to hide an entirely different policy of imposing regime-change in Iran (just as “WMDs in Iraq” was used as a pretext.) Remember the 2003 faxed offer, or the Turkey-Brazil brokered deal which the Obama administration killed after Iran had agreed to it, much to the displeasure of both Brazil and Turkey. This was a pattern.
So was imposing the demand that Iran first abandon enrichment before any talks could be held. All a deliberate effort by the US to keep the “Iranian nuclear threat” pretext alive and prevent its resolution.
Today the question is whether the Obama administration has given up on this approach and is genuinely interested in resolving the standoff, or whether they’ve just engaged in a tactical step back from their obviously over-reaching position of “give in before we talk” to a more nuanced effort which is still ultimately intended to accomplish regime change rather than resolving any genuine nuclear weapons concern. We have yet to see. Certainly, the Israelis are worried and are making a stink, and the likes of Dennis Ross have scurried out of their dark damp holes to write articles insisting that in dealing with Iran the only choices are war or Iran “rolling back” its nuclear program. Well, sorry Dennis but a 5000-year old nation of 80 million people isn’t going to give up its technological accomplishments to suit your exaggerated fears and no Iranian negotiator dares to return to Iran with such an offer. The demand “Rollback” is just as much a fantasy as “zero enrichment” and is being used deliberately to kill the talks in the same way.
Bill Keller, editorialist for the NY Times and former executive editor of the paper, has recently penned a strong attack on Vladimir Putin arguing that Putin’s leadership “deliberately distances Russia from the socially and culturally liberal West”, describing the Kremlin’s policies as “laws giving official sanction to the terrorizing of gays and lesbians, the jailing of members of a punk protest group for offenses against the Russian Orthodox Church, the demonizing of Western-backed pro-democracy organizations as ‘foreign agents’, expansive new laws on treason, limits on foreign adoptions.”
Keller, who during his tenure as executive editor of the NY Times argued for the invasion of Iraq and wrote glowingly of Paul Wolfowitz, makes no mention of Moscow’s diplomatic maneuvers that successfully avoided a US military intervention in Syria or the Russian asylum given to Eric Snowden. Keller, who had supported the US intervention in Syria by writing, “but in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism, and our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility and enlarged tragedy,” also made no mention of Seymour Hersh’s stinging dissection of the Obama administration’s misinformation campaign regarding the sarin attacks in Syria. Hersh’s piece, which drives grave doubts into the case against Assad actually having carried out the attacks, was not published in the New Yorker or in the Washington Post, publications that regularly run his work.
Keller focuses on a Russian law that bans the promotion of gay lifestyles in Russia, a far cry from “giving official sanction to the terrorizing of gays and lesbians”, while failing to mention that according to his own paper, 88% of Russians support the law.
Putin did expel the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from Russia, cutting off the $50 million in aid, most of which went to pro-democracy and anti-corruption groups. The Kremlin believed that much of this money wound up supporting the protest movement against Putin that emerged in 2011. If Russian funding had been suspected in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, would the New York Times have supported Putin for promoting social equality in the US? If the punk band Pussy Riot had broken into a prominent Jewish temple in New York, instead of a Moscow cathedral, and defamed it to call attention to the millions of Palestinians living in refugee camps, would the young ladies have done some time? And if so, would they have received support from all corners of stardom?
The European Model
Quoting Dmitri Trenin, Keller argues that Putin sees Europe in decline, “it’s national sovereignty… is superseded by supranational institutions.” Is Putin mistaken in his assumption? Maybe ask the people of Greece, Spain, or Ireland. Keller also mentions “limits on foreign adoptions” but fails to mention the cause, the Magnitsky Act, which imposed “visa and banking restrictions on Russian officials implicated in human rights abuses.” The Kremlin saw this law as the perfect example of US meddling in internal Russian affairs.
The heart of the Magnistsky saga was the death in Russia, while under custody, of an attorney for Hermitage Capital, a hedge fund run by a British citizen William Browder, who renounced his US citizenship. Browder made billions in Russia before running afoul of Russian authorities. His Hermitage Capital was funded by the Lebanese national Edmond Safra and eventually claimed to have lost $300 million after having moved billions out of Russia. Browder lobbied hard in Washington to have the Magnitsky Act passed. Why was the US involved in passing a law to protect Lebanese and British capital and a Russian prisoner? America hasn’t enough trouble with its own prison system that it needs to legislate on the Russian penal system? Are there no American politicians who have been implicated in human rights abuses?
Keller’s final point is that Putin is being heavy handed over the Ukrainian/EU integration crisis, but Keller avoids discussing the deep historic and ethnic links between Russia and Ukraine. Most Americans would agree that Russia should stay out of NAFTA negotiations, seeing North America as clearly not within the Russian sphere of influence. Ukrainians are deeply divided over the integration with Europe, so why not let the Ukrainians and Russians work out their trade relations without the American government getting involved?
Probably more than any other topic, the NY Times has repeatedly published articles in defense of the long imprisoned and recently freed Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a man whose rise to power was filled with unsavory schemes to appropriate businesses which were once the property of the Russian people. The NY Times Sabrina Tavernese wrote in 2001 that he had “orchestrated a series a flagrant corporate abuses of minority shareholders unparalleled in the short history of modern Russian capitalism.”
Khdorkovsky eventually wound up the billionaire owner of Yukos Oil, which he planned to sell to Exxon Mobil. Khdorkovsky also had political ambitions, creating the Open Russian Foundation and putting Henry Kissinger and Lord Jacob Rothschild on the board of directors. He was clearly eyeing political power by making close ties with the West, even being named to the Advisory Board of the Carlyle Group, all of which made him a potential threat to the Kremlin.
The Khodorovsky affair was a complex battle for power in Russia with Khodorkovsky playing the Western powers against the strongly nationalistic Putin. But at the NY Times editorialist Joe Nocera in four pieces on Khodorkovsky never delves into the complexities of Putin’s strategy to keep Western interests at bay, preferring to present a black and white scenario of ‘western liberal’ rule of law against the ‘authoritarian’ Putin.
Curiously, the NY Times doesn’t seem so interested in Harvard’s Russia Project which ended in disgrace and professor Andrei Shleifer, Larry Summers protege, being forced to pay a $2 million fine for enriching himself under the guise of a USAID program where he was to ‘teach’ Russians about capitalism. He gave them an interesting lesson, yet was not forced to resign his post at Harvard, possibly due to his close relationship with Summers. Nocera hasn’t written one article on that scandal which is much more relevant to Americans and their iconic institutions, but which also might make him a few enemies closer to home.
Putin and American Values
Most Americans see Eric Snowden as whistleblower and not a traitor, yet the NY Times star editorialist, Thomas Friedman, isn’t so sure, “The fact is, he dumped his data and fled to countries that are hostile to us,” though he doesn’t elaborate on why Russia is a ‘hostile’ nation and he advises Snowden to come home and face the music if he’s truly a patriot, “It would mean risking a lengthy jail term, but also trusting the fair-mindedness of the American people.”
Putin is a social conservative and a fierce patriot who, like many Americans, opposes regime change in the name of democracy. The American people, after failed interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, agree with him — both Putin and Americans, unlike the NY Times, vehemently opposed a US intervention in Syria. It seems Putin has more in common with the opinions of Americans than does the NY Times, which begs the question, why is the NY Times so hell bent on demonizing the President of the Russian Federation when he’s supported by more than 60% of the Russian people?
The New York Times has written extensively about the gay rights issue in Russia but 45% of Americans still think that homosexuality is a sin and as the ‘Duck Dynasty’ controversy has revealed, homosexuality in America is still a very divisive issue. Is the prohibition against publicly speaking in favor of gay lifestyles in Russia such an important stumbling block to ties between the two nations when the vast majority of Russians support the law?
Americans probably don’t approve of roads where members of one religion can drive while members of another religion must walk, as occurs in Hebron and reported on by Ynet, “Jewish residents are allowed to cross the road by vehicle, but Palestinians are now only permitted to cross by foot or by bicycle.” They probably wouldn’t look fondly on back of the bus seating for women, yet in spite of this type of segregation in a country that claims to be democratic, the NY Times doesn’t feel compelled to demonize Mr. Netanyahu and his ‘socially conservative’ Likud party.
The Interests of the American People
Just as the NY Times despises Putin and Russia, it’s equally enamored with Israel. Imagine if the millions of Palestinian refugees were not in camps because of their mother’s religion but instead because they were LGBT? What if Netanyahu were held to the same standard as Mr. Putin? How many millions of Palestinian Khodorkovsky’s are languishing in refugee camps in their own country? It seems that Mr. Keller, Mr. Friedman and Mr. Nocera are much more interested in the rights of Khodorkovsky and William Browder than they are in the rights of Palestinian children living in squalor under an Israeli blockade in Gaza.
Saudi Arabia and Israel, the latter through its surrogate AIPAC, lobbied hard for war in Syria and both supposed allies are furiously attempting to undermine peace talks with Iran. The government Putin leads brokered the deal to avoid US involvement in Syria, played an important role in the Iranian peace initiative and also allowed Americans a glimpse into the massive surveillance program the NSA has hoisted upon them by giving refuge to Eric Snowden.
Just as Americans would not look fondly at the Kremlin interfering in domestic American politics, so the Kremlin pushes back when it see US interference in it’s internal affairs, a good example being American aid to opposition groups during the 2011 Moscow protests against Putin. If the US can accept serious human rights violations by supposed allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, can’t it also accept that Russia has its own way of governing itself, based on its own history and culture?
The NY Times does not represent the best interests of most Americans, nor does it use its powerful voice to protect the millions persecuted within the realms of so called allies. The NY Times represents a small sector of US power, bent on propagating special interests at the expense of the vast majority of Americans.
Mr. Putin certainly acts in the best interests of Russia, but curiously enough, by working in his own interest, he has done more to protect the 4th Amendment than the constitutional law professor currently occupying the White House. In Syria he was protecting Russian interests, but by doing so he kept the US out of an intervention that could have easily developed into a major war. If it had been up to the NY Times, we would have intervened in Syria and Snowden would be behind bars awaiting the mercy of the Obama Administration.
So who is a better friend of the American people? There are no doubts that the NY Times is a better friend of the Khodorkovsky’s and William Browder’s of the world but Americans might actually be better off if their government listened more to Putin and less to the Grey Lady.
With some people – the really bad liars – it’s easy to spot what criminologists call “guilty demeanor.”
When George W. Bush sat reading to schoolchildren on the morning of 9/11, remaining in the classroom for almost ten minutes after supposedly learning that America was under attack, the guilty look on his face was palpable.
At 9:03 that morning, as schoolchildren chanted “kite plane must hit steel,” Chief of Staff Andrew Card supposedly whispered in Bush’s ear: “A second plane has hit the World Trade Center, America is under attack.” But in reality, Card could not possibly have told Bush that. Whatever Card said required only two seconds. That was not enough time to explain a novel situation outside the President’s usual frame of reference.
In fact, Card must have said something like: “The operation is under way, await further instructions.”
If the Secret Service had really learned that America was under surprise attack, its agents would have immediately grabbed Bush and rushed him – at full speed – to a safe location. Instead, Bush just sat there looking guilty as the children read the book “My Pet Goat” for eight or nine minutes while the Secret Service did nothing.
When the reading session finally ended, Bush remained at the school for another twenty minutes.
After Bush had dawdled nearly half an hour in the classroom, the presidential motorcade took its time following the pre-announced route to the airport. Bush’s plane unhurriedly took off around 10 a.m. – almost an hour after Bush supposedly learned of the 9/11 “surprise attack.”
The whole world knew exactly where Bush was; the school event had been widely publicized in advance. If hijacked planes had really been used as missiles that day, the President would have been considered their number one target. But apparently the Secret Service knew Bush wasn’t in danger. The Secret Service’s complete lack of interest in the safety of the Commander-in-Chief (and in their own safety) proves, all by itself, that 9/11 was an inside job.
New York Times “embedded White House journalist” David Sanger was in the Florida classroom that day. He saw with his own eyes that the Secret Service knew Bush wasn’t a target.
In the twelve-and-a-half years that followed, Sanger never breathed a word about the obvious Secret Service foreknowledge.
That raises the term “embedded journalist” to a whole new level.
A few days ago, Sanger followed in the footsteps of the “Pet Goat President,” and gave the world another lesson in “guilty demeanor.”
During a C-Span interview, Sanger was asked by a 9/11 survivor why the New York Times has refused to cover the obvious controlled demolition of World Trade Center Building 7. Sanger’s response was evasive, obfuscatory, and mendacious.
The C-Span caller asked Sanger:
“Across the street from the New York Times building there’s a billboard asking where your paper’s coverage is of the over 2,000 architects and engineers who are demanding a new investigation of Building 7′s destruction on 9/11, and the overwhelming evidence that pre-planted explosives destroyed it. Since this has everything to do with our national security, can you explain what rational and scientific basis your paper has for failing to fairly and objectively cover this crucial issue?”
Sanger’s demeanor suggested he knew he was lying as he gave this circuitous answer:
“Trust me, the people who work at the New York Times have as much of a critical interest in what happened on 9/11 as anybody else. Because not only are they reporters there, but they live and work within the city. And we’ve devoted a fairly considerable amount of repertorial time over the past number of years to the question of all the different theories – conspiracy theories, regular theories, non-conspiracy theories – about what happened on that day. And you’ve heard the huge variety of them. We have not yet found any convincing evidence to suggest that there was a plot …that there was a plot that the President knew about in advance, which was one of the issues that came up. I was with the President on 9/11 at the school in Florida. I can tell you that he looked pretty shocked by what had happened, and shell-shocked by what had happened. And we have not found any evidence so far. That doesn’t mean that there’s none there. But we have not found any evidence so far to suggest that the building collapses were caused by anything other than the two airplanes that flew into them.”
Sanger blatantly evaded the caller’s question about Building 7. When he blamed the explosive destruction of the Twin Towers, and the smooth free-fall drop of Building 7, on “the two airplanes that flew into them” he was lying in two ways.
First, no airplane flew into Building 7.
Second, Sanger must know that the US government agency NIST admits that the planes and their jet fuel did very little damage to the Twin Towers. NIST blames office fires fueled by burning paper and carpets, not plane crashes or jet fuel, for the explosive pulverization of most of the Towers and their contents.
But whatever happened to the Towers, the destruction of Building 7 was the most obvious – and most perfect – controlled demolition in history. No smoother and more symmetrical near-free-fall implosion of a tall building has ever been recorded. Even Canadian scientist Frank Greening, the most prominent defender of NIST’s account of the destruction of the Twin Towers, has been forced to admit that NIST’s claim that Building 7 “just fell down from office fires” is ludicrous.
If David Sanger is really unaware of any evidence that Building 7 was destroyed by controlled demolition, he should just call up Frank Greening, the most-cited defender of the US government’s position on the destruction of the World Trade Center. Or he could try any of the more than 2000 Architects and Engineers.
Sanger’s bad faith – or his guilt-induced brain-freeze – is obvious when he divides the “different theories” about 9/11 into three categories: “Conspiracy theories, regular theories, and non-conspiracy theories.”
What can this possibly mean?
A “conspiracy” is a plan by a group of two or more people to commit a crime. How could there possibly be a “regular theory” or a “non-conspiracy theory” of 9/11? Is Sanger suggesting that a single individual may have acted alone?
As an embedded national security journalist, Sanger knows that the CIA was responsible for putting the weaponized term “conspiracy theorist” into circulation. The terms “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” were virtually unheard-of until the mid-1960s, when the CIA issued a memorandum to its thousands of Operation Mockingbird media assets telling them to attack JFK assassination researchers using those words. That memo is preserved as CIA Document 1035-960, released in response to a 1976 FOIA request by none other than the New York Times.
Apparently the CIA put out a similar memo after 9/11. And Sanger apparently got the memo.
Or maybe he didn’t need to.
Sanger has been a speaker at Foundation for Defense of Democracies – the neocon-Zionist successor to Project for a New American Century, which openly called for a “new Pearl Harbor” exactly one year before 9/11.
Former New York Times journalist Phillip Weiss calls Sanger a “complete insider” and a proponent of the Zionist notion that Iran is a threat to America.
Weiss has elsewhere alluded to another of Sanger’s possible motives for complicity in 9/11: Zionist sympathies. In his article “Do Jews dominate in American media? And so what if we do?” Weiss points out that the majority of his former colleagues and bosses at the New York Times are, in effect, Israeli propagandists: “The Jewish cohort of which I am a part has largely accepted the duty … of supporting Israel.”
David Sanger must know that Zionist billionaire Larry Silverstein, a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, bought the condemned-for-asbestos World Trade Center just six weeks before 9/11, doubled the insurance, then collected double-indemnity due to the “two unrelated terror attacks” (the two planes). Silverstein has confessed twice on television to the controlled demolition of World Trade Center Building 7.
Sanger must know that Netanyahu’s first reaction to 9/11 was “It’s very good!” He must know that Israeli spies were arrested in New York filming and celebrating the destruction of the World Trade Center. He must know about the New York Police Department radio recording describing Israelis being arrested on 9/11 near the George Washington Bridge with a truck full of explosives.
Sanger apparently has plenty of reasons for parsing “conspiracy theories” from “non-conspiracy theories” and pretending he doesn’t know that 9/11 was an inside job.
- Tell the NY TImes: The Evidence Isn’t Hard to Find… (911blogger.com)
- Noam Chomsky and the Willful Ignorance of 9/11 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Info & Disinfo on Gaza, and Appeal for Hala Abu Shbeika, 3, killed in Israeli airstrike against Gaza
Some things to consider giving Israel’s bombing spree in Gaza on Dec 24:
-Israeli soldiers on a routine basis target Palestinians of all ages, including children, as they farm or fish, killing and maiming them. This is policy from the top-down, not random, not “bad apples”. See videos here and here; see reports here and here and here and here and UN.
-Israel has violated the Nov 2012 “truce”/”ceasefire” from the beginning, as documented here [Israeli Ceasefire Violations in Gaza and World Silence] and here.
and this important clarification from Yousef at the Jerusalem Fund:
Israel, and Kershner, Strike Again
The bias in New York Times reporting on Israel/Palestine is so systematic, it is predictable. Literally. When the news broke this morning that an Israeli had been shot by a sniper in Gaza while working on the fence around Gaza I knew that the killing would receive plenty of coverage in US media and of course in the New York Times by none other than Isabel Kershner. Even though Kershner routinely fails to report about Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip killed or injured by Israel, she rarely misses an opportunity to report about Israelis killed by Palestinians. That’s why earlier this morning I tweeted:
Has Isabel Kershner written her inevitable piece on the Israeli shot today yet after ignoring the large number of Palestinians shot in Gaza?
— Yousef Munayyer (@YousefMunayyer) December 24, 2013
On cue, an hour and a half after my tweet, Isabel Kershner’s story goes up at the New York Times.
Israelis Shell Gaza After Israeli Fence Repairer Is Killed
and the lead paragraph:
An Israeli laborer who was repairing the security fence along the border with Gaza was fatally shot on Tuesday by a Palestinian sniper, according to the Israeli military, and Israel immediately responded by bombing targets it associated with militant groups in the Palestinian coastal territory.
both make clear that the events today were Israel responding to an attack from Gaza. But absent both from that framing narrative and her entire piece, as I knew would be the case, is any description of preceding events in the Gaza Strip in recent days which featured several and persistent Israeli violations.
Kershner doesn’t tell you that in the last 10 days the Israeli military shot a Palestinian teenager in Gaza on the 15th, shot and killed a man and injured two others in Gaza on the 20th, shot an injured a Palestinian farmer on the 21st, fired at Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza on the 22nd, and shot and seriously injured a Palestinian man on the 23rd. All of these incidents happened in the days preceding today’s events and involved Israel firing into Gaza. None of them are reported in her article despite being vital context for today’s events.
She mentions that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in November 2012 “ended with an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire” but fails to mention that Israel has been consistently violating that cease-fire. We’ve been keeping track of all of these violations here, precisely because we knew Isabel Kershner and others were not going to inform you about them.
She does however, enumerate all recent Israeli casualties…. in the West Bank:
The Israeli killed on Tuesday was a civilian contractor who had been working for the Israeli Defense Ministry. His death came a day after an Israeli police officer was stabbed and wounded at a West Bank junction. On Sunday, a bomb exploded on a bus in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, minutes after the passengers had been warned to exit, preventing casualties. The police said they were working on the assumption that the bomb had been an attempted attack by Palestinian militants.
In addition, three Israeli soldiers and a retired colonel have been killed in recent months by Palestinians from the West Bank.
Kershner did a very similar thing in a piece last month which we called out here.
Her piece does end with this line “More than 20 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces this year, according to Palestinian officials.”
All the Palestinians killed and injured are an afterthought in this piece. Those killed and injured by Israeli fire in Gaza immediately prior to today’s events are not even mentioned. In what can only be interpreted as an effort to evoke sympathy for Israel’s actions, Kershner selects to inform the reader about attacks against Israelis in the West Bank while ignoring Israeli attacks on Gaza that occurred right before today’s events, even though today’s events occurred in Gaza and not in the West Bank.
The reader is treated to the familiar refrain: Israel is always acting to defend itself. The New York Times can do better and its readers sure deserve better than this.
With such horribly skewed and sloppy reporting, is it any wonder Americans are so misinformed about the situation?
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