Western news media and governments are keeping hush about an economic blockade by Ukraine against Crimea that is starting to appear permanent.
TASS reports today that at least one of the electricity lines from Ukraine to Crimea that was sabotaged by right-wing extremists during the weekend of Nov 20-21 has been repaired. But no electricity is flowing to Crimea from Ukraine. The information comes from Russian Deputy Energy Minister Andrey Cherezov.
“We have information that the repair work on the Kakhovka-Titan power line has been completed,” he said. “Switching this line on would make it possible to supply about 150-200 megawatts from Ukraine to Crimea. But such hope is lost. Accordingly, all measures in Crimea are aimed at ensuring a minimum level of electricity supply to consumers.”
Kakhovka-Titan is a 220-volt line that supplies electricity to the Crimean border cities of Armyansk and Krasnoperekopsk. Much of its power goes to two districts of the Kherson region of Ukraine.
Kakhovka-Titan is one of four transmission lines that were sabotaged by rightist bombs. At the time of the sabotage, Ukraine’s electricity utility said it could restore one of the four lines in 24 hours and all four of them within days. But the Ukraine government is allowing a handful of extremists on the damaged sites to block repair crews.
On Thursday, Russian Emergency Situations Ministry sent an additional 300 mobile generators to Crimea to provide power for critical facilities.
Crimea consumes an average of 1,000 megawatts of electricity per day, according to the Russian Energy Ministry. Emergency power backups are meeting only 30 per cent of normal demand.
An electrical cable under the Kerch Strait from Russia to Crimea was already under construction before last weekend’s sabotage. The construction is now on emergency pace. The cable is being laid in two stages. The first stage will deliver app 400 MW of power before the end of December. The second stage will bring an equal amount by summer 2016.
Another energy project already on the drawing table is a natural gas pipeline under the Kerch Strait, due to open in 2018. It will power several natural gas electricity generating stations to be built in Crimea.
Western media and governments see nothing, say nothing
The Crimea emergency is going largely unreported in the West. Where it is mentioned, it is pictured as a tit-for-tat game between Ukraine and Russia.
The first report in Canada’s largest daily newspaper, the Toronto Star, was published on Nov 27, six days following the attacks that cut Crimea’s electricity supply from Ukraine. The Star report is taken from the New York Times.
The Times article is a shortened version of a longer article that appeared two days earlier, both written by the newspaper’s Moscow bureau journalist Neil MacFarquhar. He traveled to southern Ukraine.
MacFarquhar describes the terrorist action by the Ukrainian extremists as a “standoff between Moscow and Kiev, with each side finding new ways to increase the tension daily”.
Ukraine’s government has not lifted a finger against the vigilante road blockade of food shipments to Crimea which extreme-rightists began on September 20.
Following the latest outrageous attack, the regime in Kyiv began on November 23 to block all commercial transport to and from Crimea. This is described by the Times thusly: “Ukraine seeks to avoid further Russian aggression to stymie its political and economic stability, and an already unpopular government does not want to go against public sentiment.”
Interestingly, MacFarquhar provides an interpretation of the claim in most Western media that the vigilante actions against Crimea are being perpetrated by “Crimean Tatars”. He writes:
In Kiev, the main driver of the confrontation seems to be the leaders of the Tatar community who were exiled by Russia after it annexed the peninsula and who are now in Parliament as allies of President Petro O. Poroshenko… 
Here around Chongar, however, Tatar activists were not much in evidence. They seemed to have been assigned logistical tasks like providing food and housing for the men guarding road checkpoints and the fallen pylons. The fighters were mostly veterans from the east [Ukraine] who did not want to go back to civilian life.
MacFarquhar describes one of the Western media’s “Tatar activists”:
“The people of Crimea are not supposed to feel like they live in a resort while the country [Ukraine] is at war,” said Oleksiy Byk, 34, a chunky, bearded veteran who serves as the area spokesman for the Right Sector, a right-wing Ukrainian organization violently opposed to any accommodation with Russia.
Mr. Byk said he used to fight the separatists [sic] in the east, but after the ceasefire negotiated under the Minsk peace accords [in February 2015] finally took hold in September, he and many other hard-core fighters gravitated to the area just north of Crimea. They are spoiling for a fight, since Ukraine rejects Russia’s March 2014 annexation [sic] of the Black Sea peninsula as illegal.
Ukraine pours on the rhetoric
In its latest, self-destructive measure for the Ukrainian economy (and against the Ukrainian people), the government in Kyiv announced on November 25 that all air travel to and from Russia will be severed. Last month, Ukraine banned landing and takeoff rights for Russian airlines, prompting a move in kind by Russia.
Ukraine’s government has also announced that it wouldn’t buy gas anymore from Russia. But that statement is posturing which followed the decision by Russia’s Gazprom on Nov 25 to cease gas deliveries due to non-payment. The government is effectively bankrupt, living on borrowed money from the IMF. A declaration of default on the international loans it owes is expected.
The Donetsk People’s Republic has taken emergency measures to protect coal stocks and electricity infrastructure in the aftermath of the sabotage directed at Crimea, reports DAN news service. Prime Minister Aleksandr Zakharchenko has assumed direct responsibility over the measures.
The DPR has also halted coal shipments to Ukraine. This began in response to non-payment of bills, but has now also become a gesture of disapproval of Ukraine’s failure to restore electricity service to Crimea and of solidarity with the people of the peninsula.
(See a photo gallery on TASS of Crimea’s electricity situation , here. )
 Tatar civil organizations in Crimea utterly deny the claims in Western media that the Tatar figureheads in Kyiv who have accepted appointments to the Rada by Petro Poroshenko’s political machine– Mustafa Djemilev and Refat Chubarov—are “leaders” of Crimean Tatars. They say the two represent the viewpoints of only a small section of Tatars. The two figures have been denied entry to Crimea since the secession referendum of March 2014 because they refused to renounce inciting civil war on the peninsula.
State of emergency in Crimea after right-wing extremists in Ukraine blow up electricity lines to the peninsula, by Roger Annis, Nov 25, 2015
A few years ago, New York Times columnist David Brooks wanted the U.S. government to wave its magic wand and turn the Syrian civil war into a Vietnam for Iran:
We should be trying to turn the Syrian civil war into Iran’s Vietnam. We should make them waste money and effort trying to back their client… I’m thinking that maybe it’s time for a more active U.S. role. I have no clue how to do that.
Brooks was apparently modest enough to admit that he had “no clue” as to how the U.S. should mold Syria to achieve such a nefarious goal.
Well, a few years have now gone by, and Brooks has experienced his eureka moment! He apparently tuned into a warmongering speech from Hillary Clinton and now (at long last) has a clue:
Clinton… gestured to the reality that you can’t really deal with ISIS unless you are also willing to deal with Assad. Assad is not some secondary threat who we can deal with after we’ve tamed the ISIS monster. Assad created the failed state and the power vacuum that ISIS was able to fill.
Some of Clinton’s specific prescriptions were a little too limited and Obamaesque for my taste (she didn’t even call for more American Special Operations forces to improve the bombing campaigns, though she said she would be open to it).
Aha! Brooks, who wanted to turn Syria into Iran’s Vietnam, has changed to turning it into America’s Second Vietnam! Brooks wants American troops in there fighting both ISIS and Assad. He’s come to the conclusion that it is America that should “waste money and effort”!
But wait! There’s more:
The grand strategy of American policy in the Middle East, therefore, should be to do what we can to revive and reform Arab nations, to help them become functioning governing units.
The “grand strategy”?
America has destroyed Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, leaving them in virtual chaos with nothing resembling “functioning governing units.” Syria needs to be number four on the lucky list?
That begins with stepped-up military pressure on ISIS. But it also means going hard on Assad, creating no-fly zones for sanctuaries for Syrian refugees to limit his power, ratcheting up pressure on Iran and Russia to force his departure.
Brooks no longer wants a Vietnam for Iran, but a second one for the U.S. In addition to American troops, he wants the U.S. to create a no-fly zone in Syria that would put America in a direct confrontation with Russia (a country that has a nuclear arsenal that’s just as large as America’s).
The corporate media don’t like Donald Trump. They used to like him a lot; in fact, Big Business Media are responsible for making this minor multi-millionaire into a household name. But Trump is on their hit list, nowadays, because the Republican presidential candidate insists on telling his own lies, rather than sticking to the list of official lies parroted by corporate media every minute of every day.
Donald Trump told a really “HUGE” – as he would put it – lie when he claimed to have watched thousands of Muslims cheering in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the World Trade Center came down on 9/11. Every corporate news outlet in the country rushed to debunk Trump’s fictitious account. The Washington Post offered psychological theories for why Trump gets away with telling fantastic lies. The New York Times said there was no evidence that Jersey City Muslims cheered the destruction on 9/11. CNN said it never happened. And, they were right.
However, by making only a partial correction of Donald Trump’s prevarication, the corporate media were telling their own lie about what happened on 9/11. There was, in fact, celebration in Jersey City on that fateful morning, and the incident did, briefly, make a major news splash. But the people doing the cheering weren’t Muslims: they were five young Israelis in a white moving van, who were observed in Liberty Park ecstatically taking pictures of themselves framed against the smoking ruins of the Twin Towers. As ABC News reported, the five were later arrested at gunpoint near the New Jersey Giants football stadium. Most U.S. intelligence sources believed the men were Israeli spies, and that their “moving company” was an Israeli intelligence cover. They were detained for a while, and then deported.
“Who is the biggest liar?”
In the year before 9/11 scores of young Israelis posing as “art students” were arrested after penetrating U.S. Defense Department and other classified sites. Both stories made national news. The corporate media could not have avoided running across articles on the “cheering Israelis” when they set about debunking Donald Trump’s “cheering Muslims” account. But, not one of them dare to mention that, yes, some people were seen celebrating 9/11 at Liberty State Park in Jersey City.
I was in a different part of the park on 9/11 morning, alone except for two young Israelis with very expensive cameras, carrying phony New Jersey press credentials, who claimed to be Polish but spoke Hebrew to each other. The two young men were giddy with joy at the destruction that the three of us were observing across the Hudson River.
Later that day, I learned from local and national news outlets about the five Israelis who were dancing with delight about a mile upriver from me and the two other Israelis. Articles about Israelis celebrating 9/11 would have come up in any search to correct Donald Trump’s tall tale – but the corporate media kept that part of the story from the public. They censored their own correction of Donald Trump. So, who is the biggest liar? Trump, who lies to advance his own personal interests, or the U.S. corporate media, who lie to the people on behalf of the State of Israel, and Zionism.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Five men died in Israel and the West Bank yesterday, the victims of shooting and stabbing attacks by Palestinians. The assaults took place in Tel Aviv and in the Etzion illegal settlement bloc, and their deaths, according to The New York Times, marked “the deadliest day in the recent wave of violence.”
Deadliest day? For Israelis, yes, but not for Palestinians. As the Times has reported, Israeli soldiers shot and killed six young men in Gaza during demonstrations at the border fence on Oct. 9. Days later, on Oct. 20, five more Palestinians died at the hands of Israeli troops within the span of 12 hours (in this case, the newspaper remained silent and made no effort to report their deaths).
Nevertheless, Isabel Kershner in the Times today insists that the five deaths (one involving a Palestinian working in Israel and one involving an American visitor) are the high point in violence since a wave of lone wolf attacks against Israelis broke out at the beginning of October.
Nothing could provide more certain evidence of the Israeli bias in the Times. Palestinian deaths do not register on their tally of casualties; violence refers only to Palestinian aggression.
Kershner’s story acknowledges that some 90 Palestinians have died since the beginning of October, compared with 16 Israelis, but in explaining this discrepancy she manages once again to blame the victims. The Palestinians died, she says, while attacking or attempting to attack Israelis or “in clashes with Israeli security forces.”
Nothing is said of those who died in what human rights groups call apparent extrajudicial executions: the youth shot as he tried to extract his identity card from his pocket, the young woman killed as she stood with her hands over her head. It seems the Times wants us to believe the often dubious claims of Israeli forces responsible for Palestinian deaths.
Today’s story lists all of the victims by name and gives a detailed account of one of them, an American teenager who had “distributed food and candy to Israeli soldiers” the day he was killed. The Oct. 9 story about the deaths in Gaza gives the name of not a single Palestinian.
Kershner, however, has provided us with some context here, and the result is bizarre. She manages to link the five deaths to a long-awaited agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority “granting Palestinian cellphone carriers 3G high-speed cellular services in the West Bank.”
The attacks came “hours after” this agreement, she writes, and she goes on to imply that Palestinians should have taken this contract as something of a white flag, a sign that a truce is in effect.
“The move,” Kershner states, “intended to bolster economic development, had indicated a possible effect, or desire, to return to calm after weeks of violence.” She then quotes an Israeli minister who claims, “We always agree to confidence-building measures with the Palestinians to help with their economy.”
It is difficult to reconcile this assertion of goodwill with the fact that Palestinian cellphone carriers have been requesting the right to use 3G services since 2006 and only at this point has Israel agreed to allow this now outdated technology. Yet Kershner reports it without a hint of irony.
Readers are to take from this that the Palestinians have no right to protest, let alone to resort to violence. Israel, Kershner is saying, has their well-being at heart.
Missing, as usual, is the context of the brutal occupation, the ever-tightening pressure of settlement building that robs Palestinians of land, water, basic livelihoods and the right to move freely. Missing also are the arrests and abuse of young Palestinians, some as young as 6, and the heavy use of administrative detention, which denies detainees the right to a defense or even to know the charges against them.
If Kershner wanted to peg her story to recent developments, she could have mentioned the crackdown on the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel; the slap on the wrist meted out to the police officer who brutally beat an American Palestinian teenager last year; or the collective punishment of home demolitions, which can leave a wide trail of devastation beyond the stated targets.
Instead, readers are told that Israeli “goodwill” has been spurned by ungrateful Palestinians and that Israelis alone are the victims of violence. Thus, the Times and Kershner give dominance to Israel spin even as their efforts turn the news into an exercise in distortion and absurdity.
Follow @TimesWarp on Twitter
In its effort to vet one of the leading GOP presidential candidates, Dr. Ben Carson, the New York Times didn’t properly vet its primary source in this vetting, former CIA officer Duane Clarridge—an indicted liar and overseer of Contra death squads in Central America.
While the Times’ Trip Gabriel briefly notes the former, he completely omits the latter, instead offering this starry-eyed description:
Mr. Clarridge, described by Mr. Carson’s top adviser, Armstrong Williams, as “a mentor for Dr. Carson,” is a colorful, even legendary figure in intelligence circles, someone who could have stepped out of a Hollywood thriller. He was a longtime CIA officer, serving undercover in India, Turkey, Italy and other countries, and sprinkles his remarks with salty language.
As head of Reagan’s CIA division in Latin America in the 1980s, Clarridge took part in the effort to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government by illegally supplying funds and arms to the Contras—a right-wing terrorist movement that committed brutal war crimes. This was not an unforeseen consequence, but the point of the operation; asked by CIA Director William Casey to come up with a strategy for dealing with the Sandinista revolution, Clarridge writes in his memoir A Spy for All Seasons :
My plan was simple:
- Take the war to Nicaragua.
- Start killing Cubans.
Clarridge acknowledges that his plan, “stated so bluntly, undoubtedly sounds harsh.”
He also boasts of having come up with the idea of mining Nicaragua’s harbors to interfere with shipping:
I remember sitting with a glass of gin on the rocks, smoking a cigar (of course), and pondering my dilemma, when it hit me. Sea mines were the solution…. To this day I wonder why I didn’t think of it sooner.
The mines were, as conservative icon Sen. Barry Goldwater pointed out, an “act of war”—and predictably resulted in the deaths of civilians, something that doesn’t trouble Clarridge overly much. Or, apparently, the New York Times.
The Times vaguely alludes to the Iran/Contra scandal but without mentioning what it entailed, namely that Clarridge had an operational involvement with terrorist death squads.
In addition to this bloodsoaked past, Clarridge has more recently been a freelance hit-list generator for the Defense Department in Afghanistan ( New York Times, 3/14/10)–part of what the Times referred to as “an off-the-books spy operation.”
The kid-glove treatment would even extend to ethnic slurs, which the Times glosses over without citing specifically. Gabriel quotes Clarridge dismissing the notion—spread by right-wing media—that there are Chinese troops in Syria, “using an ethnic slur for the Chinese.” If a top adviser to a leading presidential candidate is referring to Chinese people as “Chinks”—or the equivalent—isn’t that a newsworthy fact that the New York Times ought to report?
It’s not a surprise a New York Times Beltway insider like Trip Gabriel would whitewash Clarridge’s brutal resume to the point of unrecognizability, but it doesn’t make using a grotesque violator of human rights and a known liar to kneecap Carson any less sleazy. On the issue of policy knowledge, it is more than fair to point out Carson’s shortcomings. But the bigger story here—that a leading candidate’s primary international adviser is a CIA goon with a bloody (or as the Times would put it “colorful”) past—is buried in a story about a routine DC pissing match.
This is how America’s war crimes are laundered, by absorbing the most complicit and criminal into respectable circles by passing them off as “experts” with “legendary” pasts. The Times would have better served its readers by pointing out, in clear and honest terms, what this “colorful, even legendary” past amounted to. It would help put Clarridge’s testimony—and Carson’s potential nomination—into historical and moral context.
By Brenda Heard | Aletho News | November 16, 2015
On 15 November, The New York Times published an article entitled “Beirut, Also the Site of Deadly Attacks, Feels Forgotten.” It highlights the disparity between the global solidarity expressed for Paris following the deadly 13 November attacks and the lack thereof expressed for Beirut after it too was attacked the day prior. But the headline suggests a petulant attitude from Lebanese who “feel forgotten,” as though they were a bratty child or a sniveling spouse.
Granted The Times expresses a degree of compassion for Beirut’s victims, who like those in Paris “were killed at random, in a bustling urban area, while going about their normal evening business.” But The Times also seems to be trying to wiggle out of appearing heartless in a previous Times article’s headline–“Deadly Blasts Hit Hezbollah Stronghold in Southern Beirut”—a headline that it now explains was “changed to be more precise.” The Times withdrew the headline’s phraseology “Hezbollah Stronghold,” which it admitted, “risks portraying a busy civilian, residential and commercial district as a justifiable military target.”
With images of civilian victims in circulation, the casual sneer of “Hezbollah stronghold,” quickly trumpeted by Reuters and the Associated Press, did seem rather. . . misleading. Yet despite even The Times’ own characterization of the stricken Bourj el-Barajneh municipality as typical “working-class Beirut, where Palestinians, Christians and Syrian refugees (mostly Sunnis) live, work and shop,” these descriptions are colored with an overriding exemption: “Hezbollah maintains tight security control” of the area. Only Reuters gives slight mention to the contradiction of this so-called “Hezbollah Bastion” hosting numerous Lebanese Army checkpoints.
So with a curious twist, The Times manages to undo the cliché “innocent civilian” as victim of a terror attack. The Beirut victims may have been civilian, the article concedes, but how dare they consider themselves innocent and thus worthy of solidarity. After all, the article tells us, Hezbollah is highly popular there. So why change and half-apologise for the phrase “Hezbollah stronghold”? Because The Times asserts that a Hezbollah stronghold would be a “justifiable military target.” And that assertion comes dangerously close to approving of this ISIS bombing, dangerously close to the sentiment expressed by a commenter on one of the initial UK reports: “So one bunch of barbaric Islamist terrorists has declared war on another bunch of barbaric Islamist terrorists. We should be celebrating. A win-win for the West and the civilized world.”
Sadly, this comment is mild in comparison to many across the web. They laugh and they rage with a brute callousness that is diametrically opposed to the compassion and solidarity expressed toward the French. When The Times article discussed how the Lebanese felt “forgotten,” it missed the point. It quoted Lebanese blogger Dr Elie Fares saying that “When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag.” But if you read his article in its entirety, you will see that he was not bemoaning a lack of attention. Equally disturbed by the lack of concern from his fellow Lebanese, Fares was lamenting a lack of shared humanity. As he stated in a previous article, “The politics maybe change, but with so many victims dying for so little, petty politics become irrelevant.”
As Westerners, of course we are sickened by the violence inflicted upon our neighbors in Paris. We rightfully feel sad and scared. But the challenge is to be able to feel the pain of non-Western societies as well. How many times do we scroll right past headlines of a bombing in an Iraqi marketplace? a mass shooting in Latin America? a typhoon in Asia? Their skin may be brown or black, they make speak what sounds like noise to us, they may even eat with their hands. But they are parents and children, friends and lovers, brothers and sisters. They enjoy a cup of tea and laugh at a funny television show. But even if they view god or government differently than we do, their falling victim to indiscriminate killing should be neither accepted, nor applauded. Unless we want to live forever in fear, we need to condemn brutality and to nurture the notion of live and let live—consistently.
In The New York Times it’s all part of a high stakes game, the good guys (Israelis) against the bad guys (Palestinians), and this time the good guys won, taking the prize through clever and audacious disguises.
Such is the tone of Isabel Kershner’s story today that tells of yet another outrage by Israel: Special forces invaded a hospital in Hebron, held the staff at gunpoint, killed a visitor point blank and kidnapped a patient recovering from surgery.
Condemnation of this atrocity and other recent attacks on Palestinian hospitals has come from Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, the International Committee of the Red Cross and a half dozen United Nations agencies, but none of their criticisms are included in the Times story.
Kershner, instead, only includes objections from Palestinians, and in the context of her writing, they come off as sore losers who would be expected to complain, in any case.
Her story opens with a description of the raid, as undercover Israelis disguised as Arabs enter the hospital, pushing a “pregnant woman” in a wheelchair, and it ends with several paragraphs looking back at other Israeli operations that involved masquerades: a 1972 action to foil a hijacking, a “famous” revenge assassination by former prime minister Ehud Barak, and a raid in Dubai to kill a Hamas commander.
In other words, it was all part of an illustrious Israeli tradition.
The Palestinians are described as “livid,” a term that implies a somewhat excessive rage and carries a hint of derision. It is not a neutral term in news writing, but Times editors apparently had no problem allowing it to stand.
The Israeli operation, on the other hand, is characterized as something of a breeze, not the bloody and outrageous affair that it was. They entered the hospital and then “about 10 minutes later they were on their way out.” They “whisked away” the suspect, Azzam Shalalda, leaving his cousin, Abdallah Shalalda, dead on the floor of the hospital room.
In describing a similar raid on a Nablus hospital last month, Kershner writes that Israeli forces “snatched” a suspect in a fatal shooting. Such vocabulary implies a kind of cinematic caper, devoid of real life complications.
Missing from her story is any mention of international humanitarian law, which forbids such violations of hospital and health care facilities. Amnesty International also noted that the killing of Abdallah Shalalda appeared to be a deliberate extrajudicial execution, and Tikun Olam blogger, Richard Silverstein, wrote that the undercover agents had entered the hospital expressly to kill Abdallah and arrest his cousin.
Kershner, however, is quick to quote the military, which claimed that “a suspect attacked the force, which responded to the assault and fired on the attacker.” Only later in her story does she note that hospital officials said he was shot not during an attack but when he emerged from a bathroom. Amnesty stated that his wounds were consistent with a deliberate execution.
Her story glosses over the recent raids on a Jerusalem hospital and UN demands that they cease. (Israel, however, has continued to invade the facility.)
In the eyes of Kershner (and the Times), it seems that there is no problem with Israeli violations of international law when the state wants to apprehend a Palestinian suspect. She writes that the raid was Israel’s way of saying that “there will be no safe haven for Palestinian suspects.”
By contrast, the Times has never bothered to report that Israel knows the identity of Jewish settlers responsible for burning to death three members of a Palestinian family but refuses to arrest them because it might reveal intelligence methods.
The terrible irony of this double standard is beyond the radar of Isabel Kershner and the Times editors. On the contrary, they present Israel’s lawless and bloody actions as evidence of ingenuity and daring, celebrating a “victory” over the ultimately helpless and endlessly oppressed Palestinians.
What is inspiring young Palestinians to attempt yet more stabbing attacks on Israelis? The answer, according to The New York Times, has nothing to do with the violence of military occupation, the abuse of Palestinian children or trigger-happy troops; it is merely a “loop-like dynamic” of attack and response inspired by video clips.
In a story today, Isabel Kershner reports that videos showing knife attacks and heavy-handed treatment of young detainees are inspiring Palestinian boys as young as 12 to attempt knife assaults. But in a significant omission, the article says nothing about disturbing videos that support a different take: Many Palestinians have been killed when they posed no possible threat.
Likewise, even as Kershner writes about youthful attackers, she (and the Times) have avoided any mention of the constant reports from rights groups over recent years that detail the abusive treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli custody. These include reports of troops arresting children as young as 6 and documentation of violence used against the young detainees. (Also see TimesWarp 1-13-14.)
Instead, readers are introduced to two cousins, 12 and 13, who played hooky from school yesterday in order to carry out a copycat stabbing attack in Jerusalem. Both were arrested; one was seriously wounded in the process; and both had watched video footage the night before of Israeli interrogators aggressively questioning another young teen, Ahmad Manasra, who was wounded after an alleged attack that left his cousin dead.
Kershner then devotes much of her article to rehashing the story of Manasra, who was featured earlier in a lengthy piece aimed at showing how Palestinians got it wrong when they claimed the boy had been killed. It appears to have the same purpose here: to undermine charges that Israeli troops have made false claims about knife attacks and have planted evidence.
She writes, “In several cases, with no video corroboration, Palestinians have insisted that no stabbings took place and have accused the Israeli authorities of planting knives at the scene.”
Several significant factors are missing from this statement: Although video evidence is unavailable in some cases, others are supported by credible eyewitness accounts contradicting official claims; rights groups, not only Palestinians, have charged Israeli troops with killing innocent victims; and video evidence does exist that bolsters many of the charges against Israeli forces.
In a press release last month, Amnesty International said Israeli soldiers and police had resorted to “extreme and unlawful measures” and had “used intentional and lethal force without justification.” The rights group highlighted four cases of “what appear to have been extrajudicial executions.”
Amnesty pointed up one “especially egregious case” in which Israeli forces killed 19-year-old Sa’ad Muhammad Youssef al-Atrash in Hebron on Oct. 26 as he tried to retrieve an identity card. As the youth reached into his pocket, a soldier behind Atrash shot him on the right side. The report continues, “The eyewitness said he was shot six or seven times and bled profusely as he lay on the ground for about 40 minutes afterwards, while soldiers failed to provide medical treatment.”
Times readers, however, are unlikely to know anything about Muhammad Atrash and how he died, nor are they aware of the Amnesty statements or of reports from other rights groups, including those in Israel and Europe, all of them charging Israel with unlawful killings.
Since the Amnesty release last month, Israel has continued to kill Palestinians, many of whom posed no possible threat, bringing the total to over 80 killed and some 8,500 wounded since the beginning of October. As of Oct. 31, eight Israelis had died and 115 had been wounded, according to the United Nations. These numbers, however, do not appear in Kershner’s story.
Last week Israeli forces shot and killed a 73-year-old grandmother as she drove through Hebron to meet her sister for lunch. A spokesman said she tried to ram soldiers with the car and that a knife was found in her car. Video footage shows a different scenario: Tharwat Sharawi was driving at a moderate speed and in no way aimed to hit soldiers when a barrage of bullets took her life.
The Times has made no mention of this video evidence, nor has it informed readers of other disturbing cases, also caught on video:
- A settler shoots and kills Fadi Qawasmi, 18, in Hebron on Oct. 17, and appears to hand a knife to a soldier, who drops it near the body.
- A mob chases Fadi Alloun in Jerusalem on Oct. 4, shouting, “Shoot him!” as he runs for his life. Police bring him down with a hail of bullets.
- Muhammad Ramadan al Muhtasib, 23, is shot multiple times and killed as he lies helpless on the ground in Hebron on Oct. 30. The army alleges that he tried to stab a soldier.
- Issra Abed, 30, is shot at a bus station in Afula as she stands with her hands over her head. After she lies wounded on the ground, a bystander approaches and kicks away a pair of sunglasses lying by her side. (Police said she was grasping a knife.)
- Dania Irsheid, 18, is shot and killed at a checkpoint in Hebron after passing through metal detectors and a revolving iron gate. Video footage show Israeli police giving her no assistance as she lies bleeding on the ground.
- Hadeel al Hashlamoun, 18, is shot at a checkpoint in Hebron on Sept. 22 and left to bleed to death. A video shows her being dragged by her heels along the ground.
In several of these videos the indifference of Israeli troops is striking. None of them attempts to help the victims, and in some cases witnesses report that settlers are allowed to take pictures of the dead and dying while Palestinian journalists and medics are turned away. One highly disturbing photo shows a smiling settler taking a photo of a dead Palestinian in Hebron on Oct. 29.
In this context, the report by Kershner is appalling. Although video evidence, eyewitness accounts and investigations by rights groups point to a pattern of trigger happy—even blood thirsty—security forces killing Palestinians with the slightest degree of suspicion, the Times has made no effort to inform readers of these findings. On the contrary, it places this misleading story by Kershner on page 1 above the fold.
Here we find another attempt to blame the victims, to paint Palestinians as the violent offenders, omitting even the numbers of dead and injured, which reveal a disproportionate death toll of 10 Palestinians for every one Israeli. The facts, however, seem to be of no account when it comes to protecting Israel. Given the choice between shielding this rogue state and reporting the news, the Times stands with Israel.
The New York Times led the propaganda behind 9/11 and the 9/11 Wars. It did so by ignoring many of the most relevant facts, by promoting false official accounts, and by belittling those who questioned the 9/11 events. The Times eventually offered a weak public apology for its uncritical support of the Bush Administration’s obviously bogus Iraq War justifications. However, it has yet to apologize for its role in selling the official account of 9/11, a story built on just as many falsehoods. Instead, the newspaper continues to propagandize about the attacks while putting down Americans who seek the truth about what happened.
The New York “newspaper of record” has published many articles that promote official explanations for the events of 9/11. These have included support for the Pancake Theory, the diesel fuel theory for WTC 7, claims based on the torture testimony of an alleged top al Qaeda leader, and accounts of NORAD notification and response to the hijackings. Since then, U.S. authorities have said that none of those explanations were true. However, the Times never expressed regret for reporting the misleading information.
Instead, the Times continued to sell every different official explanation. When a new government theory for destruction of the WTC was put forth, it was immediately promoted. The newspaper never reported any critical analysis of the official accounts, despite the fact that all of them, including the final reports for the Twin Towers and WTC 7, have been proven to be wrong.
When the fourth story for how the North American air defenses failed—the one that said U.S. military officers had spent three years giving “false testimony,” the Times pushed it as fact. Its article on the subject simply closed the matter with the statement that “someone will still have to explain why the military, with far greater resources and more time for investigation, could not come up with the real story until the 9/11 commission forced it to admit the truth.” The idea that military officers might have started out telling the truth, thereby leaving very sensitive questions to be answered, and that the 9/11 Commission was now being false, apparently never occurred to the editors.
Meanwhile, the newspaper has made considerable efforts to belittle Americans who question the official account of 9/11.
In June 2006, the Times published a snarky account of a grassroots conference of 9/11 investigators. The article focused on sensational descriptions of the participants, including what it called “a longhaired fellow named hummux who, on and off, lived in a cave for 15 years.’’ The fact that Dr. hummux was a PhD physicist who had worked on the Strategic Defense Initiative for 20 years was not mentioned. The Times simply distorted his experience living with a Native American tribe and falsely stated that he had lived in a cave. No mention was made of serious, undisputed facts that were presented at the conference.
A few months later, at the fifth anniversary of 9/11, the Times published another propaganda article in support of the politically timed reports from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The article began by declaring that those who questioned 9/11 were “an angry minority,” while minimizing a national Scripps Howard poll, published just a month earlier. The poll showed that “More than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East.” That is, the number of Americans who thought that federal officials were behind the attacks (36%) was on par with the percentage of Americans who had voted for the president. Yet the Times inferred that it was only a small fraction of the population who questioned 911.
The September 2006 article promoted one Brent Blanchard as a demolition expert, implying that his recent essay refuted any suggestions that the WTC buildings were demolished. As I told the reporter Jim Dwyer, when he interviewed me for the article, “Mr. Blanchard may be a good photographer, but the uninformative bluster that fills the first two and a half pages of this piece, and a good deal throughout the paper, shows that he is not a good writer.” The fact that Blanchard was only a photographer and not a demolition expert was not mentioned by Dwyer, nor was my point-by-point refutation of Blanchard’s limited arguments. Instead, Dwyer purposefully ignored the evidence and ended his article with another quote from Blanchard.
More recently, perhaps in response to another large billboard posted right outside the Times offices, the newspaper has renewed its 9/11 propaganda efforts. In one new article, reporter Mark Leibovich wonders “why is it good to tell the truth but bad to be a ‘Truther’.” Leibovich turns to former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer for support. Of course, the article does not refer to Fleischer’s curious behavior on the morning of 9/11, which stands among the unresolved questions. Instead, Fleischer’s input is that he uses the term “truther” as an epithet, “floating a notion and letting it hang there to absorb sinister connotations.” Leibovich goes on to portray 9/11 questioning as just another form of ridiculous “trutherism” that is “stranger than fiction.“
Leibovich and his colleagues at the Times continue to suggest that they are unaware of the many incredible facts about 9/11 that call out for critical investigation. At this point, however, that level of ignorance is not believable and the Times’ track record shows that it will never take an honest and objective approach to the events of 9/11. As one former Times reporter stated, the paper’s slogan that it provides all the news ‘fit to print’ really means that it provides all the news that’s fit to serve the powerful. And as long as the needs of the powerful differ from the needs of the people, the truth will be something that is unavailable at the New York Times.
Today in The New York Times we have a look at Hebron, a blood-drenched city in the West Bank, a community besieged by violent settlers and trigger-happy Israeli forces. In this month alone, some 20 of its Palestinian residents have died at the hands of soldiers and police, their deaths sometimes caught on video that belies official accounts.
But this grim reality is not the focus in the Times. The article by Diaa Hadid and Rami Nazzal strips the full context of the occupation from Hebron and presents it, not as a city struggling to survive under crushing oppression, but as a hotbed of Palestinian radicals, a stronghold of the oft-demonized Hamas.
The story takes us to the funeral of Dania Irsheid (identified as Dania al-Husseini in the Times), a schoolgirl shot at a checkpoint on Sunday. It mentions other deaths in recent days, but it completely avoids the eyewitness accounts and human rights organization findings that show many of these deaths were extrajudicial executions.
Israel has callously refused to release the bodies of most of the 20 victims, and we read that residents feel “particular outrage” over the death of Dania and another girl, Bayan Oseili, 16, killed a week before, both accused of stabbing attacks. The story deftly avoids another compelling reason for this outrage: the fact that both obviously posed no threat and could have been arrested and that video footage in the case of Bayan and eyewitness accounts in the case of Irsheid contradict police claims.
Hadid and Nazzal, however, have nothing to say about these contradictions and write that residents are angry because the refusal to release the bodies is an “affront to the Muslim tradition of immediate burial and a defilement of their honor.”
This fits neatly into the Times’ attempt to spin the oppression in Hebron into more blaming of the victims, who are described as Hamas followers and culturally conservative. The article opens with a quote from a Hebron resident who applauds knife attacks on Israeli soldiers, and it closes with the same speaker who “was pleased to see the surge in violence turn to Hebron.”
Missing entirely are any comments from nonviolent Hebron activists and the accounts of eyewitnesses who say Israeli forces have planted knives near the bodies of victims. The story also omits some chilling reports of deliberate executions and the statements of human rights groups that raise the charge of extrajudicial killings.
One of the most disturbing accounts describes the death of a young man, Islam Ibeidu, 23, on Wednesday near the Kirya Arba settlement. The news outlet Middle East Eye noted, “According to the quoted eyewitness, Ibeidu was searched by Israeli soldiers by the checkpoint and released, before orders were given to execute him.”
One witness tweeted: “I saw everything. I saw soldiers loading the guns. He had his arms up and was shaking, he was unarmed and they just shot him.” A second tweet continues, “eyewitness overheard police woman say ‘he looks nice, shoot him’ before he was shot to death by m16 from 2 meters away.”
The accounts of other deaths are equally disturbing (see TimesWarp 10-27-15), but the Times story includes none of them. It states that the victims this month died “in demonstrations and attacks,” taking the official Israeli line as fact.
On the other hand, the article refers frequently to Hamas in an effort to tie the group to the violence in Hebron. It makes no mention of several non-violent groups active in the city, such as Youth Against Settlements, Christian Peacemaker Teams, the International Solidarity Movement and the UN mandated Temporary International Presence in Hebron.
All of these organizations are avowedly non-violent; they observe and document violence against Palestinians. Yet another group, Breaking the Silence, was founded by Israeli soldiers who had served in Hebron and now collect and document Israeli army abuses. None of these organizations has a voice in the Times story.
Much of Hebron’s agony dates back to March, 1994, when an American-born settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 worshippers in the Ibahimi Mosque. Hadid mentions this as part of the historical record but omits the brutal Israeli crackdown that followed.
Rather than act to protect Palestinians after this attack, Israeli security forces went on to kill some 20 more Hebron residents during protests and to lock them down under a round-the-clock curfew. The government also closed once bustling Shuhada Street to all Palestinian traffic, welded shut Palestinian shops, turned the street over to settlers and divided the mosque into Jewish and Muslim sections.
This finds no clarification in the Times story, which refers vaguely to a “volatile mix of Palestinians and Jewish settlers.” Instead, the newspaper has adopted the official playbook of the occupiers: Stick to the narrative of Israeli victimhood, ignore countervailing fact, and whenever possible blame Hamas.
“War Is Beautiful” is the ironic title of a beautiful new book of photographs. The subtitle is “The New York Times Pictorial Guide to the Glamour of Armed Conflict.” There’s an asterisk after those words, and it leads to these: “(In which the author explains why he no longer reads The New York Times ).” The author never explains why he read the New York Times to begin with.
The author of this remarkable book, David Shields, has selected color war photographs published on the front page of the New York Times over the last 14 years. He’s organized them by themes, included epigrams with each section, and added a short introduction, plus an afterword by Dave Hickey.
Some of us have long opposed subscribing to or advertising in the New York Times, as even peace groups do. We read occasional articles without paying for them or accepting their worldview. We know that the impact of the Times lies primarily in how it influences television “news” reports.
But what about Times readers? The biggest impact that the paper has on them may not be in the words it chooses and omits, but rather in the images that the words frame. The photographs that Shields has selected and published in a large format, one on each page, are powerful and fantastic, straight out of a thrilling and mythical epic. One could no doubt insert them into the new Star Wars movie without too many people noticing.
The photos are also serene: a sunset on a beach lined with palm trees — actually the Euphrates river; a soldier’s face just visible amid a field of poppies.
We see soldiers policing a swimming pool — perhaps a sight that will someday arrive in the Homeland, as other sights first seen in images from foreign wars already have. We see collective military exercises and training, as at a desert summer camp, full of camaraderie in crises. There’s adventure, sports, and games. A soldier looks pleased by his trick as he holds a dummy head with a helmet on the end of a stick in front of a window to get it shot at.
War seems both a fun summer camp and a serious, solemn, and honorable tradition, as we see photos of elderly veterans, militaristic children, and U.S. flags back Home. Part of the seriousness is the caring and philanthropic work exhibited by photos of soldiers comforting the children they may have just orphaned. We see sacred U.S. troops protecting the people whose land they have been bombing and throwing into turmoil. We see our heroes’ love for their visiting Commander, George W. Bush.
Sometimes war can be awkward or difficult. There’s a bit of regrettable suffering. Occasionally it is tragically intense. But for the most part a rather boring and undignified death about which no one really cares comes to foreigners (outside the United States there are foreigners everywhere ) who are left in the gutter as people walk away.
The war itself, centrally, is a technological wonder bravely brought out of the goodness of our superior hearts to a backward region in which the locals have allowed their very homes to turn to rubble. An empty settlement is illustrated by a photo of a chair in a street. There are water bottles upright on the ground. It looks as though a board meeting just ended.
Still, for all war’s drawbacks, people are mostly happy. They give birth and get married. Troops return home from camp after a good job done. Handsome Marines innocently mingle with civilians. Spouses embrace their camouflaged demigods returned from the struggle. A little American boy, held by his smiling mother, grins gleefully at the grave of his Daddy who died (happily, one must imagine) in Afghanistan.
At least in this selection of powerful images, we do not see people born with gruesome birth defects caused by the poisons of U.S. weapons. We do not see people married at weddings struck by U.S. missiles. We do not see U.S. corpses lying in the gutter. We do not see nonviolent protests of the U.S. occupations. We do not see the torture and death camps. We do not see the trauma of those who live under the bombs. We do not see the terror when the doors are kicked in, the way we would if soldiers — like police — were asked to wear body cameras. We do not see the “MADE IN THE USA” label on the weapons on both sides of a war. We do not see the opportunities for peace that have been studiously avoided. We do not see the U.S. troops participating in their number one cause of death: suicide.
A few of those things may show up now and then in the New York Times, more likely on a page other than the front one. Some of those things you may not want to see with your breakfast cereal. But there can be no question that Shields has captured a portrait of a day in the life of a war propagandist, and that the photographers, editors, and designers involved have done as much to cause the past 14 years of mass dying, suffering, and horror in the Middle East as has any single New York Times reporter or text editor.
Its latest Big Lie headlined “How 4 Federal Lawyers Paved the Way to Kill Osama bin Laden” – failing to explain how killing a dead man is impossible. Resurrection wasn’t one of his skills, or anyone else’s.
The Times claimed “four administration lawyers developed rationales intend(ing) to overcome any legal obstacles” to killing, not capturing, him.
It ignored its own July 11, 2002 account, headlined “The Death of bin Ladenism,” saying:
“Osama bin Laden is dead. The news first came from sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan almost six months ago: the fugitive died in December (2001 of natural causes) and was buried in the mountains of southeast Afghanistan.”
“Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, echoed the information. The remnants of Osama’s gang, however, have mostly stayed silent, either to keep Osama’s ghost alive or because they have no means of communication.”
Prophetically, The Times said “bin Laden’s ghost may linger on – perhaps because Washington and Islamabad will find it useful… But the truth is that Osama bin Laden is dead.”
Ignoring its own earlier reporting is longstanding Times practice. Serving imperial interests take precedence. Its May 1, 2011 report contradicted its July 2002 one, headlining “Bin Laden Is Dead, Obama Says.”
An accurate headline would have debunked his phony claim. No one dies twice. Dead men don’t return for a second time around.
Instead of truth and full disclosure, The Times reported the myth about bin Ladin “killed in a firefight with United States forces in Pakistan…”
Its source: Obama, a notorious serial liar, Times earlier reporting on bin Laden’s death proving his Big Lie.
Instead, it called bin Laden’s “demise…a defining moment in the American-led fight against terrorism, a symbolic stroke affirming the relentlessness of the pursuit of those who attacked New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.”
It perpetuated a second myth: that ill and dying bin Laden from a cave in Afghanistan, or Pakistan hospital where he was being treated, somehow managed to outwit the entire US intelligence establishment on that fateful day – ignoring what really happened, history’s greatest ever false flag, the mother of all Big Lies concealing it.
David Ray Griffin’s book, titled “Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive” is the seminal work about him, presenting “objective evidence and testimonies.”
It explained CIA monitored messages between him and his associates abruptly ceased after December 13, 2001. On December 26, 2001, a leading Pakistani newspaper reported his death, citing a prominent Taliban official attending his funeral – witnessing his dead body before it was laid to rest.
He was terminally ill with kidney disease and other ailments. On September 10, 2001 (one day before 9/11), CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported his admittance to a Rawalpindi, Pakistan hospital. He had nothing to do with 9/11.
In a late September 2001 interview with Pakistan’s Ummat newspaper, he categorically denied involvement in what happened on that fateful day. Fabricated claims otherwise persist – Big Lies suppressing hard truths.
Evidence Griffin presented showed “people in a position to know” said bin Laden died in December 2001 of natural causes – including then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Pakistani ISI intelligence, then US-installed Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and former FBI assistant counterterrorism head Dale Watson.
Griffin explained claims about “bin Laden’s continued existence (weren’t) backed up by evidence.” Perpetuating the myth about him remaining alive until US special forces allegedly killed him in May 2011 remains one of the many Big Lies of our time – The Times featuring it in its October 28 article, ignoring its own earlier confirmed report about his death.
It repeated a story gotten from unnamed US sources, claiming administration lawyers “worked in intense secrecy,” even keeping then Attorney General Eric Holder out of the loop.
Saying “(t)hey did their own research, wrote memos on highly secure laptops and traded drafts hand-delivered by (so-called) trusted couriers.” An unnamed US officials claimed “clear and ample authority for the use of lethal force under US and international law.”
No such authority exists to assassinate anyone extrajudicially for any reason. Doing so is murder. Bin Laden’s ghost was kept alive to pursue America’s war on terror.
So-called Enemy Number One was used to stoke fear to justify the unjustifiable – naked aggression against one country after another, continuing today, nearly 14 years after bin Laden’s real death. Obama did not kill him!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”