Nov 15, 2012

Setting the Israeli Narrative Around Gaza: How @NYTimes Fails Its Readers

Israel routinely claims that its attacks in Gaza are responses to projectile fire. This is easy to believe when audiences have been primed and conditioned by mainstream media outlets to believe it.

Here are just a couple examples of how it works. Readers of this blog know I like to pick on The New York Times, nothing personal, honest, but when a paper plays such an important role in setting narratives in the mainstream American discourse increased attention comes with the territory.

A recent "flare up" prior to the one that is occurring now took place in early October. This was triggered by the extrajudicial assassination of Palestinians in Gaza through an airstrike that killing at least one person and wounding ten others. That event happened on Sunday 7 October. The New York Times, however, did not publish an article about this Israeli strike on 7 October. Rather, on  8 October, it published an article with the following headline and lede:

Israel is presented as on the defensive. Very little information is devoted to the strike which provoked the projectile fire, an issue which in this article is clearly presented as secondary.

Here is another example. The "flare up" taking place now started after a 12 year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed after Israel forces entered the strip on Thursday, 8 November. To their credit, The New York Times did cover this event with this paragraph long "brief" that appeared in print on 9 November 2012, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline "Gaza: Boy Killed as Militants Clash With Israeli Force."

Here, however, is how the Times covered the reaction to the killing of the boy on the following day.

In the lede, the Palestinians are presented as the aggressor, provoking the Israelis who are "responding." The fact that the boy was killed is mentioned in the last sentence of the second to last paragraph with no mention that it occurred after Israeli soldiers entered Gaza.
Palestinian deaths in Gaza are non-events in American mainstream media. Until Israeli violations and unprovoked strikes that kill Palestinians and trigger rocket fire are covered, the slanted narrative that the Israeli state promotes will be comfortable in the American discourse. Thankfully, the internet is here to expose these realities in ways that didn't exist in the past. It would behoove The New York Times and others to take notice. 

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