Instead of covering the war between Israel and Iran-backed Hamas, the New York Times has turned itself into the newsletter of the Gaza hospital association.
Since the war began with Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, the Times has published, by my count, 19 front-page articles that are either primarily or substantially about the impact of the war on Gaza hospitals. That’s far more front-page articles than the Times has published on other aspects of the war that might be more newsworthy — say, the fate of the approximately 240 hostages, or the nature of Iran’s involvement in training and financing the Hamas terrorists, or plans for the future of Gaza after Israel achieves its goals of dismantling Hamas and recovering the hostages.
Most of the coverage has been of the he said/she said variety. The Times repeats Israeli statements that the hospitals are terrorist headquarters, while also repeating denials by Hamas and hospital officials.
The Nov. 11 edition of the New York Times had a front-page article headlined, “Gaza’s Hospitals Bear the Brunt As Battles Rage.” It reported, “Hamas denies operating within the hospital or under it, as does the hospital director, Mohammad Abu Salmiya.”
The Nov. 12 edition of the Times had a front-page article headlined, “Plight of Gaza’s Main Hospital Worsens as Israeli Forces Close In.” It reported, “The Israeli military has accused Hamas of operating an underground command center below Al-Shifa, using it as a shield. The hospital’s administration and Hamas have denied that.”
This is boilerplate that just gets copied and pasted into each day’s new front-page Times article on the same topic.
On Nov. 14: “Hospital Shakes In Gaza as Fights Rage at Doorstep.” The article reported, “Israeli officials say Hamas uses hospitals in Gaza, including Al-Shifa, as shields to conceal vast complexes for their fighters in tunnels underneath. Hamas has denied the allegations.”
On Nov. 15: “Israeli Military Reports Assault at Gaza Hospital.” The article reported, “Israel asserts that Hamas has dug a network of tunnels beneath Gaza’s hospitals, using the patients and workers inside them as human shields for its command centers and safe houses. Hamas and hospital officials have denied the accusations.”
The Times international editor and associate managing editor, Phil Pan, who hadn’t had a byline in the newspaper since 2018, went to Gaza City himself to check into Al Shifa hospital and report under his own byline that his visit “will not settle the question of whether Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that rules Gaza, has been using Al-Shifa Hospital to hide weapons and command centers.”
I don’t know what Pan expected he’d find there. A sign behind the main information desk with colorful arrows? “Cardiology, third floor. Cafeteria, second floor. Hamas Terrorist Headquarters, basement.”
Even before this war, there was ample evidence that Hamas was using Gaza hospitals as bases. And the Times has already published one editors’ note conceding that the newspaper “should have taken more care” with coverage of an explosion by an errant Palestinian rocket at a parking lot near one Gaza hospital. David Collier reported that one of the doctors frequently quoted in the Times denying Hamas’ presence at the hospital has a history of social media posts celebrating terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.
A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, notes that evidence has mounted. The IDF says it found that one of the hostages, 19-year-old Noa Marciano, had been murdered by Hamas terrorists inside the Shifa hospital. It published video of armed terrorists hustling Nepalese and Thai civilian hostages into the hospital. It found a terrorist tunnel with a blast-proof door and a firing hole. It found a booby-trapped vehicle full of weapons. It found Hamas weapons and uniforms hidden inside the hospital’s MRI area, where security cameras had been covered up.
“It’s increasingly clear that our assertion that Hamas uses hospitals as civilians shields — not just Shifa — is true,” Hecht writes. He says that translates into a journalistic point: “Same-sideness doesn’t always work. Israel is a liberal democracy. Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization. Giving equal weight to claims from both sides — one with a functional check and balance systems and another that knowingly butchers children in a surprise attack — is just plain wrong.”
Why is the Times focusing so obsessively about the Gaza hospitals rather than on other newsworthy stories in Gaza and in Israel, or, for that matter, in Lebanon, Iran, and China? A hint comes in a dispatch by the newspaper’s Jerusalem bureau chief, the error-prone Patrick Kingsley, who acknowledged, “Hamas restricts journalists in Gaza.”
Talk about burying the lede. What would be useful from the Times is more transparency about precisely how Hamas has been restricting journalists in Gaza. Does Hamas threaten the journalists with violence? Does Hamas tell the journalists that they should write about the hospitals and not about other topics? Does it order the journalists to report the doctors’ denials of Hamas activity even though everyone knows those denials are bogus?
The disclaimer that “Hamas restricts journalists in Gaza” is worth remembering as a cautionary label on everything the Times reports about the place.
The Times may eventually retreat from the Gaza topic and move on to other classical anti-Israel themes such as depicting the Jews as killers of innocent children. Before the Gaza hospital association newsletter drops the subject, though, would it be too much to ask for these intrepid Times journalists to go back to the Gazan doctors and ask: When they said there were no Hamasniks in the hospital, were they intentionally lying to the press? And when the journalists repeated the denial, did they, too, know it was a lie? Times editors may prefer to describe the situation as an unsettled question, but at a certain point readers may begin to wonder why the Times journalists have been so skeptical of Israel’s claims and so solicitous of Hamas’ denials.
Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.
Treasure Trove: How some sheet music in the Theresienstadt Ghetto became a symbol of hope
In 1941, the Nazis established the Theresienstadt Ghetto outside Prague. By the war’s end, 33,000 people died there and another 88,000 stayed there for months or years before being deported to extermination camps. Despite the tremendous overcrowding and very difficult conditions, the prisoners in Theresienstadt maintained a rich cultural life with lectures and performances. The […]
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Protester Sets Self on Fire Outside Israeli Consulate in Atlanta
i24 News – A protester was in critical condition on Friday after setting themself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. authorities said. A security guard who tried to intervene was also wounded.
A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said at a news conference. He added that investigators did not believe there was any connection to terrorism and none of the consular staff was ever in danger.
JUST IN: A pro-Palestine protester is in critical condition after they set themselves on fire in “political protest” outside of the Israeli Consulate office in Atlanta.
The protester was reportedly draped in a Palestine flag.
The protester has severe burns and unfortunately, a… pic.twitter.com/B8nUQAj2nU
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) December 1, 2023
“We do not see any threat here,” he said. “We believe it was an act of extreme political protest that occurred.” Everyone inside the consulate building was said to be safe.
Anat Sultan-Dadon, Consul General of Israel to the southeastern U.S., said: “We are saddened to learn of the self-immolation at the entrance to the office building. It is tragic to see the hate and incitement toward Israel expressed in such a horrific way.”
“The sanctity of life is our highest value. Our prayers are with the security officer who was injured while trying to prevent this tragic act. We are grateful to the city of Atlanta’s law enforcement and first responders for all they do to ensure safety.”
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Released Israeli Hostages Call for Captives to Be Freed
Israeli hostages released in the past week by Hamas in Gaza called on Saturday for the immediate release of fellow captives left behind, a day after a temporary truce that had allowed scores to come home broke down.
Tens of thousands gathered at a rally in Tel Aviv outside Israel‘s defense headquarters, where they cheered Yelena Trupanov, 50, standing on a stage just two days after being freed.
“I came to thank you because without you I wouldn’t be here. Now we must bring back my (son) Sasha, and everyone. Now.”
Similar pleas from other released hostages were shown on video.
A seven-day truce, during which Hamas had released more than 100 hostages, collapsed on Friday after Hamas breached the ceasefire.
Israel said on Saturday it had recalled a Mossad intelligence agency team from Qatar, host of indirect negotiations with Hamas, accusing the Palestinian faction of reneging on a deal that would have freed all children and women held hostage.
More than 240 people – Israelis and foreign nationals – were abducted to Gaza on Oct 7. by Hamas terrorists who burst through the border with Israel and killed 1,200 people.
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