'Gaza through fresh eyes?'

The Sunday, June 13, edition of the New York Times devotes almost an entire page to half a dozen color pictures of life in Gaza, taken by freelance photographer Katie Oblinsky, with narrative by Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner ("Gaza, Through Fresh Eyes," page 3, "Week In Review" section).

The pictures, supposedly a visual compendium of "everyday life in Gaza," include a view of the main port with a close-up of returning fishermen, a couple of young men sifting rhough stones to be crushed for concrete, a little girl working on a potato farm near the Israeli border, a Gaza family spending a Saturday afternoon at the beach, a teenager living in a tent because Israel destroyed the family home, and shoppers strolling through a wealthy Gaza City neighborhood.


Bronner's accompanying narrative is of the same stripe -- only more sympathetic to deprivations caused by the Israeli-Egyptian blockade. He sees "relative modernity...the staggering quality of the very ordinary," but also, "when life cuts off your options," people scrounging for building materials in the rubble of destroyed buildings."


And Bronner waxes downright elegiac about a Gaza scientist "with no functioning laboratory, who sitll puts on a white coat for work" and a close-up of a Gaza fisherman -- "barred by the Israeli Navy from going out far enough in your own waters to catch much, you still get in the boat and get fish -- but these days you buy it from your Egyptian neighbors at sea and haul it home for sale."


Well, Times readers get the picture -- or pictures in this instance. If there are deprivations in Gaza, it's all because Israel caused widespread destruction in its anti-Hamas offensive early last year and because of the ongoing Israeli-Egyptian blockade. It's the familiar NY Times depiction of Gazans as victims of their neighbors.


Neither the pictures nor the Bronner text focuses on Hamas rule that turned Gaza into a launch pad for thousands of rocket firings at civilian targets in Israel in recent years. Orlinsky's camera somehow misses Gaza metal worshops fabricating Qassam rockets, Hamas "militants" training young boys to become terrorists, or Hamas men in uniform goosestepping through Gaza City vowing to destroy Israel.


It's all human sweetness and sadness -- with Hamas's belligerent ways completely absent from these beautiful, heart-tugging pictures and Bronner's jeremiad.


Nor is there any indication that Bronner or Orlinsky sought to interview and photograph Israeli Sgt. Gilad Shalit, kidnapped and held hostage in Gaza by Hamas for the last four years, with the Red Cross barred from visiting him. If they'd asked Hamas to see Shalit, they probably would have been refused. But did they even try? Or barring access to Shalit, why not just one small picture and a single sentence about Shalt's grieving pictures. Their plight, after all, also is reflective of "everyday life in Gaza" today.


A picture, it's said, is worth a thousand words? Not these pictures. And not those words.


LEO RENNERT

The Sunday, June 13, edition of the New York Times devotes almost an entire page to half a dozen color pictures of life in Gaza, taken by freelance photographer Katie Oblinsky, with narrative by Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner ("Gaza, Through Fresh Eyes," page 3, "Week In Review" section).

The pictures, supposedly a visual compendium of "everyday life in Gaza," include a view of the main port with a close-up of returning fishermen, a couple of young men sifting rhough stones to be crushed for concrete, a little girl working on a potato farm near the Israeli border, a Gaza family spending a Saturday afternoon at the beach, a teenager living in a tent because Israel destroyed the family home, and shoppers strolling through a wealthy Gaza City neighborhood.


Bronner's accompanying narrative is of the same stripe -- only more sympathetic to deprivations caused by the Israeli-Egyptian blockade. He sees "relative modernity...the staggering quality of the very ordinary," but also, "when life cuts off your options," people scrounging for building materials in the rubble of destroyed buildings."


And Bronner waxes downright elegiac about a Gaza scientist "with no functioning laboratory, who sitll puts on a white coat for work" and a close-up of a Gaza fisherman -- "barred by the Israeli Navy from going out far enough in your own waters to catch much, you still get in the boat and get fish -- but these days you buy it from your Egyptian neighbors at sea and haul it home for sale."


Well, Times readers get the picture -- or pictures in this instance. If there are deprivations in Gaza, it's all because Israel caused widespread destruction in its anti-Hamas offensive early last year and because of the ongoing Israeli-Egyptian blockade. It's the familiar NY Times depiction of Gazans as victims of their neighbors.


Neither the pictures nor the Bronner text focuses on Hamas rule that turned Gaza into a launch pad for thousands of rocket firings at civilian targets in Israel in recent years. Orlinsky's camera somehow misses Gaza metal worshops fabricating Qassam rockets, Hamas "militants" training young boys to become terrorists, or Hamas men in uniform goosestepping through Gaza City vowing to destroy Israel.


It's all human sweetness and sadness -- with Hamas's belligerent ways completely absent from these beautiful, heart-tugging pictures and Bronner's jeremiad.


Nor is there any indication that Bronner or Orlinsky sought to interview and photograph Israeli Sgt. Gilad Shalit, kidnapped and held hostage in Gaza by Hamas for the last four years, with the Red Cross barred from visiting him. If they'd asked Hamas to see Shalit, they probably would have been refused. But did they even try? Or barring access to Shalit, why not just one small picture and a single sentence about Shalt's grieving pictures. Their plight, after all, also is reflective of "everyday life in Gaza" today.


A picture, it's said, is worth a thousand words? Not these pictures. And not those words.


LEO RENNERT

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