NYT ignores essential facts

Leo Rennert
In its June 21 edition, the New York Times runs a lengthy, 25-paragraph, front-page article by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner about Israel's decision to ease  its land blockade of Gaza, which fails to present a full, fair and accurate picture ("In Concession, Israel Relaxes Gaza Blockade -- Praise By White House -- Restrictions Are Eased on Land shipments; Sea Limits Stay").

For starters, Kershner writes in her lead paragraph that Israel's decision "could significantly expand the flow of goods overland into the impoverished coastal Palestinian enclave, isolated by Israel for three years."

Gaza, of course, has not only been isolated by Israel during this period.  Egypt also has joined in the Gaza blockade.  Since Gaza borders both Israel and Egypt, the land blockade would be meaningless if Egypt didn't partner with Israel in isolating Gaza and closing its crossing at Rafah.

Kershner seems to be aware of this -- but only near the very end of her lengthy article.  In the 23rd paragraph, she finally gets it right when she reports that "a strict Israeli embargo has been in place, with Egypt's help, since Hamas took full control of Gaza in 2007."

Why hide Egypt's partnership in the land blockade for the first 22 paragraphs?  Why the need to correct in the 23rd paragraph an inaccuracy in the lead paragraph?

Kershner's article, including the headline, emphasize praise from the White House at Israel's easing of the blockade; Kershner calls it "unusual praise for the Obama administration."  But there is next to nothing in her article about the White House announcement that President Obama isn't done pressuring Israel to make one-sided concessions.  The White House statement emphasizes the need for Israel to implement "additional ways to improve the situation in Gaza, including freedom of movement between Gaza and the West Bank."  That would be a huge additional Israeli concession and one that could greatly jeopardize its security interest to prevent Hamas from exporting terrorism to the West Bank.  The White House is quite blunt in its insistence that it's not through with twisting Prime Minister Netanyahu's arms to come up with more unilateral concessions.  Or as the White House statement puts it:  "There is more to be done."

At the same time, the White House statement makes no mention of any Obama demands on either the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas or the Hamas rulers of Gaza to reciprocate Israeli concessions.

The administration's clear emphasis on its unfinished pressure campaign on Israel is a major omission from Kershner's article.

Referring to the May 31 deadly Israeli commando raid on a Turkish ship trying to run the naval blockade of Gaza, Kershner writes that nine Turks were killed "when violent clashes broke out."   The clashes didn't just break out.  There has been more than ample evidence that it was a group of violence-bent passengers who started the clashes by using iron rods to beat and bloody Israeli commandos as they clambered down from an overhead helicopter.

Finally, in the last paragraph, Kershner writes that Israel's land embargo "hampered reconstruction after Israel's three-week military campaign in Gaza that ended in January 2009."

Not a word about preceding events that triggered Israel's three-week campaign, like the firing of some 10,000 rockets from Gaza by Hamas and other terrorist groups at civilian populations in southern Israel during the last decade.  For Kershner, the recent history of Israel's blockade -- and its impact -- begins with Israel's counter-terrorism offensive, not with the decade-long terrorization of Sderot and other Israeli communities near the Gaza border by unrelenting rocket barrages fired from Gaza.
In its June 21 edition, the New York Times runs a lengthy, 25-paragraph, front-page article by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner about Israel's decision to ease  its land blockade of Gaza, which fails to present a full, fair and accurate picture ("In Concession, Israel Relaxes Gaza Blockade -- Praise By White House -- Restrictions Are Eased on Land shipments; Sea Limits Stay").

For starters, Kershner writes in her lead paragraph that Israel's decision "could significantly expand the flow of goods overland into the impoverished coastal Palestinian enclave, isolated by Israel for three years."

Gaza, of course, has not only been isolated by Israel during this period.  Egypt also has joined in the Gaza blockade.  Since Gaza borders both Israel and Egypt, the land blockade would be meaningless if Egypt didn't partner with Israel in isolating Gaza and closing its crossing at Rafah.

Kershner seems to be aware of this -- but only near the very end of her lengthy article.  In the 23rd paragraph, she finally gets it right when she reports that "a strict Israeli embargo has been in place, with Egypt's help, since Hamas took full control of Gaza in 2007."

Why hide Egypt's partnership in the land blockade for the first 22 paragraphs?  Why the need to correct in the 23rd paragraph an inaccuracy in the lead paragraph?

Kershner's article, including the headline, emphasize praise from the White House at Israel's easing of the blockade; Kershner calls it "unusual praise for the Obama administration."  But there is next to nothing in her article about the White House announcement that President Obama isn't done pressuring Israel to make one-sided concessions.  The White House statement emphasizes the need for Israel to implement "additional ways to improve the situation in Gaza, including freedom of movement between Gaza and the West Bank."  That would be a huge additional Israeli concession and one that could greatly jeopardize its security interest to prevent Hamas from exporting terrorism to the West Bank.  The White House is quite blunt in its insistence that it's not through with twisting Prime Minister Netanyahu's arms to come up with more unilateral concessions.  Or as the White House statement puts it:  "There is more to be done."

At the same time, the White House statement makes no mention of any Obama demands on either the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas or the Hamas rulers of Gaza to reciprocate Israeli concessions.

The administration's clear emphasis on its unfinished pressure campaign on Israel is a major omission from Kershner's article.

Referring to the May 31 deadly Israeli commando raid on a Turkish ship trying to run the naval blockade of Gaza, Kershner writes that nine Turks were killed "when violent clashes broke out."   The clashes didn't just break out.  There has been more than ample evidence that it was a group of violence-bent passengers who started the clashes by using iron rods to beat and bloody Israeli commandos as they clambered down from an overhead helicopter.

Finally, in the last paragraph, Kershner writes that Israel's land embargo "hampered reconstruction after Israel's three-week military campaign in Gaza that ended in January 2009."

Not a word about preceding events that triggered Israel's three-week campaign, like the firing of some 10,000 rockets from Gaza by Hamas and other terrorist groups at civilian populations in southern Israel during the last decade.  For Kershner, the recent history of Israel's blockade -- and its impact -- begins with Israel's counter-terrorism offensive, not with the decade-long terrorization of Sderot and other Israeli communities near the Gaza border by unrelenting rocket barrages fired from Gaza.