NY Times soft-pedals rocket barrages from Gaza on civilian targets in Israel
Judging from New York Times coverage of the sharp escalation of rocket attacks on Israel by Gaza terrorists, it really wasn't a big deal at all -- and besides Hamas has accepted an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire that was bound to end the onslaught ("Hamas Military Wing Accepts a Cease-Fire - Deal Ends 3 Days of Violence With Israel" by Isabel Kershner, June 21, page 11).
Reality is starkly different from Kershner's roseate account. For one thing, the headline is flat wrong -- the so-called cease-fire didn't end. Gaza terrorists kept firing rockets.
Kershner, in her dispatch, bends over backwards to depict the incessant rocket barrages -- well over 100 -- as benign and inconsequential as possible.
Here's how she puts it:
"The confrontation remained relatively contained, with the Gaza groups firing mostly short-range rockets that did not reach southern Israel's major cities."
This sentence tells worlds about Kershner's determination to sanitize the terror war unleashed from Gaza. For one thing, why the benchmark that rocket fire from Gaza is OK as long as it spares major cities? What about smaller Israel towns and communities hit by rocket fire? Don't their residents matter?
But even by Kershner's dubious criterion that only attacks on major cities matter, she's wrong again. Rocket fire hit the Be'er Sheva and Ashkelon areas. The attack on Be'er Sheva, the largest city in the Negev, came as kids were going to school. Numerous residents showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Kershner overlooks all that.
Nor does she report that the mayor of Ashkelon, another big southern Israeli city, at the behest of fearful parents, on Wednesday when Kershner was writing her piece, ordered schools closed the next day. Several rockets took aim at the Ashkelon area. Since Monday, four Israeli border patrol officers were injured by rocket fire.
Nor is there any mention by Kershner that Israel's Home Front Command on Wednesday ordered all non-reinforced schools within seven kilometers of Gaza to close the next day. Public gatherings of 500 or more people have been banned. The human impact from rocket fire goes totally missing in Kershner's report.
Her predicate for covering Palestinian terror attacks is to dismiss Israeli psychological casualties -- lingering post-traumatic stress symptoms, especially among the young -- and even physical injuries. Israelis have to be killed before Kershner deigns paying any attention -- and then as little as possible.
At the same time, Kershner's coverage sets impossibly high standards for Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist attacks. Never mind that the IDF goes to great lengths to minimize collateral casualties, implicit in her writing is that even a single Palestinian civilian casualty puts Israel in the wrong.
Accordingly in writing about Israel's military response to the rocket attacks, she first lists a Gaza teenager killed by an Israeli airstrike. Never mind that a half dozen or more Palestinian terrorists also were killed. That fact rates minimal attention -- "at least seven other Palestinians were killed in the three days of fighting, most of them said to be militants."
"Said to be militants" -- a neat, absolving euphemism for terrorists bent on killing civilians.
In sum, Kershner is quick to critique Israeli counter-strikes against rocket-firing terrorists, but at the same time sanitizes these terrorists as merely "militants" belonging to the "military wing of Hamas."
Such is her moral compass.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers