Washington Post weeps for Gaza's children but blames only Israel
Life for Gaza's children under Hamas rule has been fairly miserable. Responding to years of Palestinian rocket bombardments, Israel blockaded the territory and launched counter-terrorism operations with only partial success in order to eliminate the threat. With Palestinian terrorists deeply embedded in civilian neighborhoods and using them as rocket launching pads, some Palestinian children are bound to grow up with scars - both physical and psychological - from Israeli counter-strikes.
On the other side of the Gaza border, life is not a bed of roses, either, for hundreds of thousands of Israeli children within rocket range from Gaza. When sirens give the alert for incoming rockets, they have only seconds to dash into public shelters or "safe rooms" in their homes. Their scars - psychological and otherwise - are just as deep and lasting as those of Gaza kids.
But that's not the way the Washington Post sees it. In a lengthy article about the suffering of children in that part of the world, Post correspondent Abigail Haulohner focuses exclusively on the pain endured by Gaza's children, while totally ignoring that their predicament is due entirely to rocket barrages fired at Israel from their neighborhoods ("In Gaza, a childhood shadowed by conflict - For those growing up under Israel's isolation strategy, military strikes are routine - as is distrust of their neighbors" page A10).
Hauslohner develops her blame-only-Israel theme through the experience of Fatima, who was eight years old "during the 2008 Israeli invasion" when she witnessed her younger brother's "smashed and bloodied body, his pink brain spilling from his skull, her father screaming through his tears." And to this day, Fatima has recurring nightmares and needs medications to deal with listlessness and spontaneous aggression.
Most recently, Hauslohner reports, Fatima had to quickly find shelter in a stairwell "when Israeli airstrikes rattled the buildings for a week during the Jewish state's latest confrontation with Hamas." No mention that rocket bombardments from Gaza prompted this "latest confrontation."
On a broader historical scale, Hauslohner is just as biased against Israel and forgiving of Palestinian terrorism. "The cramped territory has operated under an Israeli-enforced blockade that has strictly limited the flow of goods and people since the militant group Hamas won an election here in 2006," she writes. No mention that Israel withdrew completely from Gaza in 2005 or that Hamas took over the reins in 2007 not because it had won an election in 2006 but because it emerged victorious from a bloody civil war against Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement. Hauslohner also sanitizes Hamas by refusing to call it by its real name - a terrorist outfit. "Militant" doesn't begin to do it justice.
Interestingly, the word "rocket" is mentioned just once when Hauslohner writes that any recent gains against the Israeli blockade "came as the result of improved rocket power." No mention, however, that Gaza's terror groups used this improved rocket power to actually fire rockets against Israelis, including Israeli children. The firing of rockets from Gaza remains expunged from Hauslohner's Gaza history.
Also, when it comes to the suffering of children, only Gaza kids predominate in the article. "The experience of repeated conflict with an increasingly foreign enemy has left Gaza's youths on edge, health professionals say," she writes. "Anxiety, excessive worrying, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are rampant among Gaza's young people."
The fact that similar scars and symptoms also afflict Israeli youths on the other side of the border doesn't count. It is totally ignored by Hauslohner and the Washington Post.
In reading this article, Israelis might take a leaf from Shakespeare and ask Hauslohner: "If you prick us, do we not bleed?" The answer, as far as Hauslohner is concerned, is a definite "No."
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers