Israeli Blood Counts for less than Palestinian Blood at NYT

The New York Times runs a lengthy article about UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon’s visit to Gaza and to Israeli sites that were caught up in this summer’s war between Hamas and Israel (“U.N. Chief Offers Stark View of Gaza Devastation” page A6).

The authors, Isabel Kershner and Fares Akram, devote almost their entire 21-paragraph piece to the plight of Gazans and the devastation of the enclave, plus international efforts to reconstruct Gaza. While Ban predictably shows more interest in Gazan miseries, he still took a bit of time to inspect the impact of the war on Israeli towns along the Gaza border.

“Back in Israel, Mr. Ban visited Nirim, an Israeli community just across the border from Gaza where two residents were killed by Palestinian mortar fire in the final hours of the war,” Kershner and Akram write. “He met the grandparents of a 4-year-old Israeli boy who was killed in another mortar attack on a nearby community and was taken by Israeli army officers into one of the tunnels built by Hamas to infiltrate Israeli territory.

“That was meant as a poignant reminder of Israel’s security concerns and its fears that Hamas, the Islamic militant group that dominates the Palestinian enclave, would try to divert funds and materials meant for reconstruction to replenish its rocket stocks and rebuild the destroyed tunnels.”

All true, except for one thing.  While Kershner and Akram use 19 of their 21 paragraphs to spotlight Palestinian reconstruction needs, they squeeze Israel’s hurts into a mere two paragraphs at the very end of their article -- in paragraphs 20 and 21.

Question:  How many readers plowed to the very end of the article and how many more never got that far?  Readers’ times are limited.  That’s why journalists place important stuff at the top of their articles and less important stuff farther down or at the very end.

At the Times, what’s evidently more important is spotlighting Palestinian plight, such as a mention in the second paragraph that Ban visited “a United Nations school that was shelled during the fighting.” That’s allotted a far more urgent priority than three Israelis killed during the Gaza war. Recognition of their misfortune is tucked away far, farther down in Paragraph 20.

For Kershner and Akram, concern about the lot of Palestinians thus happens to merit much higher priority than the blood of a 4-year-old Israeli boy. Or to put it another way, Israel can expect only back-of-the-bus treatment from the New York Times.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers