NYT Flunks Gaza History Course

If you pick up the Aug. 23 edition of the New York Times, you will find on the front page of the foreign-news section a huge color photograph of a devastated Gaza neighborhood atop a lengthy article by correspondents Jodi Rudoren and Majd al Waheidi about last year’s Gaza war and its aftermath.

Start with the caption under the devastation photo, which reads: “Shejalya, a neighborhood of Gaza City, was devastated by Israeli attacks during the conflict last year between Israel and Palestinian militants, and the destroyed home are still uninhabitable.”

Now look at the top headline: “Gaza Is Still in Ruins One Year After War” -- with a subhead that reads “Political Infighting and Lack of Funds Stymie a Reconstruction Mechanism.”

The article runs for 29 paragraphs and spills over to another page with a couple more headlines: “One Year After a 50-Day War, The Gaza Strip is Still in Ruins” and “International donors, fearing new violence, haven’t met pledges.”

The article focuses on the human toll -- with Israel as a chief culprit. A homeowner is trying to rebuild his house -- “one of hundreds flattened by Israeli attacks.”

There’s also a big-picture view across the Gaza Strip where “not a single one of the nearly 18,000 homes destroyed or severely damaged in Gaza is habitable.”

As to why this is so, Rudoren and Waheidi report that rebuilding has been slowed “by Palestinian political infighting, Israel’s involvement in approving projects and participants, and a lack of funds.”

There may be some controversy about how much each of these factors is responsible for Gaza’s continued misery. But with the huge play given to the Rudoren-Waheidi report, there nevertheless still remains a huge causality gap.

What, pray tell, caused last year’s Gaza War?  On that point, total silence.

Readers are not told that 13,000 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel during the last decade by the likes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In fact, more than 100 rockets were launched from Gaza into southern Israel in the 24 hours before the start of the 2014 Gaza War. The traumas caused by these rocket attacks on Israelis, especially children, is incalculable, but not to be found in the Times.

Rudoren and Waheidi are so determined to shield Palestinian terror groups from culpability that they erase thousands of rockets fired by these groups against Israel.

Hamas was fully in charge when last year’s Gaza War erupted. Why then not ask Hamas if it could have prevented the war by halting rocket attacks against Israel from Gaza?

Would the New York Times, one wonders, run a piece about World War II without mentioning Pearl Harbor?  Or without mentioning the German attack on Poland?

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

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