False Moral Equivalence at The TimesAugust 5, 2002 12:00 by ManagingTeam
Just when we thought the world was starting to understand the difference between Palestinian attacks against civilians, and Israeli attacks against terrorists, reporters and cartoonists have taken a step backward — lumping the unintentional collateral damage in Israel’s assassination of Hamas terrorist Salah Shehade, together with the Palestinian’s intentional bombing of a falafel stand, university, and public bus.
John Kifner of The New York Times reports how five of the seven victims of the Hebrew University bombing were Americans, and quotes Hamas spokesman Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi as saying that, “We are so sorry for that, because, you know that the fighters will not check the identity card of those in the field.”
But then Kifner pulls a punch of his own:
“There was an eerie parallel between Dr. Rantisi’s reaction to the American deaths and the response of Maj. Gen. Dan Harel [the Israeli Head of Operations Directorate] to the Gaza City bombing that killed Sheik Shehada and the others. General Harel had said, ‘Unfortunately, along with him died several civilians, apparently innocent, and we are very sorry for it.’”
Read this carefully. By showing both sides’ regret at the “unintended” targets, The Times implies a warped equation between the “intended” targets of both attacks: Master terrorist Salah Shehadeh is equated with Israeli college students.
Kifner’s comparison is fundamentally flawed in another way: While thousands of Palestinians in Gaza celebrated the killing of Hebrew U students, in Israel, there was soul-searching and regret following the deaths of civilians in the Shehadeh strike.
On a more basic level, HonestReporting member Ariel B. questions The Times’ decision to give Rantisi a platform for expressing this dubious “regret.” Doesn’t Hamas gather extensive intelligence before every operation, telling it that one of the largest contingents of Hebrew U summer school students are American? And what about the frequent Hamas demonstrations that feature the burning of American flags?
Interestingly, USA Today reported Rantisi’s “regret” in much less sympathetic terms:
“An official of Hamas told the Associated Press that it didn’t matter that most victims were Americans. ‘We are fighting on our occupied land,’ said Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and the United States should ‘advise its citizens not to go to areas of war.’”
Read Kifner’s report at:
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In another breach of journalistic ethics, The Times has been caught altering the words of news sources. On August 3, James Bennet of The Times (“Israelis Clamp Down on Nablus, Hunting Suspects”) reports that Israeli officials have labeled Nablus as “the center of Palestinian militancy in the West Bank.”
Did the Israeli official really call it Palestinian “MILITANCY”?
The Jerusalem Post covered the same story (“Israeli tanks move into Nablus”) and reported that: “IDF Spokesman was quoted by Item news agency as saying Nablus is a hotbed of Hamas and Fatah TERRORIST activity.”
Ha’aretz as well (“IDF enters Nablus to hit Hamas”) reported that: “Nablus has become the capital of TERROR, Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said Friday.”
See the doctored New York Times article at:
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And yet a third problematic New York Times article this week was James Bennet’s “U.S.-Mideast Connection: The News Becomes Less Foreign” in which he examines a variety of U.S.-Israel cultural and sociological connections, including the fact that 90,000 American citizens live in Israel.
Bennet then apparently tries to subtly undermine U.S. foreign aid to Israel, by weaving in various references to American weaponry:
“In Nablus, in the West Bank, where Israeli forces brandishing American-made M-16 rifles spent another day today hunting for explosive laboratories and suspects in the casbah…”
“Hamas said its attack on the campus was in retaliation for an Israeli air raid on Gaza City last week… Israel used an American-made F-16 warplane for that attack.”
Read Bennet’s article at:
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===== CARTOONISTS =====
This week, a group of political cartoonists took their own shot at false moral equivalence, equating Israeli preventive actions with Palestinian terror.
Here are 3 particularly offensive examples:
Steve Benson of the Arizona Republic
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Tony Auth of The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Stuart Carlson of the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal
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===== OUT-OF-CONTEXT AWARD =====
HR member Joseph P. spotted an online article, “Israeli Tanks Move Into Nablus,” which is accompanied by an uncaptioned photo, apparently of the funeral of a young Palestinian child. The highly emotive photo is completely unrelated to the article, yet the implication is that this child was killed in the Israeli action.