Wednesday, May 31, 2023

  • Wednesday, May 31, 2023
  • Elder of Ziyon

Raja Abdulrahim has become an expert on how to write slanderous, one-sided articles about Israel while carefully adhering to the journalistic standards that supposedly ensure "fairness" of the New York Times.

As the Khoswan family slept, the Israeli military dropped three GBU-39 bombs into their sixth-floor apartment. One of the bombs exploded just outside the parents’ bedroom, leaving the apartment looking as if a tornado had swept through, killing three family members.

But they were not the stated target of the attack earlier this month.

The Israeli military had dropped the bombs into their home to assassinate a commander of the Palestinian armed group Islamic Jihad who lived in the apartment below.

Jamal Khoswan, a dentist, Mirvat Khoswan, a pharmacist, and their son, a 19-year-old dental student, were killed in the strike as well as the Islamic Jihad commander who lived downstairs, Tareq Izzeldeen, and two of his children, a girl, 11, and a boy, 9.

“Commanders have been targeted before,” Menna Khoswan, 16, said this month at a memorial service for her father at the hospital where he served as chairman of the board. “But to target the commander and those around him, honestly this is something we didn’t expect.”

Israel says that it conducts “precision strikes” aimed at taking out armed groups’ commanders or operation sites, and that it does not target civilians. But the airstrikes are often conducted in heavily populated areas, and many Palestinians in Gaza say they amount to a collective punishment aimed at making them fearful about who their neighbors might be.

Israel also destroys entire residential buildings or towers if it believes an armed group has an office or apartment there, although it usually issues an evacuation warning beforehand.

Six senior leaders of the armed group that Israel said had been responsible for rocket attacks on Israel were killed before a cease-fire was reached on May 13. The Israeli military said that Islamic Jihad had launched nearly 1,500 rockets indiscriminately toward Israel over the course of several days. Two people were killed in Israel, including an Israeli woman and a Palestinian worker from Gaza.

Members of the Khoswan family say they knew that an Islamic Jihad commander lived in the apartment below them and worried that he could be the target of an Israeli strike. Israel has designated Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization — as have countries including the United States and Japan — and has regularly targeted its leaders and fighters.

Yet the Khoswans never thought their apartment would be hit while they were inside, Menna said, describing the shock of being awakened by the explosions ripping through her home.
There is nothing inaccurate here in this in-depth article. There are no lies in the text itself. 

But the bias and innuendo is stark to the point of slander.

The suffering Palestinian families are given paragraph after paragraph of detailed sympathy, while the victims in Israel are nameless statistics.

The article includes ten photographs of damage in Gaza and grieving victims. When was the last time you saw any newspaper article show ten photographs? Those photos give the impression of widespread damage in Gaza, when in fact the amount of damage was very limited - and far, far less than other wars. 

It says that there were 9-12 civilians killed - but doesn't mention that they were killed in the course of targeting and killing over 20 terrorists. This makes the ratio of innocent victims killed one of the lowest in the history of airstrikes. 

The article pretends to be even-handed by quoting Israeli responses - usually adding a "but" to dismiss what they say.

Abdulrahim generously uses quotes from families of victims that contain bald-faced lies - but the New York Times is not obligated to factcheck a quote or an opinion. For example:
“What kind of precision is this when you kill civilians?” said Asmahan Adas, referring to a strike on the home of her next-door neighbor, Khalil al-Bahtini, another Islamic Jihad commander, that also killed her two teenage daughters. “When Israel wants to kill someone, they can find many different ways to kill, but they want others to die along with their target.”
Or the subhead: "Palestinians in Gaza say that Israel’s strikes against Islamic Jihad amount to a collective punishment aimed at making them fearful about who their neighbors might be."

Abdulrahim even quotes an Islamic Jihad terrorist whose lies are clear - but doesn't call them out:
Khaled al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza, said his group’s members lived in their own communities in the tiny enclave that is home to more than 2.3 million people.

“Where should we go? Should we flee Palestine? Can we go set up a military base in Colorado?” he said. “They target the civilians so they can pit people against us.”
Given that Israel killed Islamic Jihad leaders who lived in apartments next to civilians, obviously al-Batch is lying. And he is just a obviously lying saying that Israel chooses to murder innocent people. But the article doesn't call out these lies, and lets a terrorist speak without any opposition.  Unlike quoting Israeli sources, there is no "but" here.

That is the message that the New York Times is spreading with this article, that Israel could have avoided civilian deaths and chose to murder innocent people anyway. It is slanderous. But the article never says this directly, instead letting the quotes from Gazans stand alone as if they were factual.

This is some of the bias in the article's contents.  But that is only a small part of how this article is lying in effect.

The main way that this article gives an entirely wrong message while adhering to a narrow set of facts is by omitting a huge amount of context - context that a fair reporter would seek out. 

It doesn't mention that under international law,  the existence of civilians around a military target does not make that target immune from attack. In other words, Israeli airstrikes on major Islamic Jihad leaders are perfectly legal under international law of armed conflict. Instead, Abdulrahim quotes an Amnesty report claiming (falsely) that Israel violated international law in previous conflicts in Gaza.

It doesn't mention that the ratio of civilians killed compared to militants is perhaps the lowest in any airstrikes on urban areas where the targets live among the people in history.

It doesn't mention the huge amount of time and money, not to mention the number of legal checks, that Israel uses before choosing a target.

It makes it sound like Israel could have somehow killed only Islamic Jihad targets without hurting any civilians - but does not say exactly how. 

It does not interview any military experts. It does not interview any international law experts. 

The entire article is meant to give an impression on readers that Israel is acting wantonly, that it is violating international law, that it either doesn't care about or deliberately chooses to target civilians, without saying those things explicitly and without giving any easy-to-find facts that would undermine that entire narrative.

(This article has not yet been published in the print edition. I anticipate this will be a front page news story in tomorrow's paper - which ensures that disparaging posts about Israel on social media will be widespread both today and tomorrow.)

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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