What We’re Fighting For 3

Posted on December 18, 2007

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Okay, not to let the New York Times off the hook so readily, here’s a prime example of how not so subtle differences in the way the Times covers Israeli casualties vs. Palestinian ones, can color perceptions toward the conflict.

Yesterday, on page A11, the Times ran an article headlined, “Palestinian Rocket Injures Child in Israeli Kibbutz”. Today, on page A12, the Times ran an article headlined, “Israeli Airstrike Kills a Top Militant in Gaza”. Both headlines are accurate, but the emphasis of the second seems somewhat misplaced. In the first story we learn that Gazan rocket attacks in the last seven years have killed a total of 13 Israelis. Israeli bases much of its military activity in Gaza on retaliating for these attacks.

Indeed, we find in the second article, that the militant in question was well known for launching rocket attacks against Israel. We also find that seven Palestinian bystanders were wounded, including three children. This wasn’t the first time Israel has injured or killed bystanders in the densely populated Strip when carrying out attacks against military targets. Amnesty International Reports that in June of 2007, in just two weeks of Israeli ‘reprisals’ for rocket attacks in June, twenty bystanders were killed, including six children–nearly twice as many Palestinian deaths in two weeks, than in 6 years of Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel.

In fact from a strictly statistical perspective, the Times’ Palestinian headlines would do better concentrating on the deaths of bystanders, which nearly always out-number those of the intended targets. As Mustafa Bhargouti observed in the International Herald Tribune, over half of the 400 people killed since 2001 in Israeli targeted killings of Palestinian ‘militants’, were not militants at all, but bystanders. At least forty four if not many more, were children. Defence for Children International reports that nine hundred Palestinian children have been killed since 2001, many in this same way.