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The Times, The Guardian Misrepresent Conflict

From subtle to egregious, major media outlets drop the ball

Adam Chandler
November 16, 2012
Front Page of the New York Times(Adam Chandler)
Front Page of the New York Times(Adam Chandler)

If you’re one of the millions of people to pick up the New York Times this morning then you, like me, saw the layout above.

The first issue is the front page’s biggest headline “Israel and Hamas Step Up Air Attacks in Gaza Clash,” which one could argue makes no distinction between Israel’s pursuit of terrorist targets and missile stockpiles and the intention of Hamas to fire indiscriminately upon a civilian population.

Fixed beneath this headline are two pictures of the war dead. The first picture is from the Gaza City funeral of terrorist Ahmed Jabari, who was honored as a martyr after being killed by Israel on Wednesday afternoon. Jabari was killed for being a Hamas strongman, who directed terror activity for a decade and was one of the central figures in the planning of the Gilad Shalit kidnapping.

Beneath his picture is the picture of the body of Mina Scharf, a 25-year-old mother of three, who worked for Chabad in New Delhi, India and who was one of three civilians killed when a Hamas rocket struck a residential building in Kiryat Malachi. Her only crime was being a victim of the weather. Scharf’s husband had planned to attend the Kinus Hashluchim Chabad gathering in New York, but had been held up by a snowstorm. According to Vosizneias, had her husband been able to attend, Scharf would have stayed with her family in Jerusalem instead of staying at her home in Kiryat Malachi, where she was found after a Hamas rocket crashed into her building.

This was a subtle flubbing of war coverage compared to the Guardian, which published this cartoon by Steve Bell:

The Guardian here reverts to the dangerous and ancient trope of Jew as international puppet-master with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu depicted controlling British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Mideast Envoy Tony Blair.

As Liam Hoare writes:

When it comes to matters Israeli and Palestinian, The Guardian maintains a transparent editorial slant, one which favours highlighting the injustices perpetuated against Palestinians over those inflicted upon Israelis. I know this to be a fair perception because I can read. There is nothing necessarily heinous about this. After all, a news organisation is free to maintain any editorial bias it wishes. In doing so, it is only reflecting the sensibility of its readership, provided it does so within certain boundaries of taste, civility, and fair play.

This cartoon, however, is a clear instance where to say The Guardian has crossed the frontier between decency and obscenity would be to understate things. Here, the paper has lent its imprimatur to something that is so crassly anti-Semitic, that reinforces one of the worst tropes people have used against the Jewish people for hundreds of years, one has to wonder how on Earth it got through the various stages of the editorial process.

So do I.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.