Sunday, March 29, 2009


The New York Times has now run a follow-up article on reports of the alleged IDF Gaza atrocities which, while far from perfect, corrects and rebuts many of the false charges that spread from Ha'aretz to news outlets around the world - Israel Disputes Soldiers' Accounts of Gaza Abuses.

According to Camera, the article, which was on the Times website on Friday, was published in the Saturday paper (which has the lowest circulation of the week) on page four, not on page one above the fold like the Times' first article on the subject.

Still the article admits that the alleged killing by an Israeli sniper of the mother and her two daughters was an "urban myth" that almost certainly did not occur, and quotes Israeli soldiers including, as we had suggested, Yishai Goldflam, on how they tried to avoid harming innocent Palestinians and their property.

The article also quotes an Israeli academic who has studied the impact of the growing proportion of religious soldiers in the IDF and the influence of rabbis on the conduct of these soldiers. According to the professor the rabbis have had a moderating impact on the soldiers, contradicting claims in the Times (A Religious War in Israel's Army) and elsewhere that rabbis had called for a religious or "holy war" against the Arabs and specificaly in Gaza.

On the negative side, editors chose to use with the article an inflamatory photo of a dead cow and a destroyed building, together with a rather deceptive caption that was not in accord with the thrust of the article:

Destruction near Gaza City in mid-January. "I'm not saying that nothing bad happened," said one Israeli colonel who described efforts to avoid harming civilians.

In sum, while the story had some serious flaws, and was marred by the photo/caption choice, overall it was a positive effort that helps to start correcting the record.

The Age has used articles by Ethan Bronner in the past. I don't believe there's much of a possibility that it will publish this one but the dead cow is a better than 50:50 chance!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having reported extensively on Operation Cast Lead while it was happening, Bronner surely knows that the nature of combat in Gaza demands the careful treatment of civilian-killing stories; as a journalist, he surely sensed that the original claims were thinly-sourced; and as a reporter covering Israel, he surely knows that false atrocity stories are a standard Palestinian PR tactic -- and that none of them have ever proven true, from Mohammad Al-Dura in 2000 to Jenin in 2002 to the UN school bombing in 2009. It's good that he wrote a responsible followup. It's bad that he gave so much attention to the story in the first place.

As for the Age? pfffffffffft