The New York Times Prefers Fake Rape to Real Starvation

Explaining away the deliberate starvation of a population confined to a small geographical area with no possibility of ingress or egress is a difficult and thankless task. The New York Times bravely stands up to the challenge.

Via the Library of Congress.

March 27, 2024 06:14 EDT

Serious newspapers like The New York Times will always seek to impress by the breadth of their reporting. Sometimes, however, they count on breadth to masquerade what may appear as a serious lack of depth.

Reacting to the world’s growing concern with the latest development in Israel’s “plausible genocide,” NYT mobilized four of its ace reporters to do some serious investigating. The team managed to come up with a shiny example of what appears to be a thorough answer to the annoying question of a possible famine in Gaza.

The authors not only identify five distinct causes, but also explain in detail how each of them plays out. Their effort appears to be very thorough indeed, but some may suspect that their list is not complete. Before we look at how to complete it, here are the five clearly identified causes:

1. The land delivery route is complex,

2. Inspections have been onerous,

3. Destroyed roads and strained resources make distributing aid inside Gaza a challenge,

4. Aid convoys are frequently beset by violence,

5. Air and sea efforts are ‘not going to solve the problem.’

Before seeking to delve deeper, let’s have a closer look at the second cause, summed up by the adjective, “onerous,” a word derived from the Latin noun, onus, meaning “weight” or “burden.”

Today’s Weekly Devil’s Dictionary definition:


Containing unnecessary weight, a common strategy employed by bureaucracies in designing and executing their procedures to deny services to deserving citizens, used by Israel in this instance to radically reduce and eventually eliminate altogether the weight of Palestinians, a population deemed by the Israeli government to be an unnecessary burden on Israel’s vibrant democracy.

Contextual note

Speaking of burdens, although South Africa successfully produced the onus probandi or “burden of proof” that convinced the International Court of Justice two months ago a genocide was already plausibly taking place, the Israelis have, since that assessment, knowingly aggravated the conditions that would lead to a generalized famine. They apparently view it as a necessary complement to the past five month’s massively destructive bombing campaign.

Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy attempted to deny the existence of a campaign to starve the Palestinians, claiming there was “no limit to the amount of food that can enter Gaza, and in fact MORE food trucks are entering Gaza now than before the war.” For such an egregious lie, he was suspended. The rules of propaganda are such that when the accumulation of visible facts contradicting one’s assertion reach a critical threshold, the person who tells such lies must be sanctioned. Most lies appear as simple exaggerations and can be repeated endlessly. But the most extreme lead to an unacceptable loss of face for a government that counts on controlled level of lying.

NYT has consistently tolerated and often repeated and amplified Israeli propaganda. The clearest example was its reporting on “systematic use of sexual assault” by Hamas in the October 7 terror attack. The paper’s “exhaustive report” published in December that sought to establish a pattern of “mass rape” has since been thoroughly debunked for lack of any solid evidence. The exposure of an act of conscious propaganda led the paper’s editors to “walk back” the unambiguous but false accusation of the article, but not to retract it or suspend the journalists.

Perhaps the humiliation related to the drama of what turned into an internal revolt by NYT staff against that example shoddy “reporting” taught the paper to tread more carefully and stick to verifiable facts. The war in Gaza had turned into a journalistic minefield. That’s one of the unintended effects of going easy on apparent genocide. The paper’s objectivity, which we have long called into question in these columns, was now being impugned both from without and within. Not wishing to fall into the trap a second time in its reporting on violence in Palestine, as famine became the latest of Israel’s  war crimes, NYT wanted to make sure that this time it would stick to facts. That is why it so carefully listed and explained the five causes of suffering in food-challenged Gaza.

Some may have noticed that one cause failed to appear in the list: Israel’s embargo on the entry of all types of supplies, including food. There was even another cause careful observers might see as missing from the list: the IDF’s attacks on the famished crowds queueing for food. Perhaps NYT didn’t bother to list those causes because each could be described in full in just one sentence, whereas the complex causes in the list each require a few paragraphs of explanation.

For the NYT the problem lies elsewhere. Its editorial stance requires that it remain in phase with the White House and the State Department. In this case it distances itself from what seems obvious: a population is on the brink of starvation; it is the consequence of political decisions that most observers interpret as potential war crimes, if not genocide.

But neither the US government nor The New York Times can allow itself to entertain such thoughts. They can offer lengthy explanations about difficult logistics but have no eyes to see the politics. In the words of State Department spokesman Matthew Miller responding to questions from the press about Israel’s campaign to starve the Gazans: “We have not found them to be in violation of international humanitarian law, either when it comes to the conduct of the war or when it comes to the provision of humanitarian assistance.”

The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft’s Executive Vice President Trita Parsi not only sees clear violations on the part of Israel but signals US complicity in the policies that NYT refuses to acknowledge. The US is not a neutral observer. Parsi explains it in the simplest terms: “The Biden administration is in on it, making sure that the Israelis will get maximum protection to be able to continue this war. And all the administration is doing is trying to reduce the most excessive measures the Israelis are taking in order to reduce the political pressure on Israel to stop.”

Historical note

In this column, we have consistently traced the propensity of The New York Times to produce detailed explanations of events and phenomena that over time have proved false. We followed the episodes over a span of years relating to the newspaper’s commitment to Russiagate conspiracy theory or to the absurdity of Russia’s “likely” responsibility for the Havana Syndrome that poisoned the lives and compromised the health of US diplomats.  How can a newspaper of record consistently either distort or hide basic factual truth? Interestingly, one of their reports provided the answer.

Jeffrey Gettleman, the Pulitzer prize winning author of the NYT article attempting to establish that Hamas had been guilty of systematic rape on October 7, explained why he and his co-author felt it was their professional duty to exaggerate the facts to the point of fabricating a lie. The Intercept notes that in remarks recently offered at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, “Gettleman dismissed the need for reporters to provide ‘evidence.’” He was even more specific. “That’s our job as journalists”: to get the information and to share the story in a way that makes people care. Not just to inform, but to move people.”

The seasoned journalist is right: if the purpose of journalism is to “move people” and to make them “care”, a journalist should accept the truth that simple facts may sometimes get in the way. Fabricated facts may often prove better at getting the job done. This is especially if the journalist sees a particular nation’s interests as the kind of superior cause the paper’s readers should be prompted “care” for.

NYT has done a good job identifying the interests it cares a lot for. Among the most prominent are: anyone in the Biden administration (and no one in a Trump administration), the State Department’s and the intelligence community’s (no matter which administration) and Israel’s, at all times .

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news. Read more of Fair Observer Devil’s Dictionary.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

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