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Spirit of Contradiction

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Public Inquiry
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The Saker
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The New York Times and Rouzan al-Najjar

category international | anti-war / imperialism | opinion/analysis author Sunday December 30, 2018 17:21author by Blooming Barricade Report this post to the editors

This is Why Framing and Independent Media Matters

The Times did a valuable service by investigating the murder of a Palestinian medic by Israeli snipers, but undermined their own work with pro-apartheid framing and both-sides tropes.
The Times's front page report
The Times's front page report

The New York Times did the unexpected and published a front-page feature investigation on the famous death of Palestinian medic Rouzan al-Najjar, killed intentionally and deliberately by an Israel sniper during the Great March of Return, an ongoing series of protests in occupied Gaza near a barrier fence with Israel.

The investigation, reported by Yousur Al-Hlou, Malachy Browne, Iyad Abuheweila, Neil Collier, Ibrahim El-Mughrabi and John Woo, is thorough and leaves no doubt as to the fact that this was a war crime by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). But the article, written by David M. Halbfinger, a man known for his deference to Israeli military sources, reads very differently.

In addition to being framed as a question - Did the IDF commit a war crime or not? - the lede is puffed up with outright Israeli hasbara, including claims that the protests were "little more than a public relations stunt for Hamas."

On the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, when Donald Trump's internationally condemned Jerusalem Embassy was opened, the idea that the protests were a Hamas front were the preserve of right-wing partisans, such as Laura Loomer, and the official narrative of the IDF. Here, little over half a year later, this is repeated not just as a talking point, but as allegedly objective reporting.

This both-sides article wheels out all the hoary tropes long regarded as a disingenuous false equivalency by those knowledgable about the Israeli-Palestine issue. According to Halbfinger, this is an "unending and insolvable cycle of violence" where Israel...continues to focus on containment."

It is not until well into the story- over two-thirds following the lede, that the author quotes Professor Ryan Goodman, a special counsel to the Pentagon, as saying that Israel's act "crosses the line.”

This unequivocal statement is given by an expert, but not stated outright by a reporter who appears to find outright IDF talking points as fact. It is followed by the heading: "Mistakes Add Up."

This article will, by virtue of it being on the front page of America's most well-known newspaper, undoubtably attract international attention and be seen as the definitive account of the murder of al-Najjar. This story will be cited in essays, papers and studies, and will become repeated in the history books as the official narrative long after al-Najjar would have died a natural death.

We are facing a future of climate catastrophe, high-tech repression of refugees and vulnerable people, and possible nuclear conflict between great powers. There will be more protests and direct actions against this looming dystopian future and potential human extinction. There will be more martyrs like Rouzan al-Najja.

And we can't allow the transnational corporate media to write the history of our movements. The New York Times's article should stand not only as a lesson of the power of reporting, but more importantly, of the power of framing - and independent media.

Related Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/30/world/middleeast/gaza-medic-israel-shooting.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
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