Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|NY Times and LA Times coverage of the conflict|
|10/19/00 at 00:55:40|
|Tuesday, October 17, 2000|
New York Times and Los Angeles Times coverage
of the conflict in the Occupied Territories
from 9/28/2000 to 10/15/2000:
By Milad Ali Ershaghi [email@example.com]
1. Palestinians murdered at Sabra and Shatilla:
The following table summarizes the number of Palestinians the New York Times
and the Los Angeles Times reported were killed at Sabra and Shatilla in 1982
by Christian militiamen taking direct orders from then Israeli Defense
Minister Ariel Sharon:
09/29/2000 NYT "hundreds"
10/01/2000 LAT "thousands"
10/02/2000 NYT "hundreds"
10/02/2000 LAT "hundreds"
10/14/2000 NYT "hundreds"
The real death count, however, is 2750 according to the International Red
Cross and over 3000 according to other estimates.
Question: Why is it that the NYT and LAT reported figures ten times lower
than the actual statistic? Where do they get their information from, and why
aren't they using internationally accepted data? Also, why did the LAT
change from "hundreds" on 10/1/2000 to "thousands" on 10/2/2000 and
10/14/2000? What kinds of pressures could have caused this change?
2. Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount:
In the first week of conflict, neither the NYT nor the LAT reported the
number of IDF troops that accompanied Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount. But
then on 10/7/2000, the NYT finally reported that "hundreds of Israeli
officers" showed up. The problem with this report, however, is that one
thousand troops showed up, not "hundreds".
Question: Why in the first week did neither paper report the number of
troops that accompanied Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount? And why, when it
finally reported a statistic, did the NYT report "hundreds" instead of "one
thousand"? Where, again, is the NYT getting its information, and why isn't
it using accurate data?
One thing that didn't get due coverage was the fact that Ariel Sharon and
his entourage of IDF troops weren't alone in their visit to the Temple
Mount; fans and supporters of Sharon actually showed up to cheer him on. An
excerpt from a 9/29/2000 LAT article follows:
In the waiting crowd below Temple Mount, Jews
who came to support Sharon chanted: This is
Jewish land! Get out!" And some hailed Sharon:
"King of Israel!"
Question: Why is the LAT the only paper that covered this, and why was its
coverage so limited? Couldn't this coupled with false statistics about the
number of troops that accompanied Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount have led
readers to believe that Ariel Sharon did in fact come as "a messenger of
As for the numerous Israeli officials who stressed their conviction that
Ariel Sharon's visit was not a provocation, note the following excerpt from
a 10/2/2000 NYT article:
Today, ... a senior Israeli official said,
"It's clear to everyone that it's the Sharon
show that created the original damage.
It's unfortunate, though, that the NYT didn't release the name of this
"senior Israeli official". Because if it did, the Israeli government would
have had a hard time defending their official position that the Palestinians
alone were to blame for the escalating violence.
3. The IDF's use of live ammunition and rubber bullets:
The NYT reported on 9/30/2000 that the Israeli police denied that live
bullets had been used. They claimed that only nonlethal forms of ammunition
were used such as tear gas and rubber bullets. The next day, however, both
the NYT and the LAT reported that live ammunition was used. This lie about
the use of live ammunition demonstrated how the Israeli police could not be
considered as a trustworthy source of information.
It's also interesting to note how IDF troops defined the term "nonlethal" in
relation to rubber bullets they used against Palestinian civilians.
According to a 10/4/2000 NYT article, they claimed they were officially
instructed to shoot rubber bullets "from at least 100 feet away and only at
the feet and legs." In the same article, however, the heads of two hospitals
in Jerusalem revealed that Israeli troops were violating the rules of
engagement they were supposed to adhere to: Dr. Khaled Qurie, the director
of the Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, reviewed the cases of 35
Palestinians who had been admitted there and was surprised at "the high
number of upper body injuries - abdomen, chest, neck and head." Michael
Cook, chief executive of St. John's Eye Hospital in Jerusalem, noted that 18
Palestinians had been treated for getting shot in the eye with rubber
projectiles. He added that most of the damaged eyes were left sightless.
What should be clear, then, is that the Israeli police lied when they said
that they didn't use live ammunition against Palestinian civilians, and when
they did utilize their so-called "nonlethal" rubber bullets in ways contrary
to their "rules", their weapons could no longer be described as "nonlethal".
4. Muhammad Al-Durrah caught up in the "crossfire":
The NYT reported twice, on 10/2/2000 and 10/7/2000, and the LAT reported
once, on 10/1/2000, that Muhammad Al-Durrah died in the "crossfire". In a
way, this suggests that neither paper could be sure whether Israeli or
Palestinian bullets killed Muhammad. But when evidence was produced to prove
that the killing was deliberate, the NYT did not report anything further on
the matter and led its readers to believe that he died in the "crossfire";
end of story. The LAT, however, was more balanced in its coverage. The
following are excerpts from LAT articles related to the shooting:
A 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Rami Durra, was
among the dead in Gaza. He and his father,
apparently caught in the cross-fire, could be
seen crouched behind a concrete block, flat
against a wall. “Don’t shoot!” the father,
Jamal, screamed as he tried to shield the boy,
according to the witnesses. But Rami was
killed, and Jamal then slumped over, wounded.
Bassam Bilbeisi, an ambulance driver who tried
to rescue the pair, also was shot to death.
An Israeli military commander said the shooting
was under investigation and that it was not yet
clear whose bullets felled the boy, who was
buried early Sunday without an autopsy, in the
Palestinian tradition. “First of all, I am very,
very sorry from the depth of my heart,” Maj. Gen
Yom-tov Samia, head of military forces in the
southern region that includes Gaza, told Israeli
radio. But, he added, he was sure Rami and his
father, Jamal, “were there not just by accident.”
He said the pair were part of a crowd throwing
rocks and firebombs and, as such, were at risk...
From a hospital bed in Gaza City where he lay
critically wounded with eight bullet holes in his
body, Jamal Durra gave a different account. He
said he and his boy stumbled into the firefight
on their way home from a used-car lot and had
nowhere else to go. They were pinned down for 45
minutes, he said, during which time he could
clearly see the man – an Israeli soldier – firing
directly at them.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army said a 12-year-old boy
killed at Netzarim on Saturday was apparently hit
by Israeli gunfire. The death, caught on camera,
shocked viewers around the world. Israel's Deputy
Chief of Staff Maj. Gen Moshe Yaalon expressed
"deep sorrow" and said the sniper had apparently
mistaken the child for a gunman.
The boy's death was "heartbreaking," Yaalon said.
But he added that Mohammad was a stone-thrower who
should not have been in such a hot spot. In the
boy's home in the Bureij refugee camp in Gaza, his
mother, Amal, said Mohammad and his father stumbled
into the killing zone by accident. She had kept
her son out of school that morning to prevent him
from being caught up in the rioting. The father,
Jamal, was wounded in the cross-fire.
Note that when sufficient evidence had been produced to prove that Muhammad
Al-Durra's death was not an accident, Israeli authorities still wouldn't
accept the blame. For example, Major General Yom-tov Samia, head of military
forces in the southern region that includes Gaza, told Israeli radio that he
was "very, very sorry from the depth of [his] heart (about the death of
Muhammad Al-Durrah)" but added that he was sure that Rami and his father
"were there not just by accident (and were part of a crowd throwing rocks
and firebombs)." The next day, Israel's Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen Moshe
Yaalon expressed "deep sorrow" and said the sniper had apparently mistaken
the child for a gunman, while all of us who watched the video clip know for
a fact that Muhammad not could have possibly been mistaken as such. The
following day, Yaalon said that the boy's death was "heartbreaking," but
added that Mohammad was a stone-thrower who should not have been in such a
hot spot. It's just unfortunate that at such a sad moment, these Israeli
generals couldn't find it within themselves to refrain from lying. In any
event, none of these fake apologies explain why the Palestinian Red Crescent
ambulance driver who came to Muhammad Al-Durra's aid was murdered in cold
5. Voices of reconciliation:
In the Israeli town of Tiberias, crowds chanting
"Death to the Arabs!" set fire to a mosque.
The troubles began shortly after evening
religious services for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day
of Atonement, when Jews swept through Arab
neighborhoods shouting, "Death to Arabs!" hurling
stones through windows and attacking Arabs. Arabs
who live here, and hold Israeli citizenship, turned
to the Israeli police. But when they arrived, the
Arabs said, the police also turned on the Arabs,
leading to a confrontation in which two Arab youths
were killed... On Sunday, for reasons that were
unclear, the police apparently let the protesters
through. "It did not occur to us that the police
would get to the scene, see what was happening and
side with the thugs who were attacking our homes and
beating people randomly," said Jalal Hassan, 39.
"It was a message from the Israeli state to all of
us: 'You are not really citizens. You do not belong
By Monday night, Jewish mobs were hurling fire and
rocks at Arab targets across the country, setting up
roadblocks and chanting, "Death to the Arabs!" About
500 Jews tried to storm mosques in Tiberias before
Israeli police dispersed them with tear gas. In Tel
Aviv, another mob of 500 Jews surrounded a
restaurant where they believed Arabs were working
and set the building on fire, along with a store and
three apartments where Palestinian workers had slept.
Their sons and sons-in-law came running and faced off
with the Jewish mob that was shouting, "Death to the
Arabs!" - "Stop. We're Jews. Aren't you ashamed?" the
Atzmons yelled. - "You should be ashamed," the rock-
throwers shot back. "If you are Jewish and live with
Arabs, you deserve this!" they yelled as police
finally arrived to disperse the crowd.
Israeli youths marched through Jerusalem chanting,
"Death to the Arabs!"
"Zionism Shall Triumph," read the slogan on a
stylized Israeli flag printed in newspapers. "We have
only had our country for 50 years, and I am not
willing to give away an inch of it," said Lia
Finkelberg, 22, a Russian immigrant.
The last excerpt really puts everything into perspective.
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