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Helena Cobban @helenacobban
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The @nytimes today had a big piece on the killing of Razan (or as they write it, "Rouzan") al-Najjar in both the print & online editions. They invested a lot of reporting/writing resources in it. It reached some important conclusions. But... > (thread)…
> it was still clothed in lots of weaselly, anti-Palestinian NYT-speak. First, note the distinctive "braided" structure of the v. long piece, which braided a detailed minute-by-minute of Palestinian medic Razan's path toward her killing by Israeli sniper fire on June 1 with >
> different short sections providing background both on her life & on the situation in Gaza in general. The problematic parts are mainly in those "background" sections & the way @nytimes frames various aspects of them. Let me first highlight the good parts of the piece , which >
> come toward the end, from the "timestamped" section starting 6:13 pm on June 1, through *almost* the end of the piece. This part of the article contains the kernel of @mytimes's "findings", namely that she was fatally hit by one fragments part of a sniper's bullet that also >
wounded 2 other medics.
> then, this (below.) So by and large, those are good, solid analyses of painstakingly reported facts. Except, of course, that the idea that targeting members of Hamas when unarmed is "an interpretation of international law that is not universally accepted" is bullshit because >
> targeting noncombatants is always a violation of international law. Plus, why do the authors of this piece even introduce the idea that those "targeted" in this June 1 incident were "Hamas members"?? But this is only one of many weaselings in the wording of this article. >
> Let's look at the piece from the top. Here are grafs 4 and 5, in the box below. In graf 4, the writers set up up the attempt to place an "on the one side this on the other side that" frame on a *highly* asymmetrical situation. Then, >
> in graf 5 they outright say that "Palestinian witnesses embellished..." not "Some Palestinian witnesses" But apparently *all* of them (because, you know, you can't trust Palestinians... ) But ways down in the piece in the "minute-by-minute" at 6:17 pm she's described thus:
> So yes, it is possible that *some* Palestinian witnesses in the confusion of the moment conflated having seen her at 6:17pm, with her hands in the air, with how she was 14 minutes later when she was shot out of the blue-- also still in her clearly marked medic's gear. >
> But I guess Halbfinger felt that in Graf 5 he had to somehow "balance" the Israeli military's clear doctoring of the evidence about the shooting with some sign of Palestinian "mendacity/embellishment." That's where faux "balance" leads to. Then, in graf 8 we have >
> the now completely ritualized @mytimes ref to "an endless cycle of violence", which this time is also described as "unsolvable." Unsolvable???? How about if all the global powers that profess concern about the situation of Gaza's 2 million people >
> sent in massive ministerial-led flotillas to bust Israel's grotesque siege and re-re-establish direct links between Gaza and the global economy? It is quite "solvable" if the P-5 or the G-20 powers really wanted to solve it... And then, to attribute to the brave participants >
> in the #GreatMarchOfReturn the "knowledge" that their protests "amount to little more than a public relations stunt for Hamas"??? Describing this as "knowledge" means that Halbfinger & his colleagues *judge that this is the case*... >
> & then they mendaciously claim that the participants in the #GMOR concur in this judgment-- but they participate in the #GMOR anyway. Which by implication means they must all be Hamas sympathizers, right?? Mendacity on stilts! But in graf 9 it gets worse. >
> Here, they launch a stunning, multi-pronged attempt to defame Razan al-Najjar herself. The term "foolhardy" here is echoed a little bit later by "reckless" (a descriptor attributed to one of her fellow EMTs.) We have the accusation that she "lied about her lack of education" >
> To whom did she lie? We are not told. Was it a consequential lie? Was it a lie at all, or just a misunderstanding in something she said, something someone recalled, or the translation? And there, too, is the use of a grammatical contrasting device to imply >
> that one can't both be feminist and love one's father; one can't both be a feminist and care about one's appearance; one can't both be feminist and start assembling a trousseau... What are they talking about? Actually, their sleazy intention seems clear >
> that is, to make Razan out to be, you know, flaky, "foolhardy", and unreliable. (Later, the all-male reporting team flat-out described her as a drama queen.) ... So then, we have the requisite @mytimes refs to Palestinians throwing, or hurling, "rocks" at the Israelis... >
> never stone, always rocks. That edict went out from the IDF during the 1st intifada 30 years ago: What the Palestinian throw are always "rocks" you know. @nytimes falls into line. Ah, and then we come to history... >
> In this short graf on the "history" of current Gaza-Israel tensions, the misrepresentations are legion. Before 2005, only a small # of Gaza Palestinians went to work in Israel, passing through special electronically controlled checkpoints. >
> The major cordoning off of Gaza from Israel occurred earlier, in the wake of the 1993 Oslo accord. Israel withdrew its settlers & fixed military positions from inside Gaza & the blockade started then, contravening a 2005 US-brokered agreement. >
> Then, in *any* discussion of Hamas in Gaza it's unconscionable to include no mention of the fact that in January 2006 there was a Gaza+West Bank legislative election *that Hamas competed fairly in & won*. That electoral victory brought >
> an immediate harsh tightening of the siege/blockade & US-Israeli launching of an attempt to crank up & support a Fateh coup against Hamas which was about to launch in summer 2007 when the elected Hamas government there nipped it in the bud. >
> You can read more details of this at this @justworlded factsheet, PDF here:…. & in the @nytimes next graf we have >
> this: "By 2017, after three wars with Israel, Gaza’s economy was a shambles..." Don't these sound like Gaza-initiated, full-scale wars with Israel? If so, a huge misrepresentation. In 2008, '12, & '14, Israel launched lengthy, megalethal assaults on the v. densely populated >
> populated Strip, using US-supplied heavy weapons to pound its 2 million people into submission & try to turn them against Hamas. (USG always approved.) Anyway >
> these kind of ideological misrepresentations go on & on throughout the piece. (& at the very end, we're told again that this is a "hopeless, endless conflict.") So I guess this is the ideological flimflam that Halbfinger, his co-reporters, & editors feel they have to provide >
> as a way to cloak, mask, or dilute the actual, hard-fact, reported "findings" of the piece regarding Israel's responsibility for the act of *having directly targeted noncombatants (including but not limited to medics) during the #GreatMarchOfReturn* >
> & for the IDF's having used lethal fire against protestors in situations that cause no immediate threat to themselves. These findings we should applaud. But please, @nytimes, do away with the ideology, the defamation, & the skewed history. G'night, all.
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