The remarkable case of manipulation of the reader by Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist

15 January, 2009

Interesting how news articles can be revealing and obfuscating at the same time. Take, for example,  The Gaza Boomerang by Nicholas Kristof in a column he wrote for The New York TImes on 7 January.

The initial revelation, if one can call it that, is that – somewhat like the US managed to pull off with their support of the Mujahiddeen in Aghanistan at the end of the seventies, when it wanted to pull the Soviets into their own Vietnam – Israel helped nurture Hamas. This was done to frustrate Arafat’s Fatah movement, which was heading in a direction that the Israelis considered dangerous: they were ready to accept the existence of the state of Israel and to abide by the UN resolutions calling for a return to the 1967 borders.

At the time, Hamas was adamantly against such a position, which suited the Israelis well, intent as they were on grabbing every single piece of land remaining under Palestinian control. Hamas’ position has changed by now, which is highly inconvenient for the Israelis as they can no longer claim to be fighting for their survival.

Kristof’s article, revealing so far in its acknowledgment of the origins of Hamas, then suddenly takes a U-turn by completely omitting the origins of the current massacre being imposed by the Israelis on the Palestinians. Kristof claims Israel was profoundly provoked into its current killing spree by Hamas’ rocket shelling. It is worth looking at the actual timeline to assess Kristof’s depiction of the turn of events:

2008 Jun: With Egyptian mediation, Hamas and Israel agree to a six- month ceasefire in Gaza with militants saying they will stop firing rockets while Israel says it will stop offensive operations.
2008 Nov: Israel breaks ceasefire by sending ground troops into Gaza. Rocket fire resumes sparking exchanges.
2008 Dec 19: Attempts to renew ceasefire fail amid mutual recriminations.
2008 Dec 27: Israel launches operation Cast Lead attacking buildings and facilities connected to Hamas.

The Intelligence and Terrorism Centre, Isreal, published the following statistics:

  • May: 149 rockets
  • June: 84 rockets before ceasefire, 3 after (not by Hamas, according to Israel)
  • July: 8 (not by Hamas, according to Israel)
  • August: 3 (not by Hamas, according to Israel)
  • September: 3 (not by Hamas, according to Israel)
  • October: 1 (not by Hamas, according to Israel)

On November 4, Israel launches an attack in Gaza against Hamas, killing six, breaking the ceasefire.

  • November: 68 rockets
  • December: 52 rockets (before the Isreali pounding of Gaza)

Kristof, in other words, fails to mention both Hamas’ strict abidance to the June ceasefire during the months of July, August, September and October, as well as the Israeli failure to keep to that same ceasefire on 4 November. Absent that context, the 120 rockets fired by Hamas in November and December are indeed a profound provocation. Given the events, it was Israel that provoked Hamas into resuming its rocket fire.

As always, it is the civilian population that suffers the most. Hamas benefits from all the casualties that the Israelis are causing amongst Palestinian civilians (see Petiskas’ post earlier). This radicalisation of the Palestinian people translates into even more violence by Hamas and Israel.

Sanity is elsewhere.

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