As a 72-hour ceasefire takes hold in Israel, New York Times Gaza-based reporters remain locked in a peculiar moral equivalency between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas bent on the nation's destruction, with reporters taking pains on social media and television to stick up for Hamas, dismissing the idea of Hamas harassment of journalists as "nonsense," and even criticizing Hillary Clinton for taking on the group..
Reporter Anne Barnard appeared on Sunday's edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, hosted by former Times colleague Brian Stelter. When Stelter asked Barnard about the "biggest misconceptions" in the coverage offered by naysayers "thousands of miles" away from Gaza, she herself raised the subject of unfair accusations against Hamas.
"The most the strange thing to me was that the way the coverage itself was discussed. There seemed to be an impression that the people in Gaza were reporting civilian casualties because somehow Hamas was making us do that or that's what Hamas wanted us to do. You know, covering civilian casualties is at the core of what we do as journalists, particularly, not just casualties but covering the impact of war on ordinary people. And that's part of our mission and we do that consistently on all sides in all conflicts that we cover around the world to the extent that that's physically possible."
Barnard also defended Hamas on her Facebook page from that raging right winger, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: "Et tu, Hillary Clinton? This is simply not true: 'What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza.' Hamas is not inviting or permitting anyone.What is happening is simply that neither Hamas nor Israel is preventing journalists from entering Gaza. And that's a good thing, may it last."
CAMERA caught a disturbing retweet by Barnard that suggested the parties solve the war with a duel between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal -- "just put the two of them in a small room with machetes."
Barnard deleted the tweet with an unconvincing explanation in two follow-ups: "Deleted tweet RE reader's black-humor proposal to reduce Isr-Pal death toll, as a reader thought it could be read as actually endorsing/I read reader's 'proposal' as expressing frustration at seeing bystanders killed as leaders fail to solve underlying problems."
CAMERA's Alex Safian wrote: "Does Barnard really believe that the conflict between Hamas and Israel is a personal problem between Benjamin Netanyahu, the elected leader of a democratic country, and Khalid Meshaal, the leader of a genocidal terrorist group? Does she think that if Netanyahu and Meshaal were replaced, all would be good? Is she unfamiliar with the Hamas charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of all Jews?"
Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren also defended Hamas on Twitter Monday morning, while bashing a group of fellow journalists, as CAMERA also turned up. After the Foreign Press association slammed "the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists," Rudoren tweeted:
Every reporter I've met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense
Rudoren followed up in another tweet:
...I just think the statement seems overly broad and exaggerated based on a few cases that may be anomalous
Strange wordings also crept into the paper itself. Monday's front page featured a dispatch by Isabel Kershner and Merna Thomas, "Agreeing to More Talks in Egypt, Israelis and Palestinians Begin Latest Cease-Fire," linked with another heart-tugging photo of grieving Palestinian mothers.
Sunday’s hostilities, which left at least seven Palestinians dead, continued almost to the last minute. Just before midnight, like a grand finale, more rockets soared out of Gaza into southern Israel and one fell into the sea near Tel Aviv. Hamas’s military wing claimed responsibility; the Israeli police said the rockets caused no injuries.
So sending rockets intending to kill Israeli civilians is akin to a "grand finale," like the climax of a musical performance?
In Rudoren's own Monday dispatch, "In a Palestinian Town, Growing Weary of a War and Hoping for Change" (online headline: "In Gaza, Grief, Anger -- and No Small Measure of Pride") she at least hinted that civilians in Gaza are afraid to criticize Hamas tactics, even as those tactics put their lives in danger: "Open dissent, though, is seen as dangerous."
Yet that vital nugget didn't make it into a Times headline, unlike Rudoren's previous bizarre accusation that Israel was squelching anti-war dissent -- as she continued to quote anti-war dissent, from Israel. She wrote on Monday:
A Hamas rally on Thursday during the temporary cease-fire drew only a few thousand people, and few have raised the movement’s green flags during the fighting. Open dissent, though, is seen as dangerous.
When Suhair al-Najjar, 32, said, essentially, “I curse both sides,” and described Hamas as “shoes,” a sharp insult, an older man strode over to scold her. “Don’t say ‘Hamas,’ say ‘the Arab leaders,’ ” he yelled.
Ms. Najjar, who lost 30 relatives along with her home in Khuza’a, a village of 10,000 on Gaza’s eastern border that was demolished, was not deterred. “I’m angry at the two sides,” she repeated. “I’m angry at everybody, all the countries.” The bearded man in a gray jalabiya came closer and demanded, “You need someone to teach you how to talk?”
Rudoren even (briefly) quoted a Gazan suggesting some of those lamented material shortages were actually due to Hamas diverting them for terrorism.