Saturday, July 3, 2010

FLOTILLA Cover-up: The New York Times Accused

by David Morris
For the past month, the alternative media have sought concrete evidence that the mainstream U.S. media, including the New York Times, willfully aided Israel’s cover-up of information about their Gaza flotilla attack.

Prima facie evidence of their complicity is abundant.

The Times’ role in the cover-up ranged from suppression of facts and failure to follow leads that might (and did) contradict Israel’s version of the massacre, to serving as a shameless conduit for Israeli propaganda. The Times persisted in publishing and republishing the official line of Israel and became a virtual bulletin board for crackpot opinions and commentary. A prime example is Michael Oren’s “An Assault on Israel, Cloaked in Peace,” arguing delusionally that this humanitarian effort was an “act of aggression” that threatened the very nation of Israel.

The news we Americans received on the massacre seemed written by an Israeli propaganda minister — in fact, some of it was. The Israeli army generously provided our media with a carefully edited video of their attack, which major news outlets dutifully broadcasted.

Long-distance images of civilians defending themselves against commando killers (including a woman brandishing a deck chair) were presented as evidence of armed resistance. The imprisonment in Gaza of an Israeli soldier four years ago was cited as justification for executing nine peace activists, two shot in the back of the head at point-blank range.

Alternative media journalists like Philip Weiss (Mondoweiss), Glenn Greenwald (Salon), and yours truly ( provide examples of the Times’ stonewalling and disinformation. James North on Mondoweiss, for example, writes about the aftermath of Israel’s illegal detainment of hundreds of peace activists and their video evidence. As Israel began releasing the prisoners, the Times’ legion of reporters failed to interview a single flotilla member to get their version of the atrocity. As North wrote, this unconscionable delay gave “Israel’s version of the deadly raid time to harden.”

The May 31 Times reported “Israeli officials said that international law allows for the capture of naval vessels in international waters…” Israeli officials said. Exactly. With convenient unprofessionalism, the Times published Israel’s claim at face value, offering no comment or analysis by experts in international law. In fact (and as the Times must have known), independent experts call the attack “flagrantly illegal.”

When the Times finally did report something not fed to them by Israel, their front page story lamented the public relations catastrophe for Israel, not the murder of nine peace activists nor the immense suffering caused by the illegal siege of Gaza.

On the contrary, Times reporter Isabel Kershner writes, “Israel says it allows enough basic supplies through crossings to prevent an acute humanitarian crisis.” Again, the paper reported this cruel lie citing only Israeli propaganda as their source (“Israel says…”). No editor of the NY Times would allow such sloppy journalism — unless directed to do so by top management.

The NY Times has a long history of pro-Israel reporting of events in the Middle East. One notable illustration is their coverage of Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty that killed and wounded over 200 American sailors. The Times’ only account of this deliberate, hour-long assault on a U.S. ship — a brief summary buried on page 19 of the paper.

The question is who within the New York Times ordered the most recent journalistic stonewalling and submission to Israeli interests. Might it be publisher/owner Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.? Rank-and-file employees and journalists at the Times must be truly embarrassed, even shamed by their employer’s willful deception of American readers.

We ask that someone come forward.

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