More Unfairness Against Israel

Double standards in Gaza: Reporter Ethan Bronner put the Palestinian case in emotionally resonant terms, while his marshalling of pro-Israel arguments is scattered and grudging.

While the Times' coverage of Israel's attempt to root out Hamas militants in Gaza has been more balanced that its slanted coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006, at least one correspondent can be counted on to deliver bias. After a one-sided look January 4 at the suffering of the Palestinians, "Is Real Target Hamas Rule?" reporter Ethan Bronner returns with Tuesday's off-lead story, "Israelis United on Gaza War Even as Censure Rises Abroad." Bronner can't quite seem to believe that Israelis consider themselves to bein the right:

To Israel's critics abroad, the picture could not be clearer: Israel's war in Gaza is a wildly disproportionate response to the rockets of Hamas, causing untold human suffering and bombing an already isolated and impoverished population into the Stone Age, and it must be stopped.

Yet here in Israel very few, at least among the Jewish population, see it that way.

Since Israeli warplanes opened the assault on Gaza 17 days ago, about 900 Palestinians have been reported killed, many of them civilians. Red Cross workers were denied access to scores of dead and wounded Gazans, and a civilian crowd near a United Nations school was hit, with at least 40 people killed.

But voices of dissent in this country have been rare. And while tens of thousands have poured into the streets of world capitals demonstrating against the Israeli military operation, antiwar rallies here have struggled to draw 1,000 participants. The Peace Now organization has received many messages from supporters telling it to stay out of the streets on this one.

As the editorial page of The Jerusalem Post put it on Monday, the world must be wondering, do Israelis really believe that everybody is wrong and they alone are right?

The answer is yes.

So how does Israel see the war? While Bronner put the Palestinian case in emotionally resonant terms at the top of his story, Bronner's marshalling of pro-Israel arguments is scattered and grudging.

Israelis deeply believe, rightly or wrongly, that their military works harder than most to spare civilians, holding their fire in many more cases than using it.

Because Hamas booby-traps schools, apartment buildings and the zoo, and its fighters hide among civilians, it is Hamas that is viewed here as responsible for the civilian toll. Hamas is committed to Israel's destruction and gets help and inspiration from Iran, so that what looks to the world like a disproportionate war of choice is seen by many here as an obligatory war for existence.

This passage near the end may also me misleading:

Moshe Halbertal, a left-leaning professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University, helped write the army's ethics code. He said he knew from personal experience how much laborious discussion went into deciding when it was acceptable to shoot at a legitimate target if civilians were nearby, adding that there had been several events in this war in which he suspected that the wrong decision had been made.

For example, Israel killed a top Hamas ideologue, Nizar Rayyan, during the first week of the war and at the same time killed his four wives and at least nine of his children. Looking back at it, Mr. Halbertal disapproves, assuming that the decision was made consciously, even if Mr. Rayyan purposely hid among his family to protect himself, as it appears he did. Yet almost no one here publicly questioned the decision to drop a bomb on his house and kill civilians; all the sentiment in Israel was how satisfying and just it was to kill a man whose ideology and activity had been so virulent and destructive.

But CAMERA's "Snapped Shots" blog noted that Bronner's story "omits key information which underscores the Israeli position that the Israeli army is acting justly."

CAMERA cited an account in the left-wing U.K. newspaper The Independent by reporter Donald Macintyre, who wrote:

The family were warned 30 minutes earlier by the Israel Defence Forces that the house would be attacked, but Mr Rayan's son-in-law, Mahmoud Albaik, said they had refused to leave and that, urged by his son in a telephone call to leave seconds before the attack, he had said: "I want to be a martyr."

CAMERA argued:

Isn't the fact that the family was given 30 minutes notice prior to the bombing absolutely essential to any discussion about the morality of IDF actions?