New York Times Erases Hostages From Soccer Player’s Gesture, Calls It a War Message

On January 14, communities across the globe marked 100 days since Israeli hostages were abducted to Gaza. The message—”100 days”—was repeated to highlight the plight of the hostages and insist upon their freedom.

“Today, we mark a devastating and tragic milestone,” read a statement from US president Joe Biden. “100 days of captivity for the more than 100 innocent people, including as many as 6 Americans, who are still held being hostage by Hamas in Gaza. For 100 days, they have existed in fear for their lives, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. For 100 days, their families have lived in agony, praying for the safe return of their loved ones.” (Emphasis added throughout.)

100 days of captivity in Gaza is far too long,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. A projection on the Austrian parliament building read, “Bring them home now. 100 days in captivity.” At a “Vigil for 100 Daysin Toronto, demonstrators held signs calling for the release of hostages from their “100 days of Hell,” echoing the demands heard at rally after rally. The ADL marked100 days in which so many families have been advocating for the release of their loved ones.” The AJC recalled that “100 days after the October 7th massacre, over 130 Israelis remain in Hamas captivity.” Israel’s social media accounts called out “100 days” in pleas for the hostages.

Sagiv Jehezkel gestures to the cameras after a goal. On his athletic tape are the words “100 days” and “7.10” in memory of those abducted and murdered in the Oct. 7 massacre.

And in Turkey, after scoring a goal for his Turkish soccer club, Israeli player Sagiv Jehezkel silently pointed to his wrist tape, on which he wrote the words “100 days” alongside a star of David and 10/7, the date of the Hamas attack. It was his way of speaking for the men, women, and tiny children held incommunicado in Gaza.

The Turkish government didn’t appreciate the gesture. Jehezkel was detained, the justice minister announced he was launching an investigation, and the president’s chief advisor called the player a “vile dog.”

Nor did the New York Times allow Jehezkel his message. In its coverage of the incident, the newspaper silenced his advocacy for the abducted, and insisted cast the gesture as a militaristic paean:

To celebrate his goal, Mr. Jehezkel jogged to the corner of the field, where a group of photographers was positioned. He pointed to a handwritten message on a band of tape on his left wrist that included a six-pointed Star of David and “100 days, 7/10” — a reference to the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7.

A reference tothe start of the war?” The New York Times has no trouble understanding that commemorations of 9/11 memorialize “victims of the worst terrorist strike in American history,” and not the war the attack precipitated. Could a paper that sees itself as a sophisticated observer of the world be ignorant of what 10/7 represents in the Israeli psyche: the hostages, but also Hamas’s wholesale slaughter of innocent men, women, and children during the terror group’s invasion of Israel?

Illustrative image of a hostage sketched on athletic tape.

No. Editors were informed that Jehezkel spelled it out explicitly. “Ultimately, I decided to make a humanitarian gesture to the Israeli hostages in Gaza,” he told the soccer club’s leaders, the Israeli media reported. The statement was one of “empathy for the abductees who are there for so many days.” Even after learning of this message, the New York Times stood by its misrepresentation.

Other news outlets had no trouble understanding what 10/7 means. Jehezkel “expressed solidarity with hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza,” the Associated Press reported. It was an “on-pitch protest in support of hostages held in Gaza,” explained CNN. A “gesture of solidarity with hostages,” per the BBC. Even the Guardian, which initially succumbed to the same strange temptation as the New York Times, corrected a headline that erroneously cast the gesture as a “war message.” (The article itself got it right: “The message was a reference to the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October and the number of days that more than 130 Israeli hostages have been held in Gaza.”)

The New York Times, though, insists on erasing the Israeli victims from Jehezkel’s gesture. It is the journalistic equivalent of tearing down posters of the kidnapped — vandalism against the truth, at the expense of the hostages.

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