Selective Salon

Starting with the headline of Salon‘s March 12 article by Ben Norton, “Israeli airstrikes kill 2 Palestinian children in the besieged Gaza Strip” a recurring and major failing is manifestly evident. It is the selective use of context to vilify Israel. Determined readers learn only in the fifth paragraph that the Israeli strikes were in response to four Palestinian rocket attacks targeting Israel.

Norton’s selective use of context diminishes the apparent justification of Israel’s attacks targeting Hamas sites. Time and again, he casts the Gaza rockets as supposedly harmless. “Israel claims its airstrikes were in retaliation after four missiles were launched into open areas in southern Israel, resulting in no casualties,” he writes. “The Israeli military says there have been three more rockets fired into Israel from Gaza since the beginning of the year, which neither injured nor killed anyone.” While thankfully no Israeli civilians have been killed by rockets this year, Norton’s incomplete description ignores the fact that the decade-long stream of rocket fire targeting Israeli villages and cities has terrorized an entire generation of children.

As for physical injuries during caused by the supposedly “harmless rockets,” the United Nation’s “Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict – hardly a pro-Israel source – wrote:

Between 7 July and 26 August 2014, Palestinian armed groups fired several thousand projectiles towards Israel killing six civilians. According to Ministry of Health statistics, up to 1600 Israelis were injured, including over 270 children. Of these, Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency medical service, reported that it treated at least 836 people for different types of injuries, including 36 people wounded by shrapnel, 33 people hurt by shattered glass or building debris, and 159 people injured in the rush to reach shelters.

Twice, in the strapline and in the text it is stated that the children were killed after Israel "bombed their home". However, the Reuters report makes it clear that the children's home was not the target but they were killed by "fragments from a missile" after Israel targeted "four militant training camps belonging to Hamas". There is a substantive moral difference between targeting a family home and targeting terror training camps.

Norton again employs selective omission, writing:

Approximately 190 Palestinians and 30 Israelis have been killed since October 2015. Close to 30 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza.

His omission of the fact that most of the Palestinian fatalities were attackers is a gross manipulation of the facts. As the New York Times rightly noted:

The bloodshed — mainly stabbings but also shootings and car-ramming attacks — has killed 28 Israelis. During the same time, at least 179 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. Most of the Palestinians have been identified by Israel as attackers, while the rest were killed in clashes with security forces.

With the use of omission, Norton depicts Israel as the aggressor, bombing the blameless Gaza Strip and killing innocents. He writes:

In October 2015, Israel also bombed a home in southern Gaza City, killing a pregnant Palestinian woman and her two-year-old child.

He ignores the fact that mother and child were tragically killed when Israel attacked a Hamas weapon making facility, following yet another Gaza rocket attack on Israel's southern villages.

In a second instance of citing an article which doesn’t actually support his claim, Norton states:

The Israeli government controls virtually everything that enters the densely populated [Gaza] strip, and has put Gazans “on a diet,”restricting the food.

The hyperlinked Guardian article clearly notes that the Israeli army made a calculation meant to ensure that despite the blockade there would not be a humanitarian crisis and "Israel says it never limited how many calories were available to Gaza." The article continues, stating that

While the embargo crippled Gaza's economy, at no point did observers identify a food crisis developing in the territory, whose residents rely heavily on international food aid. 

Finally, Norton quotes an additional diplomatic cable stating that Israeli sources told American diplomats that Israel wants to keep Gaza's economy“functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.”

The Salon writer neglects mention to that this is a quote that dates back to 2008 (before even the naval blockade began), predating various major changes in Israeli policy

While Norton is entitled to his personal negative opinion of Israel, his inability to write professionally and objectively about the country damages Salon's credibility.

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