While the New York Times seems to accept without question any and all charges of alleged Israeli brutality, in other circumstances the paper can apparently still muster the usual journalistic impulses to actually fact-check and doubt before publishing incendiary claims.
For example, when Afghan officials – including Afghan President Hamid Karzai – charged that numerous innocent civilians had been killed by US air strikes during a recent firefight, the Times examined the Afghan dossier and found it wanting, as even the headline made clear: False Claims in Afghan Accusations on U.S. Raid Add to Doubts on Karzai.
As Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg explained, the dossier purported:
to show the carnage inflicted during a raid by American forces: photographs of shattered houses and bloodied, broken bodies, and video images of anguish at a village funeral, all with gut-churning impact and no proof of authenticity.
The Times then helpfully explained that the Afghan charges were an “apparent effort to demonize their American backers,” and that Afghan officials had “falsely represented at least some of the evidence in the dossier, and distributed other material whose provenance, at best, could not be determined..”
Regarding provenance, the Times reported that their examination of the dossier:
also revealed that much of the same material was posted on a Taliban website last week… [and the Taliban have a] habit of twisting facts, or simply making them up when necessary.
Now compare this with how the Times reports similar charges against Israel, often of equally questionable provenance, and often originating with Hamas, the local equivalent of the Taliban in many ways, including truthfulness.
For example, after Israel fought in Gaza to put an end to indiscriminate Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, the Times rushed to place on its front page charges that Israeli soldiers had engaged in “wanton killing,” including a sniper murdering a mother and her two children, and another sniper murdering an elderly woman: Soldiers’ Accounts of Gaza Killings Raise Furor in Israel, followed by Further Accounts of Gaza Killings Released.
The charges, in this case originating in Israel but confirmed by Palestinians in Gaza, were utter nonsense, as even the Times later admitted.
But that didn’t stop the Times from trumpeting the false charges on the front page.
Will there come a time when a Times headline will refer to “false claims” by Palestinian sources?
Will there come a time when the paper will refer to the numerous documented instances of Palestinian sources having a “habit of twisting facts, or simply making them up when necessary” – such as the widely quoted Palestinian spokesperson Saeb Erekat, of “Jenin Massacre” fame?
Will there come a time when a Times report will inform readers that false Palestinian charges “are an apparent effort to demonize” Israelis?
Hope springs eternal.