Your unit, on the edges of the northern Gaza town of Jabaliya, has taken mortar fire from the crowded refugee camp nearby. You prepare to return fire, and perhaps you notice -- or perhaps you don't, even though it's on your map -- that there is a United Nations school just there, full of displaced Gazans. You know that international law allows you to protect your soldiers and return fire, but also demands that you ensure that there is no excessive harm to civilians. Do you remember all that in the chaos?
This was the Steven Erlanger's lead on a front page story in the New York Times today that went on at great length rationalizing Israeli conduct during their assault on Gaza. It ran the same day that Israel hit a fourth UN school. Four of them. The Times cannot even publish its rationalization of the last UN school bombing before a new one is hit. Reading it made me physically ill. Move the context to, say, Bosnia. Imagine a front page story in the Times sympathizing with the tough calls that had to be made by those poor Serb gunners bearing down on the besieged city. Or better, to the Warsaw ghetto during the Second World War. You know, the place where those sneaky Jewish irregulars refused to come out and fight like a legitimate army and instead hid among the civilian population.
This is the comparison made by Sir Gerald Kaufman in a speech in the British House of Commons that was the subject of my last blog post. Kaufman's comparison of Israeli actions in Gaza to Nazi actions in Warsaw carried particular weight because his grandmother was one of those killed by the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto.
The New York Times didn't mention Kaufman's speech, which was covered by news media around the world. For shame.
Like Juan Cole's excellent Informed Comment site, War in Context features links to articles from around the Middle East, with accompanying editorial comment by Woodward.
Or check out Woodward's own piece on War in Context about how the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs took down its web page that was up before the invasion, which included a graph that clearly showed that Hamas had honored the truce between Israel and Hamas over the last few months, and replaced it with a graph in which the size of the bars bear no relation to the numbers the bars represent, giving the false impression that Hamas did not honor the truce. And there's more. But read it there.