HL 178 – Two New York Times Articles About the War Raise Questions That Need Answering

December 28, 2023

Home | Blog | HL 178 – Two New York Times Articles About the War Raise Questions That Need Answering

Christmas Eve, I started counting all the Israel/Hamas war coverage in the New York Times digital edition, including articles about collateral damage, such as the Claudine Gay fiasco at Harvard.  I stopped at 25 and circled back to two that raised questions similar to those that came to mind when reading most of the other articles.  One Times’ article is titled “Houthi Militia In Yemen Presents A Special Challenge for U.S.” and the other “God Is Under the Ruble In Gaza’: Bethlehem’s subdued Christmas.”

In the first Times’ article about the more than 100 rocket and drone attacks that the Iran-backed and Yemen-based Houthi militia has already launched against ships in the Red Sea and America’s purely defensive response, it casually is noted that in the “conflict” between the Houthis and a Saudi-backed coalition, logistically  supported by the U.S., “[h]undreds of thousands of people have died in airstrikes and fighting, as well as from disease and hunger.”

More precisely, last summer The Council on Foreign Relations and the UN calculated the mostly civilian deaths as numbering 377,000, with 60% the result of hunger and the absence of medical care.  They also report five million Yemenis facing imminent famine and that a cholera outbreak affects over one million.  “All sides of the conflict [including ours] are reported to have violated human rights and international humanitarian law.”

Antonio Guterres

So, so far the deaths alone in that “conflict” are 19 times the number that Hamas reports in Gaza and American media accepts uncritically as God’s honest truth.[1]

Has the Times run as many articles about the long running Houthi/Saudi conflict as it has about the Israel/Hamas War in just three months?  I’d wager perhaps 1/19th as many.  Maybe that’s an exaggeration but more likely an underestimation.  Squared by that 19x death toll means that the Times (here a proxy for the American Press) pays 361 times as much attention to the loss of a Gaza civilian life as it does to that of a Yemeni civilian.  But that’s just Shiites and Sunnis killing each other, just Muslim on Muslim war crime, including those logistically supported by the U.S.

Question One is why that astounding imbalance in coverage?  Jews, like me, though not monolithic, by and large know and have long known the answer to that question.  Our attempts to explain it to non-Jews have fallen on deaf ears for millennia.  The minds connected to those ears should try to answer Question One for themselves.

Reverend Munther Isaac

The failure to do that was evident when Joe Biden told Israelis that “After 9/11 we were enraged in the United States.  While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.”  This after Biden admitted that October 7 “was like 15 9/11s.”  Without focusing on that apt quantitative distinction nor the difference between an attack launched from Afghanistan and one from a population meters away, the advice screams ignorance of the answer to Question One.  It says “you Jews must New Testament turn the other cheek, while we Old Testament wage war thousands of miles away for two decades.  You must sacrifice your troops in surgical pursuit of Hamas fighters while we killed every man, woman, child and pet in places like Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki which we, the U.S., did in order to spare a far greater number of  German, Japanese and American lives that would have been lost from prolonged warfare in Europe and full scale invasion of the Japanese mainland.”[2]  But when Israel reminds us of that, the press sneers that it’s all ancient history from way back in 1945.  Three whole years before every Arab country in the Middle East rejected the UN’s partition of Palestine into two states – one Jewish – and attacked that Jewish State even before it declared independence on May 14, 1948.

And its telling that the current honcho at the U.N. Antonio Guterres begins his history lesson to Israel in 1967 instead of 1948 when the Arab states attacked not only Israel but the U.N.’s authority and mandate.[3]

The self-appointed hero of the Times’ second article about the muted celebration of Christmas in Bethlehem this year is Reverend Munther Isaac, pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Christian Church in that West Bank City.  Rev. Isaac, author of “The Other Side of the Wall” a 2020 invitation for Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land to find salvation in Jesus, has also become the hero for non-Jews who don’t understand let alone attempt to answer Question One.  Reverend Isaac has adopted and pontificates with the royal “we don’t see this as a war against Hamas, it’s a war against Palestinians.”  And in Pastor Isaac’s very own etch-a-crèche, the baby Jesus is wrapped in a keffiyeh, leading to Question Two.  Pastor Isaac did you for one second consider depicting Baby Jesus with a yarmulke – after the atrocities of October 7?  A day when Jewish babies, were intentionally burned alive and transported as hostages into Gaza?  Perhaps your “Mission Studies” Ph.D. from Oxford included the life of Jesus, born, lived and died as and because he was a Jew.  I, for one, look forward to your answer.

[1]   I, perhaps like you, read this stuff constantly and not once have read any analysis of the numbers Hamas reports nor any serious questioning of those numbers.

[2]   In the case of Japan, such military operation was estimated to entail the loss of 4 million Japanese lives and those of 400,000 American soldiers.

[3]   U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, while condemning the October 7 Hamas operation felt the need to point out that it came after “56 years, of suffocating occupation.”  Ignoring the 19 years preceding the Six Day War of 1967, when the Arab states rejected the U.N. partition of Palestine, attacked Israel on the eve of its independence and launched a blockade a second war in 1956.  Guterres also ignored the last 18 years when after Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005.  The citizens of Gaza promptly elected a terrorist group committed to the destruction of Israel and the killing of all Jews as its governing body.

1 Comment

  1. Eric J Smith

    As many moderate Jews have observed along with Joe Biden, Netanyahu will fail in Gaza just as George W Bush failed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hamas cannot be completely removed from Gaza and the West Bank without a permanent occupation which would be disastrous for Israel and its economy. The only answer is a two state solution in which Israelis and Palestinians can coexist in shared prosperity while embracing their shared humanity. As it stands in the way of a Palestinian state, the Israeli right wing is as poisonous to their political culture as the MAGA cult is to ours.

    As for the press, you and I are of the Vietnam Generation. Our free press played a vital role in extricating us from our quagmire in Southeast Asia. One of the most important arguments against the futility of our continued involvement was the death toll among the Vietnamese people. A similar pattern recurred as the press examined our overthrow of Saddam Hussein, considerable attention was paid to the number of Iraqi civilian casualties. So why not apply the same standard of coverage to what Israel is doing in Gaza????


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