Journalists in Gaza


A couple of pieces in recent days have begun to take aim at Israel’s policy of denying journalists entry to Gaza. To be clear, there are journalists there. The Times has a correspondent on the ground, Al Jazeera has six — two of whom report in English — and Bloomberg, CNN and the L.A. Times have all run stories datelined from Gaza. Even JTA has had exclusive reporting from the war zone.

Al Jazeera, apparently the only broadcast outlet in Gaza, has gained some favorable attention: Ha’aretz’s Gideon Levy has only the highest praise for its young American correspondent and the Times notes that few in the United States are seeing its coverage (lucky you, Toledo!)

Here are two points to ponder: If Israel were to permit unrestricted journalistic access to Gaza, would the ensuing coverage be more damaging than the heat it’s taking over sealing off the strip?

And, while American Jews and others continue to skewer the media for its treatment of the conflict, do they lose the right to speak up when Israel itself is restricting the coverage?

In Ha’aretz, an Italian journalist sums it up thus:

After all, if there is no way for we journalists to get to the points of conflict personally, and hence no chance for us judge the facts with our own eyes, we have no choice but to rely on the reports coming out from victims and witnesses in the Strip. For the most part, they will be are mainly Palestinians or sources close to them. There is no alternative.

At the Times, that erstwhile focus of American Jewish frustration with supposedly anti-Israel coverage, the public editor also took a swipe this week (while generally defending the paper’s coverage).

Though the most vociferous supporters of Israel and the Palestinians do not agree, I think The Times, largely barred from the battlefield and reporting amid the chaos of war, has tried its best to do a fair, balanced and complete job — and has largely succeeded.

Even Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, a pretty fair-minded and experienced writer on such topics, doesn’t like Israeli policy, even though he has far harsher words for those who seem addicted to stories of Jewish moral failure.

One story the media isn’t telling, because it’s impossible to get this story in these circumstances (especially because Israel stupidly won’t allow foreign reporters into Gaza) is how much resentment the Hamas policy of using Palestinians as human shields causes among Gaza civilians. Early reports indicate that Hamas mortar teams were firing from the UN School. This shouldn’t surprise anyone.

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