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Huge Transfer of 2,000-Pound Bombs from U.S. to Israel Not Newsworthy to the NY Times

by Norman Solomon
Not Newsworthy to the New York Times
When the Washington Post revealed Friday afternoon that “the Biden administration in recent days quietly authorized the transfer of billions of dollars in bombs and fighter jets to Israel,” a lot of people cared. Readers of the story posted more than 10,000 comments on its webpage. A leading progressive site for breaking news, Common Dreams, quickly followed up with coverage under a headline that began with the word “obscene.” Responses on social media were swift and strong; a tweet about the Post scoop from our team at RootsAction received more than 600,000 views.

But at the New York Times -- the nation’s purported newspaper of record -- one day after another went by as the editors determined that the story about the massive new transfer of weaponry to Israel wasn’t worth reporting on at all. Yet it was solid. A Reuters dispatch said that two sources “confirmed” the Post’s report.

By omission, the New York Times gave a boost to a process of normalizing the slaughter in Gaza, as if shipping vast quantities of 2,000-pound bombs for use to take the lives of Palestinian civilians is unremarkable and unnewsworthy. Just another day at the genocide office.

The intentional failure of the Times to report the profoundly important news of the huge new shipments of armaments was a tacit signal that the flagrant willingness of Uncle Sam to talk out of both sides of his mouth -- assisting with further carnage on a soul-corrupting scale -- was no big deal.

At the end of the weekend, I sent an email to the Times managing editor Carolyn Ryan and asked why the newspaper wasn’t covering the story at all. She passed my question along to the Times public-relations manager, who provided only a non-answer on Monday night. Here it is in full: “The New York Times has invested more than any other U.S. newspaper over the past decade to help readers understand the complexities of the Israel-Hamas conflict. We continue to report on events as they develop, both in the region, internationally and within the U.S. government.”

The complete evasion, laced with self-puffery, reflected the arrogance of media power from the single most influential and far-reaching news outlet in the United States. Rather than amplify the crucial story into the nation’s media echo chamber, the Times opted to quash it.

The saying that “justice delayed is justice denied” has a parallel for news media and war -- journalism delayed is journalism denied. The refusal of the Times to cover the story after it broke was journalistic malpractice, helping to make it little more than a fleeting one-day story instead of the subject of focused national discourse that it should have been.

The Post article had laid bare, at a pivotal historic moment, a lethal contradiction within the behavior of top U.S. government officials -- directly aiding and abetting Israel’s methodical killing of civilians in Gaza while spouting facile platitudes about them.

In its lead sentence, the piece said that the White House had okayed the new shipments of bombs and jets “despite Washington’s concerns about an anticipated military offensive in southern Gaza that could threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians.” The juxtaposition showed just how phony “Washington’s concerns” actually are.

“The new arms packages include more than 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, according to Pentagon and State Department officials familiar with the matter,” the Post reported. “The 2,000-pound bombs have been linked to previous mass-casualty events throughout Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.”

The piece quoted an unidentified White House official who, in effect, underscored that all the talk of President Biden’s supposed distress about the ongoing massacres of civilians in Gaza has been a cruel exercise in PR smoke-blowing: “We have continued to support Israel’s right to defend itself. Conditioning aid has not been our policy.”

Translation: We continue to support, with massive military aid, Israel’s prerogative to keep slaughtering Palestinian civilians.

If the Times editors need to grasp just how significantly horrific the 2,000-pound bombs now en route to Israel really are, they could read some reporting from their own newspaper. In December, it described those bombs as “one of the most destructive munitions in Western military arsenals” -- a weapon that “unleashes a blast wave and metal fragments thousands of feet in every direction.” Back then, the Times indicated that “Israel used these munitions in the area it designated safe for civilians at least 200 times,” and those 2,000-pound bombs were “a pervasive threat to civilians seeking safety across south Gaza.”

It’s a safe bet that the new transfer of 2,000-pound bombs to Israel would seem more newsworthy to the editors of the New York Times if the lives of their loved ones were at stake.

____________________________________

Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He is the author of many books including War Made Easy. His latest book, War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine, was published in 2023 by The New Press.
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