OpinionIsrael at War

Veteran New York Times’ reporter blames Israel for Oct. 7 attacks

Far from being “trapped,” Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip found jobs in Israel, daily going back and forth, and spending their days there.

Workers from the Gaza Strip stand in line to enter Israel through the Erez border crossing, Sept. 28, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.
Workers from the Gaza Strip stand in line to enter Israel through the Erez border crossing, Sept. 28, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.
Moshe Phillips
Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs whose writings appear regularly in the American and Israeli press.  

The former Israel bureau chief of The New York Times has discovered who is really to blame for the Hamas pogrom on Oct. 7: Israel.

This vile bit of slander comes from the pen of Ethan Bronner, who spent 26 years at the Times posing as an objective journalist. That included the years 2008 to 2012, when he served as its Israel bureau chief.

Bronner’s pro-Palestinian bias over the years has been well documented. (For dozens of examples, see: camera.org). Unfortunately, that troubling record didn’t stop Bloomberg News from making him head of its own Israel bureau earlier this year.

Perhaps the folks at Bloomberg are beginning to regret their decision, following Bronner’s outrageous statements about Israel in a Nov. 12 book review he wrote for the Times.

In the essay, he listed examples of what he called Israeli mistreatment of Arabs. He then declared that “Oct.7 and its tragic aftermath illustrate” that Israel cannot “turn away from these challenges and pay no price.”

So, according to Bronner, the pogrom is Israel’s fault. It’s the “price” that Israel is “paying” for its allegedly awful policies.

And what exactly has Israel been doing to the Arabs that’s so awful? The veteran journalist offered three examples, none of which are Israel’s fault at all.

First, “some 3 million Palestinians live under [Israeli] occupation in the West Bank.” Only, they don’t. Bronner apparently never wondered why he didn’t see any Israeli “occupation” troops when he visited Palestinian Authority cities such as Ramallah, Qalqilya or Nablus (Shechem). It apparently never occurred to him ask anybody why the Israeli military governor had disappeared.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdrew all of Israel’s troops and military administrators from the P.A.’s cities after signing the Oslo II Accords in 1995. The Israel bureau chief of The New York Times doesn’t seem to know about those agreements. Apparently, he still thinks that Israeli “occupation” troops are marching around Ramallah.

Second, according to Bronner, those Palestinian Arabs have “little prospect of attaining full rights.” That may well be true, but not because of the Israelis. Israel has not “turned away from that challenge,” as Bronner claimed. It is the P.A.—now run by Mahmoud Abbas, who turns 88 on Nov. 15—which for the past 28 years has denied its residents their rights. It is the P.A. that refuses to let them vote for their leader. It is the P.A. that jails dissidents and smashes labor unions.

Third, Bronner wrote, “another 2 million are trapped in Gaza under Hamas.” Evidently, this supposedly well-informed Israel bureau chief is not aware that on the eve of the Oct. 7 massacre, 18,000 Gazan workers were entering Israel and returning to Gaza every single day. Far from being “trapped,” they chose to find jobs in Israel and spent their days there. In fact, that is reportedly how some gathered crucial information to take back to Hamas operatives in Gaza that could have been used in the Oct. 7 terror attacks.

Anybody else who felt “trapped” in Gaza could have left to the west—that is, through Egypt. If the Egyptians limited their passage, then Bronner should be blaming Cairo for trapping them—not wagging his finger at Israel, the country that was letting 18,000 of them enter daily, despite the security risks involved.

Given The New York Times’s long record of opposition to Israel, maybe nobody should be surprised when one of its veteran reporters briefly sheds his “objective journalist” disguise and openly slanders Israel.

But Bloomberg News has, until now, not had a reputation of bias against Israel. One wonders if anybody there realized what they were getting themselves in for when they hired Bronner. Is he really the type of journalist whom Bloomberg wants to have as its Israel bureau chief?

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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