The Every Picture Tells a Story series reviewed media’s deliberate use of pictures to tell a story to its readers. It is a story that conveyed Israel committing gross atrocities, uniquely in the world:
- “Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t it?” reviewed the New York Times’ use (and lack) of pictures of the three murdered Israeli teenagers in the summer of 2014 on the front page of its newspaper, while showing the Arab family whose son was killed.
- Every Picture Tells a Story, the Bibi Monster” reviewed how the NYT showed a large color picture of a Palestinian Arab teenager injured by Israeli police on its front page, while small pictures of mass murders in Kenya, Uganda and Yemen were found inside the paper. Further, pictures of Israeli PM Netanyahu repeatedly showed up next to pictures of injured Arabs, while no member of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas ever made it to the front pages during the entire Operation Protective Edge.
- “The New York Times Buried Pictures” analyzed the puzzling lack of exposure of the Hamas terror tunnels from Gaza into Israel, which were the primary reasons for the Israeli ground offensive into Gaza.
- “The New York Times 2014 Picture of the Year” wrapped up these observations, noting that the New York Times used large color photographs on its cover page of injured Palestinian Arabs repeatedly – on July 11, 14, 17, 21, 22, 24 and 29 – while continuing to hide pictures of Palestinian Arab aggression, and attacks in conflicts around the world.
The Times continued preference for ignoring mass killings and assassinations in the world continued into 2015.
During a week of April 2015, world governments and terrorists killed hundreds of people. Not one incident merited a front page picture in the Times:
- ISIS mass execution of Ethiopian Christians by beheadings and shooting
- Suicide bombing by ISIS in Afghanistan killed 35 civilians, the worst suicide attack of the year
- Al Shabab killed 19 outside the Ministry of Education in Somalia
- A short article with small picture about the killing of the top aide to Saddam Hussein
- Small article and small picture of US drone killing top al Qaeda leader in Yemen
These articles were found buried in the paper. The associated pictures were relatively small and several were in black and white. No picture showed the victims injured or hurt.
This is not a new phenomenon. The Times often minimizes attacks that occur in the MENA (Middle East/ North Africa) region. The exception to the rule, is if Israel is the attacker.
Natan Sharansky, a famous Jewish refusenik who was jailed in Russia for trying to move to Israel, developed a three part “3D test” to determine anti-Semitism: Double standards; Demonization; and Delegitimization. Many liberals disagree with this approach and feel that double standards do not convey anti-Semitism. The liberal argument is that Israel should not be held to the same standards as Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and the many countries in the Middle East, let alone terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Shabab. As Israel is a modern progressive country, the standards should be more akin to the USA or Western Europe. But that argument falls flat in general, and in particular, regarding the New York Times coverage of Israel.
First, the situations are not remotely comparable. The US and Western Europe do not sit in the middle of the Middle East, surrounded by a combination of: war; terrorist groups operating freely; countries and entities that threaten to destroy their countries; and constant attacks on its citizens. It is easy to be judgmental while lunching in Luxembourg. However, Israel is forced to fight and defend itself repeatedly because of the volatile neighborhood and hostile attitude of its neighbors.
Second, the New York Times uses a double standard for the US and its allies. The paper does not treat the war effort of the US and Europe which have opted to fight battles thousands of miles from their borders, in the same manner as Israel fighting to defend itself. The NYT never posted a picture of President Obama next to the victims of a drone strike (which the president actually authorized) as it does with PM Netanyahu (for general military actions). It does not show pictures of civilians killed by US troops. It minimizes the pictures of terrorists killed by the US and its allies, using small black and white photos in the middle of the newspaper, rather than large color photographs on the front page as it does for Israel.
Third, the NYT and many liberals do not only use double standards, but demonize and delegitimize Israel as well. The unique focus on how Israel defends itself is one thing (double standards). Uniquely showing pictures of injured Palestinian Arab victims alongside pictures of Israeli leaders and weaponry is demonization.
Simply compare the natural human reaction of looking at a small headshot picture of an al Qaeda leader (accompanied by an article that the United States killed the person), to a collage of pictures of injured and killed Palestinian civilians alongside pictures of Israeli military personnel and another of the Israeli Prime Minister. A person would likely skip the article buried in the paper that only has a head shot. But the large color collage of pictures on the front page delivers a biased story that is impossible to ignore: that the Israeli government is responsible for sending its army to kill civilians.
Further, consider opening the pages of paper and seeing a smoke trail coming from Gaza (the closest the Times came to showing Hamas militants firing weapons). The accompanying article refers to the people in Gaza providing a “counterpunch,” making the group appear as the victims instead of the party that initiated the fight.
Imagine if the Times had shown pictures of the missiles Israel used to “tap” the roof of targeted homes to let the occupants know that a real explosive was coming so they could flee. Imagine the Times showed pictures of the thousands of leaflets that Israel dropped on certain neighborhoods urging residents to leave an upcoming battle zone. Imagine pictures of Arabs holding cellphones far from the military action, because they received calls from Israel to move to safety.
You would need to imagine such images, because the Times does not print them.
The defensive nature of Israel’s war against Hamas was delegitimzed by the Times because the paper did show pictures of Hamas leaders, nor its tunnels and weaponry. Without the clear imagery of the three slain Israeli teenagers and Hamas terror tunnels which were the causes for the war, the reader was left with an impression that it was a war of choice for Israel. Cover page pictures of injured Palestinians were coupled with articles under the headline “Confrontation in Gaza” as opposed to “War FROM Gaza,” left the reader with the incorrect conclusion that Israel as the big belligerent party.
The Times 2014 war coverage failed on all parts of the “3D Test” for anti-Semitism.
Now, in 2015, the Times photo editor has taken time off since Israel is not at war.
Attacks around the world continue to be buried inside the paper. Without images of Israel as the aggressor, more neutral and natural images cover the paper, such as shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, earthquakes and volcanoes.
The New York Times tried to defend its coverage of Israel as balanced. By going through the effort of explaining itself, it has at least realized that the accusation of double standards for Israel is indeed anti-Semitism, which is a better than many liberal pundits. It stilIt is time that everyone join the effort of pointing out to the Times its 3D failures, rather than just a handful of outlets like CAMERA, Honest Reporting, StandWithUs and FirstOneThrough.
First posted at First.One.Through.