Something important is missing from the New York Times's coverage of the war in Gaza: photographs of terrorist attacks on Israel, and pictures of Hamas fighters, tunnels, weaponry, and use of human shields.
It appears the Times is silently but happily complying with a Hamas demand that the only pictures from Gaza are of civilians and never of fighters. The most influential news organization in the world is thus manufacturing an utterly false portrait of the battle—precisely the portrait that Hamas finds most helpful: embattled, victimized Gaza civilians under attack by a cruel Israeli military.
A review of the Times's photography in Gaza reveals a stark contrast in how the two sides are portrayed. Nearly every picture from Israel depicts tanks, soldiers, or attack helicopters. And every picture of Gaza depicts either bloodied civilians, destroyed buildings, overflowing hospitals, or other images of civilian anguish. It is as one-sided and misleading a depiction of the Gaza battle as one can imagine.
Today's Times photo essay contains seven images: three of Gaza civilians in distress; one of a smoke plume rising over Gaza; and three of the IDF, including tanks and attack helicopters. The message is simple and clear: the IDF is attacking Gaza and harming Palestinian civilians. There are no images of Israelis under rocket attack, no images of grieving Israeli families and damaged Israeli buildings, no images of Hamas fighters or rocket attacks on Israel, no images of the RPG's and machine guns recovered from attempted Hamas tunnel infiltrations into Israel.
Another report yesterday was accompanied by a single image: that of a dead child in a Gaza hospital.
A second report yesterday, ostensibly about Hamas tunnel attacks on Israel, bizarrely contained not a single picture related to those attacks. The three pictures it contained presented the same one-sided narrative of Israelis as attackers, Palestinians as victims. One picture showed an IDF artillery gun firing into Gaza; a second showed Palestinian mourners at a funeral; a third showed Palestinians waiting in line for food rations.
Indeed, a check of the Twitter feed of the Times’s photographer in Gaza shows not a single image that portrays Hamas in a negative light. It's nothing but civilian victims of the IDF.
Likewise, the Twitter feed of Anne Barnard, the Beirut bureau chief for the Times currently "reporting" from Gaza, is almost entirely devoted to one thing: anecdotes, pictures, and stories about civilian casualties. Perusing her feed, one would think there are simply no terrorists in Gaza who started this war, who are perpetuating it, who are intentionally attacking Israel from neighborhoods and apartment buildings and thereby guaranteeing the very civilian casualties Barnard appears so heartbroken over.
Maybe all of this is an illustration of just how biased against Israel the Times has become—so biased that Times photographers and editors are simply blind to any image that doesn’t conform to their view of the war.
Or maybe, in the interest of the safety and access of their journalists, the Times is complying with Hamas instructions. As reported by MEMRI, Hamas published media guidelines instructing Gazans to always refer to the dead as "innocent civilians" and to never post pictures of terrorists on social media. Hamas is currently preventing foreign journalists from leaving the Strip, in effect holding them hostage. These journalists must be terrified—and they also must know that the best way to ensure their safety is to never run afoul of the terrorists in whose hands their fates lie.
It would appear that Hamas’s media instructions have been heard loud and clear at theNew York Times, and the response is obedience. But the Times also isn't bothering to inform its readers that the images they’re seeing of Gaza are only the ones Hamas wants them to see. It’s time for the Times to tell its readers exactly why they are being presented with such a distorted picture of this war.
Noah Pollak is on Twitter, @NoahPollak