New York Times readers could be forgiven if they felt confused after reading two stories about the blockade of Gaza in today’s paper. One story, by Michael Slackman and Ethan Bronner, the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief, depicted the life of people in Gaza as desperate and idle, not allowed to enter and exit as they please or trade with the outside world. A separate story, with only Bronner’s byline on it, explains that since the deadly Israeli raid on an aid flotilla, the land blockade has been “eased” considerably.
Slackman and Bronner report:
Israel is never far from people’s minds here. Its ships control the waters, its planes control the skies. Its whims, Gazans feel, control their fate.
And while most here view Israel as the enemy, they want trade ties and to work there. In their lives the main source of income has been from and through Israel.
Economists here say what is most needed now is not more goods coming in, as the easing of the blockade has permitted, but people and exports getting out.
The other, much shorter piece by Bronner, with a reporter from Cairo contributing, states:
Israel imposed the blockade several years ago to isolate Hamas, the militant anti-Israel group that won elections in Gaza in 2006 and seized complete control in 2007. But in the time since the Turkish flotilla episode, Israel eased the land blockade considerably.
Bronner echoed that sentiment in another recent piece:
Following the takeover of the flotilla and the deaths on board, international pressure forced Israel to ease the land blockade.
Now the blockade is largely limited to the sea and to materials, like steel, that Israel fears could be turned into weapons by Hamas.
That article contradicts today’s piece, which informs readers that people are trapped and not allowed to export goods to the outside world, a key component of rebuilding a battered economy. The blockade has hardly been “eased.” The piece with Slackman lines up with what numerous human rights organizations and international bodies have said about what the siege is doing to the people of Gaza.
So, what explains the cognitive dissonance? While you can’t know for sure, one could reasonably suspect that Slackman, the Times’ Cairo bureau chief, had a big role in writing and reporting on the piece titled, “Trapped by Gaza Blockade, Locked in Despair.” In the article only written by Bronner, whose son is in the Israeli Defense Forces, Israel comes out looking much better. Bronner’s reporting has long been documented as being biased in favor of Israel.
This begs the question: if Bronner’s bias shines so bright, why is he still allowed to be the Jerusalem bureau chief for the “paper of record”?
Clark Hoyt, the former public editor for the Times, suggested that Bronner should be reassigned after it emerged that Bronner’s son joined the IDF. Today’s articles prove the need for that reassignment to happen.