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The Economist thinks the NY Times hasn’t been hard enough on Israel

The Economist thinks the NY Times hasn’t been hard enough on Israel

Weasel voices

Only thing is—the Economist thinks the Times hasn’t been hard enough on Israel.

Actually, the article in question from the Economist is about language, in particular, the “weasel voice” of evasion (it’s part of a continuing “Johnson” series about words/grammar in journalism, named after Samuel Johnson).
Here’s the problem with the Times’ coverage, according to the Economist:

On May 14th, as Palestinians massed at the Gaza Strip’s border, Israeli soldiers fired on them, killing around 60 people. Shortly afterwards, the New York Times tweeted: “Dozens of Palestinians have died in protests as the US prepares to open its Jerusalem embassy.” Social media went ballistic. “From old age?” was one incredulous reply. #HaveDied quickly became a hashtag campaign.

The fault was soon laid not only at the door of the Times, but at a feature of English grammar. As Glenn Greenwald, a left-wing journalist, put it, “Most Western media outlets have become quite skilled—through years of practice—at writing headlines and describing Israeli massacres using the passive tense so as to hide the culprit.” His view was retweeted over 5,000 times and echoed by other critics.

Those of you who follow the news on this blog or any other blog that isn’t part of the left will probably be aware of how outrageous this is—and by “this,” I mean the Economist article and the contentions of Greenwald. Now, I have no quarrel with the idea that “have died” is a euphemism and “were killed by Israeli soldiers” would be a better construction to use—I’m all in favor of straight talk. But if we’re into straight talk and actual, unvarnished news rather than propaganda, the Economist critique is highly misleading.

The truth? They weren’t “protests” and these weren’t just random “Palestinians” (see this article by William Jacobson here at Legal Insurrection, just to take one example). And we have no idea how many of them were killed by Israeli soldiers because the only people reporting an actual number were health officials in Gaza, who have a lousy track record for truth.

Read this article for some background to why the Economist’s piece is so outrageous:

…HAMAS displays a remarkable deftness in defining the March of Return as a peaceful demonstration while surreptitiously waging insurgent warfare. Violating the Geneva Conventions, HAMAS have planted its operatives, armed with explosives and weapons, among the so-called peaceful demonstrators. They have also sent little girls to the frontlines, directly into harm’s way.

By getting the world media, including much of the Israeli media, to define (and thus to perceive) the March as a peaceful demonstration, while using it to wage insurgent warfare, HAMAS have scored a major victory in 4GW [Fourth Generation Warfare]. Anything the IDF does to protect the border or even the lives of its own troops will make the IDF look like they’re using excessive force, never mind the fact that the limited force they’ve applied so far has, in all likelihood, kept the “demonstration” from becoming even bloodier.

Pretending to hold “peaceful” demonstrations and deftly tricking the world media into defining the March (marching is a martial metaphor) as a peaceful demonstration by unarmed civilians, HAMAS have created a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t moral predicament in which anything Israel does short of withdrawing from the area will undermine the legitimacy of the Israeli state. By making its defense forces appear “immoral,” HAMAS make Israel itself appear illegitimate.

The article from the Economist about the weasel voice is actually an entire weasel article. But to the vast majority of its readers, nothing is amiss, because it conforms to the MSM narrative that they’ve consumed over and over again. It’s really quite a seamless whole.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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I remember back in the 80’s, when the Economist was a serious publication about free market economics on both sides of the Atlantic. I used to read it then, as did many.

Today’s version of the Economist is just a modern reincarnation of Der Sturmer.

    guyjones in reply to Tom Servo. | May 30, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Agreed. The Economist had more credibility when it focused on finance and economics, instead of regurgitating and parroting Islamist propaganda and anti-Israel venom.

    I avoid reading it, today, and stick to the Wall Street Journal for my financial news.

      notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to guyjones. | May 30, 2018 at 5:02 pm

      Have they defended Works yet?

      The Weekly Standard Finally Finds a Hill Worth Dying On: Defending George Soros Against His Own Admitted Work for Nazis in Confiscating Jewish Property

      Ace of Spades

        notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital. | May 30, 2018 at 5:06 pm

        Soros that is – damn spyware!!!!!!!!!!

        The Weekly Standard Finally Finds a Hill Worth Dying On: Defending George Soros Against His Own Admitted Work for Nazis in Confiscating Jewish Property

          BS. He did no such thing, and he did not admit such a thing. He spent a summer on a confiscated farm while the functionary who took him in was inventorying it. He had no role whatsoever in the confiscation.

          You believe Soros?

          You have any reason whatsoever to suspect otherwise? If you don’t believe him then on what basis are you flinging these vile accusations at him? Do you think you’re entitled to accuse random people of such heinous crimes merely because you don’t like them? His own words are the only information we have about how he spent the War, so we must either believe them or maintain that we know nothing at all, good or bad, about him.

Already seen this movie. Plot;

1) you claim we are biased against Isreal.

2) but here are complaints we are biased for Israel

3) so we are catching flak from both sides on this issue, which can only mean it coverage is unbiased.

“deftly tricking the world media into defining the March (marching is a martial metaphor) as a peaceful demonstration by unarmed civilians”

They aren’t tricking anyone. The media is a willing and enthusiastic accomplice. Even those who consume this media and hold it forth as fact aren’t tricked. They are complicit enablers of lies, knowingly misrepresenting the truth for the furtherance of their political goals. Progressivism is a tower of lies built upon a foundation of lies and believed by nobody. Everyone knows the emperor has no clothes, but those who benefit from his nakedness are well-connected, and the polity too debased to be bothered.

A better headline would have been:

“Israel Repels Invasion as US Prepares to Open Embassy; Dozens Killed”


“Dozens Killed in Palestinian Border Riot, as US Prepares to Open Embassy”

4th armored div | May 30, 2018 at 9:48 am

when the Brits left the Mandate in 1947, having ‘thoughtfully’ disarmed the Jews, they fully expected a massacre OF THE JEWS.
The fact that the Yeshuv (
was successful in winning the war for independence could not be forgiven right to this day!

    Milhouse in reply to 4th armored div. | May 30, 2018 at 10:16 am

    They wanted to wash their hands of it and let the Arabs do the dirty work, and then they would condemn them, hold marches in solidarity with the dead Jews, name streets after them, and smugly confirm their view of the Arabs as contemptible barbarians, while being glad that the problem had been solved. Which is pretty much exactly what they wanted a few years earlier with the Germans.

    (cf Lord Moyne’s response to the opportunity to rescue a million Hungarian Jews: “What would we do with a million Jews?”)

      Shane in reply to Milhouse. | May 30, 2018 at 10:24 am

      Why do the English hate the Jews? I can see their bias, but I am unsure where it comes from? Is it the same hatred that most of Europe has for them or something else?

        Milhouse in reply to Shane. | May 30, 2018 at 10:36 am

        It’s mostly historical, but it’s not hatred. They like Jews in principle, just not in practice. Like liberals who like black people, but not next door to them. The British even like Jews a few at a time, but get nervous at the prospect of large numbers; while they would never be so crass as to massacre them themselves (well, not since the 1290s, anyway), they wouldn’t mind someone else doing it, and then they can feel righteous about condemning it.

          Vascaino in reply to Milhouse. | May 31, 2018 at 10:15 am

          Many years ago I backpacked around Britain on foot and certainly encountered hatred.
          Waiting for the ferry to the Isle of Skye were two Israelis, and when it became common knowlege, among those waiting to board, they could have taken a shower in the venom that spewed forth.
          This in the early seventies and it wasn’t Israel but the Jew that was targeted.

    They didn’t just disarm the Jews. They abandoned large amounts of weaponry for the Arabs to use in a calculated attempt to help the Arabs destroy the Jewish State. Furthermore, a number of English military personnel actively assisted and even led Arab forces without any repercussions from the English government (e.g., Glubb Pasha

      Vascaino in reply to Rachel. | May 31, 2018 at 10:05 am

      I believe that the RAF flew for Egypt and lost some planes to Ezer Weitzman and co.
      Don’t forget the Ben Yehuda bombing which coundn’t have happened without British connivance.

As I posted, yesterday — this form of Leftists’ and media’s willfully ignorant, slavishly enthusiastic promotion of transparently fallacious Islamic propaganda narratives of contrived and alleged victimhood, and, tangentially, alleged Israeli “oppression,” should absolutely be called out as representing contemporary anti-Semitism.

There is simply no excuse, at this stage in time, with 1,400 years of Islamic supremacism, totalitarianism, belligerence and aggression, for anyone to have illusions about whether Islam’s sundry and intrinsic pathologies lie at the hart of conflict in the Middle East. Anyone who chooses to deny this reality is embracing fantastical Leftist narratives, at the expense of objective truth and morality.

Yet another publication for me to boycott.

The Economist, which I subscribe to, has become increasingly far Euro style leftwing. It is therefore stridently anit-Israel, pro-Muslim, pro-open borders and bizarrely Global Warmist. The latter is hilarious because they will tag a global warming line on any story whatsoever. “Stamp collectors numbers decrease as climate change effects felt.”
I made that up, but it is close to the truth.

I bet that Lawrence of Arabia would not only not win the Oscar, but it wouldn’t even be nominated and likely there would be organized protests if screened as a new film these days.

As my disseration advisor warned me, coincidence does not infer causality. A good scientist thinks of five other likely explanation and fully investigates each of them to disprove their involvement. Liberals, in my opinion, jump on the first thing which pops into their minds and then they run with it, evidence contrary be damned.

Years ago, I subscribed to The Economist because I had gotten tired of the superficial drivel from U.S.-based “news” magazines. The Economist had more, more interesting, and better written articles.

I gave up The Economist after a few years. It was blatantly anti-Semitic. I remember cartoons depicting Ariel Sharon as a hook-nosed blood-thirsty war monger. I was surprised at the time that a supposedly respectable magazine could publish such garbage. (I also remember cartoons that depicted George W. Bush as an imbecile.)

I am no longer surprised when I see Jew hatred in British publications. It is more widespread than just The Economist.