Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

When Rockets Are Just ‘Bee Stings’ For The Washington Post

November 25, 2012 3:51 am 8 comments

You can safely bet the ranch on it: When a Washington Post writer dismisses thousands of rockets as not much more than “bee stings” on a “bear’s behind,” the country that is targeted with these rockets is Israel.

The callous dismissal of the roughly 12 000 rockets and mortars that have been raining down on Israel’s south and its 1 million residents in the past 12 years – yes, on average a thousand attacks a year – is all the more outrageous when you consider that it comes from the Washington Post’s ombudsman Patrick Pexton. Officially, Pexton “represents readers who have concerns or complaints on topics including accuracy, fairness, ethics and the news-gathering process. He also serves as The Post’s internal critic and strives to promote public understanding of the newspaper, its Web site and journalism more generally.”

With his response to criticism of a recent front page photograph showing a grief-stricken father from Gaza holding the shrouded body of his infant son, Pexton certainly succeeded in giving the public a glimpse of the multiple biases that apparently guide his own work when it comes to Israel’s efforts to defend its citizens against bombs and terrorism.

First it is noteworthy that Pexton emphasizes that the criticism came from “Jewish groups and American Jews” – which of course makes one wonder if all the individuals who protested the photo indeed mentioned that they were Jewish.

Secondly, it is worthwhile pondering Pexton’s principal defense of the photo, which he gives right at the outset of his article:

“A photograph may be worth a thousand words, but even at its most revealing it never tells an entire story. It is the capture of a single moment, a split-second version of the truth. But if it is an effective photograph, it moves the viewer toward a larger truth.”

It is not entirely clear from Pexton’s article what exactly he regards as the “larger truth,” but he later on notes that the controversial photo “depicted […] the horrific cost to innocents on both sides of the violence in the Middle East.”

However, this seemingly “balanced” statement inevitably acquires a purely perfunctory character when Pexton then claims that, while being “disruptive and traumatic,” the “overwhelming majority of rockets fired from Gaza are like bee stings on the Israeli bear’s behind. These rockets are unguided and erratic, and they carry very small explosive payloads; they generally fall in open areas, causing little damage and fewer injuries.”

It is also noteworthy that Pexton links in his first paragraph to a Washington Post article on “The Israeli-Palestinian politics of a bloodied child’s photo.“

As the following screenshot shows, this article features three images: the first on the left is the photo that was the controversial choice for the Washington Post’s front page; the one in the middle is an injured Israeli infant, and the third photo is again from a boy killed in Gaza who was rushed to Gaza’s Shifa Hospital just when Egypt’s Prime Minister was visiting there with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

One could argue that there is a “larger truth” here – but it’s a truth that isn’t revealed by the three pictures, and it isn’t spelled out by the Washington Post.

This larger truth is that ultimately, all three children were victims of Hamas.

This is most obviously true for the injured Israeli infant; but it is also true for the boy in the third picture, who, as blogger Elder of Ziyon has documented, was killed by one of the more than 150 Hamas rockets that crashed back into Gaza.

Even in the case that was featured on the Washington Post front page, it is by no means clear that the son of Jihad Masharawi was killed by Israeli fire. As again Elder of Ziyon has pointed out, there are many reasons to question the uncritically accepted claims that Masharawi’s home was hit by an Israeli missile – and it is most definitely untrue to assert that it was deliberately “targeted” by the IDF if it was just a civilian residence.

But whatever ordinance struck the Masharawi home, the unfortunate truth is that the family’s apartment is located in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood where Hamas chose to conceal a launching site for the long-range missiles fired at the metropolitan Tel Aviv area and Jerusalem. Acting with the same open cynicism, Hamas also launched a missile on Jerusalem from the vicinity of Gaza’s Shifa Hospital; and there are many more similar incidents that have been documented and reported.

As Alan Dershowitz has argued:

“so long as Hamas continues to fire rockets from densely populated civilian areas, rather than from the many open areas outside of Gaza City, this cynical tactic—which constitutes a double war crime—will guarantee that some Palestinian women and children will be killed.”

And this is the larger truth that the Washington Post and most mainstream media outlets tend to ignore: Hamas hides among Gaza’s civilians to launch rockets on Israeli civilians, and no matter on which side civilians are killed and wounded as a result, Hamas can claim “success”: there will be open celebrations when Israelis are terrorized, wounded or killed; and when civilians in Gaza are the victims, Hamas can count on the media to spread dramatic images that feed the myth of a brutal und utterly “disproportionate” Israeli response to something that, after all, is mostly “like bee stings on the Israeli bear’s behind.”

Last but not least, it’s worthwhile to note that the image of a bear stung by bees echoes an Aesop fable for children – and unsurprisingly, the bear is the aggressor, while the bees valiantly (and successfully) defend their honey. Pexton’s Israeli bear stung by Palestinian bees seems to be just another reflection of the bias that obviously mars the judgment of the Washington Post’s ombudsman when it comes to Israel. Hamas will love the image, because after all, the cause of the bees is just, and they win against the bear.

8 Comments

  • Pexton also ignores the fact that the rockets that are fired into Israel are intended to wound and kill as many civilians as possible. It is only Israeli readiness, and Iron Dome, that prevented the body count from being higher. Pexton needs to be fired – or maybe sent on assignment to southern Israel. He isn’t afraid of a bee sting, is he?

  • I wonder if Pexton would be quite so dismissive if the rockets were fired at Southern California or Texas from Mexico. Let us not forget that Israel was urged by international leaders to pull out of Gaza and got many plus points when it did so. When Hamas seized power and began its overt agression, where were these leaders?

  • Patrick Pexton’s resume includes the fact that he was previously the head editorial writer for DER STURMER.

    • OK, so you’re mightily upset — but you surely realize that by resorting to hyperbole, you make it easy for those who upset you to dismiss you?

  • how do we barrage the washington post with their shilling for jihad?

  • E Pluribus Beagle

    Fair enough. If Hamas rockets are nothing than Gazan deaths caused by them are nothing. Their lives are nothing and they are trash.

    Carry on, defenders of Hamas, carry on.

  • Nicely presented article.

    I am shocked to discover that Pexton is employed as an Ombudsman – a job that requires one to rise above personal biases and Pexton is clearly incapable of doing this.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →