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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Blogs 10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    Ten major film studios are currently in production on projects that promote a decidedly pro-Israeli narrative. In famously liberal Hollywood, such a development has left mouths agape and set tongues a wagging. Since the Jewish State began defending itself from the thousands of rockets that Hamas has hurled at it – as well as ongoing terror attacks and murders, the overwhelming number of Tinseltown’s producers, directors, actors, and studio moguls have remained indifferent to the plight of millions of Israeli [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Sports So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    Israeli Judoka Yarden Gerbi (63kg), 25, of Netanya, on Thursday lost the final round at the Judo World Cup, and her world title to Clarisse Agbegnenou of France, at a match held in Russia. “I have mixed feelings,” Gerbi told Israeli Army radio. But, “I shouldn’t assume that I’d win the world Judo championship twice in a row,” she admitted. Gerbi won gold in Rio De Janeiro last year. “When I made my decision, I knew it was going to [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    “Jews Out!” was just the name of a child’s game that three little girls played in World War II Europe. But all is not as it seems because the three girls were Jewish, but hiding their true identities. In award-winning author R. D. Rosen’s riveting non-fiction work, Such Good Girls, “Jews Out!” wasn’t a game; it was a struggle for survival. The girls, Sophie, Flora, and Carla, grew up at a time and a place that did not allow them [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    JNS.org – “He was part hippie, part yippie, part beatnik, and part New Age,” wrote Elli Wohlgelernter in a Jerusalem Post eulogy in 1994, following the Oct. 20 passing of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Twenty years later, more robust accounts of Carlebach’s life have come to the surface. Earlier this year, Natan Ophir published the book Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission & Legacy. This past summer, Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s The Soul of Jerusalem hit the shelves. But even the authors will admit [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the morale of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.