What The New York Times Isn’t Telling You About Israel’s Gaza ‘Blockade’
Nearly every New York Times dispatch about the recent violent pre-planned riots in Gaza has used the word “blockade” to describe Israel’s treatment of the territory.
“While Gaza was poor and crowded to begin with, the 11-year-old blockade by Israel and Egypt has driven it into crisis,” reports a “news analysis” by Times Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger that appears in the April 8 Times.
A news article in the April 7 Times reported, “The protests are aimed at Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which began after Hamas seized control in 2007.”
A news article in the April 6 Times referred to “the second round of protests against Israel’s longstanding blockade of Gaza.”
An article on page one of the March 31 Times reported that the Palestinians “were protesting against Israel’s longstanding blockade of the territory and in support of their claims to return to homes in what is now Israel.”
Leave aside the inconsistencies. Some Times accounts mention Egypt’s participation in the “blockade,” while others omit it. Some Times accounts describe the riots — sorry, “protests”— as only against the “blockade,” while others also mention the “claims to return.” Let’s focus for now on the unifying thread, that term “blockade.”
My authoritative Webster’s Second Unabridged dictionary defines a blockade as “a shutting off of a place or region by hostile troops or ships in order to prevent passage” or “any blocking action designed to isolate an enemy and cut off communication and commerce with him.”
Using that word overstates it to describe Israel’s treatment of Gaza. Israel’s Defense Ministry reports that in one week in March of 2018, 2,728 trucks entered the Gaza Strip from Israel, carrying 74,202 tons of supplies, including 87 tons of medical supplies, 15 tons of agricultural products, 1,506 tons of food supplies, and 51,044 tons of building supplies. Another week this year, the Defense Ministry reported 1,712 trucks entering Gaza, carrying 49,166 tons of supplies, including 43 tons of medical supplies, 92 tons of agricultural products, 5,426 tons of food supplies, and 31,356 tons of building supplies. In one single day in February, 11,485 tons of goods, in 379 trucks, entered Gaza through Israel, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry. On another February day, 12,295 tons of goods in 431 trucks entered Gaza through Israel, according to the Israeli Defense Ministry.
You won’t read about all those trucks of supplies in the New York Times, alas.
Now, it is true that Israel maintains control over its border with Gaza, as does Egypt. But nearly all countries do the same thing on their own borders.
I drove across the border to Canada from the United States through Vermont earlier this month. Some Canadian border guard stopped the car and looked inside before letting us in. A friend’s parents were visiting the US from Canada for Passover. An American border guard stopped their car and inspected its contents, right down to opening up a cooler full of Passover food. Does that mean that the United States is “blockading” Canada or that Canada is “blockading” the United States? No.
And of course, the Israel-Gaza situation is different than the US Canada one, in part because Gaza is controlled by a terrorist organization, Hamas, that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and that has a proven record of using imported supplies to build tunnels and rockets for deadly attacks on Israeli Jews.
Accusing Israel of a “blockade” of Gaza when in fact Israel is allowing food, medicine, building supplies, electricity, and water into the territory is inaccurate. It gives Times readers a false impression of what is actually happening, uncritically echoing Palestinian propaganda. That’s not to say that the situation in Gaza is a picnic. But the blame for it lies with the Hamas terrorist organization, not with Israel or some “blockade” imagined by Times journalists.
More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.