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April 16, 2018 4:54 pm

Palestinian ‘Protest Pizza’ Tells a Story at Which The New York Times Only Hints

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

As the pre-planned violent riots in Gaza plod on, The New York Times coverage of them is starting to show its own internal contradictions.

A recent Times editorial had recommended that Israel defend its border with “nonlethal tactics common to law enforcement, such as the use of high-powered fire hoses.”

Lo and behold, it turns out that the Israelis have been doing precisely that already. The Times news columns now report:

After protesters burned tires to obscure the soldiers’ view and rolled them toward the fence, the Israelis brought in giant industrial fans to disperse the thick black smoke and powerful water cannons to douse the fires. Soldiers have fired countless volleys of tear gas to try to push back crowds of demonstrators….nearly 1,000 [rioters] have inhaled tear gas; 300 have been hit by rubber bullets.

Just as contradictory as the Times reporting on Israel’s use of nonlethal force has been its reporting in economic conditions in Gaza. One Times dispatch managed simultaneously to refer to Gaza’s “collapsing economy” and report as well that at one of the riot sites, “Once a day or so, a delivery arrives with free slices of pizza or cakes.”

The Times has been insisting that the Gaza riots were “ignited by isolation and economic deprivation.” A good question for the newspaper’s intrepid Gaza-based journalists to pursue might be who paid for the pizza and cakes, and who caused them to be delivered to the riot site? They may have been “free” to the rioters, but someone must have paid at some point for their ingredients, production, and delivery. Instead the Times account has them arriving almost magically, a kind of immaculate pizza delivery, a Domino’s ex machina, so to speak.

Speaking of pizza, there’s actually an interesting news article to be written about the Gaza dairy industry. A 2017 Oxfam International report faulted Israel for flooding Gaza with dairy products:

The local authorities do not control or limit the amount of dairy products entering Gaza, which means that the local sector is dependent on imported products and prevented from growing. The lack of an import quota, which would limit the amount of foreign dairy products entering Gaza, particularly those that can be easily produced locally such as labneh, plain yoghurt, feta cheese and different types of white cheese, has hindered the dairy processors’ ability to function at full capacity. For example, current production of nine dairy processors targeted by Oxfam in Gaza is less than half their capacity, because imported products flood the local market.

The Oxfam report recommended, “the Palestinian Ministry of Economy should implement an import quota to reduce the amount of imported dairy.”

So while the international press, including the Times, promotes the myth of Gaza starving under an Israeli “blockade,” nongovernmental organizations simultaneously complain that Gaza is so flooded with cheap Israeli dairy products that local producers can’t afford to compete. Is the cheese on the “free” Palestinian protest pizza imported from Israel? Finding out could be a good New York Times story, but don’t expect to read about it there anytime soon.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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