Walking With Angels at the National Catholic Reporter
by Dexter Van Zile, August 2, 2008
(This part is taken from CAMERA's report on the National Catholic Reporter)
The NCR features a Jewish critic of Israel prominently in its pages.
Neve Gordon, the writer in question, is a professor at Ben Gurion University has used the pages of NCR to falsely portray Israel as attempting to starve its neighbors. In a Feb. 8, 2008 NCR piece titled “The iron wall in Gaza,” Gordon wrote “The experiment in famine began on Jan. 18. Israel hermetically closed all of Gaza’s borders, preventing even food, medicine and fuel from entering the Strip.”
On this score, Gordon accepts as fact, Hamas’s complaints about a lack of food and fuel in the Gaza Strip, even as other Palestinian leaders blamed Hamas for manufacturing the crisis. Khaled Abu Toameh, reporting in the Jerusalem Post on Jan. 21, 2008, quoted a Palestinian Authority official who insisted that the bakeries were sufficiently stocked with fuel and flour:
The official also accused Hamas of ordering owners of bakeries to keep their businesses closed for the second day running to create a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. “Hamas is preventing people from buying bread,” he said. “They want to deepen the crisis so as to serve their own interests.”
The official said that contrary to Hamas's claims, there is enough fuel and flour to keep the bakeries in the Gaza Strip operating for another two months. "Hamas members have stolen most of the fuel in the Gaza Strip to fill their vehicles," he said.
And while Gordon accuses Israel of conducting an “experiment in famine” he makes no acknowledgement of the humanitarian convoys that were allowed into the Gaza Strip on Jan. 22, four days after the so-called “experiment in famine” began. Gordon also fails to acknowledge that the humanitarian convoys that have been allowed into the Gaza Strip have been used to smuggle explosives into the territory. Ynet reported on Jan. 14, 2007:
The same Ynet article also contradicts Gordon’s assertion that Israel is preventing the shipment of medicine into the Gaza Strip:
Security workers employed by the Israel Airport Authority uncovered two tons of fertilizer used in the manufacturing of Qassam rockets on Monday afternoon, the substantial amount of explosive material was concealed in a truck allegedly transporting humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.
The security officials manning the Kerem Shalom border crossing discovered the smuggling attempt during a random inspection of vehicles carrying humanitarian equipment and goods.
This is the second such incident to occur this week.
Despite the security restrictions and economic siege of Gaza, Israel allows the transfer of medical equipment and drugs into Gaza at the insistence of the World Health Organization.
Gordon introduced the “experiment in famine” trope in an NCR article
published on Feb. 9, 2007. In this article, titled “Another Somalia in the Making?” Gordon writes that a decrease in foreign aid into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip could lead to “an experiment in famine” and lead to increased factional violence between Hamas and Fatah. The problem is that the decrease in foreign aid to the Palestinian that Gordon writes about with such vehemence was non-existent. In fact, as previous CAMERA analysis reveals, foreign aid to the Palestinians increased between 2005 and 2006.
These two articles indicate that Neve Gordon is intent on telling a story about Israel starving its neighbors – even when the facts do not support his thesis. Gordon himself admits his coverage of Israel is pretty one-sided in a May 30, 2008 NCR article titled “Why I live in Israel.” Gordon wrote:
For more than a decade now I have been writing for NCR. During this period some of you may have wondered what has motivated me to continue living, working and raising my children in Israel, a country whose government policies and leaders I continuously and forcefully critique. A couple of months ago, one of the editors asked me just that, intimating that he does not understand why I don’t just pack my bags and leave.
On the one hand, I found the question troubling, since it seems to suggest that our role models – ranging from Amos the prophet to civil rights leader Martin Luther King – should either have stopped criticizing the injustices surrounding them or alternatively abandoned their homeland. On the other hand, though, I thought the question legitimate, if only because I tend to de-emphasize my more positive feelings toward Israel in my writings.
By asking Gordon why he didn’t just pack his bags and leave Israel, the unnamed editor at NCR implicitly (if accidentally) acknowledges that Gordon’s writing is not merely forceful and continuous critique of Israeli policies, but a delegitizimation of the country itself. No decent person could, in good conscience, remain in the country described in the pages of NCR, unless of course, he were a prophet such as Amos or Martin Luther King – which is clearly what Gordon is trying to suggest. In his coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Gordon’s “grand unifying theme” is Gordon himself.