Commentary Magazine


Gaza Not In Ruins

You have to wait until the sixth paragraph of an article buried in the middle of the Sunday New York Times before you find out that the Israeli Defense Forces are not quite the barbarians that they have been made out to be. Writes Times correspondent Ethan Bronner from Gaza:

Most of Gaza, especially the capital, Gaza City, remains largely intact. This is not Grozny after the Chechen war or Dresden after World War II. The hospitals are coping; shops are reopening; traffic is becoming a problem once again. Israel has tripled the amount of goods flowing in here since before the war.

Bronner goes on to note that “the areas where Israeli tanks and artillery poured in at the start of the ground war are devastated,” but to judge from the news coverage you would think all of Gaza had been devastated. That is obviously not the case although the picture accompanying the article — of children amid the rubble-gives the opposite impression.

This reminds me of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, which I visited a few weeks after the end of the NATO bombing campaign in 1999. Expecting widespread devastation, I was surprised to find the town almost totally intact. Only here and there was a building in ruins — each one, it turned out, had been a Serbian military installation. I’ve had the same
experience attending small demonstrations that looked like million-men rallies because news coverage focused on extreme close-ups and lacked any context. So when it comes to Gaza, and just about everything else, it is incumbent on the news media to pull back and present the bigger picture.

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