New York Times changes headline to make Israel seem more culpable

On March 14, two rockets were fired at Tel Aviv, Israel, from Gaza. Fortunately, although the missiles weren’t intercepted by the Iron Dome, nobody was hurt. It was the first rocket attack on Tel Aviv since 2014, and Israel retaliated with air attacks on terrorist military sites. Hamas denied responsibility, but it’s clear that some Palestinian militant group was responsible. It is of course a war crime to fire missiles at civilian targets.

What’s interesting—and I noticed this at the time—was that mainstream (or anti-Israel) Western media almost invariably began its stories with headlines like “Israel retaliates after rockets strike Tel Aviv”, switching the temporal order of events to make Israel seem more culpable. Here, for example, is what I just got when I Googled “rockets fired at Tel Aviv from Gaza”:

But in an even more telling media switch, Honest Reporting notes that the New York Times, which is becoming increasingly Woke (and that includes more negative press on Israel), actually switched its headlines about the event during a four hour period, a period when the order of events was already known.

As that site reports, here’s the first headline in the NYT, which gets the order of events correct:

Four hours later, with nothing intervening to change the headline, the Times changed that headline to this:

Now you can make up all the reasons you want why they’d make this switch after four hours, but I think it’s pretty clear. While the reports in the headline are correct, the order in which things are reported makes Israel seem more culpable. If that theory is true, somebody made a conscious decision to manipulate words to inculpate Israel more.

I’m not going to argue here about whether Israel’s response was disproportionate, because I’m not sure what the U.S. would do if, say, North Korea fired two non-nuclear missiles that landed in our country. I just want to point out how the media covers these things, and raise the possibility that they’re reporting in a way that shows bias against Israel.


  1. Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    The Times today is reporting that the two Hamas rockets were set off “by mistake” by maintenance workers.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      The source for that is an official from the Israel Defence Ministry. If they’re saying it was a mistake, it’s probably true.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      The rockets had been intended to celebrate Yassar Arafat’s hundred and eleventyith birthday.

      • Posted March 18, 2019 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        In this troubled area, they’d better stick to garlands and candy.

  2. Historian
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    You seem to be implying that this report that the missiles were fired by mistake is somehow an example of bias by the NYT. Why else would you make this comment? No so. Many news outlets reported that Israeli defense officials called the attack a mistake. The AP states “Israeli defense officials said after a preliminary investigation that the Gaza rockets that hit the Tel Aviv area were apparently fired by mistake.”

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      The question is whether the headlines were changed only after the rocket launch was deemed a “mistake” by Israel. I don’t think this was announced before the headline switch. Even if it was, does changing the headlines make them more accurate?

    • Historian
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      The comment was intended for Coel, comment #1.

      • Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        I wasn’t implying any bias, it just seemed a relevant bit of information about the event, relevant to the OP’s: “… it’s clear that some Palestinian militant group was responsible. It is of course a war crime to fire missiles at civilian targets”.

  3. Posted March 18, 2019 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    As always with retaliation, there is legitimate question of proportionality. “Dozens” of Israeli strikes on Gaza may quite legitimately be regarded as more newsworthy than a couple of ineffective rockets from Gaza on Tel Aviv. The New York Times may therefore quite legitimately of changed its headline, in view of the magnitude of the Israeli response.

    Not that I am not attempting to pass judgement on the Israeli action, but merely to point out that the changed headline in the New York Times may well be thoroughly justifiable.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      If two North Korean rockets landed in Oregon and the U.S. bombed the hell out of North Korea, I doubt you’d be crying about this “disproportionatlity.”

      • Steve Bracker
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        What if two Canadian rockets landed in Oregon? I’m not sure we have rockets that go that far (there is a whole state in between), but just supposing…. Trump has thrown a lot of shade on Trudeau in the recent past, so I suppose we might expect more than a stern finger-wagging. On the other hand, Trump seems to be BFF with Kim, so NK might be okay. And there is history to remember; after all we burned the White House awhile back, and we’re still here. (Yes, I know it was really the Brits operating out of what was only later Canada, but let us bask in our moment of glory.) All things considered, I’ll bet that Trump wouldn’t do much to NK, and Canada might suffer nothing worse than tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. (Oh wait, there are already tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.) Would it be disproportionate to burn the White House again in retaliation for that? Figuring out international justice is just so hard!

        • Posted March 18, 2019 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

          Canada is hardly a good analog to “Palestine”.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, I hope it’s not like NK. Also, I think anyone who attacks the US on their soil is in trouble. It would be especially awkward for Canada being a NATO member and having to go to war against….itself.

          • pablo
            Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            Okay, Quebec then.

            • Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

              If Quebec fired missiles at the United States, they’d probably land in English Canada. 🙂

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          Good grief. I think anyone attacking the US could expect a strong retaliation. I think NK would be nuked out of existence and WWIII would start if they managed to get some nukes off to Japan or SK.

          • Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

            Hey, with Trump, I’d be worried even if my country did nothing except fail to suck up to him.

      • Malgorzata
        Posted March 19, 2019 at 2:51 am | Permalink

        But why take a hypothetical rockets from Canada or any other country? Why not take the real events: 9/11 and subsequent attack on Afghanistan and later on Iraq and compare it to the incessant barrage of rockets and terror attacks from Gaza on Israel?

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I dunno, these headlines seem like six of one, half dozen of the other to me — and appear to be in keeping with the style customarily employed when two related events are reported after the fact.

    Probably also bears mention that Honest Reporting is a pro-Israel advocacy group, rather than the neutral and detached media watchdog its name might suggest.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      FWIW, I don’t see a relevant distinction in the headlines either.

      • Taz
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        Then why the switch?

        • Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

          It was an evolving story. The NYT headlined “Rockets fired on Tel Aviv from Gaza” BEFORE Israel struck back. When Israel struck back it added “and Israel strikes back.” As the story evolved and got rewritten, the headline changed to improve its style. All newspapers do this on their online editions. You see altered headlines over the day all the time.

          Nothing material was changed. The word “after” clearly establishes the order of events. I am utterly baffled how anyone can see these changed headlines as indicative that Israel is culpable.

          • jahigginbotham
            Posted March 18, 2019 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

            Sounds like a pretty reasonable explanation for the switch. I recall having seen headlines change as well.

    • Malgorzata
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Typically, media report events in their chronological order – also in headlines. I’ve seen a comparison between similar events anywhere else and in Israel. Only for news from Israel there was this “chronological inversion” used systemtically in diverse media. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where this report from a few years back was and I can’t find it now to give you a link. Besides, as long as Honest Reporting is reporting facts without any distortions or lies (and they are) I don’t see why they should be dismissed out of hand only because the debunk lies and distortions about Israel.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        I did not suggest Honest Reporting should be dismissed out of hand, merely that it has a dog in the fight.

        • Posted March 18, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          Yes, but what point are you trying to make? If the report is correct, what do you gain by arguing that “yes, but the source is biased?”

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

            I think it’s always valid to consider potential sources of bias on the part of any group that holds itself out as a media watchdog. (That goes for Media Matters or Accuracy in Media or any other group as much as it goes for Honest Reporting. I thought it worth pointing out here because HR may not be as well known to readers). And I think Honest Reporting was straining at gnats on this story.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        That is an interesting and important observation, Malgorzata. Pity you don’t remember where this report came from.
        It would give real substance to the anecdotal evidence our host showed that these media are anti-Israel indeed. (Don’t misunderstand me, I do think they are biased, but ‘statistical’ is so much stronger than ‘anecdotal’).

      • jahigginbotham
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

        I always thought they put the biggest or most recent news first.

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink


  6. Ewan
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Are the media in the West biased against Israel? You will agree that systematic study of the evidence trumps personal impressions. Academics have done such systematic studies. The answer to your question is, Of course not. Indeed the evidence is such that your question is a bit of a puzzle.

    The IDF said the rockets were probably a mistake (unless, though widely reported, this is not what the IDF said – but then why would Hamas fire rockets while engaged in negotiations? this is the sort of thing Israel has done time and again,as a matter of public record not Hamas). The IDF responded to what it reportedly said was a mistaken firing of two rockets with one hundred strikes (as of Saturday) on Gaza.

    What the US might do is no criterion for what is proportional and what is criminal.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      “The IDF responded to what it reportedly said was a mistaken firing …”

      OK, but the IDF didn’t know it was a mistake until later.

      • Ewan
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Er. So a couple of rockets landed. Israel launched at least 100 attacks “in response”. And then thought, Hmm, maybe we should check what actually happened. Ask questions later. I think the IDF is better organised than that, don’t you?

        • Posted March 18, 2019 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

          Palestinians have fired countless rockets into Israel, and this is the first case I have heard of that is a mistake.

          • Ewan
            Posted March 19, 2019 at 5:25 am | Permalink

            Well, no, they have been counted, as have the attacks by land, sea and air by Israel on Gaza. None of Israel’s attacks were accidental. Indeed, the IDF tweeted that all the shots that killed children in the last few months were deliberate and authorised. (The quickly deleted the tweet). B’tselem is a good source on who attacked whom in each episode over the years (there data tend not to be questioned, just their patriotism). I agree, Oops, mistake! sounds bizarre.

            • Posted March 19, 2019 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

              Of course IDF’s attacks were deliberate and authorized, it is an army after all.
              This does not mean that killing of children in these attacks has been deliberate. It is the Palestinian militants who deliberately use children as shields. One remembers what Golda Meir said, that the trouble with Palestinians is that they hate Jews much more than they love their own children.
              Never mind, keep the good work. We enjoy a lot of it, now from the US Congress as well, but we can always take more.

        • Posted March 19, 2019 at 2:42 am | Permalink

          Hamas fired the rockets; the IDF retaliated; then Hamas contacted them by back channels to say that the firing had been a mistake, which the IDF then accepted.

          If you have any evidence that the IDF knew it was a mistake before retaliating, can you present it?

          • Ewan
            Posted March 19, 2019 at 5:29 am | Permalink

            Not quite the point, but the IDF informed the media on Friday. By the close of play on Friday it had attacked Gaza a hundred times. The point is rather two rockets versus one hundred, even before the IDF knew what was happening/or even although the IDF knew what was happening. The use of disproportionate force is a strategy both military and punitive that Israel shares with the US and UK in their frequent forays into the Middle East. It is not consistent with international law, as all three know fine well.

    • Malgorzata
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Do you have any links to such studies? I’ve read studies about bias in NYT (and other media) where the answer is “yes, there is a bias against Israel” For example, this book:

      • Ewan
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        Jerold S. Auerbach? Then there must be bias against Israel. I’m sure I can find some Palestinian to say the opposite. Your point? You think the New York Times shows bias against Israel? It is always an idea to read widely. Reading Prof. Auerbach and the NY Times is covering the whole spectrum from A to B (possibly not quite so extensively, actually).

        • Malgorzata
          Posted March 19, 2019 at 2:40 am | Permalink

          I do read diverse material without talking about the ones which I do not agree with with such contempt as you’ve shown Jerold S. Auierbach.
          For example this one, where author states the opposite to what I think is reality:

          But where are these neutral studies you wrote that you’ve seen which give a different picture than Professor Auerbach does?

          • Ewan
            Posted March 19, 2019 at 5:33 am | Permalink

            Contempt for Prof. Auerbach was not intended. The point was quoting someone in a niche well to the “right” as evidence of others’ bias. Had we the time, we could go through each and every example he cites. But, to repeat, contempt was not intended, and I apologise. In this age of Wikipedia, I am going to let you do your own research.

            • Malgorzata
              Posted March 19, 2019 at 5:42 am | Permalink

              Well, I did my own research. The result was resounding zero. Either you have access to such systematic, neutral research or you just got them out of thin air.
              For me, when I can read the methodology of research, I know its sources, and I understand the way they came to the conclusions, it doesn’t matter whether the author is a Jew who supports Israel or an Arab who doesn’t.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      why would Hamas fire rockets while engaged in negotiations?

      If it didn’t like how the negotiations were going, an ‘accidental’ attack that provoked a forceful Israeli response would be the perfect excuse to suspend the talks.

      • Ewan
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        Yes, that is certainly what Israel did in 2008, and… Run it past me again: why would Hamas feel the need to fire a couple of rockets and invite yet another lethal attack just because negotiations weren’t going its way? – rather than just saying to the Egyptian intermediaries, Look, this isn’t working for us, so we’ll just go back to starving, if you don’t mind. So just inform Israel that we would like them to continue to “keep us on a diet” (as they humorously put it) but would rather not have them “mow the lawn” (as they humorously put it)”.

        • Malgorzata
          Posted March 19, 2019 at 2:57 am | Permalink

          The problem was not only the negotiations with Egyptian. The problem was huge demonstrations by Gaza citizens against Hamas which were going on for days at the same time in Gaza. There even were some modest notices about it in NYT. Hamas was beating, arresting and trying to disperse these demonstrations, even shooting with live fire. Inviting Israeli response which would direct the anger of Gazans from Hamas to Israel was very convenient. I have trouble believing in “mistake”. Why Israeli military accepted this explanation? Who knows? Maybe Israeli army is not so eager to have another war.

          • Ewan
            Posted March 19, 2019 at 5:41 am | Permalink

            The protests are against the dire economic conditions in Gaza (who wouldn’t protest in their place?). Hamas quelled the protests with brutality. They “even” used live fire – I’ll let you savour the irony of that comment. What was Hamas trying to negotiate, yet again, as for years now? The end of the blockade. Whenever it offers a long-term ceasefire and even although it proposes a two-state solution based on the 1967 armistice lines, Israel finds a reason to break off negotiations and drop a few more bombs (on water, sewage, electricity plants and food production and civilians as often as fighters). Israel is concentrating for now on threatening Lebanon and Syria. But who knows, if the polls don’t look good, Gaza may be the preferred option, again. Better pick on the puny kid than the increasingly strong.

            • Malgorzata
              Posted March 19, 2019 at 5:49 am | Permalink

              The blockade is only on weapons and on double use materials. Hamas is using huge sums it gets in international aid for terror tunnels, rockets, payments to people attacking Jews, trainig of soldiers, instead of houses, schools and hospitals. Long-term ceasfire which Hamas offered was for consolidating its fighting capacity and gaining strength. They are more honest than you are. They say it openly. As well as they say that they can agree to two state solution without ever recognizing Israel and without giving up their armed struggle against the Jews. They said openly that a Palestinian state which would be a result of two state solution would be a launching pad for further attacks on Israel. And these pesky Jews refuse to commit suicide! What an inconsiderate – no – what immoral behavior.

        • Posted March 19, 2019 at 9:40 am | Permalink

          … why would Hamas feel the need to fire a couple of rockets and invite yet another lethal attack just because negotiations weren’t going its way?

          I dunno — why would Bismarck send the Ems Dispatch? Why did Kissinger sabotage the Paris Peace? You assume Hamas wants peace; I’ll believe it when Hamas removes from its charter the part about eradicating Israel.


          Look, this isn’t working for us, so we’ll just go back to starving….

          Hamas brought this upon Gaza by seceding from the PA and beginning a war with Israel. Under international law, Israel has the right to blockade Gaza. Hamas certainly doesn’t give a damn about Gazans starving, as it actively seeks civilian casualties. But perhaps Hamas is losing support and negotiating with Israel out of desperation.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Of course Western media are biased, and so are most Western academics. And if we are talking about what is “criminal”, maybe we’d better start with the Palestinian leadership committed to the destruction of Israel.

  7. rustybrown
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Seems to me the headline was massaged to promote a narrative. This example is subtle, but NYT does this nearly every day much more blatantly against Trump.

      • rustybrown
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Still stickin’ with the “point to one nutcase to smear an entire group of people” philosophy, eh? That’s a childish way of looking at things, but whatever turns your crank.

        And I don’t think you know what “ubiquity” means.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          The shirts first appeared at Trump campaign rallies in 2016. They went viral among Trump supporters and were sold through, among others, CafePress, Amazon, and Walmart until public pressure caused them to drop them. They are a fixture at Trump rallies — of a piece with Trump’s standard rally routine of denouncing the “dishonest press” and “the enemies of the people” and encouraging his crowd to turn on the assembled reporters (who are kept in a pen at Trump rallies for just such a purpose) to jeer and swear and make vulgar gestures. Here is the typical reaction:

          • rustybrown
            Posted March 18, 2019 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

            You put “rope tree journalist” into Google images and you get a whopping total of 2 people wearing that shirt. That’s right, the world wide web can find 2 instances of people wearing the shirt you describe as ubiquitous. lol.

            Of course, you can find 170,000 or so breathless ARTICLES about the shirt that bleat how it’s the harbinger of the Fourth Reich, but that just explains your misapprehension about their ubiquity.

            • Roger Lambert
              Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

              Right. Nobody is buying them. Which is why when you google the phrase 100 places to buy them in all sorts of colors, sizes, and options comes up. Because nobody is buying them.

              • rustybrown
                Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

                Roger, are you under the impression that I said no one is manufacturing this particular t-shirt anywhere in the world? I never said that because THAT would be a dumb argument, especially after all the publicity I alluded to. I’ll bet they’re a great gag gift in China.

                The claim was that they are ubiquitous at Trump rallies; clearly false.

              • max blancke
                Posted March 18, 2019 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

                Having never before seen one of those “ubiquitous” shirts, I did some web searches. I found this in an article by Brandy Zandrozny at the Daily Beast- “The shirt in the Minneapolis photo was, according to the lettering (a larger type and different font than in Bob’s design) likely bought almost a decade ago—designed by a conservative blogger known as Misha, who writes at the website Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler”

                I find that sometimes when I do searches for technical items, some websites present me with versions of my search terms available on shirts, mugs, or other items. I assume in that case it is an algorithm producing those ads.
                Images of that one guy wearing the shirt at the one event have appeared in lots of articles, and on the cover of a book available on Amazon. I conject that if people read about those shirts then search them on the internet, the act of searching itself would raise the profile of the term, and make it more likely that opportunistic people would offer them for sale. Especially now that print on demand means that they do not need to purchase a minimum order of the item. You can offer shirts for sale without having manufactured or yet sold any of them.

                For fun, while I was writing this, I actually uploaded the cover of Dr. Coyne’s book to one of those companies, quickly received images of a t-shirt mockup, and was a few clicks away from being able to sell those through Amazon and other outlets. From what I read of the fine print, I would not need to pay the printer/shipper unless I sold some of the shirts, and would never even see them. I did not submit an order, as it is not my graphic to sell.

                This is a little OT, but I found it interesting.

  8. JB
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Positioning Israel as the aggressor is consistent with leftist dogma, and it’s no surprise the NYT would recast their headline to get more in line with this thinking. In fact, the reporter who crafted the original headline probably now has to attend internal training meetings.

    Making Israel into the aggressor is particularly misleading when you realize that they were not firing the first shots. I thought we usually blame a fight on whoever threw the first punch?

    • max blancke
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Those are the old rules. The new rules identify those who are permanent oppressors, and those who are the permanently oppressed. All acts of violence or malice perpetrated by the oppressed are still considered a reasonable reaction to oppression.

      • JB
        Posted March 19, 2019 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Including the use of human shields. What have we become?

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Are any countries suppose to get prior approval before retaliating? This country, America, has be complicit in the mass bombing of civilians in Yemen in support of Saudi Arabia. Is anyone whining about any of this? Does anyone care. If you live in a glass house, as they say.

    • max blancke
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      “to get prior approval” ?
      From who?
      According to OED, retaliation is “The action of returning a military attack”.
      I you wish to avoid a retaliatory attack, you should avoid striking first. Especially if your target possesses superior force.

  10. Historian
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    If the NYT article headline change is indicative of bias against Israel then it would appear that based on your Google search that many world news outlets are equally biased. Maybe this is the case. I don’t know why the headline was changed, but since I’m apparently not too observant, I would not have concluded that the new headline reflects an anti-Israeli bias. Also, your Google search listed a headline from the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, that mentioned that Israel attacked in Gaza 100 targets in response to the two missiles. Without knowing where the headline came from, one can conclude it was also anti-Israeli. Haaretz, according to Wikipedia, is a liberal Israeli daily that “is considered the most influential and respected for both its news coverage and its commentary.” I went to the Haaretz site and discovered an article with this headline:” For Every Palestinian Rocket, Israel Commits Thousands of Crimes.“ If the NYT published an article with this headline, can you imagine what the reaction would be among those who are wary of the paper’s position on Israel?

    It would seem that Haaretz reflects the viewpoint of a substantial number of Israelis critical of its government’s policy towards the Palestinians. In comparison, the NYT’s position on Israel and Palestine seems tame.

    • Malgorzata
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Haaretz has 4.4% of readers market in Israel. However, its English version (which is even more anti-Israel than Hebrew version) is a newspaper of choice for all anti-Israel people in the West. In Israel Haaretz, which many times had to retrack its lies – for example, about alleged sterilisering of Etiopian women without their knowledge – is not treated as a reliable source of information.

      • Alex Zukerman
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        In Israel Haaretz IS regarded as a reliable source of information. This is a highly professional newspaper for educated liberal readers. The examples of its “lies” your brought can be countered by many similar examples made by other Israeli newspapers.

        • Malgorzata
          Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          Still, it’s read and supported by a tiny minority of Israelis, and its readership and support base is in the West. This may explain frequent discrepancies between Hebrew and English version, with the English version always more negative towards Israel. And there are many such “mistakes”, and they too are never in the opposite direction: to show Israel in a positive light.

  11. Mike Anderson
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Now you can make up all the reasons you want why they’d make this switch after four hours, but I think it’s pretty clear. While the reports in the headline are correct, the order in which things are reported makes Israel seem more culpable.

    I don’t buy that. They’d previously reported on Israel being attacked, now they’re reporting on Israel’s response. It’s appropriate to put the subject of the article first in the headline.

    The revised headline is more terse, direct, and journalistically correct.

  12. Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  13. Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    There was a distinct time lag between the initial rockets being fired and the BBC and Guardian reporting it. I assume they were waiting breathlessly to report the “retaliation” by Israel(i Jews).

    • Filippo
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      I contemplate Israel holding off retaliating until forcing the NY Times’s reporting hand.

      Even with that, I can visualize the Times reporting that attack with a headline to-the-effect, “Israeli Response to Attack Unclear.” (“Unclear” is frequently used in the Times, as in “It is unclear whether . . . .”, allowing the reporter to insert most any speculation. “May” and “might” are used quite frequently and similarly.)

  14. Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Most newspapers and other media have basis, just as all individuals have basis. I see it as an inescapable human condition. Most people will deny they are biased and others recognize their basis and try to compensate for it. This can lead them up biasis I’m yge other direction.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      in the other direction.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      But for the record, I would not have seen the headline as biased against Israel.
      Launch against one hundred sites us a bigger news item than launching two ineffective rockets.

      An example:

      US declares war on Japan after attack on Pearl Harbor.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        But were the headlines reading that? Were not the headlines mainly about Japan’s attack?

        • Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          The first ones would have been. were. But after congress declared war, they probably would have changed.

          This is a hypothetical example to make a point. Not a report on what they actually said.

  15. bascule
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m utterly confused, every single headline quoted, including the changed one states that Israel attacked AFTER Hamas attacked. What temporal switching is everyone else seeing?

    Reading the headlines clearly informs me that Hamas attacked and that Israel responds.

  16. Jon Gallant
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Let me enlarge on the subject of “disproportional” responses. The USA’s response to the Japanese attack of December 7, 1941 was hugely disproportional: it eventually mobilized far more ships and planes than the Japanese, inflicted far more casualties, and bombed many Japanese cities up to the 2 atomic bombs which ended the war. The USSR likewise mobilized many more troops than the Germans, and eventually had many more tanks, trucks, and planes—another clearly disproportionate response compared to the size of the German forces which invaded the USSR on June 22, 1941.

    • Malgorzata
      Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      I’ve seen a definition of “proportional force”:
      “The force proportional to a ceaseless aggression is the one which causes the aggression to cease”.

      And seriously, here are some definitions by experts what proportionality means in international law and in the situation of armed conflict:

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted March 18, 2019 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, although the IDF does cause civilian casualties, it is clear they generally make some serious efforts to avoid them (if they wanted to, they could raze Gaza to the ground, with very few civilians surviving).
        Not so for Hamas, they often deliberately target civilians.

        • BJ
          Posted March 18, 2019 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

          In fact, no country in the world has gone further than Israel in developing technologies and tactics to try and ensure the lowest amount of collateral damage possible. Unfortunately, Hamas intentionally gets as many of its civilians killed as possible because they know it will produce even more negative coverage of Israel.

          • Sarah
            Posted March 19, 2019 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            Absolutely right, BJ. Israel goes to enormous lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas, on the other hand, understanding the publicity value, puts its civilians in harm’s way. Why else store weapons in hospitals and schools? Why else have women and children on hand when armed fighters are poised to break through the border? It is unbelievably calculating, but they do it because it works.

            • BJ
              Posted March 19, 2019 at 11:41 am | Permalink

              And it makes the media complicit in those deaths. If the media didn’t breathlessly report each civilian casualty while failing to blame Hamas’ policy of using them as human shields and placing their weapons caches, hideouts, and missile launchers in places that result in as many civilian casualties as possible, there would be significantly fewer civilian deaths because the publicity of these tactics wouldn’t work in Hamas’ favor. If the media decided to instead consistently condemn Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields and cannon fodder for propaganda, Hamas would use a different tactic.

  17. Alex Zukerman
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    The headline in Yediot Aharonot (Ynet) is “IDF strikes Gaza after rocket fire on Tel Aviv area”. Yediot is the leading Israeli newspaper.

  18. Christopher
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I can’t see what the reason for the headline change would be except that somebody didnt like the “optics”, if you’ll pardon the expression. Now I realize there might be all sorts of excuses, and the people who offer them might honestly believe them, I might have too, in the past, before the Kansas Jewish Community Center shooting near me, before the nonstop nonsense from Labour and Jeremy Corbyn, or the veiled b.s. from a couple of recently elected Democrats…I could go on but quacks like a duck comes to mind, or spades, or shinola…you get the picture.

  19. Alex Zukerman
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Haaretz is not negative towards Israel, it criticizes Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, but Israel is much more than its government. I don’t like the equation Israel=Netanyahu. Haaretz promotes liberal, humanistic and secular values. It promotes science, education and art. It attacks irrational beliefs and superstitions. It is ironic that after reading Haaretz one might get a more positive impression of Israel than what is warranted by the facts.

  20. BJ
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    “I’m not going to argue here about whether Israel’s response was disproportionate, because I’m not sure what the U.S. would do if, say, North Korea fired two non-nuclear missiles that landed in our country.”

    A more relevant question: what would the US (or any country capable of similar response) do if one of its border neighbors was for decades firing rockets, perpetrating terrorist attacks and bombings and stabbings and shootings against US civilians, digging tunnels to reach the US and kill people, having their government pay families whose relatives were killed in the process of terrorist attacks on US civilians, and teaching their population that the US needs to be wiped off the map and its people killed? They would respond with far less restraint than Israel has over the years, and the world would have far less of a problem with it.

    • Posted March 18, 2019 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      For mysterious reasons, the international community thinks that Israel is obliged to put up with all this.

  21. Sarah
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    I want to put in a good word for Honest Reporting, mentioned above. It exists entirely to correct mistakes and falsehoods put about in the media about Israel. Of course it is pro-Israel. Why else would it be correcting all these lies? On the other hand, if it is correcting lies, isn’t that the important thing?

  22. Roger Lambert
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Heck, Israel thinks Israel is obliged to put up with it. Lots of Israelis feel Israel is obliged to put up with it.

    I can’t get Battered Wife Syndrome or Stockholm Syndrome out of my head, but I live in Vermont, not Israel.

  23. Steve Gerrard
    Posted March 18, 2019 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get how Israel being mentioned first makes them more culpable. The headlines make it clear that they responded to rockets being fired at them. Newest news first is pretty common in media reporting.

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