“The Times received the international reporting prize for its coverage of the war in the Middle East. The newspaper’s foreign staff produced an array of stories that encompassed the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, the errors by Israeli defense forces that left its citizens vulnerable and the consequences for Palestinian civilians of Israel’s subsequent military campaign in Gaza”. The New York Times, May 6, 2024

I have failed to find much irony in the Times having been awarded a Pulitzer for its recent Gaza coverage. Turns out that Joseph Pulitzer himself wasn’t that much of a Jew and even less of a Zionist. There is no reference in his bio to having met or even heard of his contemporary Austrian journalist, Theodor Herzl. Pulitzer, a mid-nineteenth century Hungarian immigrant to the American Midwest, who served in Congress content to pretend his mother was a Catholic, left his newspaper fortune to establish the journalism school at Columbia and endow the prizes that bear his name.

But if Pulitzer is not rolling over in his grave at this prize going to the Times, Herzl must be.

On a long list of its dithering over the Gaza war, it took the Times weeks of “analysis” to grudgingly agree with US Intelligence that the hundreds of civilian deaths in the parking lot of Al Ahli Arab Hospital were actually caused by a Hamas rocket. It took months for it to finally conclude that the tunnel complex under Al Shifa wasn’t just the maintenance squad’s break room. The Times still fails to concede that UNRWA is polluted by Hamas or to recognize the truth of Israeli soldiers forced to act in self-defense in places where rioters were injured while pillaging aid convoys.

Then last Sunday, the very day the Pulitzers were announced (finally, some irony), the Times failed to report on what was arguably the most important story in months: the Hamas missile attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing that killed four Israeli soldiers and wounded a dozen others providing security for an aid shipment.

Just contemplate that. Hamas fired 14 rockets from just outside a civilian camp in Rafah and in close proximity of a hospital that destroyed aid to suffering Gazans being protected by Israel, a monstrously cynical act that encompassed every current issue in the war. Hamas holed up among civilians in Rafah, using them as shields.  Israelis losing their lives to supply aid to the Palestinians. But the Times whiffed on it.

A suspicious critic might point out the consistency between all of this and a recent series of stories in the Times minimizing evidence (pamphlets, equipment, sophistication) connecting those who took Hamilton Hall hostage to Hamas. But that’s a story for next year’s award. As they might say on the Israeli street, Pulitzer shmulitzer.

About the Author
Bennett M. Epstein has B.A. and JD degrees and has practiced law as a prosecutor and defense attorney since 1969. He has also been an adjunct professor of criminal law.
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