(Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Nov 16, 2023
In a pioneering move for a major U.S. newspaper, the Los Angeles Times' editorial board on Thursday joined growing global demands for a cease-fire in Israel's war on the Gaza Strip.
"It has become impossible to distinguish between Israel's decidedly nonsurgical operation against Hamas militants in Gaza and the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians," the editorial board wrote. "When so-called humanitarian pauses in the bombardment and ground operations are too brief to realistically permit innocents to flee, or when there is no place for noncombatants to go that is not also in the line of fire, such pauses are so deficient as to be meaningless."
"It is time for a cease-fire," the board declared, urging U.S. President Joe Biden to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop attacks on the besieged enclave that have killed more than 11,400 Palestinians, including at least 4,710 children, and displaced over 1.5 million. "The world cannot stand by to witness more slaughter of civilians."
"Remaining mindful of America's mistakes, it is incumbent upon the Biden administration now to avoid complicity with Israel's."
The editorial stresses that "no one should harbor illusions about Hamas, the radical militant organization that serves as the de facto Gaza government and began the current hostilities" with the October 7 attack on Israel in which about 1,200 people were killed and around 240 more were taken hostage. It also warns that "the trauma inflicted on Palestinian survivors only increases the recruiting ability of Israel's enemies, whether they be Hamas, Hezbollah, or any successors bent on destruction of Israel."
Since Netanyahu declared what he has called a "war to the end," Biden has expressed his "unwavering" support and asked Congress for an extra $14.3 billion in military assistance, on top of the nearly $4 billion that Israel already gets annually. Rather than a cease-fire, Biden—like many on Capitol Hill—has advocated for humanitarian pauses.
In a departure from previous action, the United States on Wednesday night declined to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution urging humanitarian pauses in Gaza—a development that Human Rights Watch U.N. director Louis Charbonneau said "should be a wake-up call to Israeli authorities that global concern, even among its allies, is strong."
While vising Israel after Hamas' attack last month, Biden urged the nation to learn from U.S. mistakes post-9/11. As the LA Times editorial summarizes: "The statement was a clear message to Israel: Don't blunder as we did. Don't squander the goodwill of the rest of the world by killing civilians. Don't mimic your enemy's cruelty. Don't leave a power vacuum that can be filled by other, even more potent enemies. Have an exit strategy."
"Remaining mindful of America's mistakes, it is incumbent upon the Biden administration now to avoid complicity with Israel's," the board argued. "We are past the time to excuse the horror in Gaza. Biden has to press Netanyahu hard to stop the indiscriminate killing. That starts with a call for a cease-fire."
While the LA Times' call does follow the editorial board of the U.K.-based Financial Timesadvocating for a humanitarian cease-fire on October 30, several journalists and other observers noted that this appeared to be the first major U.S. newspaper to join people around the world in making the demand—including with massive demonstrations and civil disobedience.
Welcoming the "strong" editorial, University of Pennsylvania professor Victor Pickard said Thursday, "Let's hope others follow."
The Los Angeles chapter of Democratic Socialists of America similarly declared that "it's time for Los Angeles congressional representatives to join the call."
Investigative journalist Kamala Kelkar highlighted that the editorial's publication coincided with Semaforrevealing that the LA Times "is prohibiting staff from covering the Gaza war for at least three months if they signed a strongly worded open letter criticizing Israel's military operations in the region."
Semafor's Max Tani reported that the newspaper "did not respond to a request for comment. But earlier this week, LA Times top editor Kevin Merida reminded staff of the company's ethics and fairness policy, which stated that a 'fair-minded reader of the Times news coverage should not be able to discern the private opinions of those who contributed to that coverage, or to infer that the organization is promoting any agenda."
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