The New York Times wants you to weep for the people of Gaza, and for what Hamas’ massacre of 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7, which Gazans cheered in large numbers, has brought upon them. In service of that goal, on Christmas Eve the Paper of Record ran a weepy piece by a prominent Gazan, someone who has witnessed the Israeli incursion firsthand. Did the Times give this plumb editorial space to a “moderate” Gazan, a known foe of the Hamas regime, one of those “innocent Palestinians” who have nothing, nothing whatsoever, to do with Hamas? Uh, not quite.
“I Am Gaza City’s Mayor. Our Lives and Culture Are in Rubble,” was written by Yahya R. Sarraj and published in the Times on Sunday. The Times identifies the author in terms that make him sound like an airy, inoffensive intellectual: “Dr. Sarraj is the mayor of Gaza City and a former rector of the University College of Applied Sciences there. He wrote from Gaza City.”
Yahya R. Sarraj, you see, is no terrorist, he’s a mild-mannered professor. But what the Times doesn’t bother to remind its hapless readers about is the fact that Hamas controls Gaza, and no one can hold the position of being mayor of the largest city in the Gaza Strip without being either an active Hamas member or entirely sympathetic with the terror group’s outlook and goals. Sarraj even alludes to this matter-of-factly in his piece, writing: “One of my major goals after the Hamas administration appointed me mayor in 2019 was to improve the city’s seafront and foster the opening of small businesses along it to create jobs.”
Sarraj spends the bulk of his article doing his best to move the reader to rage against Israel. “As a teenager in the 1980s,” he says, “I watched the construction of the intricately designed Rashad al-Shawa Cultural Center in Gaza City, named after one of Gaza’s greatest public figures, and its theater, grand hall, public library, printing press and cultural salon.”
This place was so impressive that Sarraj says even Bill Clinton visited it while he was president; it was, in fact, “the gem of Gaza City,” and it meant a great deal to Sarraj personally: “Watching it being built inspired me to become an engineer, which led to a career as a professor and, in the footsteps of al-Shawa, as mayor of Gaza City. Now that gem is rubble. It was destroyed by Israeli bombardment.”
Sarraj claims that “Israel, which began its blockade of Gaza more than 16 years ago and has maintained what the United Nations and human rights groups call an ongoing occupation for far longer, is destroying life here.” Destroying life! Sixteen years ago, in 2007, the population of Gaza was 1,416,543, up from 1,022,207 in 1997. In 2023, it’s 2.2 million, 64% higher than it was in 2007. If the Israelis are “destroying life” in Gaza and even committing a genocide, as many have charged, they’re doing a remarkably ineffective job of it.
Sarraj laments: “Why can’t Palestinians be treated equally, like Israelis and all other peoples in the world? Why can’t we live in peace and have open borders and free trade?” He doesn’t offer any answers, so I will, as the answer is not elusive at all: if Palestinians would stop trying to murder Israeli civilians and destroy the state of Israel altogether, they could have all of that and more.
Why is the New York Times publishing Hamas propaganda? Because doing so is consistent with its longstanding editorial policies. Ninety years ago, on July 9, 1933, just over five months after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and years after his virulent anti-Semitism and propensity for violence had become internationally known, the Times published a fawning puff piece on the Führer.
Pulitzer Prize-winning “journalist” Anne O’Hare McCormick traveled to Berlin to interview the new chancellor, and in his presence, she was starstruck: “At first sight,” McCormick gushed, “the dictator of Germany seems a rather shy and simple man, younger than one expects, more robust, taller. His sun-browned face is full and is the mobile face of an orator.” McCormick seemed to have a crush on the future butcher of Europe: “His eyes are almost the color the blue larkspur in a vase behind him, curiously childlike and candid. He appears untired and unworried. His voice is as quiet as his black tie and his double-breasted black suit.”
Hitler, McCormick signaled to her readers, was reasonable and genuine: “He begins to speak slowly and solemnly but when he smiles — and he smiled frequently in the course of the interview — and especially when he loses himself and forgets his listener in a flood of speech, it is easy to see how he sways multitudes. Then he talks like a man possessed, indubitably sincere.” What’s more, “Herr Hitler has the sensitive hand of the artist.”
In the 29th paragraph of a 41-paragraph article, McCormick says that she asked him: “How about the Jews? At this stage how do you measure the gains and losses of your anti-Semetic [sic] policies?” Hitler answered, she said, with “extraordinary fluency,” and she records his answer – a tissue of victim-blaming and excuse-making – at considerable length. Later, she says, “Herr Hitler’s tension relaxed. He smiled his disarming smile.”
Little did Anne O’Hare McCormick realize, as Hitler’s blue larkspur eyes twinkled in her direction and his disarming smile made her heart flutter, that all these years later, the New York Times would not only be publishing puff pieces about authoritarian thugs, but giving them space to propagandize to their heart’s content.