Shielding the Nation Starving Gaza

The editors of The New York Times know exactly what they’re doing when they cover Israel’s deliberate starvation of Palestinian civilians as though it’s a weather report, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

New York Times building. (Joe Lauria)

By Caitlin Johnstone

Listen to Tim Foley reading this article. 

The mass media are printing some amazingly depraved headlines about a new U.N.-backed report on starvation in Gaza from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, who says half the enclave’s population is now at the highest-possible threat level for starvation.

The New York Times has a real corker out titled “Famine Is Projected for Northern Gaza, Experts Say,” subtitled “A global authority on food security said that in the coming months, as many as 1.1 million people in Gaza could face the severest levels of hunger.”

A casual news consumer could get multiple paragraphs into this article assuming that people in a place called Gaza are suffering from some kind of famine caused by natural events, like a drought or something. 

Not until paragraph four would they encounter the word “Israeli,” and not until paragraph five would they encounter the line “Israeli’s bombardment and a near-total blockade.”

At a time when only 20 percent of news readers ever make it past the headline of a given story, this is an extremely destructive and propagandistic act of journalistic malpractice.

The editors of The New York Times know exactly what they’re doing by packaging a story about Israel’s deliberate starvation of Palestinian civilians like it’s a troubling prediction about the weather.

Contrast The New York Times’ headline with that of Al Jazeera’s report on the same story: “Gaza headed towards famine amid Israeli aid curbs: What to know.”

That’s the normal way to present a story about a deliberately inflicted famine upon an imperiled population. If a population was being deliberately starved by siege warfare from a nation like Russia, China or Iran, we may be absolutely certain that the name of that nation would appear in the headline.

But because the Western media exist to generate propaganda and not to report the news, we get headlines like “Gaza faces famine during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting” from the BBC, and “Famine in northern Gaza is imminent as more than 1 million people face ‘catastrophic’ levels of hunger, new report warns” from CNN and “Famine imminent in northern Gaza, says U.N.-backed report” from Reuters, and “‘Catastrophic levels of hunger’ in Gaza mean famine is imminent, says aid coalition” from The Guardian.

[See: Borrell Openly Blames Israel for Gaza Famine]

We saw this with Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-backed starvation of Yemen as well. When the mass media talked about Yemen at all (usually they just ignored it), editors consistently obfuscated the fact that this was a population being deliberately starved by a cruel blockade and the deliberate targeting of food infrastructure. The fact that it was being made possible by the United States was almost never mentioned.

This is a very good example of how Western propaganda works, by the way. The mainstream Western press don’t generally make up whole-cloth lies (though they will uncritically print claims made by western government agencies who have an extensive history of lying); what they do is rely on half-truths, distortions and lies by omission to give their audiences a wildly slanted picture of what’s going on in the world. 

By always going out of their way to tell you an enemy of the U.S.-centralized empire is committing an atrocity the millisecond it looks like they might be, while being furtive and obfuscatory about the crimes of the U.S. and its allies, they give their audience a skewed understanding of who is and is not committing the real evils in our world.

This doesn’t typically happen as a result of any grand monolithic conspiracy; it’s mostly just the natural consequence of having all the major news platforms controlled by wealthy and powerful people who each have a vested interest in manufacturing consent for the status quo upon which their wealth and power are premised. 

The oligarchs control the media, and they hire the executives who run the media, and the executives hire the editors who write the headlines and guide the reporters to report a certain way, and this gives rise to a system where everyone working for the outlet conducts themselves in a way that just so happens to suit the powerful people on top.

Then before you know it you’ve got editors at The New York Times — a paper that’s been published by the same family for over a century — packaging a story about starvation caused by an Israeli siege to look like it’s a story about an innocent crop failure.

Odds are nobody told them to do that; they just learned over the years that that’s how you rise to the top in an outlet like The New York Times.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on FacebookTwitterSoundcloudYouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

15 comments for “Shielding the Nation Starving Gaza

  1. March 22, 2024 at 21:38

    In her animosity toward the New York Times, Johnstone is highly selective, choosing an article that was only about the release of a report from some organization, and therefore constrained to say no more than what the report says. The article’s first sentence does lead off with, “warned of especially dire circumstances for 300,000 people in the northern part of the territory” so even her claim of burying the lede is wan.
    She ignores on that same day (3/18) a full page Times piece about makeshift desperate methods to eat titled, “In Gaza, a Relentless and Increasingly Futile Hunt for Food”. And if that appeared later then her piece, she also chose to ignore another full page from the previous day in the Times titled, “Practically Fasting for Months’: A Joyless Ramadan in Gaza”. Apparently these inconveniently contradicted her theme.

  2. Francis Lee
    March 22, 2024 at 05:55

    In his short work – ”The Fear of Freedom” – Erich Fromm the brilliant social-political theorist, pretty much nailed what is essentially the abject barbarism in modern society. He argued:

    ”Any attempt to understand the attraction which Fascism exercises upon great nations compels us to recognize the ro9le of psychological factors. For what we are dealing with here is a political system which essentially, does not appeal to rational forces of self-interest, but which arouses and mobilizes the diabolical forces in man which we have believed to be non-existent, or at least have died out long ago.” 1942.

    Moreover, Friedrich Engels writing in ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England 1844” writes:

    ”Hence it comes too that the social war, the war of each against all, is here openly declared … where people regard each other as useful objects; each exploits the other, and at the end of it all is, that the stronger treads the weaker under foot, and that the powerful few, the capitalists, seize everything for themselves, while to the weak, many, the poor, scarcely a bare existence remains.”

    Much remains to be done. We tended to underestimate the power and reach of the omnipresent, of those who manipulate the social and political structures of society. There’s a war going on.

    • Susan Siens
      March 22, 2024 at 15:56

      Thank you so much for quoting Erich Fromm. For my last year of high school, I read social psychology for half the year, and I keep thinking I need to reread The Sane Society. Someone online actually told me “no one reads Fromm anymore” and all I could think is that that’s their loss. And that’s a great quote from Engels, seeing into the future and predicting neoliberalism.

  3. robert e williamson jr
    March 21, 2024 at 13:38



    TDillon contributes a sorely needed comment explaining facts about the genocide in Gaza being prosecuted by the deranged leader of Israel in his smartly worded, economically written comment here. Bravo to TDillon.

    When combined with Ms. Johnstones ripping apart of the NY Times rag, Consortium News delivers a significant 1 – 2 punch to the grotesque supporters who facilitate Israel and it’s deranged leadership. Joey Biden and his band of ne’er do wells who at best are hopelessly lost in their world of neocon – Zionist beliefs.

    I have to wonder what Joey’s father would think.

    Listen up, just in case anyone has missed the reality of what is happening in Gaza as I write this.

    I’ve looked and I find the number of 1.7 million Palestinians were living in Gaza. I can’t verify that number, however Aljazeera is reporting today that 576,000 individuals are one step away from famine.

    This signifies that many of those individuals may very well not live to see tomorrow. In the coming week most of these individuals will perish. The cumulative affects of malnutrition and bad drinking water past a finite period of time will kill the victims. It is a function of the deprivation of basic materials the human MUST have to survive.

    So get ready. This is going to be very ugly, “In deed!”, in the words of one famous CNN tired assed talking head.

    Unfortunately our government bears a great responsibility in this matter.

    Now picture in your mind tens of thousands of individuals who will appear as skin clad skeletons, the same as we all have witness over the years.

    Imagine the stench of death in the air and sounds of the suffering. Then remember this because your government has become irrevocably involved in this man made slaughter because of secret agreement with the ghastly debased leadership of Israel, this is our tax dollars at work.

    Thanks to CN and long live the memory of Robert Parry

  4. susan
    March 21, 2024 at 08:53

    NYT, what a POS!

    • Susan Siens
      March 22, 2024 at 15:59

      Not even fit for lining the litter box!

  5. Hygjyg
    March 20, 2024 at 23:59

    It is a not conspiracy. It is centrally planned.

  6. jonathan p nelms
    March 20, 2024 at 18:42

    So true. How do they live with themselves?

  7. TDillon
    March 20, 2024 at 17:14

    “This doesn’t typically happen as a result of any grand monolithic conspiracy”

    This case is not typical. Since 1948 the mainstream media has been hiding the facts about Israel’s practice of terrorism against the Palestinians, by mass murder, mass land theft, and various lesser tactics of harrassment and destruction. The mainstream media’s censorship in favor of Israel today is a clear continuation of this longstanding pattern.

    For example, Glen Greenwald makes a solid case that the sudden move to ban TikTok has nothing to do with possible security threats from China. That is a cover story. The real goal is to shut down the extensive criticism of Israel occurring on TikTok.
    Bipartisan House Vote Pushes Deep State TikTok Ban—Who Really Benefits? w/ Michael Tracey | SYSTEM UPDATE #242

    I have taught courses in the statistical analysis of data. When we have a specific situation in which a vast number of coincidences go in the same direction, and not a random distribution of directions, then these are probably not coincidences.

    In my view we have long passed that point with the censorship favoring Israel. We have an overwhelming amount of evidence for a highly coordinated, hence centrally controlled, effort to censor facts on Israel’s behalf.

    In the current case, wherein it appears that Israel is planning to kill a huge number of Palestinians all at once by mass starvation, censoring for Israel must also overcome the natural human revulsion at Israel’s grotesquely inhumane actions. This implies that the controlling entity behind this highly coordinated censorship also has a strong level of control over the various censoring entities.

  8. Robert Nothhouse
    March 20, 2024 at 15:15

    The u.s. is the only country that has the power to bring these zionazis to heal; and it is way past due. If biden wants to get reelected, this is his only option, but he has to be careful to not be branded and antisemite. Good luck with that joe.

  9. firstpersoninfinite
    March 20, 2024 at 15:08

    “This doesn’t typically happen as a result of any grand monolithic conspiracy; it’s mostly just the natural consequence of having all the major news platforms controlled by wealthy and powerful people who each have a vested interest in manufacturing consent for the status quo upon which their wealth and power are premised.”

    As usual, spot on. And yet there is something different about reality when it involves Israel and the US. Slaughter US soldiers on the US Liberty without paying any price – done. Buy the votes of almost everyone in the US Congress by holding the purse strings to their continued political existence – done. Induce pariahcide on anyone disagreeing with your policies above all Constitutional rights of free speech – done. And yet, for all their atrocities, the US is completely complicit with the Israeli in all these things. It has to be more than just power games, money or nihilism. I think it is the patina of Christianity, of belief against all reasons for belief more than anything else. Zionism is a tribal mentality – it certainly has nothing to do with the Christian religion. Everyone should remember that fact when they consider the atrocities committed by Israel especially. But just as the late twentieth century saw the rise of fundamentalism in many major religions at the same time, it may be that we need our gold-plated Puritanism more than we need our constitutional government. The Christian fascists need Israel more than they need the US.

    • Susan Siens
      March 22, 2024 at 16:09

      I believe in the need for left-right dialogue, but in trying to talk to what I must assume is an evangelical Christian I ran into a brick wall. Like most Christians, he has no interest in Jesus’ teachings which were phenomenally radical and still are. I’m referring not to the sacrificial goat Christians worship, but to the man who tried to teach us that prestige, status, money, tribe, were worthless things, that all that mattered was caring for one another.

      As for apocalyptic thinking, I appreciated the priest who tried to teach that such writing was supposed to be a WARNING, not something that should be fulfilled. Enter those nineteenth-century, money-grubbing “theologians” and they came up with psychotic ideas such as the rapture — misreading Revelation which was about the Roman empire — and the great conflagration in the Middle East and a goodly percentage of our ignorant population swallowed it and still swallows it.

  10. Fastball
    March 20, 2024 at 12:23

    Forgive me, but even the word “amid” is a kind of journalistic malpractice in my view. In my opinion, it suggests something is happening *alongside* another horrific event, rather than a direct cause/effect relationship. “Israel murdering civilians using starvation as weapon” would be better. But maybe that’s just me.

    • JonnyJames
      March 21, 2024 at 14:15

      And maybe something like: “The US illegally funds and unconditionally supports Israeli mass-starvation and genocide of Palestine”

      (On another topic: “The US and vassals recklessly provoke nuclear war with Russia and China, endangering life on the planet” )

      I would argue that while these headlines would be shocking to the average NYT or WaPo reader, they are 100% accurate and can be backed up with a raft of evidence.

      But that’s not the job of the corporate media, their job is to further the interests of the oligarchy that owns the MassMedia. Paul Krugman (has a regular column in the NYT) does a great job on the economics (and politics) front, for example. Recent articles from ol’ Kruggie say that the MIC does not exist and that the US should spend MORE on war, weapons and the MICIMATT. But who are we to question an economics “scholar” who has a so-called Nobel prize for economics?

      • Susan Siens
        March 22, 2024 at 16:12

        OMG, Jonny! It is amazing what paid media whores are willing to write or say aloud. They apparently have zero self-consciousness and absolutely no thought for the future and how they will be viewed.

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