In its Nov. 22 edition, the Times runs a two-column headline that reads: "2 Lions, Their Birth Hailed by Gaza, Die Within Days."
According to correspondent Fares Akram reporting from the Gaza Strip, the birth of two lion cubs at a Gaza zoo was hailed by Hamas rulers as "a triumph over the proverbial hardship of life in this Palestinian coastal enclave." The cubs became "symbols of resistance."
One was named Fair, Arabic for dawn, a "reference to the long-range rockets that Hamas has fired into Israel." The other cub, Sijil, which means stones of clay, bears Hamas' label for "the cross-border conflict with Israel." (euphemisms in Times parlance for Hamas terror attacks on Israeli civilian targets). To Hamas, the baby lions were a "symbol of beauty, power and strength," Akram writes.
But alas, it was not to be. Although they were born healthy, the cubs died within days. One possibility, readers are told, is that their mother refused to feed them. Another possibility was the November chill. But this being a story based on congruent values and agendas of Hamas and the Times, the finger of blame quickly points to Israel.
"On Tuesday," Akram reports, "an Israeli warplane dropped three bombs on an Islamic Jihad training base in northern Gaza, not far from the zoo, causing the lioness to panic and step on her offspring." The IDF itself seems to buttress this conclusion -- "The Israeli military said it had struck several sites in Gaza in retaliation for rocket fire aimed at soldiers near the border earlier that day."
The IDF's vaunted intelligence evidently failed in this instance. By rights, Israel should have desisted from counter-terrorism operations lest they might disturb the cubs' mother.
In the pages of the New York Times, it turns out, Israeli lives count for less than the fate of two cuddly baby lions.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers
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