NYT Flotilla Spin Mentions, Then Omits Name of US Citizen Dogan

By James M. Wall

Scroll down for two Updates

In its Thursday afternoon internet coverage of Israel’s murderous attack on the Gaza-bound Flotilla, the New York Times spins its story with praise for Israel’s openness to change.

In the story, written by Isabel Kershner, the news is buried that one of the nine passengers killed in the assault was an American citizen.

The story opens with a headline praising Israel for seeking a solution to Gaza’s suffering:

“Israel Seeks ‘New Ways’ to Supply Gaza, Official Says”

By early morning Friday, the Times internet site offered an even more positive headline:

“Israel Signals New Flexibility on Gaza Shipments”

JERUSALEM — After insisting all week that its blockade of Gaza was essential to its security, the Israeli government is now “exploring new ways” of supplying the coastal enclave, an official said Thursday.

In the face of unrelenting international outrage over a deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza this week, the official said that Israel was determined that every ship heading to the enclave be inspected to prevent the smuggling of rockets and other weapons.

But at the same time, the government wants to facilitate the entry of civilian goods, said the official, who described the latest thinking within the government on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

The apparent change of heart follows reports that senior officials in the Obama administration were calling for a “new approach” in Gaza and had concluded that the blockade was untenable.

Once the reader absorbs this “new approach” that the Obama administration wants, there comes the first mention of the dead American citizen, age given, and long residence in Turkey included, but so far, no name.

The Times‘ report informs us that the news of  the “new approach” was

accompanied as well by reports that one of the nine people killed in the raid on the flotilla this week was a 19-year-old United States citizen of Turkish descent who had lived most of his life in Turkey, officials in Turkey and Washington said Thursday.

Further down in the story, after a mention that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu had spoken with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Times reports that  all passengers on the ship, including the wounded and the dead, were transported to Ashdod, the Israeli port to which the ships were towed.

Their names were withheld for 24 hours. All cameras and cell phones from the passengers were seized by the IDF. Their families were not notified. No one knew for certain who lived or who died.

This delay was deliberate, totally in character for the IDF, which wanted to get on top of the story. The  narrative control had been easier during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2008-09.

The control quickly disappeared.  Virtually no media outside the US, was taken in by the Israeli spin that told the story that when IDF commandos took control of the six ships, they had been shot at and beaten by iron clubs. That may have been true, but it was hardly the final word on what happened when military commandos attacked civilian ships.

The IDF as victim was paraded before a world audience that had heard the story before. This time the story flopped. The only exceptions were Israel’s true believers in the US media and in the US Congress.

One egregious example of blind political loyalty came from a group of Jewish American progressive politicians led by New York Democrat Anthony Weiner. (pictured here).

On Tuesday, June 1, with Israel still firmly in control of its version of the attack, the Politico‘s Jake Sherman wrote:

While the Obama administration takes a wait-and-see approach to the newest crisis in the Middle East, some Democrats in Congress stand firmly behind Israel’s raid of a Turkish flotilla en route to Gaza.

New York Democratic Reps. Anthony Weiner, Jerrold Nadler, Gary Ackerman, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) have all vigorously supported Israel’s boarding an aid ship bound for the blockaded Gaza — an act that resulted in ten deaths and a UN condemnation.

In the Thursday afternoon Times story,  several paragraphs later there is this incomplete item:

The bodies of the nine dead were flown to Turkey overnight along with hundreds of activists, many of them Turks, who were detained when the Israeli Navy towed the ships to shore on Monday.

How were the “hundreds of activists, many of them Turks”, transported to Istanbul?  The Times does not say, other than that were “flown to Turkey overnight”.

Only in the Turkish media do we find that Turkish military transports entered Israeli air space, landed, loaded the attack victims, living and dead, and flew them to Istanbul.

Finally, in paragraph ten of the early afternoon version on the web,  the Times gives the name of the dead American citizen. The Friday morning print edition omits Dogan’s name. It makes no reference to the details of how he died.

This is from the earlier internet story (omitted in the print edition):

Reports in the Turkish press identified the American citizen who was killed as Furkan Dogan, 19, who was born in the United States before returning to Turkey with his family as a young child. A United States official in Washington confirmed that an American was among the dead.

There were pictures of Dogan available to the Times (none were used), including the one above, which the Associated Press obtained from the Dogan family. The picture was taken when Furkan Dogan was 17.

Early Friday morning, Dogan’s name had disappeared entirely from both the Times internet story and from the Friday print edition. The only American citizen to die in the Flotilla attack, is referred to as a 19-year-old American citizen. His name is not included.

In the Turkish newspaper, Zaman, Dogan is identified  by name. Zaman also includes details on how Dogan died.

The details come from Turkey’s Council of Forensic Medicine, which examined the dead bodies.

The findings have not yet been announced. It will be a few weeks before the experts get back all the results, but initial statements from doctors confirm Yıldırım’s account of the shootings at close range.

According to İHH official Ömer Yağmur, who spoke to the doctors, 19-year-old Furkan Doğan was killed by four bullets to the head — all fired at close range — and one bullet into his chest, also fired at close range.

He said Doğan was studying at a private high school in Kayseri [his home town] and hoped to become a doctor in the future.

The day after the Flotilla was attacked the UN Security Council met to discuss appropriate action by the world community. The London Guardian reported:

The United States has blocked demands at the UN security council for an international inquiry into Israel’s assault on the Turkish ship carrying aid to Gaza that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

A compromise statement instead calls for an impartial investigation which Washington indicated could be carried out by Israel. Turkey pressed for the security council to launch an investigation similar to Richard Goldstone’s inquiry into last year’s fighting in Gaza which prompted protests from Israel when it concluded that Israel and Hamas were probably guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ankara wanted the investigation into the raid on the Mavi Marmara to result in the prosecution of officials responsible for the assault and the payment of compensation to the victims.

But in hours of diplomatic wrangling, the US blocked the move and instead forced a statement that called for “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards”.

The US representative at the security council discussions, Alejandro Wolff, indicated that Washington would be satisfied with Israel investigating itself when he called for it to undertake a credible investigation.

This sounds more like a cruel joke than an honest proposal. Israel’s record is clear.  It does not need any investigation from within or by an international body.  But that attitude is not shared by strong voices from within Israel, where criticism of Israel’s actions can be brutally frank with conclusions rarely heard from US media pundits

For example, in his regular Ha’aretz column, one day after the assault on the six ship Flotilla, Gideon Levy reminds his readers that Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2008-09, was designated by the IDF as Operation Cast Lead.  In his column he dubs the Flotilla assault, “Operation Mini Cast Lead”.

Like in “Mini-Israel,” the park where there is everything, but smaller, Israel embarked yesterday on a mini Operation Cast Lead.

Like its larger, losing predecessor, this operation had it all: the usual false claim that is was they who had started it – and not the landing of commandos from helicopters on a ship in open sea, away from Israeli territorial waters. There was the claim that the first act of violence came not from the soldiers, but the rioting activists on Mavi Marmara; that the blockade on Gaza is legal and that the flotilla to its shores is against the law – God knows which law. . . .

Israel will pay a heavy diplomatic price, once which had not been considered ahead of time. Again, the Israeli propaganda machine has managed to convince only brainwashed Israelis, and once more no one asked the question: What was it for?

Why were our soldiers thrown into this trap of pipes and ball bearings? What did we get out of it? If Cast Lead was a turning point in the attitude of the world toward us, this operation is the second horror film of the apparently ongoing series.

Israel proved yesterday that it learned nothing from the first movie. Yesterday’s fiasco could and should have been prevented. This flotilla should have been allowed to pass and the blockade should be brought to an end.

This should have happened a long time ago. In four years Hamas has not weakened and Gilad Shalit was not released. There was not even a sign of a gain.

And what have we instead? A country that is quickly becoming completely isolated. This is a place that turns away intellectuals, shoots peace activists, cuts off Gaza and now finds itself in an international blockade.

Once more yesterday it seemed, and not for the first time, that Israel is increasingly breaking away from the mother ship, and losing touch with the world – which does not accept its actions and does not understand its motives.

Yesterday there was no one on the planet, not a newsman nor analyst, except for its conscripted chorus, who could say a good word about the lethal takeover.

The BBC also has its share of blunt-talking journalists, as may be seen and heard in this BBC interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesman, Mark Regev:

Update I

In a separate story carried in Friday’s print edition, the Times refers to Furkan Dogan as one of the “victims” of the Israeli raid.

Among the dead was a young man with dual American and Turkish citizenship, Turkish and American officials said.  He was identified as Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old who was born in Troy, NY, and lived there as a small child, but later moved back to Turkey.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Washington that American officials “had spoken to the family to express condolences and offer consular services.”  She also reported that two other Americans had been wounded in the raid and “in a subsequent protest”.

Update II

Blogger Lawrence of Cyberia has postedthe names,with pictures, of the nine passengers killed in the Flotilla raid.. The blog will be updated as more information is made available. The posting includes links, some in Turkish. Click here to proceed to the page.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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5 Responses to NYT Flotilla Spin Mentions, Then Omits Name of US Citizen Dogan

  1. Rod Parrott says:

    Wow. The foreign media (especially the BBC interviewer) make the US media coverage look woefully inadequate and cowardly. And the knee-jerk reaction of some members of Congress is profoundly dismaying. Congress and the media cover each other’s backs, I guess.

    After our financial mess there was a healthy mood afoot to shut down those sections of our financial institutions that ran the derivatives casinos and to return the institutions to more basic (and sane) practices. It hasn’t happened yet. But I would advocate doing something similar in foreign affairs: divest ourselves of the cabal in Congress (and the media) that automatically aligns itself with Israel and replace it with professionals who are able to focus on pursuing our national interest in the Middle East in an open and even-handed way. (I’m not sure that means turning it over to the political appointees in the State Department; they may be part of the cabal too.)

  2. Sam Jones says:

    If it had been a young, white American with a Judeo-Christian sounding name U.S. media sources would have been clamoring for interviews with the family of the deceased and portraying the death in detail. They would have demanded answers. Wait a minute, I stand corrected; the same negligence and sprinkling of text with words designed to convey guilt or suspicion surrounded the murder of Rachel Corrie. What could possibly be the common denominator in this patterned reaction by the U.S. media…?

  3. Noushin says:


  4. Pauline Coffman says:

    Yes! Bring on the BBC interviewers.

    Which reminds me, why aren’t we seeing footage of the open gate at Rafah? What is going on there? Is it still open?

  5. Marlene says:

    Excellent Response Sam Jones..Just excellent. You read my mind!!!
    Thank you!!

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