In an August 3, 2011, op-ed entitled “Seeking Balance on the Mideast,” Kristof attacks Israel for various perceived transgressions, including its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza in 2008 in response to incessant Hamas rocket and mortar fire into Israel. Kristof also excoriates the House of Representatives for overwhelmingly passing a resolution at the time supporting “Israel’s right to defend itself.” He likewise condemns the House for passing a similarly overwhelming resolution urging the Obama administration to block Palestinian attempts to seek recognition of statehood at the UN and also threatening to cut off funding to the Palestinians if they go forward with the UN gambit.
Nowhere in Kristof’s writing attacking Israel is there any acknowledgment of Palestinian promotion of Israel’s destruction and of the mass murder of Jews.
Much of Kristof’s August op-ed is devoted to championing J Street – the new, heavily left-leaning, Saudi- and Soros-funded, self-styled “pro-Israel” organization – and its leader, Jeremy Ben-Ami. To Kristof, J Street and Ben-Ami, whom he quotes repeatedly, are welcome alternatives to the established pro-Israel community. But Ben-Ami responded to the Israeli incursion into Gaza by drawing a moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas and essentially condemning Israel’s action. And he has dismissed Israeli concerns about Palestinian aspirations to Israel’s destruction and Palestinian promotion of genocide as paranoid, as representing the persistent echoes of past genocidal assaults on Jews. For example, he observed – in a New York Times interview, “… there’s their grandmother’s voice in their ear; it’s the emotional side and the communal history…”
Kristof is, of course, the writer awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his many op-eds documenting and decrying the genocide in Darfur and the world’s failure to stop the slaughter. But it is noteworthy that a key factor in the impunity with which the Arab government of Sudan has been able to pursue its campaign of rape and mass murder in Darfur has been the support it receives from the rest of the Arab world, and yet on this Kristof has been essentially silent. (A review in April, 2006, of his Times articles on Darfur revealed that he had published some 40 op-eds on the subject to that point, many of them blaming various international parties for contributing to the genocide. But he had broken his silence on the role of the Arab world in only five sentences in the penultimate of the long list of articles, and even that piece was focused elsewhere, on China’s shameful role in Darfur.)
Nor in any of his many op-ed’s about Darfur since then has Kristof covered the wider Arab role. In March, 2009, Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir was indicted for genocide in Darfur by the International Criminal Court. Some weeks later, al-Bashir flew to the meeting of the Arab League then being held in Doha, Qatar, and won unanimous support from League members against the ICC indictment. PA President Abbas declared, “We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir.” Hamas, whose terrorists attend training camps in Sudan overseen by the same people responsible for the butchery in Darfur, had organized a large pro-Sudan demonstration in Gaza shortly after the indictment, and Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk had flown to Khartoum to show his backing of al-Bashir.
Also in March, 2009, Kristof wrote two op-eds about the indictment, Sudan’s crimes in Darfur, and the world’s need to do more. But in those articles, and in the weeks and months that followed, he was silent on the Arab role, the spectacle in Doha, and support for the genocide provided by the PA and Hamas.
Apparently, Kristof’s anti-Israel animus, and his determination to ignore the genocidal agenda of the Palestinians, is so strong that he is willing to overlook Palestinian and broader Arab backing of genocide in Darfur rather than even broach the theme of genocidal sentiments among Israel’s enemies.
The Times news pages have largely become an extension of the editorial section and this is certainly true regarding Israel. The Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, Ethan Bronner, has filed innumerable articles in which the story line is essentially Palestinian grievances against alleged Israeli oppression, with no context given that would offer a counter-perspective. For example, a July 28, 2011, piece entitled, “Where Politics Are Complex, Simple Joys at the Beach,” tells of most Palestinians in the West Bank having no opportunity to visit Mediterranean beaches because they are blocked from entering Israel, and of the efforts of an Israeli women’s group to smuggle Palestinian women into the country for beach outings. Only in the thirteenth paragraph of the story is there any allusion to the reality that virtually from 1967, when Israel first gained control of the West Bank, until 1994, when Arafat’s entry into the territories as per the early Oslo agreements was accompanied by an unprecedented wave of anti-Israel terror, Palestinians from the West Bank typically moved freely in Israel, including to its beaches. The terror assaults that followed Oslo led to periodic closures of pre-1967 Israel to most Palestinians, and this exclusion became more systematic and consistent after Arafat launched his terror war in 2000 that killed about a thousand Israelis and maimed thousands more in the ensuing few years.
Given that Bronner routinely gives his frequent “human interest” stories regarding Israel and the Palestinians such a biased tilt, it is hardly surprising that, in his years as the Times Jerusalem bureau chief, he has written virtually nothing on Palestinian, including PA, incitement – in media, mosques and schools – to the destruction of Israel and extermination of the Jews.
In a November, 2001, retrospective on World War II coverage, Max Frankel, former Times executive editor, offered a mea culpa for the paper’s under-reporting of the Nazis’ genocidal policies and actions regarding the Jews. Frankel called it “the century’s bitterest journalistic failure.” Much has changed at the Times since World War II. What was then a generally left of center editorial stance has shifted much further to the Left; and what was largely a focus on objective reporting in news stories has transformed into much more advocacy journalism and a blurring of the distinction between news pages and editorial pages. But one constant between then and now has been the Times’ consistent reluctance, and general failure, to cover genocidal threats to Jews.
And both the threats, and the Times’ failure to cover them, are of consequence.
Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist and historian and author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege.