The New York Times, so palpably unsympathetic to Israel, offered yet another example of its bias in its recent coverage of the anti-terrorism raid by the IDF in Jenin and the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. The full story can be found here: “‘Insane,’ ‘Reprehensible,’ ‘Complicit’: New York Times Excuse-Making for Jerusalem Terrorists Is Condemned,” by Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, January 31, 2023:
“Insane.” “Reprehensible.” “Complicit.”
These are the fierce criticisms being mounted against the New York Times for its coverage of terrorist attacks against Israelis over the weekend.
A former American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, called a New York Times headline “insane,” faulting it for failing to provide context. “This may be the most misleading and offensive headline that the Times has published this week (for the Times that’s saying a lot!)” Friedman tweeted.
The watchdog group HonestReporting faulted the Times and other news organizations for “falsely equating terrorism and counterterrorism.” The group said that “By cynically equating the IDF counter-terror operation in Jenin and the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, the media are helping to contribute to the atmosphere of incitement and violent rhetoric that culminated in the Jerusalem attacks over the weekend.”
HonestReporting highlighted a New York Times tweet and commented, “This is what we mean when we say the media is complicit. Shame on the @nytimes for trying to minimize and excuse a terrorist attack that left 8 Jewish civilians dead, at their synagogue, on Int’l Holocaust Remembrance Day.” The Times tweet said, “Breaking News: A gunman killed at least five people at an East Jerusalem synagogue after a deadly month in the occupied West Bank.”
The Times headline mentions a “gunman” without noting that he was a Palestinian, and while noting that his mass murdering was “after a deadly month in the occupied West Bank.” This appears to suggest, with that word “after,” the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, that that “deadly month” (of Israeli attacks in the West Bank) are what led to the killings of Israelis in Jerusalem.
Another pro-Israel media watchdog group, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), faulted the Times for concealing “the terror affiliations of at least seven of the nine Palestinians, introducing the false impression that the Palestinian dead are, like the Israelis murdered in Jerusalem, innocent victims.”
Why did the Times fail to mention that of the eight Palestinians killed during a three-hour gun battle in Jenin, seven were terrorists (one was an innocent passerby caught in the crossfire)? After the battle was over, Hamas proudly admitted that four of its members were among the dead; Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed that two belonged to its group; and Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade said that one of its members had been killed. In other words, all seven were members of terror groups. Wasn’t that the most important aspect of the gunfight in Jenin?
Along with moral equivalence, an additional means of softening coverage of Palestinian terrorism is slapping on a headline using the euphemistic passive voice, thereby obscuring the perpetrator. Thus, The Times’ headlines about the Palestinian terrorist’s gunning down of Shabbath worshippers neglects to identify the assailant: “At Least 7 Killed in Attack in Jewish Area of East Jerusalem,” and “”Shots Outside Synagogue Leave 7 People Dead in East Jerusalem.” For good measure, the headlines also fail to identify the victims (Israeli Jews), referring to them only as “people.”…
The passive voice deflects readers from focusing on the person – a 21-year-old Palestinian – who actually killed people. “At least 7 killed,” but by whom? Why not “Palestinian kills 7 Jews leaving synagogue services in Jerusalem neighborhood”? And the other Times headline — “Shots outside synagogue leave 7 people dead” — sounds as if the “shots” simply fired themselves. And who were those mysterious “people”? Again, the Times ought to have written “Palestinian kills 7 Israelis just outside synagogue,” so that we know who the perpetrator (a Palestinian) was and who his victims (Israelis) were.
The Times print coverage also failed to report on President Biden’s strong condemnation of the attack on the innocent Jerusalem synagogue-goers, which the president called “an attack against the civilized world.”
Wouldn’t readers of the Times want to know of the American government’s condemnation of the massacre of Israeli worshippers? Such knowledge might even affect how they themselves react.
One Twitter critic contrasted a Times of Israel headline, “Armed Palestinian shot dead by guard near West Bank settlement, IDF says,” and a New York Times headline about the same event, which said, “Palestinian Man Fatally Shot as Violence Continues in Israel.”
Note that the Times headline makes it seem that the Palestinian was wantonly killed, one more victim of the “violence” in Israel. leaves out the two most important facts: that the “Palestinian” in question was armed, and that he was shot by a guard just outside a West Bank settlement, a place where he would have gone for only one reason – to attack those living in the settlement. As written, the Times headline suggests we do not know who is responsible for this “upsurge” in “violence” (“Palestinian fatally shot as violence continues in Israel”).
An article in Monday’s print New York Times takes pains to describe the terrorist attack outside a Jerusalem synagogue as “a synagogue in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.” The Times article says, “The recent Palestinian attacks, including Friday night’s shooting outside a synagogue and Saturday’s shooting, have targeted Israeli settlements and settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The settlements are considered illegal under international law and by much of the international community.”
That is cow manure, which is to say, both inaccurate and a morally loathsome effort to justify an attack on innocent civilian worshipers.
As HonestReporting noted, “On the contrary, Neve Yaakov is not a ‘settlement’ outside Jerusalem but is rather one of the neighborhoods that make up the Jerusalem municipality. While it is true that Israel gained control over that area following the Six-Day War, Neve Yaakov does not have the legal status of a ‘settlement’ and is a fully integrated municipal neighborhood. It should also be noted that Neve Yaakov sits on land that was purchased by the Jewish community in the early 20th century and served as a Jewish agricultural center until it was depopulated during the Israeli War of Independence.”
Neve Ya’akov is not now and never has been, a “settlement.” Don’t the Times reporters know that the neighborhood, like the rest of east Jerusalem, has been part of Israel since 1980? And had those reporters done a minute’s worth of searching on the Internet, they would have discovered, further, that the land on which Neve Ya’akov is built has been owned by Jews since the 1920s, and that the Jewish owners’ claim was not extinguished when Jordan seized eastern Jerusalem in 1949 and held onto it until the Six-Day War in 1967. In 1967, those owners were again able to assert their property right in the neighborhood.
Every New York Times article also takes pains to mention “Israel’s new far-right government,” “the most right-wing and the most religious in Israel’s history,” without mentioning that Palestinian Arab terrorists have targeted Israeli Jewish civilians without regard for the politics or religiosity of the Israeli governing coalition. In fact, Jewish synagogue goers have been targeted by murderers in Europe since before there even was a state of Israel, and they were targeted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, too. So the idea that this was about “the settlements” or the “far-right government” is, like the rest of the New York Times coverage, just a lot of phony baloney.
We now hear constantly – especially in the New York Times – about the dangers of this new “far-right government” in Israel. The implication is clear: anything the Palestinians now do, any attacks they engage in, are prompted by this scary new “far-right” government. So, the claim is strongly hinted at, we must blame that “far-right government” for any Palestinian attacks, rather than put the blame on those who actually carry out these attacks. But it isn’t true that a “far-right” government has prompted the latest Palestinian attack The Palestinians have launched many thousands of attacks on Israeli civilians since 1949, when Israel was under left-wing or centrist governments; the suggestion that the policies of the “far-right” government are what prompted this Jerusalem massacre is absurd.
Here’s what the Times should do in covering attacks, both counterterrorist and terrorist: First, avoid the passive voice. Name the actors. Who “fired those shots”? Who tried to kill whom? Second, If members of terror groups were involved, make sure that information is included, Don’t be reluctant to call them”terrorists.” If terror groups – designated as such by the American government — proudly claim some or all of those involved on the Palestinian side belong to their groups, make that information known. So the Jenin battle should now be described thus: ”IDF kills 7 Palestinian terrorists after three-hour gun battle.” And the Jerusalem massacre – the Jewish victims were all unarmed civilians — should bear this headline: “Palestinian terrorist massacres 7 Jewish worshippers in Jerusalem.”
Can The New York Times reform? Perhaps if sufficiently embarrassed by the constant, and well-founded criticism of its coverage of Israel and the Palestinians, the Times will begin to examine its own practices, admit that its critics have a point, and institute the needed changes, The celebrated motto inscribed in the Ducal Palace in Mantua reads thus: “Forse che si forse che no.” That is to say: “Maybe Yes, and maybe No.” We’ll just have to see.