NY Times Uses Rescued Chilean Miners' Pilgrimage to Holy Land to Score Points Against Israel

Twenty-five of the rescued Chilean miners have arrived in Israel for a week-long pilgrimage to sacred Christian sites.  They are there with spouses and other relatives as invited guests of the Israeli government.  Given extensive media interest, it's obvious that their high-profile visit is apt to boost tourism to Israel.  But first and foremost, this is a good-news, feel-good event -- miners of deep religious faith who consider their rescue nothing short of a divine miracle are in the Holy Land on a pilgrimage to places where their Savior performed his miracles.

However, that's not how Isabel Kershner, a Jerusalem correspondent of the New York Times, reports this visit.  Her article is peppered with anti-Israel digs.  The miners' own focus may be a religious one.  But Kershner merely uses these pilgrims as pegs to engage in not-so-subtle Israel bashing. ("Chilean Miners, in Israel, Count Blessings Amid Media Glare" page A4, Feb. 25).

Here's how Kershner begins her lead paragraph -- an immediate signal that hers is a political agenda aimed against Israel with scant interest in matters of religious faith:

"With revolts toppling governments across the Middle East and peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians suspended, 25 of the Chilean miners rescued after more than two months underground......"

So even before the miners are introduced to NY Times readers, Kershner feels compelled to inject a stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

When she gets around to the miners' itinerary, her article is sprinkled with pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel inferences.  After mentioning stops at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, the Dead Sea, Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, Kershner points to the Church of the Nativity, which she describes as located "in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority."  Another stop is in the "Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war."

Another major focus of Kershner's article is on Israel's use of the miners' visit to promote tourism..  "The trip," she writes, "was clearly intended as good public relations.  Israel was clearly hoping that its gesture to the miners would help promote the area as a religious tourism destination."  Of course, with Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity on the miners' itinerary, the Palestinian Authority also is apt to share any tourism benefits that may accrue from the miners' pilgrimage -- a dividend for Palestinian tourism not mentioned by Kershner.

As she proceeds to twist and warp the miners' visit,, Kershner is offended by the failure of fellow journalists to politicize this pilgrimage the way she does  "There was a conspicuous absence of any talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," she bemoans.  "Reporters mostly focused their questions on the men's emotions upon visiting Christian and other holy sites."  Only a reporter for the New York Times would find it startling that other journalists would depict the miners' visit without injecting their own political slants.

But undeterred by fellow reporters' failure to toe the NY Times' line, Kershner soldiers on.  So, when she brings up some of the miners' stops in the Old City of Jerusalem, she immediately interjects that "The Old City is in East Jerusalem, in territory annexed by Israel after the 1967 war and coveted by the Palestinians as the capital of a future state.  Israel's claims of sovereignty in East Jerusalem have not been internationally recognized."

I could point out that neither have Palestinian claims of sovereignty received international legal status, since this remains a task notable for its very slow progress.  But I desist from engaging in a debate about disputed claims to the Holy Land when the topic is a thanksgiving visit by Chilean pilgrims to places where miracles abound, then and now, as a reborn Jewish state rolls out a welcome carpet to  25 Chilean miners.
Twenty-five of the rescued Chilean miners have arrived in Israel for a week-long pilgrimage to sacred Christian sites.  They are there with spouses and other relatives as invited guests of the Israeli government.  Given extensive media interest, it's obvious that their high-profile visit is apt to boost tourism to Israel.  But first and foremost, this is a good-news, feel-good event -- miners of deep religious faith who consider their rescue nothing short of a divine miracle are in the Holy Land on a pilgrimage to places where their Savior performed his miracles.

However, that's not how Isabel Kershner, a Jerusalem correspondent of the New York Times, reports this visit.  Her article is peppered with anti-Israel digs.  The miners' own focus may be a religious one.  But Kershner merely uses these pilgrims as pegs to engage in not-so-subtle Israel bashing. ("Chilean Miners, in Israel, Count Blessings Amid Media Glare" page A4, Feb. 25).

Here's how Kershner begins her lead paragraph -- an immediate signal that hers is a political agenda aimed against Israel with scant interest in matters of religious faith:

"With revolts toppling governments across the Middle East and peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians suspended, 25 of the Chilean miners rescued after more than two months underground......"

So even before the miners are introduced to NY Times readers, Kershner feels compelled to inject a stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

When she gets around to the miners' itinerary, her article is sprinkled with pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel inferences.  After mentioning stops at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, the Dead Sea, Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, Kershner points to the Church of the Nativity, which she describes as located "in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority."  Another stop is in the "Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war."

Another major focus of Kershner's article is on Israel's use of the miners' visit to promote tourism..  "The trip," she writes, "was clearly intended as good public relations.  Israel was clearly hoping that its gesture to the miners would help promote the area as a religious tourism destination."  Of course, with Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity on the miners' itinerary, the Palestinian Authority also is apt to share any tourism benefits that may accrue from the miners' pilgrimage -- a dividend for Palestinian tourism not mentioned by Kershner.

As she proceeds to twist and warp the miners' visit,, Kershner is offended by the failure of fellow journalists to politicize this pilgrimage the way she does  "There was a conspicuous absence of any talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," she bemoans.  "Reporters mostly focused their questions on the men's emotions upon visiting Christian and other holy sites."  Only a reporter for the New York Times would find it startling that other journalists would depict the miners' visit without injecting their own political slants.

But undeterred by fellow reporters' failure to toe the NY Times' line, Kershner soldiers on.  So, when she brings up some of the miners' stops in the Old City of Jerusalem, she immediately interjects that "The Old City is in East Jerusalem, in territory annexed by Israel after the 1967 war and coveted by the Palestinians as the capital of a future state.  Israel's claims of sovereignty in East Jerusalem have not been internationally recognized."

I could point out that neither have Palestinian claims of sovereignty received international legal status, since this remains a task notable for its very slow progress.  But I desist from engaging in a debate about disputed claims to the Holy Land when the topic is a thanksgiving visit by Chilean pilgrims to places where miracles abound, then and now, as a reborn Jewish state rolls out a welcome carpet to  25 Chilean miners.

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