Isabel Necessary?

Richard N. Weltz
In answer to the old joke question, I'd have to say, "yes," when it's Isabel Kershner of the New York Times. Ms. Kershner, apparently a newcomer to the paper -- or at least to its Jerusalem Bureau -- must have slipped under the radar of the incumbent Sulzberger administration and longtime bureau chief Steven Erlanger, judging by the sharp turnaround representing by her reporting on Israel and the Palestinians.

The Times, of course, has long been notorious for its antagonism toward Israel and friendly sympathy for the Palestinians -- no matter the lengths to which their acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians and soldiers take them. This has been amply obvious in the simple perusal of the Gray Lady's coverage of matters Middle Eastern; and it has been written about regularly by various and sundry media analysts, pundits, columnists, and bloggers --  including the Web pages here at AmericanThinker.

The watchdog organization, HonestReporting.com, has just released the results of its six-month study of Times ME coverage, which clearly documents a significant bias against Israel in every phase of the paper's reporting, from the way in which headlines are presented to the order of information in text, to out-and-out slanting of the old-fashioned kind.
HonestReporting summarizes its findings as follows:
Balance: Despite an evenly balanced selection of stories on Israel and the Palestinians, the New York Times gave far more weight to Israeli military incidents in text location, headlines and photo selection than to Palestinian attacks. More than 60% of images sympathetic to one side or the other favored the Palestinians.

Consistency:
Israeli and Palestinian actions were not treated consistently in choice of language. Israel or the Israel Defense Forces were the subject of strongly worded, direct headlines in 18 out of 20 cases (90%). However, in the 20 cases where the Palestinians were responsible for attacks, the language was mostly passive and the group responsible was only named in eight instances (40%).

Context and Accuracy:
Inaccurate statements or important context that would give readers a fuller picture of news events was often omitted. Terms such as "militants", "occupied territory," and "illegal settlements" were used without providing a proper explanation.
The study results are worth reading in their entirely to see the details and methodology of the Times's efforts to create antagonism toward the Israelis and sympathy for the Palestinians.
The HonestReporting study, however, covers the period from September through April, 2007 -- at which time Steven Erlanger was Jerusalem Bureau chief (and apparently still is), assisted primarily by reporter Greg Myre, whose antipathy to Israel shone brightly through the lines of his copy.

But that was then. Myre hasn't written anything about Israel since last Spring and seems to have been replaced by Isabel Kershner, whose articles on the Israel-Palestine situation outnumber Erlanger's by more than half since the beginning of October.

The thing that is striking is that Kershner, for the first time in a long time at the Times, reports with apparent honesty and objectivity. A perusal of her reporting in comparison to the sort analyzed in the HonestReporting study highlights the sharp differences. It is actually possible for a Zionist Jew to read Kershner's articles without a noticeable rise in blood pressure.
Erlanger, nowadays, is writing less; but, true to his POV, generally pens sob-story tales of Palestinian suffering, for which blame is inevitably laid, directly or indirectly, at Israel's door.
Among his most recent efforts is a November 18 bleeder headlined "Under Siege, Life in Gaza Just Shrinks", which opens with the lines: "IT’S a miserable time to be a Gazan....  Some rocket barrages aimed at Israel fall on Gaza itself, and Israeli retaliation for the rest ranges from military strikes to economic quarantine."

Then there's one on November 10, entitled "Gaza’s Isolation Takes Toll on Students and Prices," bemoaning the misery of Gazans because, "Israel and Egypt have tightened the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza since Hamas routed Fatah in June and took control of Gaza" without bothering to mention the security problems created by the Palestinians which necessitated these actions.

Another
, published on November 6, proclaims, "Gaza’s Reflection in a Foul Threat"  and repeatedly attempts to hold Israel responsible for a growing "sewage crisis" in the Palestinian territory.

Compared to past performance -- and the ongoing writings of Erlanger -- Isabel Kershner reflects a necessary breath of fresh air in the New York Times's Middle East coverage -- although how she gets away with her objectivity and how long it's likely to be allowed is certainly a mystery to me.

So, Isabel necessary? At Pinch's New York Times, the answer is clearly in the affirmative. 

UPDATE: Although the advent of Isabel Kershner may have softened the Times's coverage of Israel and the Palestinians in its news columns, the same cannot be said of its editorial pages, which continue to reflect the anti-Israel views of the current blood-line descendants of the management whose Berlin headquarters in the 30s boldly flew the Nazi flag from its façade.

The Times's lead editorial for November 24 lauds the ganging up  gathering of Arab nations at Annapolis (including the Saudis who've made it clear they won't stoop to shake a Jewish hand) in order to put further pressure on Israel to bargain away its very existence.
It is no surprise that even moderate Arab leaders do not have much confidence in either Ms. Rice’s diplomatic skills or Mr. Bush’s willingness to press the Israelis to compromise.    *   *   *    Israel needs to know that if it is serious about an agreement, it will be welcomed in from the cold. [emphasis added]
Inasmuch as both Palestinian factions (together with most of the other Arab countries) have clearly and repeatedly refused to accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state; inasmuch as Israel is considered to be an illegitimate "occupier" of Palestinian lands, including all of what was set aside by the United Nations; and inasmuch as Palestinian maps and school lessons still show the entire area of Israel plus the West Bank and Gaza as being "Palestine," what, then, is there for Israel to compromise other than its own existence?

What have the Palestinians got to offer except the one thing they refuse absolutely and repeatedly: recognition of Israel as a Jewish state entitled to live in peace?

This is the new theme, popular among leftists and peaceniks, that if only Israel were not so stubborn -- or even, if it somehow magically disappeared -- then tranquility would come to the Middle East, and the Islamists would cease their jihad against America and the nations of Europe. The Times, as might be expected, is out front cheerleading for this false nonsense.

It is bad enough that Bush and Rice seem to have made the same error as Carter and Clinton in seeking to establish a reasonable solution with Muslim madmen; but a right-thinking news organ would be condemning the Annapolis meeting rather than celebrating it as a way to shove Israel over a cliff.
In answer to the old joke question, I'd have to say, "yes," when it's Isabel Kershner of the New York Times. Ms. Kershner, apparently a newcomer to the paper -- or at least to its Jerusalem Bureau -- must have slipped under the radar of the incumbent Sulzberger administration and longtime bureau chief Steven Erlanger, judging by the sharp turnaround representing by her reporting on Israel and the Palestinians.

The Times, of course, has long been notorious for its antagonism toward Israel and friendly sympathy for the Palestinians -- no matter the lengths to which their acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians and soldiers take them. This has been amply obvious in the simple perusal of the Gray Lady's coverage of matters Middle Eastern; and it has been written about regularly by various and sundry media analysts, pundits, columnists, and bloggers --  including the Web pages here at AmericanThinker.

The watchdog organization, HonestReporting.com, has just released the results of its six-month study of Times ME coverage, which clearly documents a significant bias against Israel in every phase of the paper's reporting, from the way in which headlines are presented to the order of information in text, to out-and-out slanting of the old-fashioned kind.
HonestReporting summarizes its findings as follows:
Balance: Despite an evenly balanced selection of stories on Israel and the Palestinians, the New York Times gave far more weight to Israeli military incidents in text location, headlines and photo selection than to Palestinian attacks. More than 60% of images sympathetic to one side or the other favored the Palestinians.

Consistency:
Israeli and Palestinian actions were not treated consistently in choice of language. Israel or the Israel Defense Forces were the subject of strongly worded, direct headlines in 18 out of 20 cases (90%). However, in the 20 cases where the Palestinians were responsible for attacks, the language was mostly passive and the group responsible was only named in eight instances (40%).

Context and Accuracy:
Inaccurate statements or important context that would give readers a fuller picture of news events was often omitted. Terms such as "militants", "occupied territory," and "illegal settlements" were used without providing a proper explanation.
The study results are worth reading in their entirely to see the details and methodology of the Times's efforts to create antagonism toward the Israelis and sympathy for the Palestinians.
The HonestReporting study, however, covers the period from September through April, 2007 -- at which time Steven Erlanger was Jerusalem Bureau chief (and apparently still is), assisted primarily by reporter Greg Myre, whose antipathy to Israel shone brightly through the lines of his copy.

But that was then. Myre hasn't written anything about Israel since last Spring and seems to have been replaced by Isabel Kershner, whose articles on the Israel-Palestine situation outnumber Erlanger's by more than half since the beginning of October.

The thing that is striking is that Kershner, for the first time in a long time at the Times, reports with apparent honesty and objectivity. A perusal of her reporting in comparison to the sort analyzed in the HonestReporting study highlights the sharp differences. It is actually possible for a Zionist Jew to read Kershner's articles without a noticeable rise in blood pressure.
Erlanger, nowadays, is writing less; but, true to his POV, generally pens sob-story tales of Palestinian suffering, for which blame is inevitably laid, directly or indirectly, at Israel's door.
Among his most recent efforts is a November 18 bleeder headlined "Under Siege, Life in Gaza Just Shrinks", which opens with the lines: "IT’S a miserable time to be a Gazan....  Some rocket barrages aimed at Israel fall on Gaza itself, and Israeli retaliation for the rest ranges from military strikes to economic quarantine."

Then there's one on November 10, entitled "Gaza’s Isolation Takes Toll on Students and Prices," bemoaning the misery of Gazans because, "Israel and Egypt have tightened the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza since Hamas routed Fatah in June and took control of Gaza" without bothering to mention the security problems created by the Palestinians which necessitated these actions.

Another
, published on November 6, proclaims, "Gaza’s Reflection in a Foul Threat"  and repeatedly attempts to hold Israel responsible for a growing "sewage crisis" in the Palestinian territory.

Compared to past performance -- and the ongoing writings of Erlanger -- Isabel Kershner reflects a necessary breath of fresh air in the New York Times's Middle East coverage -- although how she gets away with her objectivity and how long it's likely to be allowed is certainly a mystery to me.

So, Isabel necessary? At Pinch's New York Times, the answer is clearly in the affirmative. 

UPDATE: Although the advent of Isabel Kershner may have softened the Times's coverage of Israel and the Palestinians in its news columns, the same cannot be said of its editorial pages, which continue to reflect the anti-Israel views of the current blood-line descendants of the management whose Berlin headquarters in the 30s boldly flew the Nazi flag from its façade.

The Times's lead editorial for November 24 lauds the ganging up  gathering of Arab nations at Annapolis (including the Saudis who've made it clear they won't stoop to shake a Jewish hand) in order to put further pressure on Israel to bargain away its very existence.
It is no surprise that even moderate Arab leaders do not have much confidence in either Ms. Rice’s diplomatic skills or Mr. Bush’s willingness to press the Israelis to compromise.    *   *   *    Israel needs to know that if it is serious about an agreement, it will be welcomed in from the cold. [emphasis added]
Inasmuch as both Palestinian factions (together with most of the other Arab countries) have clearly and repeatedly refused to accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state; inasmuch as Israel is considered to be an illegitimate "occupier" of Palestinian lands, including all of what was set aside by the United Nations; and inasmuch as Palestinian maps and school lessons still show the entire area of Israel plus the West Bank and Gaza as being "Palestine," what, then, is there for Israel to compromise other than its own existence?

What have the Palestinians got to offer except the one thing they refuse absolutely and repeatedly: recognition of Israel as a Jewish state entitled to live in peace?

This is the new theme, popular among leftists and peaceniks, that if only Israel were not so stubborn -- or even, if it somehow magically disappeared -- then tranquility would come to the Middle East, and the Islamists would cease their jihad against America and the nations of Europe. The Times, as might be expected, is out front cheerleading for this false nonsense.

It is bad enough that Bush and Rice seem to have made the same error as Carter and Clinton in seeking to establish a reasonable solution with Muslim madmen; but a right-thinking news organ would be condemning the Annapolis meeting rather than celebrating it as a way to shove Israel over a cliff.