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September 14, 2009
One-sided reporting from the NYT
The New York Times devotes more than a quarter of its front page and an entire inside page in its Sept. 14 edition to a report by Jerusalem correspondents Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner about illegal outposts manned by West Bank settlers, including 5 photographs and one map ("West Bank Settlers Dig In, but Resolve May Have a Limit" -- front page and page A8) The spread is timed to coincide with the arrival in the region of U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell as he tries to revive a moribund peace process.
But quite predictably, there is no such lavish spread -- or even a modest article -- to give Times readers insight into Palestinian obstacles to the peace process, such as a proliferation of terrorist groups and vicious anti-Israel incitement in schools, textbooks, mosques, media and other parts of public discourse -- whether in Hamas-run Gaza or the Fatah-controlled West Bank.
One might expect, if the Times were even mildly interested in fair, balanced journalism, that it would couple its full-bore focus on the ideological, political and religious mosaic of outpost settlers who determined to retain their piece of land, with an equally detailed description of how Hamas trains youngsters in summer camps to become terrorists, how its charter and officially sanctioned sermons regularly vilify Jews as apes and pigs, and thus prime candidates for assassination, and how and why Hamas has no interest whatever in a two-state solution because it wants all of pre-1948 Palestine to become part of a Mideast caliphate. And also one might expect the Times to run a similar copious spread on obstacles to peace under the Fatah regime of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, including his glorification of suicide bombers, the indoctrination of children via TV and textbooks that Tel Aviv and Haifa are Palestinian cities, blood libels against Jews, charges that Israel poisons Palestinians and causes birth defects, and Fatah's recent political convention that reaffirmed absolute solidarity with its terrorist wing -- Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- and retained in its charter provisions calling for Israel's complete elimination.
But one would be disappointed.
Yet, just as illegal Jewish outposts in the West Bank undermine the U.S.-sponsored "road map" -- first promulgated by George W. Bush and now endorsed by President Obama -- so do Palestinian incitement and Palestinian failure to dismantle once and for all every terrorist group -- whether in Gaza or in the West Bank.
There still would be a few objections -- but not all that many -- to the Sept. 14 spread on Jewish outposts, even if the Times devoted equal space to Palestinian obstacles to peace.
Because even considered on its own merits, the Bronner-Kershner piece is flawed by infusion of obvious pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel bias.
For example, pointing to settler violence against Palestinians, the article states that "Jewish terror is not new. A religious student assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, and a settler, Baruch Goldstein, killed 29 Muslims at prayer in Hebron in 1994." [emphasis added]
Never mind that Rabin was killed in Tel Aviv -- not in the West Bank, the supposed topic of this article. Far more revealing is the fact that the Times, which nearly always refrains from using the "T" word for Palestinian terrorism, has no hesitation in using it to depict far, far fewer such depredations when committed by Jews. In fact, this double standard is glaringly evident a bit farther in the Sept. 14 piece when Bronner and Kershner mention that the brother of a settler was "killed by Palestinian gunmen."
When a Jew kills Palestinians, it's the act of a terrorist. When Palestinians kill a Jew, they are gunmen.
And this is also not the only example of how the Times uses gentle euphemism to disguise horrors perpetrated by Palestinians. Here's how the same article describes Joseph's Tomb -- one of Judaism's most sacred sites:
Notice that Bronner and Kershner are very careful to keep Times readers from knowing why Jewish worshippers have such limited access to Joseph's Tomb and why they can only reach it under heavy guard.
What they fail to report is that, under Oslo agreements, Palestinians were given control of the area and promptly proceeded to desecrate and nearly obliterate Joseph's Tomb, then resisted attempts to completely restore it, and still sporadically target Jews trying to reach it. Yet, these acts of violent sacrilege clearly violate Oslo agreements signed by Arafat and have been replicated at other sacred Jewish sites in other Palestinian areas, like Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem.
Thus, even when the Times broaches Palestinian blows to the peace process, its reporters shy away from making this clear to their readership, while they have no hesitation in probing and describing Israeli shortcomings in extra-lengthy detail.
There's another lesson to be garnered from the Times' failure to report in full Palestinian desecration of holy Jewish sites. The Times is a secular, liberal newspaper that purports to be very sensitive to multi-cultural trends in today's world. So one is entitled to ask: Why are Jews and Judaism -- their religion, their holy sites -- not entitled to the same deference and solicitude that the Times expends on other cultures and religions under its multi-cultural tent?