from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

The New York Times and Israel (Again)

October 15, 2014

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The New York Times, whose hostility to Israel is visible in both its news and its editorial pages, was at it again yesterday. In an editorial (about the symbolic vote in the UK parliament backing Palestinian statehood) entitled "A British Message to Israel," the Times’s editorial board unloaded yet again with a barrage of advice, opinion--and untruths.

Here are some of the key words:

The vote is one more sign of the frustration many people in Europe feel about the failure to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement despite years of promises.

The most recent American-mediated talks collapsed in April. Meanwhile, Israel continues to build new settlements or expand existing ones, thus shrinking the territory available for a Palestinian state and ignoring an international community that considers such construction illegal. The recent war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, which killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, has increased the sense that violence will keep recurring while peace remains elusive.

There are a couple of points worth making in reaction to this.  First, on settlements, note that the Times makes two claims: that "Israel continues to build new settlements" and that expansion of existing ones is "shrinking the territory available for a Palestinian state." Neither assertion is true. In the last decade the Israelis removed all the settlements in Gaza and four very small ones in the West Bank. The days of building new settlements all over the West Bank are long gone. And "settlement expansion" has meant expansion of population, not territory, so their footprint in the West Bank has not changed. The so-called "peace map" is the same.

Second, note the way the Times refers to the recent Gaza war: It seems that "violence will keep recurring." How nasty of Violence to do that. The Times does not consider that Hamas deliberately started this conflict, and by burying this sentence in an editorial censuring Israel makes it clear that Israel is really to blame.

This is ludicrous, considering the barrages of rockets and missiles and mortars Hamas shot into Israel, but it is of a piece with the Times’s general view: Israel is the problem. It is this bias that, last summer, led one of America’s leading Reform rabbis to cancel his subscription. He is Richard Block, president for 2013-2015 of of the association of Reform rabbis (the CCAR). Here is how Block began:

I am a lifelong Democrat, a political liberal, a Reform rabbi, and for four decades, until last week, a New York Times subscriber. What drove me away was the paper’s incessant denigration of Israel, a torrent of articles, photographs, and op-ed columns that consistently present the Jewish State in the worst possible light.

This phenomenon is not new. Knowledgeable observers have long assailed the Times lack of objectivity and absence of journalistic integrity in reporting on Israel. My chronic irritation finally morphed into alienation and then to visceral disgust this summer, after Hamas renewed its terrorist assaults upon Israel and the Times launched what can only be described as a campaign to delegitimize the Jewish State.

That campaign continues, most recently in the editorial about the British move.

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