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June 24, 2015 3:13 pm

Analysis: New York Times Editorial is Another Hit Job on Israel

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Office of The New York Times, in New York City. Photo: WikiCommons.

The New York Times offices. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Below is a sharp critique of a recent New York Times editorial, posted by renowned investigative journalist Richard Behar on Facebook. 

Does the New York Times editorial board want Israel to take it seriously? Is the board’s distaste for the country so strong that it has no interest in using the newspaper’s well-earned power and influence to make a real impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Take Tuesday’s editorial, which is among the kinds of low-hanging fruit that Gary Weiss and I will be picking and exposing once the funds are in place for our Mideast Reporter—a multimedia, multilingual investigative reporting enterprise. For now, some batting practice…

The Times editorial concludes: “…Israel has a duty, and should have the desire, to adjust its military policies to avoid civilian casualties and hold those who failed to do so accountable.”

“Should have the desire… to adjust…” Think about that for a moment. What they are saying is that Israel does not have such a desire, and that Israel has not, and does not, adjust its policies.

The editorial was written in support of the recent UN Human Rights Council report that concluded that Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes during their war last summer. But here is what the editors decided to omit from the editorial:

1. After a visit to Israel, a group of 11 former high-ranking military commanders and senior international politicians wrote a 242-page report that concluded that Israel’s actions in the war were “lawful” and “legitimate” and that its military “did not intentionally target civilians or civilian objects.” Members of the mission included former NATO Military Committee Chairman Gen. (ret.) Klaus Naumann of Germany; former Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi; a former U.S. State Department ambassador at large for war crimes issues (Pierre-Richard Prosper); and the former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp.

“A measure of the seriousness with which Israel took its moral duties and its responsibilities under the law of armed conflict is that, in some cases, Israel’s scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli soldiers’ and civilians’ lives,” the group concluded.

One member of the group, retired Australian General Jim Molan, has said, “As someone who has practically applied the laws of armed conflict in modern warfare, I was very impressed…. While acknowledging the tragedy of death in war and given the immense capability of the IDF, it stands to Israel’s everlasting credit that far more did not die. But from the very top of the command chain down to the infantry and ­pilots, the personal moral position that individuals took was mirrored in the targeting processes, decisions on the ground and in the real care taken.”

Another member of the panel—Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan— believes Israel exceeded its legal requirements. Moreover, as he wrote me a few months ago: “[The] IDF has taken greater steps than any other army in the history of warfare to minimise harm to civilians in a combat zone … But media organizations… politicians, UN leaders and human rights groups that falsely accuse Israel of war crimes, risk having blood on their own hands. These biased comments validate Hamas’s tactics and encourage terrorist groups around the world to continue and even intensify their violence.”

Knock, knock, New York Times, anybody home?

Why is this report by such a prestigious group of military officials not even mentioned in passing in their editorial? The editors are free to bash it for whatever reason they’d like, but does it not deserve to be cited if the editors are then going to conclude: “…Israel has a duty, and should have the desire, to adjust its military policies to avoid civilian casualties and hold those who failed to do so accountable.”

By not including such assessments, a reasonable and knowledgable reader might wonder if the editors are simply frightened off by competing views from experts who raise serious doubts about the UN report. Whatever the motive, it is dishonest-journalism-by-omission.

2. The editors also neglect to mention that, in April, two of America’s most prominent international law experts praised Israel for its moral conduct during the war. “Israel’s actions were quite lawful under any sane interpretation of the Laws of Armed Conflict. Amnesty and HRW twist international law in ways that make it impossible for any modern army to fight,” wrote the experts. [They are Michael Schmitt, professor of international law and director of the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law at the U.S. Naval War College – and John Merriam, a U.S. Army Judge Advocate currently serving as the Associate Director of the same college.]

“The IDF’s warnings certainly go beyond what the law requires, but they also sometimes go beyond what would be operational good sense elsewhere,” Schmidt says. “People are going to start thinking that the United States and other Western democracies should follow the same examples in different types of conflict. That’s a real risk.”

3. Finally, a marvelous irony also ignored by the Times editors: The Israeli army was virtually faulted earlier this month by international military experts for setting a dangerous precedent and high standard that other armies cannot meet. “It was abundantly clear that IDF commanders had gone beyond any mandates that international law requires to avoid civilian casualties,” wrote Willy Stern, a professor at Vanderbilt Law School.

He quoted Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, a distinguished expert on military law at Europa-Universtat Viadrina in Frankfurt, as saying that the IDF takes “many more precautions than are required…[it] is setting an unreasonable precedent for other democratic countries of the world who may also be fighting in asymmetric wars against brutal non-state actors who abuse these laws.”

So why did the Times editorial ignore reality? By omitting such important points from their editorials, the Times’ editorial writers run the risk of Israel and its supporters not taking anything they write seriously. Have all of its editors bought into an age-old liberationist narrative that portrays Israel as an aggressor against a defenseless adversary? We have no way of knowing, but it does appear that the Times is ignoring proven facts and the history of the conflict.

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  • Henry Kessler

    That’s why I read the WSJ instead of the Times. Their reporters are slanted and extremely liberal.

  • Julian

    I wouldn’t give that rag a penny. I am able to view it through my tablet for free and I feel I am getting cheated.

  • count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz

    Why is anyone surprised the media bashes Israel and slides into antisemitism? Have you been to any Cambridge mass coffee klatsch or evening for drinks its hate Israel time! AND THE HOSTS are nearly always JEWS or one of the host couple is! No sees that after their Christian marriages Jon Leibowicz now Jon Stewart and Brian Roberts religious and Jewish ties went SOUTH! The vulgar fact is American Jewish men are intermarrying and “dumping” their youthful family ties to Judaism and Israel. Does anyone know a single Jew at NBC n MS-NBC including guests except for Donnie Deutsch who supports Israel! And America’s historic Connections to Oxford, center of English Jew-baiting doesn’t help.
    The change into semi-anti-semitism at The Times has been obvious to the Sulzbergers like at ms NBC has been to the Roberts family. Let’s stop blaming gentiles for things my fellow Jews’ self-hate create and Why no outpouring of letters protesting? Whose fault is that?

  • Tuvia Fogel

    It will be interesting to see if the NYT’s editorial line on the Middle East will change when the champion of Muslim causes finally leaves the White House…

  • It is patently evident that “all the news that’s UNFIT to
    print” is the true guideline for the NYT.
    I think when, at last, it closes its doors, there will be
    a new Jewish holiday.

    • Evelyn Ruckenstein

      It’s really a pity that this historic newspaper has become, simply a rag!

  • Kris Kristian

    So, what,s new?
    NYT is not worth used toilet paper.
    Anybody who wants honest reporting, should boycott NYT and advise them, that unless they stop their lies about Israel, start to report honest news. Report what the 11 high ranking former military officials and politicians wrote in a 242 page book, that Israel not only caried out legal war against the Hmas terrorists, but the IDF has set a high standard which may make it difficult for any army to follow the IDF.

    Any decent honest person should also write to NYT that unless they stop bashing Israel, they will find that nobody will advertise in their paper, and that they will be left with thousands of unsold papers every day

    But of course, their biggest buyer and advertising now, is the imports of Muslims.
    Obama imported millions of Muslims who are taking over USA.

    These Muslims are the biggest trouble makers with their hate lies about Israel and the usual lies that the Jews control USA like pupets on a string. That Jews own all the banks.
    And the list goes on and on.

    Time for NYT to change it’s reporting. or face an eventual close down.

    But then, the Muslims have Quatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other Islamic countries to keep NYT from closing down,


    I was in Israel when the commission (Russel Tribunal) was held in Cape TOWN to call Israel an Apartheid state etc, with known haters like Tutu and other “ugly” people
    On my return to Cape Town, which was a few days after the Russel ribunal, I wrote a long reply to all these lies.
    I made comparisons of what Israel does, and what the Islamic states do.
    I questioned each and every lie they presented.

    I happened to see the sub editor of one of the leading Cape Town newspapers, just a few days after his paper printed the whole tribunal stories, and asked him to please print my letter, as that shows the truth .
    His answer was “Israel is not in the news now”


  • Daniel Kordansky,MD

    Superb analysis!

  • Afonso

    There should be a budget to buy one full page at the NYT and publish this article. Or AIPAC should use its influence and have it published as an op-ed.

  • Abbushuki

    Truth. The NYT editorial board is an unabashed Jew-hating group who go out of their way to defame the Jewish State at every turn.
    The only treatment is to advise advertisers to boycott them totally. Let’s see if they survive on Arab advertisers.

  • Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker

    Please, please, please Algemeiner: don’t confuse us with the facts. We’ve made up our “minds” and don’t have time or interest in learning the truth. We’re the NYT, and that’s good enough for the public.

    PS: Keep up the good work holding everyone accountable for what the write or say.

  • Dave

    Israel will do whatever it takes to protect its citizens and defend the land, despite whatever the NYT has to say about it. If the NYT does not like that, I say TOUGH! Israel will persist long after the NYT perishes.

  • nelson marans

    Don’t buy the New York Times,whether the printed version or digital. Don’t advertise in that paper. The bottom line should be where the effort is placed since there will never be a change in the anti-Israel bias of that newspaper.

  • barry

    The New York Times,

    written by useful idiots,for useful idiots.

  • Unfortunately, for some unknown reason – other than complete “liberal” stupidity, the New York Times is consistently on the wrong side of Israel’s positions, no matter what they might be. Why the ax-grinding, Board members. I don’t read your newspaper any longer. I’ve switched to the Washington Post. Their writers are far less arrogant than those who represent your opinions. Good riddance. I don’t miss anything but exasperation, and that I can do without! God bless Israel. It’s a far better country than the arrogant New York Times could ever understand.

  • Janyce C. Katz, Esq.

    My thoughts sent to the NYTimes and probably filed in a round bucket or simply deleted:

    The NYTimes Editorial Board joined the UN in protecting warfare by warriors embedded in civilian buildings or in tunnels under civilians when it supported the UN’s report calling Israel’s attempt to protect its citizens from thousands of rockets fired at it possibly criminal. How should a country defend its people from militants who position themselves under or beside women and children when fighting so that their deaths increase sympathy for the cause? Invite them over for dinner? If you don’t believe that Hamas would endanger innocents to get Israel condemned by the UN and this Editorial Board, watch a video shot by a brave reporter from India: Remember, Hamas’ Charter calls for Israel’s destruction and the murder of all people of the country’s majority religion.
    I dislike the UN’s decision, because it enables militants who hide behind innocents to shoot at other innocents. Israel’s attempt to minimize civilian deaths should have been applauded, not condemned. I wonder if ISIS or another set of terrorists embedded in an urban area shot rockets at civilians in another country, the UN and this paper would also condemn the country’s attempt to defend its citizens.

  • Please spell The New Times correctly. It is spelled Der Sturmer. Got it…Der Sturmer.

  • Mitzi Alvin

    The NY Times has been biased to Israel for years. The reason is quite simple. They, the editors, want to create a sense of moral equivalency between Jews and Muslims in order to display their liberal support for a “beleaguered” religion of peace that has been hijacked by its extremists. A “Jewish” paper cannot be shown to have preference for Israel in its struggle against one of the world’s great monotheisms. No one should be able to accuse The Times of Islamophobia, of taking sides. If anti-Semitism is wrong so must be Islamophobia. Of course, the two are not equivalent. No anti-Semite cares whether Jews keep kosher or not. Anti-Semites are racists, pure and simple. Islam is not a race and unlike a race it can be accepted or rejected. Thus it is, or should be, open to legitimate criticism . But then, underlying many a liberal’s fair-minded stance (and I consider myself a liberal) is the fear of a religion with an ideology of conquest, violence and intolerance. A phobia is an irrational fear. What the Times people don’t want to admit is that it is perfectly rational to fear a faith with a billion and a half adherents that claims in its sacred texts that it is at war with all those who don’t believe.

  • Saul Eisenstat

    I’m disgusted, but not surprised. The surprise would be if the New York Times actually wrote an editorial favorable to Israel

  • Martin Bookspan

    One can only marvel at the chutzpadicke lies, distortions and ignorance of facts (or malicious distortion of same) that have characterized the Times position vis-a-vis Israel for many generations. It is time to act where it will hurt the Times the most: every Jewish subscriber must immediately cancel his/her subscription and inform the management why such action has been taken. In addition every Jewish-owned business advertiser in those filthy pages must immediately cancel all advertising–and likewise inform the management why such action is being taken.

  • Michael Gewirtz

    I remember in my youth being an avid reader of the New York Times because I found the articles interesting and compelling. Something has changed radically and I don’t think it is me. The Times has become so radically opposed to my concepts of honesty and fairness that the only reason I look at it is to see how willing The Times is give terrorists and dictators the space to kill people and take away their freedom. If the NYTimes was formulating our foreign policy, I believe we would all end up in chains and cages. If we will not support those that want to defend themselves, who will stand with us when we need help. Standing on the moral high ground is great until you face an immoral enemy who is adept at tunneling beneath it. Then you are lost and so is your freedom.

  • Michael Garfinkel

    Years ago, I made a decision to abandon the New York Times, a newspaper I grew up with.

    I think U.S. representative Peter King said it best when he referred to the Times as a “Left-wing rag” – and nothing like the paper it once was.

    I would only add the adjective anti-Semitic to his description.

  • Carl

    Why should a “news” organization conduct any research on their editorial pages? I’m sure they wrote their conclusions before the report was even issued. They clearly do subscribe to a “narrative that portrays Israel as an aggressor against a defenseless adversary.” Those poor Palestinians are just endlessly abused by the heartless Israelis…

  • noellsq

    Their could be only two reasons. Reason one–Anti-Israel or hate Jews

    Reason two-Following the POTUS policy

  • Hillel

    You can’t keep a good antisemitism down. Also never let the facts get in the way of stood story when there are potentially billions of like minded new haters in the world for you to profit from.

  • Perhaps there should be a Jewish BDS which would urge subscribers to cancel their subscriptions.

  • Judy watson

    . Glad you are getting money to go after the Times.