New York Times Headlines That Distort Reality
Two recent headlines in The New York Times, five days apart, concealed more than they revealed. On June 30: “Israeli Man Dies in Attack Near West Bank Settlement.” On July 4: “Palestinian, 17, Is Killed By Forces From Israel.” Both articles were written by Isabel Kershner, who has reported from Jerusalem for nearly a decade.
The first article, merely five sentences long, passively indicated: “An Israeli man died after being shot in the West Bank the night before. Palestinian gunmen are suspected in the attack on the victim. . . .” It quickly shifted to Israeli security guards who “shot and wounded a Palestinian man. . . . The Israeli police said the man had run at the guards and ignored warnings to stop.” Equal coverage (two sentences each) was given to the killing of Malachi Rosenfeld, a 26-year old student at the Hebrew University, and to the wounded Palestinian.
Five days later Ms. Kershner reported far more expansively that Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager, 17-year-old Muhammad Hani al-Kasba, “in the occupied West Bank . . . as he and others hurled stones and rocks” at an army vehicle, shattering its windshield. She noted that “the shooting was the latest in a wave of violent events in the area during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan” (including the killing of two Israeli men and the stabbing of a female Israeli military police officer).
Ms. Kershner wrote that “Thousands attended the youth’s funeral in the Qalandia refugee camp where he lived.” (Palestinian news media noted that two of his brothers were killed “in clashes with Israeli soldiers” in 2002 during the second intifada.) Lending vivid poignancy to his death, the Times story was accompanied by two photographs. The larger, consuming half the space allotted to the article, showed a dozen mourning Palestinian women. The caption identified them as relatives of the 17—year-old who “was killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.” The smaller photo showed an Israeli soldier on guard at a Jerusalem checkpoint near where the youth was killed. With his face protected by a plastic shield, he pointed his rifle toward two Palestinian civilian passers-by.
A Times reader learned far more from Ms. Kershner’s sympathetic report about Muhammad Hani al-Kasba and his family, including his dead brothers and mourning relatives, than about Malachi Rosenfeld. Malachi was driving to his home in the settlement of Kokhav HaShahar with three friends when they were attacked from a drive-by car. (The Times of Israel displayed photos showing the victims’ vehicle “smeared with blood and riddled with bullet holes.”) Shot in the torso, Rosenfeld died of his wounds the following day. Y-net, an Israeli news site, showed his distraught father, surrounded by mourners, hugging two of his surviving seven sons. “What did we do wrong?” he implored. A friend lamented: “I won’t have anyone to talk to now.” The funeral was not covered by The New York Times which, it seems, only covers Palestinian funerals for which responsibility can be attributed to Israel.
So it was that Times headlines noted that an “Israeli Man Dies in Attack” without identifying the attacker. Or they focused blame on “Forces from Israel” rather than Palestinian stone-throwers. Responsibility for Palestinian attacks invariably shifted to Jewish settlers – presumably because they have no right to live in “occupied territory.”
But the true story is not Jewish settlers. What the headlines and text disclosed was the real or attempted murder of Israelis by Palestinian terrorists, which The New York Times does its best to evade by focusing on Palestinian victims of their own aggression.
Jerold S. Auerbach is a frequent contributor to The Algemeiner.