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October 11, 2015 6:31 am

Deja Vu All Over Again at The New York Times

avatar by Jerold Auerbach

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Violence in Jerusalem. According to the author, The New York Times continues to skew its reportage of the events, portraying Palestinian perpetrators as victims of Israeli force. Photo: From the Facebook page, "Palestine Belongs to Palestinians!"

Violence in Jerusalem. According to the author, The New York Times continues to skew its reportage of the events, portraying Palestinian perpetrators as victims of Israeli force. Photo: From the Facebook page, “Palestine Belongs to Palestinians!”

As the wise sage Yogi Berra proclaimed, life often is “déjà vu all over again.” He probably was not thinking of The New York Times when he uttered that memorable phrase. But it serves as apt commentary on Times coverage of the surging Palestinian violence that is once again sweeping through Israel.

To be sure, the Times has struggled with its own Jewish problem ever since Adolph S. Ochs became its first Jewish owner when he purchased the failing newspaper in 1896. Married to Effie Wise, whose father Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise was the prominent leader of 19th century Reform Judaism, Ochs elevated the Times to journalistic eminence. The marriage of their daughter Iphigene to Arthur Sulzberger, a cotton merchant, eventually launched the family dynasty that has ruled the Times ever since. Its embedded discomfort (to say the least) with Zionism and Israel still endures after 120 years – not an insignificant biblical number (Genesis 6:3).

Two weeks ago my research into this history had just reached the outburst of the Second Intifada in September 2000, when Palestinians erupted in violence following Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount. According to a Times editorial, Sharon “did Israel no favor by provocatively leading his supporters to the Temple Mount,” the location of “two of Islam’s holiest mosques,” and “asserting Jewish claims to the Muslim holy site.” Sharon’s visit, according to a subsequent editorial, was “provocative and irresponsible.” Once again there was no mention of the Temple Mount as the holiest site in Judaism, location of the First and Second Temples centuries before the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem.

As I tracked Times coverage from 15 years ago, current events – and Yogi Berra’s aphorism — intruded. In a televised address last week Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, now serving the eleventh year of his four-year term, urged his people to “go forth and defend Jerusalem with all your might, for every drop of blood spilled there is sacred. At whatever price, do not let the Zionist usurper place his filthy feet anywhere near Al Aqsa.”

His obedient Palestinian followers responded, and not only in Jerusalem, giving every indication that a third intifada might be imminent. The ghastly murder of Eitam and Na’ama Henkin in a drive-by shooting attack, while their four young children watched from the back seat, was blessed by Hamas as a “heroic” act. Within the past week twenty Israelis – in Jerusalem, inside the Old City near Lion’s Gate, in Tel Aviv, Afula, Kiryat Gat, Nazareth and Kiryat Arba – were victims of Palestinian knife, gun, stone, screwdriver and car-ramming assaults. Little wonder that a South African immigrant in Tel Aviv was swamped by more than one thousand responses to his offer of free self-defense courses.

New York Times “coverage” of Palestinian assaults and Israeli victims has been characterized by evasiveness over who did what to whom. Readers were informed (October 6) that a 21-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli police. Only twelve paragraphs later did the Times report that he was shot after he stabbed a 15-year-old Jewish boy. One of the reporters, Diaa Hadid, happened to work at Electronic Intifada before joining the Times. It aims at “combating the pro-Israeli, pro-American spin” that it believes to exist “in mainstream media accounts.” No pretense of objectivity there. The Times article noted that the dead Palestinian was “the second of four Palestinians killed by Israeli forces” in a week. But it did not indicate that three of the four were committing violent acts, including murder, when they were killed. Nor that Hadid, some years ago, was a self-described “front-line” protester at an Israeli checkpoint.

Assessing causes for the collapse of peace following the famous Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House lawn in 1993, Times editors recently (Oct.1) enumerated “suicide bombs and other acts of terrorism” (Palestinian) and “unceasing expansion of settlements” (Israeli) as the causes. As it happened (outside Times editorial memory), Palestinian terrorists claimed 566 Israeli lives between 2001-4; no Palestinians were killed by an expanding settlement.

One week later (Oct.9), in a blatant denial of (Jewish) history in Jerusalem, Times reporter Rick Gladstone questioned whether the two ancient Jewish temples ever were located on the Temple Mount. The claim is “integral to Jewish history and to Israel’s disputed assertions of sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.” Yet abundant historical and archeological evidence, cited in his article, “support the narrative that the Dome of the Rock was built on or close to the place where the Jewish temples once stood.” And in one sentence, more revealing than he cares to explore, he notes that the Muslim Waqf, guardian of the Temple Mount, “has never permitted invasive archeological work that could possible yield proof of either temple.” Instead, some years ago it sponsored excavations beneath the Mount to effectively destroy remaining  evidence of Jewish history on the site, which Israeli sifting of the debris has confirmed.

So the Times continues to print all the news that fits its enduring discomfort with the Jewish state. No wonder I was reminded of Yogi Berra’s whimsical – but wise – adage.

Jerold S. Auerbach, a frequent contributor to the Algemeiner, is writing a history of The New York Times, Zionism and Israel.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • I eagerly look forward to the day when Jews finally STOP BUYING the New York Times and all anti-Israel publications.

  • Myron Slater

    The NY Times again prints anti-Semitic reporting in their newspaper. It’s really about how this newspaper has always been anti-Israel! What a scandal that for all the years it’s been in existence, and a well respected paper, can conduct itself in such a way. Especially since it’s been owned by Jews.

  • hadassa

    That so-called newspaper is best suited for use as toilet paper!

  • Jeremiah

    As a thought experiment, the NY Times should consider whether it has been fundamentally wrong about the facts and in its interpretation of the Middle East, and then consider what it might mean if the anti-Israel forces did likewise.

    Israel’s Muslim neighbors, and the wider Islamic world, might then consider whether hostility toward anyone who isn’t the right kind of Muslim is what Allah wants now, and discover that they have also been wrong in trying to murder them. They might also discover that Israel’s approaches to the various real problems of the region, such as water, offer solutions their current approach doesn’t.

    Admitting one has been wrong, fundamentally wrong, is hard to do, especially when you regard yourself as the font of wisdom. If the Times is serious about the role it sees for itself in the world, it has little choice but to admit to being wrong and to start focusing on where the Muslim sides of the various conflicts now raging have also been wrong. That might result in peace, and that would prove how wrong the Times has been.

  • Markus Elkana Brajtman

    So, what’s new?
    The NYT , a filthy rag of used toilet paper, will print anything that damages Israel and Jews.
    I pray that this filthy used paper will be flushed down the toilet together with their Jewish owner and all their liars who lie in every word they write.
    What sells newspapers?
    The bigger the lies about Israel, the more papers will be sold.
    I hope that the Jews and our Christian supporters. will NOT buy this filth, nor advertise there.
    Typical reporting.
    in huge black letters, the heading will say “Israeli police or soldiers kill an Arab Palestinian when he accidentally drove his car onto Israel policewomen, Nearly killing them, shouting Alahu Akbar
    But the damage has been done.
    It is not the story that people read. It is the heading.

  • Thank you, Mr Auerbach. The world needs people who have the knowledge & patience to sift through this sort of biased writing. You do Israel a huge favour.

  • Francis Figliola

    Several years ago I quit my NYTimes subscription because of this type of biased journalism, more advocate than objective. Always forgiving of the left while always tearing at the right. The WSJ does a much better job of journalism. The NY TImes is a dues paying arm of the Democratic Party!

  • Dorothy Nicolazzo

    Thank you Mr. Auerbach for a real-world view of the Israeli-Arab “situation”
    which is, unfortunately, based on the Arab abrogation of Israeli and Jewish history.
    As for the NY TIMES (NYT), I now receive the news about Israel from THE TIMES of ISRAEL,
    The NYT has become unreliable when it comes to Jewish affairs.