Repetition and Avoidance at The New York Times
Six years ago, The New York Times published a poignant six-column report (March 10, 2010) by Isabel Kirshner about the eviction of a Palestinian family from their home in the “mostly Palestinian neighborhood” of Sheikh Jarrah. Living in a tent across the street from their former two-story stone house just north of Jerusalem’s Old City, their plight symbolized “the abiding grievances of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war.”
But the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the property “originally belonged to Jews.” Indeed, Ms. Kirshner noted that “the last remnants” of the Jewish community had departed from the neighborhood during that war but Jewish land deeds there stretched back into the 19th century.
Last week, the Times published another mournful article of equivalent length about the pending evictions of Palestinian residents from their rented apartments along “a narrow cobblestone alley” inside the Old City. Written by Diaa Hadid, it focused on the plight of families who claim that their pending evictions are based on “seemingly arcane violations of their rental agreements” in an attempt “to create Jewish enclaves inside the historic Muslim Quarter.” In translation, they are living in property owned by Jews who were expelled from the Old City by the Jordanian army in 1948. Once again the Supreme Court will decide whether the property belongs to its Palestinian occupants or its Jewish owners.
Sometimes, even in the Times, less is – or, at least, conceals — more. Yesterday it published a two-inch report by Ms. Kershner entitled “Pregnant Woman Stabbed.” Two sentences recounted the wounding of a pregnant Israeli woman, a settler as it happened, who was stabbed while shopping by a 15-year-old Palestinian who was shot, wounded and taken to a Jerusalem hospital.
The attack, Ms. Kershner noted, occurred “just as a funeral convoy was headed to Jerusalem for the burial of an Israeli woman who had been stabbed Sunday in another settlement.” In one sentence she identified Dafna Meir as the mother of six who was “fatally stabbed at the entrance to her home.” End of story.
It was, however, a story that dominated Israeli news coverage for two days. Yesterday’s Times – The Times of Israel, that is – devoted three articles to Dafna Meir, the 39-year-old the mother of four children and foster mother of two others, who worked as a nurse in a Beersheba hospital. With three of her children at home when the attacker arrived, her 17-year-old daughter witnessed their mother wrestling with her assailant to keep him away from her children. Three months earlier, after the murders of a father and son near her settlement of Otniel, she had expressed fears “for my husband and children, my friends and family” that kept her awake. She even feared for the rescue teams that rushed to the aid of terrorist victims.
The accounts of her funeral, with photos of her grieving young daughters next to their father in front of the wrapped body of their mother, were heartbreaking. Her oldest daughter, expressing sorrow that “I didn’t manage to help you,” lamented: “We won’t drink tea at midnight any more . . . You won’t come with me to my wedding, to the army, to the delivery room.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett eulogized her as a “special soul” who “brought life to every place.”
The New York Times is so attentive to the narrative of Israeli villainy and Palestinian victimization that it virtually repeats its account of the eviction of Palestinians from homes that are not theirs. But it can barely bring itself to mention the death, no less the life, of a truly righteous Jew. How sad.
Jerold S. Auerbach is a frequent contributor to The Algemeiner.