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May 16, 2016 8:01 am

New York Times Article on Arab-Jewish Solar Project Turns Into Attack on Settlements

avatar by Ira Stoll

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A fluorescent light bulb (left) and an incandescent one. Photo:

A fluorescent light bulb (left) and an incandescent one. Photo:

Just how bad is Sunday’s New York Times feature article about a solar energy array in a West Bank Palestinian Arab village that was built largely with funding from American Jews?

Never mind how the article deals with the perilous shoals of the Arab-Israeli conflict; it can’t even get the basic electricity facts correct. The article claims: “A typical light bulb uses 100 watts.” Maybe the Times West Bank bureau is lit at operating-room brightness, but a “typical” incandescent light bulb in my house is closer to 60 or 75 watts. That bulb’s work is nowadays likely to be done by an LED or compact fluorescent bulb that uses even less energy. The Times reporter whose byline is atop the piece, James Glanz, is a PhD physicist with a background in science writing, but he doesn’t seem to have been light-bulb shopping in an American hardware store anytime recently.

The Times article goes downhill from there. The first American Jew quoted in it is Peter Beinart, one of the Times’ favorite sources, who views the whole situation “as a sign that younger American Jews are less comfortable with Israeli control of the West Bank.” Mr. Beinart views pretty much everything as a sign of that.

In fact, the whole article is a one-sided exercise in settlement-bashing.

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Even the chief executive of the Jewish National Fund, Russell Robinson, is quoted as having

Acknowledged that his fund had two projects in the Gush Etzion settlements south of Jerusalem, but he sought to distinguish it from its Israeli sister organization, Keren Kayemet Leyisrael, which supports parks, bike paths, an amphitheater and even a solar farm in West Bank settlements. There are separate boards of directors, he noted.

“Keren Kayemet L’Israel” — the Jewish National Fund — isn’t given an opportunity to comment in the article. Neither is a single settler or defender of the settlements. Had they been asked, they might have said something like, “What sort of perverted standard of moral vanity is on display by a person like Ben Jablonski, on whom the Times lavishes praise for quitting the JNF board ‘over its modest but politically fraught involvement in West Bank settlements,’ but who has no problem working with PLO-affiliated Palestinians?”

Are Jews who live in suburbs of Jerusalem or in other places where Jews have lived for thousands of years supposed to be deprived of parks, bike paths or solar energy? Would Mr. Jablonski and the New York Times editors, from the relative safety of Manhattan, order the West Bank immediately be rid of all Jews, so that the land there can be, like Gaza, used as a launching pad for terrorist attacks via tunnels and rockets launched at the remaining Jews of Israel?

I’m not generally a reflexive defender of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but the one-sidedness of the Times approach on this one is just bizarre. In an article that took up huge acreage in the Times — a six-column headline, three photographs and a graphic over more than half a page of the print newspaper — they couldn’t find room for a single voice or paragraph defending the settlements?

It’s not clear to me why the article had to be mainly about the settlements at all, rather than simply a feel-good feature about Jews and Arabs working together on energy and water. But for whatever reason, the Times and its sources unfortunately took the opportunity to fit this one into an existing narrative about the “occupation.” It’s also not precisely clear what brainpower was on display by whatever Times editor okayed this one, but by the look of the article as it appeared, the editor was operating at well below 100 watts.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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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  • Yadja

    The land belongs to Israel. Now the world can scream that Israel needs to hand over it’s land to Gazans and Hamas but the facts are ask any of those countries to hand over any of their land to any people so they can have a state or whatever and see what happens.

    It is a great and preposterous lie that has been put upon the world via their leaders that Gaza is Palestine. There is no Palestine and never was. The Muslims have no claim to any of the icons in the Holy Lands including the Temple Mt. or Jerusalem. Neither has anything to do with Islam. Muhammad born thousands of years after the Jews a nation. These things all belong to Israel.

    I am offended at the ignorance shown by world leaders concerning Islam and Israel. Time for Israel to do what is right for it. Trump told Bibi build your heart out on your land. He is no fool.

  • Rabbi Steven Pruzansky said:

    “In the genocidal war being waged against the Jewish people, the New York Times is an accomplice.”



    People who purchase the New York Times are also accomplices, because they support the New York Times financially, so the NYT can continue its relentless anti-Jewish propaganda.

    It is my sincere personal belief that people who purchase the New York Times will be PUNISHED for it on Yom HaDin, the Great Day of Judgment.

    This will include thousands of Jews who claim to be Orthodox, who continue the purchase the New York Times even though they should know better.

    I sincerely urge all people who still purchase the New York Times to repent before it is too late.