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July 3, 2016 6:29 am

The New York Times Front Page Harshes on Israel, Gives Obama a Pass

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The site of Thursday's terrorist attack, in which Rabbi Michael Mark was killed and his wife and children injured. Photo:  Israel Fire and Rescue Services.

The site of Friday’s terrorist attack, in which Rabbi Michael Mark was killed and his wife and children injured. Photo: Israel Fire and Rescue Services.

The front page of the New York Times on Saturday featured a photo of an overturned vehicle and this sentence, promoting a news article inside the paper: “After another deadly attack in the occupied West Bank against Israeli civilians, above, Israel announced harsh restrictions on Palestinians.”

The interesting thing here is that the Times doesn’t just tell us what the restrictions are. The newspaper feels the need, in its news columns, to go beyond that, and to characterize the measures for us as “harsh.”

Read the article itself, and it tells of Israel imposing restrictions on Palestinian travel “between towns and villages in the southern West Bank.”

The double standard is that also on the front page of Saturday’s Times is a news article reporting that the Obama administration said airstrikes the US conducted “outside conventional war zones like Afghanistan have killed 64 to 116 civilian bystanders and about 2,500 members of terrorist groups.”

The Times manages to report the news of the Obama administration’s killing of more than 2,500 people and between 64 and 116 innocent civilians without calling that “harsh.” It even accepts, without scare quotes, the Obama administration’s characterization of its enemy as terrorists, without the soft-pedaling the newspaper typically does in Israel’s case of describing the enemy as “militants” rather than terrorists.

Again, it’s a double standard. Israel imposes travel restrictions, and the Times calls it “harsh.” Obama kills more than 2,500 people, and the Times doesn’t apply any pejorative adjectives at all.

It seems to me that whether one considers the Israeli reaction “harsh” or not is a matter of opinion. At least two members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet, Naftali Bennett and Yisrael Katz, called for punitive measures that go well beyond those that have been imposed. That fact is omitted from the Times article.

If there’s a bright side here, it’s that at least some editors at the New York Times appear to agree with me on this point. The web site tracks the changes in electronic versions of New York Times articles, and the headline on this particular one went through a series of mutations.

The headline started out as “Israel Imposes Harsh Restrictions on Palestinians in West Bank After Attacks.”

Some wise hand evidently agreed that “harsh” was a little harsh, under the circumstances, and the headline was subsequently changed to the more neutral: “Israel Imposes Restrictions on Palestinians in West Bank After Attacks.”

Someone apparently pushed back, or reconsidered, and a later version, the one in my print paper here in Massachusetts, was: “Israel Imposes Tough Restrictions on Palestinians in West Bank After Attacks.” The online Times is using the headline now without the word “tough” or “harsh.” In my view, that’s the best journalism of the three versions of the headline that the Times used. (An earlier version of the article did carry even a fourth headline: “Israeli Father Killed in Attack on Family’s Car in West Bank.” But the way the press quickly pivots from attack to reaction is a topic for another day.)

The headline improvements were welcome. But they appeared inside the newspaper. The “harsh” characterization remained on the front page throughout, even after the word had been eliminated from the headline of the article. The lesson? Once a mistake is made initially, it metastasizes.

That underscores the importance of getting things right to begin with. In this instance, the Times failed to do that. It may sound harsh, but it’s the reality, as the newspaper itself more or less conceded by backing away from the initial “harsh” headline in subsequent versions. Too bad the fix never got made on page one.

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


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  • It’s amazing what the NYT has turned into! It has always been my ‘go to’ source to stay up to date on current events.

  • Arnold Levine

    The NYT’s vicious bias against Israel goes back many, many year. but it is just one aspect of the odium it expresses about anything Jewish. As only one of many examples, it blocked out news of the Holocaust from ’38 to ’41 when such news could have aroused America to do something about it. It even knowingly suppressed this news right through WWII. (The NYT apologized for its actions 40 years too late.) But the Crimes of the Times in support of terrorists and dictators go back many, many years.It suppressed news of horrendous genocide by Stalin in the ’30s. It lauded Castro and significantly aided his rise to power. It failed to report NAZI atrocities committed during Hitler’s rise to power. Even a partial list of the NYT’s crimes would fill a book much longer than “Grey Lady Down” by William McGowan that gives only a partial history of the degeneracy to be found in the NYT, its support of terrorists and its anti-Americanism. This book, by a lover of the “Times,” only scratches the surface,but it leaves one wondering why the Times can exist at all in New York.

  • nat cheiman

    History will be “harsh”on the NYT

  • Stella schindler

    The paper of record distorts and creates its own record. Yellow journalism. Take them on.

  • Markus Elkana Brajtman

    I believe that the NYT is owned by a Jewish family.
    They certainly have sold their souls to the devil for money,

    I hope that no Jew or Jewish owned business spends one cent on advertising or even buying this used toilet paper.

    I wonder if they have ever seen the inside of a Synagogue

    they obviously do not believe in HASHEM>
    So, I hope they when they die, will join the likes of Hitler in hell where they will be hot for eternity.

  • Can one turn ‘harsh’ into a verb?

  • What is harsh to one newspaper is not even reported in others. The NYT is not and has not any favorable view of any action Israel takes in its struggle against Radical Islam. What they chose to report is fully aligned with the actions the country is taking in its war. The difference is blinding. The US can do what no other country can do. And, the US can tell other countries what to do. The NYT rubber stamps it’s approval. Context is not needed. Jewish deaths are not as important to them. But, we know this, and that is why I chose to avoid the Times, like the PLAGUE.
    Okay, did you see the story they printed about a 13-year-old girl who was killed in her bed while sleeping? They quoted the US as saying this bloodlust was “outrageous.” They never mention terrorism. They called the town a “hard-line settlement.” Well, they also still call the location The West Bank and the land “disputed.” In reality, this is Israel. Time to recognize that Israel is a sovereign self-governing nation. The NYT is giving credence to the notion that it is not. The dispute finished, a war fought, and a winner took the land. It is all over, but the official recognition by the news media.

  • stevenl

    Leading antisemitic newspaper in the western world. No surprise.

  • ita

    What bothers us more is that it is never stated that the attack was a Muslim attack. Talking about out and out lying by omission. It is about time that people start writing letters. We know that letters count. The White House Staff reads and count every letter. It is apalling that week in and out that more letters are received about enxangered snails then tbe murders of jewish people. Ever kid in every yeshiva should be required to write a letter a week.

  • H fragman

    Too bad the Times saw the attacks (which left several dead and more injured) as secondary to the non-lethal restrictions subsequently imposed.

  • Ephraim

    The New York Times, all the antisemitism that is not fit to print.

  • Joe Welfeld

    In the correct sequence the headline should have read – “Palestinians Attack Innocent Civilians. Israel Retaliates with Travel Restrictions.”