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September 1, 2016 2:04 pm

The New York Times’ Latest Front-Page Assault on Jews in the West Bank

avatar by Ira Stoll

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Mitzpe Danny. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Mitzpe Danny. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

How totally and completely ridiculous was the latest front-page attack on Israeli Jews who live in the West Bank?

Let us count the ways!

First is the use of the term “pirate” to describe them. “Israel Quietly Legalizes Pirate Outposts in the West Bank,” is the Times headline. The article begins,

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MITZPE DANNY, West Bank — One night in the fall of 1998, a self-professed ‘outpost entrepreneur’ brought three trailers to a rugged hilltop in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and established his first pirate settlement.

A pirate, according to the dictionary, is someone who attacks and steals from a ship at sea. These Jews aren’t at sea, and they aren’t attacking or stealing from anyone. The Times doesn’t explain to readers why this term applies here.

Second is the Times’ treatment of a response in the article from a spokesman for Prime Minister Netanyahu, David Keyes. Here’s how the paper handled it:

Asked about the legalization of outposts — and the international criticism — Mr. Netanyahu’s spokesman, David Keyes, did not respond directly, but instead turned the question to the Palestinian leaders’ stance that no settlements could remain in the West Bank under a future deal.

“The frequently echoed Palestinian demand to ethnically cleanse their future state of Jews,” Mr. Keyes said via email, “is outrageous, immoral and antithetical to peace.”

It seems like a pretty direct response to me. The Times’ lack of curiosity about the point — no American or European or Arab leaders are asked by the Times why it’s unacceptable for Jews to live in Judea or Samaria, or why such a ban is not religious discrimination — speaks for itself.

Third, and perhaps most egregious of all, is the Times’ framing of why readers should care about the story:

In its July report, the so-called Quartet of Middle East peacemakers — made up of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — listed it as a trend “imperiling the viability of the two-state solution.”

This is classic Times hypocrisy. When Russia hacks emails or helps Donald Trump, the Times is all up in arms about how horrible Russia is. But when Russia joins with Europe to attack Israeli Jews living in the West Bank, the Times treats the Kremlin’s foreign policy pronouncements as if they were handed down at Mount Sinai.

Meanwhile, if one actually clicks through to the EU report, one finds that the list of trends referred to by the Times reads as follows:

In particular, each of the following trends is severely undermining hopes for peace:

  • Continuing violence, terrorist attacks against civilians, and incitement to violence are greatly exacerbating mistrust and are fundamentally incompatible with a peaceful resolution;

  • The continuing policy of settlement construction and expansion, designation of land for exclusive Israeli use, and denial of Palestinian development is steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution; and

  • The illicit arms build-up and militant activity, continuing absence of Palestinian unity, and dire humanitarian situation in Gaza feed instability and ultimately impede efforts to achieve a negotiated solution.

Two of those trends — the first and the third — are largely Palestinian-Arab problems. But instead of a lengthy front-page Times dispatch about the “illicit arms build-up” by the Palestinian Arabs, their internal divisions or their incitement to violence, we get exclusive Times harping on the Israeli settlers as if they were the sole obstacle to peace in the Middle East — never mind that the Muslims are killing each other in Syria, Libya and Iraq, where there are no Jewish settlers.

Fourth, and finally, there is the Times’ treatment of the name of the settlement:

They named their outpost Mitzpe Danny, after a British immigrant stabbed to death by a Palestinian at the settlement across the highway… Danny Frei, the slain British immigrant for whom the outpost was named, had been Mr. Riklin’s neighbor in Ma’ale Michmash. He was a 28-year-old computer engineer who was killed in his home while his 18-month-old daughter slept.

Describing Danny Frei as a “British immigrant” makes it sound like he’s some kind of European colonist. Is it too much for the Times to call him what he was, which is an Israeli Jew? Other accounts of the attack tell us some things the Times omits. “Frei emigrated from London seven years ago” and “Frei’s wife, Mara, 29, was also badly wounded and was listed in serious but stable and improving condition at Hadassah-University Hospital. Mara, who was nearly five months pregnant, suffered multiple stab wounds to her lung, liver, and arm. She lost the fetus.”

There are probably some other issues with this Times story that I am missing. But you and I have already spent more time on this nonsense than it deserves.

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

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  • Carl Clarke

    I believe it is acceptable to all for jews to live in the West Bank OT anywhere they want for that matter. However they cannot claim to be Israeli Jews if they live in a different country

  • Ira, your knowledge of dictionary is very limited. You never heard or read to use “PIRATE” or “PIRATED” as a metaphor such as “PIRATED CD,DVD, MUSIC etc.

  • dan kaplan

    stop using the term “west bank”. it’s judea/samaria, yesha, shomron, …

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