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February 2, 2017 9:15 pm

New York Times Defiantly Cranks Its Anti-Israel Bias Into High Gear

avatar by Ira Stoll

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New York Times headquarters.  Photo: Wiki Commons, via Haxorjoe.

New York Times headquarters. Photo: Wiki Commons, via Haxorjoe.

A reliable indicator of anti-Israel bias at the New York Times comes in the adverbs and adjectives that the newspaper hurls at the Jewish state and its policies.

The Times reports, in a news article:

The education minister, Naftali Bennett, is pressing for legislation — not yet fully embraced by Mr. Netanyahu — to take the drastic step of the first annexation of a West Bank settlement, Ma’ale Adumim, just east of Jerusalem.

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My Webster’s Second unabridged dictionary defines “drastic” as “acting with force; severe; harsh; extreme; having a violent effect.”

There’s a second definition: “in medicine, powerful; efficacious.” But somehow I don’t think that is the definition the Times was going for.

The Times doesn’t describe Palestinian Arab tactics, like seeking United Nations recognition of a Palestinian Arab state as an end-run around direct negotiations with Israel, or supporting the international movement to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel, as “drastic.”

That term is reserved, instead, for the possible incorporation into Israel of a settlement that is already full of Israeli Jews and that was more or less already recognized as Israeli in President George W. Bush’s April 14, 2004 letter to Prime Minister Sharon. No force would be required; the people living there would be happy to be part of Israel. Israel already annexed other territories it won in the Six Day War — which the Times article delicately refers to as “the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.” Those previous annexations — of parts of Jerusalem and of the Golan Heights — had no “violent effect.”

The definition of “drastic” that the Times means here is “something that Times journalists and editors are personally opposed to.” If the Times wants to editorialize against the annexation of Ma’ale Adumim, it can go ahead and do that. But if it wants to maintain even the pretense of neutrality or objectivity (an open question), it needs to stop inserting alarmist and inaccurate adjectives like “drastic” into what is ostensibly news copy rather than opinion.

The headline of the article is no better. Here the Times plays a double game. The print headline is “Israel Cranks Settlement Plans Into High Gear.” But online, the Times defiantly cranks its anti-Israel headline writing into high gear: “Israel Defiantly Cranks West Bank Settlement Plans Into High Gear.”

Who is being “defied” here? The editors and reporters at the New York Times who oppose these settlements and who display their opposition by labeling the Jewish state as “defiant.”

The Times editors and reporters are themselves defying journalistic standards and conventions by adding this sort of defiant spin to their coverage. The Times team somehow managed magically to turn an article about the forced removal of Jewish settlers from an unlawful outpost, Amona, into a headline that defiantly describes Israel not as evacuating a settlement, but as expanding them. It’s quite a feat.

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

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