Wednesday, March 20th | 13 Adar II 5779

May 18, 2017 1:02 pm

New York Times Inaccurately Calls Jerusalem a ‘Divided City’

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The Western Wall and Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. Photo: Paul Arps via Wikimedia Commons.

The New York Times previewed President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel and the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem with a news article that inaccurately described the Israeli capital city as “divided.”

Here’s the full sentence that is the problem: “Some experts speculate that the new tension may make Mr. Trump more likely to fulfill an Israeli dream: having the United States move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, tacitly supporting Israel’s claim that the divided city is its eternal capital.”

The Times didn’t name these “experts” or explain why their speculation was worth passing along.

Worse is the Times description of Jerusalem as “the divided city.” That may be the Times claim, but it’s certainly not “Israel’s claim.”

Maybe the newspaper meant to write “undivided”?

“Divided” is what Jerusalem was before 1967, when Jordanian troops, barbed wire fences, and mines separated Israeli Jews from holy sites such as the Western Wall.

“United” is what today’s Jerusalem is. The Times might not be able to see that, but Congress can: Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Dean Heller, and Lindsey Graham this week introduced a resolution that reads in part:

Whereas Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected as they have been by Israel since 1967;
Whereas, this year, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and reaffirm the congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city;

Whereas every citizen of Israel should have the right to reside anywhere in the undivided city of Jerusalem;

The Times, so far as I can tell, hasn’t yet seen fit to report on that resolution, preferring to promote the false image of Jerusalem as “the divided city.” That portrayal advances a political goal. If one buys the inaccurate claim that Jerusalem is already “divided,” then it becomes less problematic to turn part of it into a Palestinian capital, because in doing so one is just perpetuating the status quo, rather than splitting a unified city.

But the Times news coverage isn’t supposed to be pushing political goals; it’s supposed to be reporting on reality. If the Times is going to start describing Jerusalem as a “divided city” then consistency would dictate that it should at least apply the same description to Washington, DC and to New York City, both of which are riven by geographic, demographic, and socio-economic divides as formidable as any in Israel’s capital.

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


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