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July 9, 2017 4:37 pm

New York Times Hurls an Adjective at Israel’s Defense Minister

avatar by Ira Stoll

Opinion

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Photo: Jonathan Klinger via Wikimedia Commons.

One of the New York Times’ favorite methods of treating people it dislikes is to hurl adjectives at them.

So, for example, the newspaper has described the views of the president of the Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes, as “controversial” and “inflammatory,” and described a former American ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, as “combative.” Prime Minister Netanyahu is labeled “brash,” as well as loquacious” and “usually taciturn,” two diametrically opposed terms.

The latest example comes in a Times news article about a United Nations body naming Hebron a Palestinian “world heritage site.” The Times reports:

Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli defense minister of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu Party, described Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, as “a politically biased, disgraceful and anti-Semitic organization.”

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The entire sentence could have used an editor. Why not just write, “The Israeli defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, described Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, as ‘a politically biased, disgraceful and anti-Semitic organization’”? Or if the Times feels it necessary to say what political party Mr. Lieberman is a member of, describe it in some useful way. What is “nationalist” supposed even to mean in this context? Does it mean that a party is in favor of the nation of Israel continuing to exist? If so, wouldn’t it kind of go without saying?

If you think I’m reading too much into the one word “nationalist,” take Israel out of the equation for the moment. Consider how the New York Times marked the 50th anniversary of the Montreal Expo: with a piece asserting, “It’s one thing to identify the gaps in Expo 67’s narrative, to call out its sexism and nationalism.” For the Times, nationalism — whether the polite Canadian variety or the muscular Zionist variety — is a dirty word. It’s a kind of discriminatory chauvinism, like sexism.

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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