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June 25, 2018 3:19 pm

New York Times’ Israel Coverage Is Literally Worse Than Al Jazeera’s

avatar by Ira Stoll


The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

How bad is The New York Times’ coverage of Israel?

In the case of at least one story (actually, that now makes it at least two stories, if you count this one I wrote about last year), it’s literally worse than Al Jazeera.

A Bedouin village called Khan al-Ahmar was the subject of articles in The New York Times and on, the website of the satellite network geared to an Arab audience and controlled by the al-Thani family that rules the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar. The comparison is illuminating.

The Al Jazeera article reports that the community numbers 180 individuals. The Times article includes no count of the population of the village. The Times does however, include a photo cutline reporting that “For decades, Israel has wanted to clear a large section of the West Bank of several thousand Bedouins to make room for Jewish settlements.” The Times article also uses similar language in its third paragraph: “For decades, Israel has wanted to clear a large section of the West Bank of several thousand Bedouins.” That Times language gives readers the false and inaccurate impression that the population of this village is much larger than it actually is.

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The Times article mentions that of three Israeli judges who ruled on the matter, “two of them” were “current or former settlers.” The Al Jazeera article didn’t get into the question of where the judges used to live. It thus avoided the odd combination of detail and imprecision that characterizes the Times’ formulation. Was the “former settler” among the judges someone who lived briefly in a settlement decades ago and has since renounced the settlement project? Were two of them former settlers, or two of them current settlers, or was one a former settler and one a current settler? And does the Times have any evidence that that former settler status, rather than the law and the facts of the case, is what influenced the judgment?

I can see both sides of the case for moving the Bedouin village or for leaving it in place. The New York Times, for comparison’s sake, has had no problem kicking legal homeowners and businesses out of the way to support private construction projects in Connecticut and in New York City, including for its own headquarters tower.

No matter one’s view of the underlying merits of the case, though, it shouldn’t be too much to ask for the Times to do better than Al Jazeera when it comes to accurately reporting on the number of people involved and refraining from casting personal aspersions on the Israeli judges.

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

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