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February 16, 2020 12:29 am

New York Times Falsely Claims West Bank Settlements ‘Alienated Much of the World’

avatar by Ira Stoll


The New York Times logo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A New York Times report from the United Nations inaccurately claims that Israeli settlements in the West Bank have “alienated much of the world.”

The Times news article, by Rick Gladstone, appears under the print headline, “Abbas Rejects US Proposal On Mideast As One-Sided.”

The term “one-sided” does indeed come to mind here — applied to the Times coverage.

The Times article reports on a visit by Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas to the United Nations. Abbas is 84 years old and was elected in 2006 to a four-year term as president that has lasted 14 years. Those facts are not reported in the Times article.

The Times does falsely claim, however:

Mr. Trump’s plan, which he had repeatedly delayed releasing, would guarantee that Israel controlled a unified Jerusalem as its capital and not require it to uproot any of the settlements in the West Bank, established since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, that have provoked Palestinian outrage and alienated much of the world.

The idea that the Israeli settlements have “alienated much of the world” is nonsense. I was fortunate enough recently to travel to Israel personally and the sidewalks and airport were packed with foreign tourists and business visitors. Israel has diplomatic relations with 159 of the 193 member states of the UN.

As for the few countries that are alienated from Israel, the reason is not the West Bank settlements. Those countries have been enemies of Israel since Israel was founded in 1948, before what the Times calls “the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.” Even the term “the 1967 Arab-Israeli war” itself studiously avoids what Israel calls the war, the Six Day War.

People of goodwill may have different opinions about whether Israel’s West Bank settlement policy is prudent for Israel’s security and Jewish and democratic character. But to claim, as the Times does here, that the settlements have “alienated much of the world” is inaccurate. It misleads Times readers about both the historical context of the Arab-Israeli conflict and about the present reality.

When the Times last year published a cartoon that even the Times eventually conceded was antisemitic, the newspaper apologized, and the Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, called the paper “a cesspool of hostility towards Israel.”

The cartoon and the ambassador’s remarks got a ton of attention, and for good reason. But much of the Times‘ bias against the Jews proceeds instead along this stealthier and more subtle pattern — little-noticed throwaway context lines buried deep in the middle of articles that aren’t on the front page, but nonetheless accumulate to shape public opinion in a deleterious way.

Who is to blame for the situation in the Middle East? By the Times‘s false account, it’s not the Palestinians’ fault for hating Israel and refusing to accept its existence. Rather, Israel is blamed for “provoking” their outrage.

Who is to blame for the world’s supposed hatred of the Jewish state? By the Times‘s false account, it’s not the haters who have implacably refused to accept Israel’s existence from the moment it was created, but Israel itself for having supposedly “alienated” them.

It’s just one sentence, but it tells you all of what you need to know about the Times and its one-sided coverage of Israel.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. More of his media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.


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