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March 6, 2020 10:04 am
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New York Times News Article Awards West Bank Land to Palestinians

avatar by Ira Stoll

Opinion

A taxi passes by in front of The New York Times head office in Manhattan, Feb. 7, 2013. Photo: Reuters / Carlo Allegri / File Photo.

A New York Times news article by Patrick Kingsley reports on the results of Israel’s elections.

It says in part, “Mr. Netanyahu has shored up his base by enacting legislation that alienates Arab citizens and by pursuing a Middle East plan — President Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ — that would annex large tracts of Palestinian land.”

It’s not accurate for the Times to describe it as “Palestinian land.” Usually they call it the West Bank, or, sometimes, Israeli-occupied territory. Some Israelis refer to it as Judea and Samaria. Whether it is or isn’t Palestinian land is what the Israelis and Palestinians have been intermittently negotiating about or fighting about for decades. To call it Palestinian land is to take one side — the Palestinian one — in that dispute.

As the Trump plan itself points out, the plan also calls for the surrender of significant chunks of Israeli land, or, as the plan puts it “for the transfer of sizeable territory by the State of Israel — territory to which Israel has asserted valid legal and historical claims, and which are part of the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people — which must be considered a significant concession.” It’s one-sided for the Times to emphasize the land that Israel would annex but not the land that Israel would cede.

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The Times doesn’t specify precisely what land it is talking about, but if it means the Jordan Valley, that terrain has been under Israeli security control since the 1967 Six-Day War. Before that it was under Jordanian control, and before that, under British control, and before that, under Ottoman control. There are indeed parts of the West Bank where lots of Palestinian Arabs live and where the Palestinian Authority has substantial authority, but those aren’t the parts Netanyahu is reportedly contemplating annexing.

The nice thing about seeing this sort of language in a Times news article is that it punctures any remaining illusions any Times readers may have about the newspaper’s view of these matters. Often in the news columns the Times at least tries to maintain the pretense of evenhandedness, but sometimes, as in this example, the editors and reporters don’t even bother — or the underlying bias is so strong that attempts to cover it up fail.

Nor is that even the only problem with this particular Times article. Friday’s Times carried a whopper of a two-part correction: “An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to the number of Israelis who are of Arab ethnicity. It is about one in five, not two in five. The article also misstated Arab turnout in Israeli elections. Turnout fell below 50 percent in the April election, but it is not the case that turnout has been below that level historically. ”

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.

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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