Outrage Mounts at New York Times Depiction of Jewish ‘Bloodlust’
Outrage is mounting at New York Times coverage of the recent Israel-Gaza war, with prominent Israeli and American Jewish leaders denouncing the newspaper using terms like “shameless,” “bias,” “propaganda disinformation” and “blood libel.”
Lenny Ben-David, a former Israeli diplomat, commented, “I have never seen worse anti-Israel propaganda disinformation than this @nytimes piece in my 40+ yrs of defending #Israel in media trenches. Every child’s death is a disaster, but the Times presents a blood libel vs Israel.”
The national director emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, wrote, “The New York Times continues to be shameless in its coverage of the Hamas war against Israel and its citizens. Its bias against Israel and Jews who support Israel is reflected in its coverage internationally, domestically and on the opinion pages. NYT readers deserve better!”
The assistant managing editor for international news at the New York Times, Michael Slackman, did not respond by deadline to a request for comment submitted through the New York Times website.
At issue are not only an avalanche of harshly anti-Israel Times opinion pieces, but news coverage faulting Israel for inflicting what the newspaper has described in news articles as a “high civilian death toll” in Gaza.
For example, a top-of-the-front page headline on Friday reported, “More than 250 Dead, Mostly Civilians.” An article by Ronen Bergman in Sunday’s New York Times reported that Israel “claims to have killed about 200 Hamas operatives.” The math is hard to reconcile, unless the Times is double-counting as “civilians” the people Israel is describing as “Hamas operatives.” That’s certainly possible, given that Hamas is not a uniformed conventional military force but rather an Iranian-backed terrorist group that also controls religious and civil affairs in Gaza. But describing Hamas operatives merely as “civilians” could convey to Times readers the false impression that they were innocent people killed by Israel either deliberately in a war crime or accidentally in a mistake or as collateral damage. The Times cited no source for the headline claim that the dead were “mostly civilians.”
In addition to the headline, the Times has published two long, heart-tugging recent articles that put a face on mostly Arab suffering. One carried the online headline “Life Under Occupation: The Misery at the Heart of the Conflict,” as if it were primarily what the Times calls “the routine indignities of occupation” that accounts for Iranians funding and training Gazans to launch rockets at Tel Aviv from territory Israel left in 2005. Another project, “They Were Only Children,” identifies children, noting that “while most of the children were Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes, there are exceptions. At least two of the children killed in Gaza — Baraa al-Gharabli and Mustafa Obaid — may have been killed when Palestinian militants fired a rocket at Israel that fell short, according to an initial investigation by Defense for Children International-Palestine. And one of the children killed in Israel, Nadine Awad, was Palestinian.”
The best comment on the topic may have come from, of all places, a Times staffer, Bret Stephens, whose May 24 column said, “the accusations made against Israel — stealing Palestinian land (despite the fact that Israel vacated the territory from which it was subsequently attacked) and wanton violence against Palestinian civilians, particularly children (despite the fact that Israel regularly warned its targets to vacate buildings before targeting them) — can’t help but make me think of ancient libels about Jewish greed and bloodlust.”
Good for Stephens for calling out the libels, ancient and contemporary. His voice at the Times these days seems, alas, a lonely one.
Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.