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July 13, 2022 11:45 am

Top Israeli Daily’s Exposé Paints Troubling Picture of New York Times’ Israel Coverage

avatar by Chaim Lax


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

In a recent exposé published by the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, journalist Lilac Sigan paints a disturbing picture of The New York Times’ coverage of Israel during the first half of 2022.

Based on her analysis of pieces published on the front page, the Opinion section, and the World section of The New York Times online, Sigan found that the “newspaper of record” disproportionately focuses on Israel, is overly selective in which Israel-related stories it reports on, and fails to provide its readers with the proper context in its coverage of news surrounding Israel and the Palestinians.

In her report, Lilac Sigan found that The New York Times’ coverage of Israel was excessive in comparison to other countries.

During the first half of 2022, Israel received 832 mentions in New York Times reports, while other Middle Eastern nations received far less attention: Turkey was mentioned 619 times, Iran received 518 mentions, and Syria appeared 498 times.

Meanwhile, the US-designated Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist organizations were mentioned only 37 and 22 times respectively.

Not only does The New York Times seem to pay an inordinate amount of attention to Israel — but, from an examination of its Israel-related articles published in the first half of 2022, the publication seems to hold a predominantly negative view of the Jewish state.

Of the 118 pieces written about Israel, 53% portrayed Israel in a negative light, 34% were neutral, and only 13% were positive.

A prime example of The New York Times’ Israel fetish is its coverage of the killing of the veteran Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh as she reported on an Israeli counter-terrorism operation in Jenin. During the month-and-a-half between Abu Akleh’s death and the end of the period under analysis, The New York Times published 14 articles concerning the incident in question, including a thorough “investigation” that found Israel responsible for killing Abu Akleh.

Sigan points out that it was unusual for the NYT to invest resources in such a report after CNN, the AP, and The Washington Post had all released similar findings.

To fully grasp The New York Times’ fixation on Shireen Abu Akleh’s death, it is important to compare this coverage with its coverage of other journalists who have died in the line of duty. According to Sigan, 16 journalists have been killed so far in 2022 (including Abu Akleh), with the NYT reporting on seven of these deaths.

However, of these seven journalist deaths, the Times has devoted 14 articles to the killing of Abu Akleh, while writing a total of 13 pieces about all the other journalists combined.

But do expect more anti-Israeli PR added to an already over-exhausted story. I can understand why the Palestinian Authority would be interested in extending this, but why would @nytimes ? Do these proportions make any sense to you?

— Lilac Sigan (@lilacsigan) July 3, 2022

The New York Times’ coverage of the death of Shireen Abu Akleh is but the latest example of the publication’s inordinate focus on Israel.

Just as important as analyzing the Israel-related stories that The New York Times does publish is taking a look at those stories that the NYT decides not to report on.

In her article, Lilac Sigan points to 204 relevant Israel-related stories that the Times did not mention at all, including 124 that were concerned with Palestinian terror, incitement, and violence against Israelis; 64 that dealt with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas’ corruption and cruelty towards Palestinians (including journalists); and six that focused on Israel’s growing relations with neighboring Arab countries.

Furthermore, there were 122 mentions of “antisemitism” in The New York Times during the first half of 2022, but not a single one dealt with Palestinian antisemitism.

Sigan also points out that, in contrast to the NYT’s negative portrayal of Israel, there were almost no negative articles about the Palestinians.

As Sigan writes, “The central problem, as previously stated, is that there are no negative stories about Palestinians. Not about terrorists who receive encouragement, not about the rotten and monstrous leadership, not about Hamas…there are even no negative stories about Hezbollah.”

Even during one of the worst cycles of Palestinian terrorism of the past few years, when The New York Times had no choice but to report on mass-casualty attacks, many articles would not refer to the perpetrators as “terrorists” (except for when quoting Israeli sources).

Rather, the publication preferred to describe the terrorists as “Arab assailants” rather than “Palestinians” (see here, here ,and here).

According to Lilac Sigan, another issue with the way that The New York Times reports on Israel and the Palestinians is the newspaper’s failure to provide readers with a proper context that would help them better understand current events.

For instance, Sigan points out that in the first six months of 2022, the terms “Israel” and “1967” and “Israel” and “occupation” appeared a total of 101 times in the pages of The New York Times as part of the historical background to a number of Israel-related articles.

However, not a single article informed readers as to who controlled the land prior to 1967 or which events led to Israel gaining control of this territory.

Similarly, in its reporting on the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, The New York Times never once informed its vast readership as to the extent to which Israel protects journalists or that it is one of the few countries in the Middle East that respects freedom of the press.

Thus, NYT readers were left with a skewed impression of Israel’s relationship with journalists and news agencies.

As a result, The New York Times is denying its readers the ability to fully understand what is taking place in Israel and to be able to form an educated opinion about the latest developments coming out of the Middle East.

According to Lilac Sigan, The New York Times holds a black-and-white view of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, with the Israelis being the sole aggressors and the Palestinians being the lone victims.

Thus, any news item that seems to corroborate this outlook is reported on while any news item that seems to contradict this perspective is left out of their Israel coverage.

As a result, readers of The New York Times are left with a caricaturish impression of Israel that portrays the Jewish state as an oppressive entity with an unstable political regime while disregarding the daily reality of living in Israel, which includes existential threats and trauma — but also the development of technology and the continued rise in living standards for all its citizens.

Don’t the readers of The New York Times deserve better?

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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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