‘Insane,’ ‘Reprehensible,’ ‘Complicit’: New York Times Excuse-Making for Jerusalem Terrorists Is Condemned
by Ira Stoll
“Insane.” “Reprehensible.” “Complicit.”
These are the fierce criticisms being mounted against the New York Times for its coverage of terrorist attacks against Israelis over the weekend.
A former American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, called a New York Times headline “insane,” faulting it for failing to provide context. “This may be the most misleading and offensive headline that the Times has published this week (for the Times that’s saying a lot!)” Friedman tweeted.
The watchdog group HonestReporting faulted the Times and other news organizations for “falsely equating terrorism and counterterrorism.” The group said that “By cynically equating the IDF counter-terror operation in Jenin and the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, the media are helping to contribute to the atmosphere of incitement and violent rhetoric that culminated in the Jerusalem attacks over the weekend.”
HonestReporting highlighted a New York Times tweet and commented, “This is what we mean when we say the media is complicit. Shame on the @nytimes for trying to minimize and excuse a terrorist attack that left 8 Jewish civilians dead, at their synagogue, on Int’l Holocaust Remembrance Day.” The Times tweet said, “Breaking News: A gunman killed at least five people at an East Jerusalem synagogue after a deadly month in the occupied West Bank.”
Another pro-Israel media watchdog group, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), faulted the Times for concealing “the terror affiliations of at least seven of the nine Palestinians, introducing the false impression that the Palestinian dead are, like the Israelis murdered in Jerusalem, innocent victims.”
Along with moral equivalence, an additional means of softening coverage of Palestinian terrorism is slapping on a headline using the euphemistic passive voice, thereby obscuring the perpetrator. Thus, The Times’ headlines about the Palestinian terrorist’s gunning down of Shabbath worshippers neglects to identify the assailant: “At Least 7 Killed in Attack in Jewish Area of East Jerusalem,” and “”Shots Outside Synagogue Leave 7 People Dead in East Jerusalem.” For good measure, the headlines also fail to identify the victims (Israeli Jews), referring to them only as “people.”
Thus, the headline, which is supposed to provide the most basic information about an event, including who did what to whom, leaves out both the who and whom.
In contrast, concerning the Jenin raid, in which mostly Palestinian combatants affiliated with illegal terror organization, were killed, The New York Times has no problem identifying the subject and object.
CAMERA said the Times had achieved a “reprehensible result: minimizing and obscuring Palestinian terrorism.”
The Times print coverage also failed to report on President Biden’s strong condemnation of the attack on the innocent Jerusalem synagogue-goers, which the president called “an attack against the civilized world.”
One Twitter critic contrasted a Times of Israel headline,“Armed Palestinian shot dead by guard near West Bank settlement, IDF says,” and a New York Times headline about the same event, which said, “Palestinian Man Fatally Shot as Violence Continues in Israel.”
An article in Monday’s print New York Times takes pains to describe the terrorist attack outside a Jerusalem synagogue as “a synagogue in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.” The Times article says, “The recent Palestinian attacks, including Friday night’s shooting outside a synagogue and Saturday’s shooting, have targeted Israeli settlements and settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The settlements are considered illegal under international law and by much of the international community.”
That is cow manure, which is to say, both inaccurate and a morally loathsome effort to justify an attack on innocent civilian worshipers.
As HonestReporting noted, “On the contrary, Neve Yaakov is not a ‘settlement’ outside Jerusalem but is rather one of the neighborhoods that make up the Jerusalem municipality. While it is true that Israel gained control over that area following the Six-Day War, Neve Yaakov does not have the legal status of a ‘settlement’ and is a fully integrated municipal neighborhood. It should also be noted that Neve Yaakov sits on land that was purchased by the Jewish community in the early 20th century and served as a Jewish agricultural center until it was depopulated during the Israeli War of Independence.”
Every New York Times article also takes pains to mention “Israel’s new far-right government,” “the most right-wing and the most religious in Israel’s history,” without mentioning that Palestinian Arab terrorists have targeted Israeli Jewish civilians without regard for the politics or religiosity of the Israeli governing coalition. In fact, Jewish synagogue goers have been targeted by murderers in Europe since before there even was a state of Israel, and they were targeted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, too. So the idea that this was about “the settlements” or the “far-right government” is, like the rest of the New York Times coverage, just a lot of phony baloney.
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.