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February 13, 2023 12:31 pm

New York Times & Washington Post Obscure Reality in Reports on Jerusalem Car-Ramming Attack

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avatar by Chaim Lax


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

On Friday, February 10, just before the start of the Jewish sabbath, a Palestinian terrorist from eastern Jerusalem drove his car into a crowd of Israelis waiting at a bus stop near the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot.

In the aftermath of the attack, Yaakov Yisrael Paley (6-years-old) was declared dead at the scene, while Alter Shlomo Lederman (a 20-year-old newlywed) died from his wounds after being rushed to a nearby hospital.

Paley’s 8-year-old brother, Asher Menachem, passed away the next day from his injuries.

This car-ramming is the latest attack in an upsurge in Palestinian violence and terrorism.

Symptomatic of a flood of sub-standard reporting from international media in the immediate aftermath of the car-ramming attack, The New York Times and Washington Post made a number of egregious distortions and misleading claims that severely harmed the integrity of each newspaper’s accounts.

Ramot is a Jewish neighborhood in northeastern Jerusalem that falls within the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality.

Issawiya is an Arab neighborhood in northeastern Jerusalem that falls within the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality.

Both The New York Times and The Washington Post, however, referred to Ramot as a “settlement,” while describing Issawiya, where the terrorist was from, as an Arab or Palestinian “neighborhood.”

Not only is this separate categorization of each neighborhood factually incorrect — because Ramot does not have the legal status of a “settlement” in Israel — but it is also morally dubious as referring to it as a “settlement” could be perceived as a justification for the attack.

The Washington Post later referred to Neveh Yaakov, a Jerusalem neighborhood similar to Ramot, as a “Jewish Israeli community in disputed east Jerusalem.” So why did it insist on falsely describing Ramot as a “settlement”?

Both reports repeatedly referred to the perpetrator as simply a “man,” the “driver,” or the “assailant,” only once using the term “Palestinian” to describe the terrorist.

The Washington Post removed all agency from the terrorist, stating that a “car rammed into a crowd” and a “blue Mazda sedan rammed into people,” thus placing the onus for responsibility on the car itself rather than the terrorist who was actively driving it.

This was further compounded by the Post’s repeated reference to the terrorist as an “alleged assailant,” calling into question his entire culpability.

Of course, if Palestinians are supposedly the victims of Israeli policies, both the Times and the Post have no problem identifying them as Palestinians. It’s only when a Palestinian terrorist commits a car-ramming attack that these media look for a way to avoid definitively stating the Palestinian identity of the perpetrator.

In their pieces, both The New York Times and The Washington Post sought to provide their readers with context surrounding the attack.

The Post’s first report (since updated to a lengthier story) did so at the expense of the attack itself, devoting only two paragraphs out of the initial six to the actual terror event in Ramot.

Both newspapers made numerous errors that misrepresented reality and deprived readers of a proper understanding of the situation on the ground.

The most egregious contextual errors include:

  • The New York Times reported that the attack came “amid the deadliest period in years for Palestinians living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank,” but failed to mention that this period has also been one of the deadliest for Israelis.
  • Both The New York Times and The Washington Post placed this attack within the context of the return to power of Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government, but failed to mention that this surge in Palestinian violence began last year under the more centrist Bennett-Lapid government (The New York Times mentions this as an aside in an infobox but not in the main article).
  • Both newspapers create a false moral equivalence, with The New York Times blaming the escalation in violence on “the formation of new and increasingly active Palestinian armed groups and the election of a new Israeli government,” and The Washington Post ascribing Palestinian shooting attacks to “the proliferation of guns throughout the occupied West Bank among Palestinians and Israelis.”
  • The Washington Post writes that “Israeli forces and settlers have killed more than 40 Palestinians in the occupied territory this year,” without mentioning that the vast majority of those killed are members of Palestinian terror groups who were engaged in violence against Israelis when they were killed. Similarly, it also writes that “The violence followed a spate of deaths in late January, when Israeli forces killed 10 people in the Jenin refugee camp … in what it said was a raid on a militant cell,” without informing the reader that the vast majority of those killed were known members of Palestinian terror groups who engaged Israeli forces in a gunfight.
  • The Washington Post writes that “Over the past year Israel has conducted near-daily and often-deadly raids in West Bank cities and villages,” but makes no mention of the fact that these operations began as a response to a spate of deadly Palestinian terror attacks in early-to-mid 2022.
  • The Washington Post mentioned the ongoing domestic Israeli debate over judicial reform three separate times (including two paragraphs at the end of the piece) even though this is of no relevance to the car-ramming attack in Ramot.
  • While appearing to provide context for the Ramot car-ramming, both The New York Times and The Washington Post failed to inform their readers of continuing incitement against Israelis and Jews in Palestinian society, including pay-for-slay or the Gazan celebrations that broke out in response to the attack.
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.

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