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Media Analyses





The New York Times' Broken Moral Compass


On August 21, 2012, The New York Times print edition ran an article on the front page, above the fold, entitled "Young Israelis Held in Attack on Arabs" about seven Jewish Israeli teens arrested for beating several Arab teens -- even sending one, Jamal Julani, to the hospital. In her coverage of this appalling incident, Isabel Kershner writes that "the poisoned political environment around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has affected the moral compass of youths growing up within it."

By "youths," Kershner means only Jewish Israeli youths as she gives scant mention to any Arab on Jew violence, citing "suicide bombings that killed scores" as part of "the second Palestinian uprising" only in the third-to-last paragraph of the article, where she also writes that "in some of the tenser predominantly Arab neighborhoods, Israeli cars and buses are frequently stoned." Those mentions are in paragraph 27 of a 29-paragraph story and appear on the jump page, rather than page one.

One Small Step for The New York Times, One Giant Leap of Logic

Kershner bolsters her thesis that Israeli society is morally corrupt by citing the firebombing of an Arab taxi on the West Bank "apparently by Jewish extremists, though there have been no arrests" and quoting educator Nimrod Aloni who says, "This is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban and K.K.K."

If they prove true, the accusations against the teens being held are despicable. However, to extrapolate from this reprehensible incident that the ethics of Israeli society as a whole are in question is quite a leap. That would be like indicting all of America for a mob beating that took place in South Carolina, North Carolina, Chicago, Virginia, Alabama, California, Baltimore, or New York City. In fact, though occurring much closer to New York Times headquarters, CAMERA research indicates that none of these events merited front page, above the fold, placement.

Double Standard of Indictment

If the beating of an Arab teen is the result of the "the poisoned political environment around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" and therefore warrants page one coverage, certainly other incidents would warrant similar placement.

In April, three members of a Jewish family were hospitalized after being attacked by a group of Arab teens with chains, clubs and a knife in a Jerusalem park. CAMERA research turned up no mention of this attack in the pages of The New York Times. Earlier that month, a Jewish man was attacked with an axe by a Palestinian Arab youth outside the Damascus Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. CAMERA research also found no mention of this attack in The Times. In March, a 19-year-old female soldier was stabbed by a Palestinian teenager on Jerusalem's light rail train. This news was reported by Kershner but ran as a brief on page five.

When five members of the Fogel family were slaughtered in the town of Itamar in the West Bank last year, The New York Times ran an Associated Press brief on page five. The next day, Kershner's article about the atrocity ran on page sixteen. Subsequent mention of this story in Times articles ran on page four, page six, page fifteen, and page eight. One could fairly ask why the hospitalization of a single teen warrants more prominent placement on the pages of The Times than the savage, premeditated murder of five members of a single family, including the near decapitation of a three-month-old infant. Certainly this attack also grew out of "the poisoned political environment around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Most Important News of the Day?

Furthermore, on the very day the article in question ran on page one, editors decided that other news was less relevant to readers. Headlines that appeared in the grey lady that day but did not earn the top spot included:

  • "Romney Energized by Ryan, but Faces New Scrutiny"
  • "Obama Threatens Force Against Syria"
  • "Generals Meet to Study Afghan Violence"
  • "Turkey: Blast Kills at Least 8 Near Syria"
  • "California: Fire Nears Three Towns"
  • "Majority of New Yorkers View Police as Biased Toward Whites, Survey Finds"
  • "Christian Girl's Blasphemy Arrest Incites a Furor in Pakistan"
  • Not to mention coverage of the American economy and unemployment, the drought plaguing American farmers or any of numerous stories that might directly impact Americans

Societal Approval of Violence

It must be noted that the teens who are accused of perpetrating this inexcusable attack were arrested and face charges. In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday night, before the beating but after the taxi incident. According to UPI reporting, "Netanyahu pledged to hunt down the perpetrators of the firebomb attack."

This hardly indicates societal approval of such actions. Yet Kershner quotes Aloni describing, "an entire culture that has been escalating toward an open and blunt language based on us being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like." Kershner describes "a national conversation about racism, violence, and how Israeli society could have come to this point."

By contrast, that conversation is certainly not happening within Palestinian Arab society. The Palestinian Authority -- not to mention Hamas which rules Gaza -- actively engages in incitement of violence against Jews and Israelis.

Palestinian Media Watch regularly documents instances of PA dehumanization and vilification of Jews and Israelis:

Using media, education, and cultural structures that it controls, the PA has actively promoted religious hatred, demonization, conspiracy libels, etc. These are packaged to present Israelis and Jews as endangering Palestinians, Arabs, and all humanity. This ongoing campaign has so successfully instilled hatred that fighting, murder and even suicide terror against Israelis and Jews are seen by the majority of Palestinians as justified self-defense and as Allah's will.

The charter of Hamas quotes the Hadith:

The Prophet, Allah's prayer and peace be upon him, says: "The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,' except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews." (Recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim).

Kershner is familiar with this incitement, having written about Palestinian Media Watch last year in an article that ran on page sixteen. Nowhere in that previous article does she question "how Palestinian society could have come to this point." The "moral compass" of all Palestinian Arabs is not indicted.

CAMERA has previously reported on "The Times' obsession with criticizing Israel" on its editorial pages, "This obsessive hectoring and criticism of Israel contradicts any rational view about what should warrant public concern and attention."

Now, this same policy is applied to the news pages. To run Kershner's story on page one shows a gross lapse in editorial judgment. Clearly, the story is newsworthy, but New York Times editors seem oblivious to reasonable standards about what genuinely merits the most prominent space on their pages.


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