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Media Analyses





Updated: The New York Times Continues Its Irresponsible Reporting on the Arab-Israeli Conflict


On April 30, a 31-year-old Israeli father of five, Evyatar Borovsky, was stabbed to death at the Tapuach junction in Samaria by a Palestinian terrorist who then seized the victim's gun and shot at border police in the area. According to Palestinian Media Watch, Fatah's Facebook administrator posted pictures of both the terrorist and victim, celebrating the attack and glorifying the terrorist as "the hero, the released prisoner, Salam Al-Zaghal." Several hours later, the Israel Air Force struck and killed a Palestinian terrorist, Haitham al-Mishal, who was involved in the rocket attacks on Eilat two weeks ago.

An article about the two attacks by Isabel Kershner and Fares Akram was posted on the New York Times web site.. Although the stabbing by the Palestinian perpetrator was the first event to take place, the lead sentence placed its emphasis on the later attack, with Israel as the actor. Worse yet, the headline did not bother to include any mention at all of the Palestinian attack or Israeli victim. The headline and lead were thus clear in what New York Times journalists saw as the main story:

 

An objective and straightforward accounting of events would have included both actions in the headline and might have recounted the events chronologically. For example:

Israeli Civilian and Palestinian Militant (Terrorist) Killed in Two Separate Attacks

JERUSALEM — An Israeli civilian was stabbed to death by a Palestinian in the West Bank on Tuesday, and several hours later, a Palestinian militant (terrorist) was killed in an Israeli missile strike in Gaza.

But The New York Times once again departed from journalistic objectivity to repeat its pattern of emphasizing Israeli actions and Palestinian victims while downplaying the converse. This pattern was clearly documented in CAMERA's recent monograph, Indicting Israel: New York Times Coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict  which noted in the chapter "Violence Double Standards" that coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was marked by an unmistakable double standard that increased attention on Israeli military strikes while downplaying Palestinian violence. During the study time period, 12 headlines implicated Israel for killing Palestinians while 0 headlines implicated Palestinians for killing Israelis, even though 14 Israelis were killed as a result of Palestinian aggression during this time.

Another recent example that illustrates the pattern of biased reporting that the CAMERA monograph documents was the pejorative editorializing by New York Times reporters in an article about Israel's intelligence assessment that the Syrian government is employing chemical weapons. Israel's top intelligence analyst, Brigadier General Itai Brun, announced on April 21 that Israel has evidence the Syrian government is using chemical weapons against the rebels– a claim the U.S. administration initially expressed skepticism about, before conceding its truth. Israel's evidence corroborated the claims by England,France,and Qatar.

An April 27th article, published by The New York Times, "Israel Sees U.S. Response To Syria as Gauge on Iran," included an assertion by reporters David Sanger and Jodi Rudoren that  Israel  appeared to be "egging on" Mr. Obama toward taking action.

This was not the case, as a subsequent article by Ethan Bronner ("Israel Says It Is Not Seeking U.S. Intervention in Syria" ) two days later made clear. Indeed, even the April 27th article could not point to any evidence that Israel was "egging on" the US to take action. Admitting that "officials also conceded that none of the military options were good," the reporters nevertheless did not refrain from using the pejorative term "egging on" when describing Israel's intelligence assessment. Moreover, the term "egging on" was only used in connection with Israel's intelligence assesment – not with those of France, the UK, or Qatar.

The term "egging on" has the negative connotation of inciting, prodding, or encouraging foolish or undesirable behavior. Its use illustrates the apparent lack of constraint on reporters in using unsupported, pejorative editorial statements about Israeli leaders, society, and policy — an issue demonstrated repeatedly in CAMERA's monograph.

The question is: when will The New York Times stop abandoning journalistic standards and begin reporting responsibly on the Arab-Israeli conflict?

UPDATE: The New York Times Changes Headline on Web Site and in Print Edition

Following CAMERA's communication with The New York Times, the headline was changed both online and in the print edition.  The headline now reads:

"Gazan Killed After Israeli Is Stabbed to Death in the West Bank"


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