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Media Analyses





The New York Times' Unique Definition For Israeli Funding


"Find me one factual mistake that we have not corrected," New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren stated at a Nov. 23 panel at Bar-Ilan University. (See video below, at approximately 23:30 minutes.)
 
 
 
While The Times has on many occasions published corrections prompted by CAMERA, it has often also failed to do so. A few weeks ago, for instance, editors declined to correct the blatantly false claim in an Op-Ed by Rula Jebreal that it is “virtually impossible for a Palestinian to buy or rent a home in any majority-Jewish city.”
 
Last week, Times editors again refused to correct a gross misrepresentation, this time regarding the so-called "Nakba Law." The Dec. 8 article ("Israel struggles with its identity") by Rudoren refers to laws that "prohibit funding for groups that commemorate the Nakba, or catastrophe, as Palestinians call their expulsion as Israel was established.")
 
There is no law which prohibits "funding for groups that commemorate the Nakba." This is a rather blanket statement relating to any group of any kind, when in fact the law in question (available on the Knesset site) specifically deals with state-funded bodies. Moreover, the law does not even prohibit funding to state-funded bodies which commemorate the Nakba. Rather, it enables the Minister of Finance, at his or her discretion, to reduce or withhold government funding to such bodies. Thus, even if the government did withhold funding from a body which it had previously supported, private individuals, NGOs and others may still fund the outfit.
 
The law states:

A body which is budgeted (ie, a state-sponsored body) or supported according to clause 21, or a public institution supported according to clause 3a shall not incur expenses in order to engage in activities which involve --

a) 1) the rejection of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish nation; 2) the rejection of the democratic character of the state; 3) support for armed struggle or acts of terror, of an enemy or terror organization, against Israel; 4) incitement to racism, violence, or terror; 5) dishonoring of the national flag or national symbol; In this sub-section, "expense" -- includes waiving income. (b) If the Finance Minister sees that a state budgeted or supported body does not abide by this clause, he is entitled to withhold funds from the state budget that are supposed to be transferred to the said body . . .

Haaretz's English edition has previously corrected this identical error. On May 9, 2012, Haaretz incorrectly reported in English:

In January, the High Court of Justice upheld the controversial Nakba Law passed by the Knesset in March, which fines bodies who openly reject Israel as a Jewish state.

Haaretz editors subsequently corrected: "An article by Talila Nesher ('Tel Aviv University students to mark Nakba Day on campus,' May 9) incorrectly stated which bodies are affected by the Nakba Law. The law applies to bodies that receive state funding and not as published."
 
When presented with this information, an unnamed "Assistant to the Senior Editor for Standards" at The New York Times responded:
After consulting with the reporter and an editor on the International desk, we've concluded that no correction is necessary to the article in question. We believe the paragraph in which laws "that prohibit funding for groups that commemorate the Nakba" are described is very clearly referring to restrictions on government financing — and not private contributions, which are not usually described as "funding" — and we remain confident that no readers were misled by published language.
Even if article did make clear that the legislation applies only to public funding (in fact, the report contains no indication that "funding" means "government" funding), the characterization of the law is still wrong. The law does not prohibit government funding to state-funded groups that commemorate the "Nakba." Instead, it "entitles" the Finance Minister to withhold state funding; it does not compel him to.
 
In addition, in countless instances, including one as recent as today, The New York Times has used the word "funding" to refer to non-governmental contributions.
 
Just in the first week or so of this month, The Times reported:
It's fraught with, Are we going to lose funding from alumni who value the traditions? (Dec. 15, 2014)
 
And though Arts Mid-Hudson [a non-profit] administers grants to local artists, including $100,000 it received from the state council in 2014 that Ms. Marston-Reid said supported 50 to 70 area projects, Dr. Adema's work does not emphasize funding (Dec. 14).
 
The study, by researchers at the University of Texas and URS, a consulting firm - with the cooperation of (and some funding from) the oil and gas industry and Environmental Defense Fund (more on that below)- shows that much of the pollution problem lies in a small subset of poorly operating systems or faulty processes - in this case valves run pneumatically using the pressure of extracted gas and operations that clear liquids from older wells (Dec. 10, 2014)
 
Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat, was called to testify before an investigative committee in the Missouri House of Representatives in response to a New York Times article that examined the emerging practice of corporations' lobbying state attorneys general, giving generously to their campaigns and funding their lavish travel (Dec. 9, 2014).
 
Several of those favoring Title II, meanwhile, have received funding from organizations affiliated with companies that support strong regulation. (Dec. 8)
There was also this correction Dec. 4:
The Personal Health column on Tuesday about the FVRx program to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables referred imprecisely to the program's creation and its funding.While the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Wholesome Wave and the city's Health and Hospital Corporation were all involved, Wholesome Wave created the program, not the Tisch Fund. And the grant from the Tisch Fund for the program was $500,000 over two years, not $15 million over five years, which was the amount for all of the fund's ''Healthy Food and Community Change' initiatives."
 
"I call it creating more fiscal responsibility, because really we could, I guess, choose to rely on wealthy individuals who keep putting their hands up and providing the funding for this." (Dec. 3)
 
"The filmmakers said that as a matter of journalistic independence, they do not accept funding from the subject of a film." (Dec. 2)
 
"Mr. Epurescu, who works at a Bucharest scientific institute, said his group gets no Russian or other outside funding beyond small donations from activists." (Emphases add throughout, Dec. 1)
Thus, in the last two weeks alone, Times has used the word "funding" to refer to contributions from alumni, non-profit organizations, large industries, environmental organizations, corporations, private funds (Tisch), wealthy individuals, subjects of a film, and activists. In short, in no way is "funding" restricted to government financing. The bottom line there is no way readers would know that the supposed law "prohibit[ing] funding for groups that commemorate the Nakba, or catastrophe, as Palestinians call their expulsion as Israel was established" refers only to government funding to specifically state-funded groups.
 
Thus, after an editor of Times Op-Eds acknowledged a double standard for Israelis versus Palestinians, a standards editor at the paper has also set a new standard for defining Israeli "funding."
 
Nazareth Versus Upper Nazareth
 
The Times does appear to have agreed to correct a second factual error in the same Dec. 8 article. The article erred: "Professor Jamal said the Arab city of Nazareth has twice the population but 5 percent of the land of its neighbor, predominantly Jewish Upper Nazareth. . . " According to a 2010 document published by the Nazareth municipality, there are some 78,000 residents and the area of Nazareth is 14,000 some dunums. 
 
According a separate report issued by the municipality of Upper Nazareth, Upper Nazareth's population at the end of 2011 was 40,600 and the city totals some 33,000 dunums.
 
Thus, the Arab city of Nazareth has 42 percent of the land of its neighbor Upper Nazareth, a predominantly Jewish city with an Arab population of 17.7 percent. (Does Rula Jebreal, who maintains that it is "virtually impossible for a Palestinian to buy or rent a home in any majority-Jewish city," allege that nearly 18 percent of Upper Nazareth's population is inhabiting park benches or homeless shelters?)
 
A Times representative has confirmed CAMERA's figures for the two Nazareths, and thus it does seem that a correction on this point is slated to run.
 
 

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