Another Week, Another Example of Bias at The New York Times

Nearly every week, the New York Times provides another example of its bias against Israel. The most recent is Jodi Rudoren’s Oct. 8th article about a group of Knesset members who met Palestinian president Abbas at his headquarters in Ramallah. The New York Times version of the meeting differs in many respects from other accounts in the media. Unlike others, Rudoren’s article becomes a vehicle to denigrate Israel’s leader, with the injection of editorial comments and opinion to portray him as an obstructionist compared to the Palestinian leader who is shown as a peacemaker.

The most obvious editorializing comes in Rudoren’s labelling of recent remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as”strident” and “derisive” and her negative comparison of the Israeli leader to a “conciliatory” Palestinian President Abbas:

The conciliatory tone [of Abbas] was a sharp contrast to a strident speech the night before by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel that many analysts said had sought to appease conservatives skeptical of the peace talks. Mr. Netanahu derisively recounted the support that a long-ago Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem provided the Nazis, and said that there could be an agreement only if the Palestinian leadership recognized Israel as a Jewish state, a notion it has long rejected.

Is this an accurate or fair comparison?

Not only is the comparison itself flawed, but Rudoren’s negative characterization of Netanyahu’s speech is solely her opinion, not supported by an objective reading of his words. Moreover, a comparison of Rudoren’s coverage of speeches by Israeli and Palestinian leaders demonstrates an overt double standard, with her use of pejoratives reserved only for the Israeli’s words.

Netanyahu’s Oct. 6 speech was given to Israeli scholars and diplomats attending the 20th anniversary conference of Bar-Ilan University’s BESA Center for Strategic Studies. It was not given in the context of diplomatic overtures to the Palestinians. The Israeli leader’s talk detailed the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, providing a historical explanation of political policy for a select group of Israeli scholars. It is therefore not appropriate to compare these remarks with those of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a photo op with Israeli opposition members of Kensset visiting PA headquarters in Ramallah. Rather, the Israeli leader’s speech would be more aptly contrasted with Palestinian President Abbas’ televised remarks to Fatah members and the Palestinian public at a rally marking the anniversary of Fatah’s first armed attack on Israel.

What did Rudoren characterize as “strident”?

Maintaining that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was neither created nor sustained by Israeli settlements in Judea or Samaria, Netanyahu expressed his opinion that the conflict began in 1921 when Palestinian Arabs attacked the immigration hostel in Jaffa. “Clearly this attack was not about territory or settlements;” he said. “It was against Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel.” Netanyahu went on to describe further attacks and massacres by Palestinian Arabs against Jews in 1929, 36, 39, 47, and throughout the 19 years between the establishment of the State of Israel and the 1967 Six-Day-War, all predating the existence of Israeli settlements. Netanyahu pointed out:

There were no settlements for 46 years, from 1921 to 1967, nearly half a century. We were excoriated by the Arab public unrelated to settlements, unrelated to what is presented as the historic heart of the struggle….Later on, events developed as they developed. We withdrew from Gaza, every last centimeter. We uprooted communities and the attacks against us continued – approximately 10,000 missiles were fired at us from Gazan territory, from territories from which we withdrew.

While these remarks may have included inconvenient facts Palestinian leaders might have preferred to avoid, they were hardly “strident.”

What did Rudoren characterize as “derisive”?

Again, these were unpleasant truths about Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin Al Husseini regarding his incitement of Palestinian Arabs to riot and massacre Jews in Palestine in the 1920’s and 30’s and his notorious alliance with Hitler and Nazi Germany. Netanyahu quoted from Husseini’s propaganda at the time:

Here is a typical example of the propaganda broadcast by the Mufti in 1942. I quote, “If England is defeated and its allies overwhelmed, it will provide a final solution to the Jewish question, which in our mind is the greatest danger.”

Now, compare Netanyahu’s review of the history of Jewish-Palestinian relations to Palestinian President Abbas’ televised speech on the occasion of Fatah’s anniversary. There, Abbas declared his renewed “pledge… to continue on the path” of “the leaders from all the fighting factions – all the martyrs.,” and went on to list by name terrorists who had carried out violent and deadly attacks on Israelis. Abbas’ praise extended not only to the founders of Fatah and their militant legacy, but also to those from rival groups such as the violent PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), DFLP (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine), Islamic Jihad, and Hamas. All of them, collectively responsible for the murders of hundreds of Jews, were lauded as martyrs, held up as icons to emulate. Indeed, in his speech Abbas went on to pay homage to the “pioneers,” including the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin Al Husseini – the “long-ago” mufti, in Rudoren’s words – whom Abbas invoked by name.

But in her coverage of the rally and Abbas’ speech, Jodi Rudoren avoided mentioning anything at all about Abbas’ glorification of terrorists, noting only that he spoke about achieving unity with Hamas to “end the occupation” and “raise the Palestinian flag over Al Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem.” Nor did Rudoren use any pejorative words to characterize Abbas’ words.

In her recent article Rudoren not only employed derogatory language to portray Israel’s prime minister negatively, but she also igno
red certain facts that might have diminished the rosy image she was attempting to paint of Palestinian accomodation and compromise. For example, she suggested that Abbas “condemned violence against civilians, including a shooting on Saturday night that wounded a 9-year-old Israeli girl in a West Bank settlement….”

What Rudoren neglected to mention was that Abbas did not specifically condemn the Palestinian shooting of the Israeli child, but rather equated it with the deaths of Palestinians who were killed in clashes that erupted after violent Palestinian rioters attacked Israeli security forces. According to the Jerusalem Post, what Abbas actually said was:

“Two days ago a girl was shot or stabbed. That is not the topic of discussion for today. Four Palestinians were killed in Kalandiya, too,” Abbas stated. “We should all condemn murder and bloodshed of innocents.”

Rudoren also avoided noting the conspicuous absence of any Israeli flag, in sharp contrast to the display of a Palestinian flag alongside an Israeli one when PA politicians were hosted at the Knesset. By contrast, the Times of Israel reported:

Conspicuously absent from all these photographs, indeed absent from the entire room during the entire visit, was the Israeli flag. Not so much as a little one on the table. It made for quite a contrast to the scene on July 31, when members of Bar’s Knesset Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict, hosting PA politicians in the Israeli parliament at a meeting attended by 33 MKs from parties representing 77 of the 120 MKs, held their talks with the Palestinian flag alongside Israel’s behind them — a much-headlined Knesset precedent.

In this way, by reporting only what would enhance the Palestinian leader’s image as peacemaker while disparaging a speech by Israel’s leader that exposes Palestinian malevolence toward Jews, Rudoren succeeds in converting what should have been an objective news story into one that once again whitewashes the Palestinian leader and indicts Israel’s leader.

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