In the wake of the brutal murder of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinian terrorists – the terrorists were recorded via the phone of one of the victims shooting and then celebrating – and the brutal murder of a Palestinian teen by Israeli Jewish terrorists, apparently in retaliation, Steven Erlanger’s take away is that Israeli teens in general “hate Arabs.” That’s the conclusion of Erlanger’s front page article in the New York Times, titled Killing of Palestinian Youth Puts an Israeli Focus on Extremism. There were no such conclusions regarding the moral state of Palestinian teens or Palestinian society.
Erlanger can reach his profoundly false conclusion, as we shall see, only by ignoring polling data on the very question of what Israeli teens think.
In his article, with a pro-forma mention of “brutality against innocents” not being new “on either side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Erlanger gets the mildest indirect criticism of Palestinians out of the way and turns with laser-like focus to his real quarry – the alleged moral decay of Israeli society. He starts by enlisting Anshel Pfeffer, whom he describes as “a respected chronicler of Jewish extremism” in Haaretz – respected by whom he doesn’t say. But Pfeffer helpfully informs readers that “moral blindness has afflicted Israelis in general, we are all partners in this, accomplices in complacency, if not in deed.”
So Erlanger and his bosses at the New York Times apparently agree – all Israelis are guilty for the disgraceful actions of a few, and sweeping moral judgements, and even indictments, of Israel are in order.
But this rule apparently applies only to Israel, because just a few days earlier, on July 9, the Times reported on the brutal beating of an inmate at Rikers Island in New York:
Two New York City correction officers and a captain were arrested Wednesday on charges that they handcuffed and beat an inmate unconscious with a baton at Rikers Island and then falsified documents to cover it up, the authorities said.
The Times further reported:
The arrests were part of a months long inquiry by the city’s Investigation Department into “a pattern of lawless conduct at Rikers that must be brought under control,” Mark G. Peters, the department commissioner, said in a statement.
Tellingly, this article appeared not on the front page, but on page 21! And no conclusions were drawn about the deeper meaning of the brutal beating and related similar incidents, including fatal ones, at the prison. There were absolutely no suggestions that the conduct of the Rikers officials signaled the moral decay of American society. There were no “experts” quoted as saying that we are all responsible.
Unfortunately, the double standard at the Times when it comes to moral indictments of Israel is not new; this is just the latest example.
But the double standards in Erlanger’s article were just beginning, for he was not content to just quote the “respected” Anshel Pfeffer. To administer the coup de grÃ¢ce, Erlanger turned to one Tamir Lion:
… an anthropologist who studies youth, [who] said he was troubled by the changing attitudes among Israel’s young people. For many years, Mr. Lion interviewed soldiers about why they chose to enter combat units. “The answers,” he said on Israel Radio, “were always about the challenge, to show I could make it, the prestige involved.”
That began to change in 2000, he said. “I started to get answers — not a lot, but some — like: ‘To kill Arabs.’ The first time I heard it, it was at the time of the large terror attacks, and since then it has not stopped.
Mr. Lion, head of research at the Ethos Institute, said he was troubled. “Today I can say, and everyone who works with youth will say it, Jewish youth in Israel hate Arabs without connection to their parents or their own party affiliation and their own political opinions.”
Really? Jewish youth hate Arabs? Did Erlanger and his editors find this charge so obvious and so compelling, that there was no need to, for example, consult other experts who might disagree? Like for example, a pollster?
As it turns out there is recent credible polling data, right in the middle of the period referred to by Lion, that demolishes Lion’s and Erlanger’s core claim.
The survey in question was carried out by the Maagar Mohot Survey Institute, headed by Professor Yitzchak Katz, for Tel Aviv University’s School of Education and the Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel.
In a representative sampling of Israeli youth, age 15-18, published in March 2010, respondents were asked a number of questions including:
Do you think that the slogan “death to the Arabs” is legitimate or racist and illegitimate?
That is, 73% of Jews between the ages of 15 and 18 thought the chant “Death to the Arabs” was racist and illegitimate. Does that sound like they hate Arabs?
Would you be prepared to have an Arab friend of the same sex?
Again, does this support the charge that Israeli Jewish teens hate Arabs, when despite the suicide bombings these kids grew up with, almost two thirds of them would be prepared to have an Arab friend?
One has to wonder at the defective moral compass, not to mention the journalistic ineptitude, exhibited by Erlanger and his editors. Toxic brew does not even come close to describing it.