After years of calling out The New York Times on its biased and sub-standard coverage of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict, CAMERA positively notes the seeming improvement in the newspaper’s reporting, evidenced by a slew of journalistically solid, factually accurate, objective stories about the region. (For example, “Aided by the Sea, Israel Overcomes an Old Foe: Drought,” “Gazans’ Hopes for Rebuilding After War Give Way to Deeper Despair,” “Hamas Fatally Shoots a Leader Islamic Extremists in Gaza” (online headline: “Hamas Forces Kill Leader of Islamic Splinter Group in Gaza” ), “Sephardic Jews Feel Bigotry’s Sting in Turkey and a Pull Back to Spain,” “New Hope For Families After Years of Silence.” (online headline: “Families of 1972 Munich Victims Find New Hope for Remembrance“).
It is conspicuous, however, that none of these were authored by the Times‘ Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren. With too few exceptions, the bureau chief follows a pattern of tendentious, shoddy reporting focused on faulting Israel, its leaders, society and policies for the ills of the region. CAMERA has documented many of her favorite ploys, including cherry-picking the information she shares with readers, concealing statements and facts that contradict her thesis; pejoratively characterizing those she wants to discredit, and/or presenting detractors of Israel who bolster her message as unbiased, neutral sources.
A recent piece, entitled “Israel’s Foreign Ministry Issues Report Defending Conduct in Gaza War,” published on June 15, 2015, includes some examples from her portfolio of stratagems to skew the story against Israel.
At the top of the article, the reporter declares that “Israel has refused to cooperate with the United Nations Human Rights Council’s inquiry into the 50-day conflict, denouncing it as biased.”
Unlike others who reported on the same story, however, she provides no information as to why Israel might perceive the UNHRC as biased. The Washington Post, by contrast, explains that
Israel has declined to cooperate with the U.N. fact-finding mission, citing what it calls prejudicial resolutions by the U.N. council and its experience with a previous U.N. investigation into Israel’s military during the 2008-2009 Gaza war. That report was chaired by the South African jurist Richard Goldstone, who in 2011 withdrew a sensational charge contained in his report — that it was Israel’s policy to intentionally target civilians.
Casting doubt on the reliability of those defending Israeli military actions in last summer’s Gaza war by presenting their statements as partisan propaganda, Rudoren shares with readers truncated quotes, discarding the parts that do not support her message. For example, she selectively cites Dore Gold to say:
“We need to put forward our story.” (From Gold’s press conference.)
Mr. Gold described the [Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs’] monograph on the war as an attempt “to create an Israeli narrative.”
What she deceptively omits are his comments explaining that
“Having on the record our view of this war is extremely important, and we have nothing to hide.” (From Gold’s press conference),
“While written from an Israeli perspective, this is not a document intended to negate criticism of Israel’s actions during the war or improve Israel’s image in the eyes of the world.
It has but one goal: to relate the truth as it happened; a truth obfuscated by the fog of war and lost in the immediacy of reportage from the battlefield; a truth perverted by those who had interest in doing so, and abused again by the one-sided mandate issued by the UN Human Rights Council” (From Gold’s preface to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs monograph.)
Similarly, Rudoren chooses not to quote, as other media outlets covering the story did, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hatovely from the same press conference, stating that Israel “is not afraid of the truth” and “not afraid to use every means available to investigate ourselves.”
Presenting Critics of Israel as Reliable, Neutral Sources Belying Sources That Support Israel
The report said Israel followed the principle of proportionality for collateral damage when hitting targets. Yet previous studies by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem and others documenting strikes on Palestinian homes that wiped out entire families cited international law to make the opposite point. And a report published last month by Breaking the Silence, an Israeli group, compiled devastating testimony from scores of soldiers saying permissive rules of engagement and indiscriminate artillery fire contributed to mass civilian casualties.
With her use of the word “yet,” Rudoren suggests that studies by agenda-driven groups condemning Israel are more reliable than the Israeli report defending IDF actions. This suggestion is underscored by the fact that the reporter fails to accurately characterize these groups as partisan.
She provides no hint that Amnesty International has, for years now, pursued an anti-Israel agenda, its original mission corrupted by activists intent on ostracizing the Jewish state. (See, for example, “Amnesty International’s Anti-Israel Activism” and “Amnesty International’s Deceipt” ).
She includes nothing to suggest that Human Rights Watch is so deeply biased against Israel that its founder, Robert Bernstein,
wrote several opinion articles denouncing the organization for its unfair treatment of Israel, that a senior staffer had publicly supported violence against Jews and the destruction of the Jewish state, and that information disseminated by the organization has been demonstrably false. (See, for example, “Human Rights Watch Goes to Bat for Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV,” Joe Stork, Senior Human Rights Watch Staffer, Supported Violence against Jews and Israel’s Destruction,” and “Low-Hanging Fruit: Human Rights Watch and Palestinian Child Laborers.” )
She portrays B’tselem as “an Israeli rights group” without noting that the group focuses its efforts almost entirely on denouncing Israel under the guise of Palestinian rights and has routinely misrepresented the facts to promote its agenda. (See, for example, “B’Tselem Photographer Stages Scene,” “B’Tselem’s Annual Casualty Figures Questioned,” “In 2007, B’Tselem Casualty Count Doesn’t Add Up,” and “B’Tselem, Los Angeles Times Redefine ‘Civilian’,” “Bending the Truth.”)
And, perhaps most egregiously, Rudoren describes “Breaking the Silence” simply as “an Israeli group” concealing the fact that this largely European-funded group’s mission is to promote charges of “war crimes” against Israel and publicly demonize Israel’s military to foreign audiences. Their allegations are leveled from behind a cloak of anonymity, as the accusers withhold their own identities, the identities of other individuals involved, and the specifics that might enable verification of their charges. They steadfastly refuse to provide the authorities with evidence for their allegations, despite the Israeli army’s injunction to report any violation of regulations that results in harm to noncombatants. (See, for example, “Breaking the Silence and the British Media,” “A Closer Look At Who Funds Breaking the Silence.”)
Rudoren, however, treats these unverifiable allegations as fact, characterizing the group’s anonymous, unproven charges against Israeli military conduct as “devastating testimony.” And while she casts doubt throughout the article on the claims of those defending Israeli military actions, Rudoren describes the questionable studies by the above-mentioned anti-Israel groups as “documenting” the facts.