Los Angeles Times Inflates Attacks Against Arabs, Ignores Attacks Against Jews

Consistent with its longstanding pattern of anti-Israel bias, the Los Angeles Times has given front page coverage to the harassment of three Israeli-Arab women living in a largely Jewish area of Jerusalem, while virtually ignoring a spate of recent violent attacks against Jews in or near the city.

Harassment of Arabs Makes the Front Page

On February 5, 1998, the Los Angeles Times ran a 2194 word, front page story entitled “Israeli Arabs in a Jewish neighborhood Know Fear.” In this article, Times reporter Marjorie Miller details the harassment of three Israeli-Arab women who moved into a Jewish neighborhood near the dividing line between east and west Jerusalem. Ms. Miller informs readers that the women feel unwanted in the Jewish neighborhood, have been verbally taunted and have been disturbed twice by late night knocks at their door. Other incidents of harassment experienced by the women include glue and a broken key stuck in their front door lock and two firebombs left on their front porch. Ms. Miller reports that Israeli police believe that the women’s harassers are ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The Israeli-Arab women have the support of the Israeli Government and of many of their neighbors. Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert visited the women and publicly announced that both Jews and Arabs should be allowed to live anywhere in Jerusalem. Olmert explained that the city would pay for the damage to the apartment and offered to find the women a new apartment if they desired to move. Several apartment owners have spontaneously contacted the women, offering to rent them apartments in other west Jerusalem neighborhoods. In addition, Jewish neighbors and students have volunteered to stay with the women. One UCLA graduate student spending a year at Hebrew University often guards the apartment and accompanies the women to and from work.

After documenting the specific accounts of harassment experienced by these women, the article expands its scope, turning to a more general description of anti-Arab sentiments allegedly expressed by Israeli society as a whole. Ms. Miller interviews several Israeli-Arabs who feel that they must “lie low” while in Jewish neighborhoods and explains that “several thousand Arab citizens of Israel opt to live in East Jerusalem or the West Bank . . . and commute to school or jobs in West Jerusalem rather than live in a Jewish neighborhood.”

For example, Knesset member Azmi Bishara was quoted as saying:

I can hardly stand West Jerusalem. They want you to feel all the time that you are an Arab. I would think twice before walking in the Machane Yehuda market or on Ben Yehuda, the pedestrian mall where suicide bombers struck last summer. People look at you, you are stopped three or four times so they can register your ID. It is very unpleasant.

Despite Bishara’s description of discomfort that for him is inescapable in a Jewish city, in this case west Jerusalem, he recently purchased a $250,000 apartment in the heart of Nazerat Illit, a Jewish city in the Galilee. One wonders why Ms. Miller failed to inform readers of Bishara’s choice to live in a largely Jewish town and avoided asking Bishara about the apparent contradiction between his charges and his actions.

Violent Attacks Against Jews Virtually Ignored

The Times’ front page coverage of the harassment of Israeli-Arabs in Jewish neighborhoods sharply contrasts with the paper’s minimal or nonexistent coverage of recent violent, often fatal attacks against Jews.

  1. On November 20, 1997, Gavriel Hirschberg, age 26, was murdered. Gavriel Hirschberg attended the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva and was shot while walking to his home through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Benjamin Dal, age 18, was seriously injured during the same attack. Benjamin Dal also attended the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva.

    The Times ran an 85 word wire-service brief covering this attack on page 22.

  2. On December 31, 1997, Yael Meivar, age 25, was shot. Yael Meivar was driving with her fiance from Ariel University to her home on Moshav Uzziya when she stopped to help a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. As she and her fiance approached the vehicle, they were fired upon. Yael Meivar died six days later on January 6, 1998.

    The Times did not cover this story.

  3. On January 31, 1998, a yeshiva student, age 15, was stabbed in the back. He was walking to the Western Wall for Shabbat prayers when an Arab woman plunged a kitchen knife into the upper part of his back near his spine. He was seriously wounded.

    The Times ran a 127 word wire-service report of this incident on page 9.

  4. On February 5, 1998, a yeshiva student, age 20, was stabbed. He was walking in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City when he was attacked. He underwent major surgery and had one kidney removed.

    The Times did not cover this story.

  5. On February 11, 1998 David Ktorza was stabbed to death minutes from his home in the religious neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. He was on his way to morning prayers when he was attacked. Ktorza recently emigrated to Israel from France and was the father of three young children.

    The Times printed a 198 word story covering this murder on page 12. The report mentioned that Israel Radio claimed the killing might have been a “guerrilla attack” and that a police spokeswomen said that the stabbing appeared “nationalist in motive.” Later, when it was confirmed that terrorists had indeed killed David Ktorza, the Times failed to print a follow-up story.

Over the past three months, Palestinian militants have killed or seriously injured six Israelis. Five of those six Israelis were specifically targeted as Orthodox Jews; four of the six were attacked in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Times has virtually ignored these brutal attacks, dedicating six times as many words to the relatively minor harassment of three Israeli-Arabs living in a Jewish neighborhood. This is the case even though the harassment of these women has been perpetrated by a small group of people or possibly by a single individual and is vehemently denounced in Israel both officially and by many members of the public.

Times editors should end the discriminatory double standard under which the paper downplays or ignores murderous Palestinian attacks against Jews while focusing heavily on relatively minor incidents of harassment against Arabs.

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