More Anti-Israel Bias from The New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren

An analysis of Palestinian and Israeli societal attitudes, published on the front page of The New York Times and written by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, provides an exemplar of how the newspaper inverts the truth, cherry-picks citations, omits relevant and crucial information to stack the deck against Israel and portray it as the primary culprit in the conflict.

The article appeared in the print edition under the headline “In the Battleground of Words, Hatred and Muddied Reality” and online under the headline “In Gaza, Epithets Are Fired and Euphemisms Give Shelter.” It might more aptly have been titled, “Hamas and Israel are equally bad—but Israel is worse.”

Quantitative Disproportion

While print and online headlines suggest a moral equation between both sides on the “battleground of words,” the article spends far more space endeavoring to implicate Israel than the Hamas. More than three times as much space is focused on Israel allegedly demonizing and inciting against Hamas (509 words) than on Hamas engaged in PR efforts, boasts or threats to Israel (149 words). Furthermore, Rudoren sought out three sources to criticize Israeli speech and attitudes, but not a single source to criticize Palestinian rhetoric.

Invalid Comparisons and Missing Information

Nor does Rudoren compare apples to apples. She and her selected sources accuse Israel of “dehumanizing” Palestinians, but conceal the egregious and ubiquitous examples of Hamas hate speech.

To substantiate her charge of “dehumanizing language used by Israeli leaders,” Rudoren cites Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s use of the word “beasts” to describe Palestinian terrorists who kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens, then celebrated their murders; she also turns to a Palestinian activist who levels the patently false accusation that it is not only at the extremes, but “everywhere” in Israeli society, that people chant “death to the Arabs.”

In contrast to these false and twisted claims concerning Israeli leaders and society, Rudoren withholds the most obvious examples of Palestinians “dehumanizing” Israelis and Jews. These are staples of both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s official media, often coming directly from Palestinian officials, and often go as far as to include genocidal rhetoric.

For example, a recent Hamas television broadcast called for “giving the skulls of your midgets [Israelis] as gifts for our children’s feet to play with at the Gaza World Cup” (Hamas Al Aqsa TV, July 11, 2014). A Hamas children’s program, broadcast within the last few months, taught pre-schoolers that it was meritorious to kill Jews —not only some, but “all of them” (Hamas Al Aqsa TV, May 2, 2014). And an Op-Ed last week by a PLO official in the PA daily Al Hayat Al Jadida asserted that Gaza is “on the first line of defense in the battle of humanity against the dogs.”

These are not the only examples that Rudoren conceals from readers. When she notes that Israel describes Gazan victims as “human shields” and Hamas as “heartless terrorists,” Rudoren avoids citing anything that might substantiate such Israeli claims. For example, Rudoren makes no mention of the public Palestinian television broadcast where Hamas senior spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri urged Gazans to stay in their homes and act as human shields rather than heed Israel’s warning to flee. Instead, Rudoren implies that Israel’s characterization of Hamas and its Palestinian victims is just an example of  Israelis dehumanizing Gazans and demonizing Hamas.

By contrast, Rudoren portrays Hamas as guilty of  lesser infractions: boastful claims, vague threats of revenge, and spinning the news.  It is only by leaving out the true extent and nature of Palestinian rhetoric that Rudoren can hope to convince readers that it is Israeli rhetoric, and not Palestinian hate speech, that is the demonizing force in the region.

The reporter also downplays the extreme vitriol aimed at Israel and its supporters on social media. “Palestinian supporters traced to Israeli teenagers countless posts on Twitter demanding death to all Arabs” she writes, contrasting this with, “Israel backers collect comparisons of their leadership to Nazis.”

It is noteworthy that Rudoren takes care not to identify who is making the “comparisons” between Israel’s leaders and Nazis. Perhaps this is because such inflammatory language has come even from Mahmoud Abbas, the leader described as “moderate” by the New York Times. He accused Israel of committing “genocide” in Gaza and invoked “Auschwitz” in reference to the murder by Jewish terrorists of an Arab teenager, although this atrocity was severely condemned by virtually all Israeli leaders and the entire society.  

Rudoren thus singles out Netanyahu for calling terrorists “beasts,” but avoids any mention of Abbas’ Nazi comparisons.

And while she implies a moral equivalence between both sides on twitter accounts, citing the hashtags #GazaUnderAttack vs. #IsraelUnderFire, she omits the much more incendiary trending hashtags by Hamas supporters, both those accusing Israel of employing Nazi tactics— #GenocideInGaza and those that support Hitler’s extermination of the Jewish people—#HitlerWasRight.

With her inversion of reality, selective citations, withholding of relevant and crucial information, and the sort of hollow comparisons that any elementary social science student would recognize as invalid and flawed, Rudoren’s “analysis” is an example of shoddy, biased journalism at its worst.

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