New Year, Same Old New York Times Bias

Update: Following correspondence with CAMERA, The New York Times has made a number of corrections to the article. See below for details.
It may be the Jewish new year, but some things don’t change from year to year, The New York Times’ tendentious coverage of Israel, among them. Thus, yesterday’s coverage of violence at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and in other parts of the city got off to a bad start yesterday with the false headline, “Jewish Man Dies as Rocks Pelt His Car in West Bank.”

Alexander Levlovich was killed in Jerusalem overnight Sunday, on the road next to the neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv, in a part of the city over the pre-1967 Green Line. He was not killed in the West Bank.

As the article correctly reports: “A statement from the Israeli police said the assailants were throwing stones on Sunday night on a road that runs between a Palestinian and Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem.” (See update below.)

New York Times Covers Up Palestinian Violence

As is their wont,  New York Times journalists have yet again attempted to conceal or whitewash Palestinian violence.  Both the reporter and the headline writer go to absurd lengths to hide the straightforward fact that Palestinian stone-throwers targeting Israelis succeeded in killing an Israeli Jew. 
According to the headline, it was inanimate “rocks” that  were pelting a car ,while according to the lede, unidentified “attackers” were targeting not the car, but merely the “road.”  (“A Jewish man died early Monday morning after attackers pelted the road he was driving on with rocks…”)   Neither the headline nor the lede notes that it was Palestinian attackers who pelted the Israeli with stones.

There is no such cover-up when Palestinians are the victims of violent Israeli actions. For example, articles about a deadly firebombing in the Arab village of Duma whose perpetrators were suspected Israelis repeatedly referred to “Jewish arsonists,” “Jewish extremists,” etc.

Later in the article, reporter Diaa Hadid inserts a blanket justification for Palestinian stone-throwers:

Palestinians frequently argue that rocks and crude incendiary devices are among their only weapons to press for independence, and to defend themselves against Israeli forces during confrontations. For some young Palestinians in areas where there are frequent tensions, their use has become a rite of passage.

The reference to a “rite of passage” reflects a New York Times habit of referring to Palestinian stone-throwers in heroic terms. CAMERA, for instance, faulted an earlier story (“In A West Bank Culture of Conflict, Boys Wield The Weapon At Hand”) in which bureau chief Jodi Rudoren romanticized Palestinian stone-throwers as pursuing a “hobby” and “rite of passage” in assaulting Israelis with rocks and other objects.

Did Police Enter Al-Aqsa Mosque?

In a second factual error which requires correction, Diaa Hadid incorrectly reported that police “entered the contested holy site of the Al Aqsa Mosque.” The article errs: “In East Jerusalem, Ms. Samri, the police spokeswoman, said protesters had thrown rocks at officers who had entered the contested holy site of the Al Aqsa Mosque . . . ” Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed with CAMERA today that no police entered the mosque.

Holy Only to Muslims?

On a separate, but no less problematic issue, the article cites the Temple Mount’s sacred status in Islam (third holiest), but outrageously ignores the fact that the very same site is the most sacred in Judaism.

Thus, the article reports:

In East Jerusalem, Ms. Samri, the police spokeswoman, said protesters had thrown rocks at officers who had entered the contested holy site of the Al Aqsa Mosque — revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, one of the three holiest sites in Islam — so they could allows non-Muslim, including Jews, to enter the area.

Clearly, the fact that the site is Judaism’s holiest is absolutely essential to readers’ understanding about why Jews are entering the (third most) sacred Islamic site. Incidentally, this is not the first time that Hadid has ignored the Temple Mount’s status as Judaism’s most sacred site while highlighting that it is the third most sacred site in Islam. (In the earlier instance, editors commendably added in the critical information about Judaism. We have made the request that the information be added in this week’s article as well.)

It is also notable that while the reporter makes explicit reference to “nationalist Jewish activists,” she is less forthcoming about the “nationalist” nature of activists funded by extremist Islamists. She writes of “an organization of Muslim women who chase and shout at Jewish visitors at the holy site, along with an affiliated, less-vocal group of men. The government accused both groups of inciting violence.” (Again, per common Times practice, Palestinian incitement and violence is cast as an Israeli governmental accusation, as if it can’t actually be confirmed.)

But these are not a grassroots, ad hoc civics group. The Muslim guards, or “Mourabitoun” in Arabic, are “funded by various Islamist parties, including some extremist groups in Israel,”Haaretz reported. Haaretz’s Amos Harel detailed:

A senior security official told Haaretz that the defense establishment has learned that the Mourabitoun guards receive a monthly salary of between 3,000 and 4,000 shekels ($776 – $1036). Some of the funds come from the Gulf States, through the occupied territories by way of couriers, and from there the money makes its way into East Jerusalem. Recently, the Shin Bet and Israel Police apprehended a courier at the Jordanian border in possession of 1 million shekels, meant for the Mourabitoun guards.

Of their activities, Harel writes: “In many cases, the guards, particularly the females, have been involved in clashes with the Israel Police
or Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount.”

Finally, the article also egregiously omits mention of the fact that the Palestinians barricaded in the mosque Sunday armed themselves with a cache of pipe bombs. Thus, Hadid writes: “The violence began Sunday, when youths holed up in the mosque overnight, hoping to confront the police and Jewish visitors.”

But, as was widely reported, including at Times of Israel:

The round of violence began Sunday morning, with security forces seizing pipe bombs at the flashpoint site — holy to Jews and Muslims — in an operation carried out hours before Jews prepared to celebrate the new year. The Shin Bet security service alerted police to the cache, apparently an effort by Palestinians to stock up on bombs, flares and rocks ahead of an organized riot. (Emphases added.)

The Times made no mention of any pipebombs, flares or rocks.

Update, 10:40 am EST (Sept. 16): Times Corrects Headline

Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, editors have corrected the headline. It now states:

In addition, editors commendably have appended the following correction to the bottom of the article, notifying readers of the change:

Editors have yet to correct the false claim that police entered Al Aqsa mosque. (We have word from Newsweek that a correction of the identical error in a headline at that new site is on the way.) Nor have Times editors added information about the Temple Mount as Judaism’s holiest site. Likewise, they have not included any information about Palestinians storing a cache of pipe bombs in Al Aqsa mosque.
Update II, Sept. 17: Times Corrects: Police Didn’t Enter Mosque & Temple Is Jews’ Holiest Site
Following ongoing communication with CAMERA’s Israel office, The Times has issued a second correction yesterday to the Sept. 15 piece about Temple Mount violence.  The amended text in the online article no longer states that Israeli police entered the mosque, and refers accurately to the officers entering “the holy site,” meaning the Temple Mount. Moreover, thanks to CAMERA’s persistence, the online article now also includes the fact that the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site, along with its status as Islam’s third holiest site.
The correction appended to the bottom of the article makes clear, that contrary to what was reported in the article, police did not enter Al Aqsa mosque. The correction reads:
The article still omits mention of the fact that the banned women in question received funding from various Islamist groups to violently confront Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount.
For additional New York Times corrections prompted by CAMERA, please see here.

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