The New York Times holds its own skewed view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, according to which Israel is always to blame. It tries to impose this perspective on its readers by carefully choosing which facts to present and which to conceal. This selective approach distorts even otherwise informative articles such as Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren’s recent article about a meeting between Hebron Arabs and Jews (“Barefoot in a Tent, Neighbors Trading Vows of Mideast Peace,” July 7, 2011). Below is the information that was chosen to be included in the article and that which was omitted.
Information included in the article
Hebron, home to about 150,000 Palestinians and 900 Jews, has been practically the opposite of peaceful since Israel began occupying the West Bank in 1967. Its Cave of the Patriarchs was the site of a massacre in 1994 when Baruch Goldstein, a doctor from the large neighboring settlement of Kiryat Arba, killed 29 Muslims praying at the mosque. It was the only city excluded from the Oslo accords, and it was the subject of its own pact in 1997 separating the two communities and restricting their movements. Clashes continue, sometimes daily.
The message conveyed: Jewish settlers are violent interlopers in Hebron: It is only since Israel “began occupying” Hebron after1967 that clashes and violence began. This is evidenced by the violent massacre in 1994 of peaceful Arabs by a Jewish settler. And this sort of violence continues today.
Information omitted from the article
Hebron is one of Judaism’s four holy cities (the others are Jerusalem, Safed, and Tiberias). In addition to the Cave of the Patriarchs, which contains the remains of the matriarchs and patriarchs, there are several other sites holy to Jews in Hebron. With few interruptions, Hebron was inhabited since biblical times by Jews. A massacre by Arab rioters in 1929 put an end to the ancient Jewish community. Sixty-seven Jews were brutally slain, 60 others were wounded, and the rest forced to flee. (For more details, see 1929 Hebron Massacre .)
After Jordan occupied Hebron in 1948, Jews were barred from living there and from praying at the Cave of the Patriarchs. And for the next 20 years, Hebron became an area where no Jew was allowed. Jordan’s 1950 annexation of this territory was viewed as illegal by the vast majority of the international community.
In April 1968, after Israel gained control of the territory, a small group of Israelis attempted to re-establish the Jewish community there. Israeli settlers, soldiers and visitors who came to the Cave of the Patriarchs were frequently subject to Arab violence. In 1976, Arabs destroyed the synagogue at the Cave of the Patriarchs and burned Torah scrolls. In May 1980, six Yeshiva students were killed and 20 wounded by Palestinian terrorists as they returned from prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs and in 1983, another yeshiva student was gunned down in the center of Hebron. Hebron was the scene of even more violence during the first intifada and after the Oslo Agreements when Jewish settlers were the victims of stabbings, firebombings and shootings. For example, in March 2001, a Jewish infant was targeted and shot dead by a Palestinian gunman and in November 2002, twelve security personnel—including civilian guards, border policemen and soldiers—were ambushed and killed as they accompanied worshippers returning from prayers at the Cave of the Patriarch. A Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was established in 1997. In 2002, two TIPH members were shot and killed just outside Hebron by Palestinian gunmen. And in 2006, TIPH temporarily withdrew from Hebron after its headquarters were attacked and destroyed by Muslims angered about cartoons of Mohammed published in a Danish magazine.
The message omitted: Jews have a long history in Hebron and re-settled there after having been slaughtered, expelled and then barred from returning. A massacre in 1929 by local Arabs against their Jewish neighbors was followed, after Jews returned there in 1968, by many other Arab attacks against Jewish inhabitants of Hebron and even against international peacekeepers.
It would appear that, when it comes to Israel, the famous motto of The Times – “all the news that’s fit to print” – is more honored in the breach than in the observance.