New York Times Coverage of Incitement: A Step in the Right Direction

As part of CAMERA’s ongoing campaign to ensure The New York Times covers the Palestinian-Israeli conflict fairly, fully and accurately, we have often urged the newspaper to cover the climate of Palestinian incitement and hate rhetoric in which Israel must negotiate a peace agreement. An advertisement by CAMERA published in local New York newspapers in December faulted the newspaper for omitting coverage of the most extreme Palestinian genocidal rhetoric against Israelis and Jews.

The New York Times has since then mentioned the disturbing issue of Palestinian incitement – in a Dec. 25 article that quoted Israel’s defense minister linking a Palestinian sniper attack that killed an Israeli laborer to “the atmosphere of incitement and hatred against Israel that dominates the Palestinian Authority,” in a Jan. 4 editorial that called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to “crack down on the incitement of hatred against Israel in Palestinian schools, textbooks and government-controlled media,” and, most prominently, in a Jan. 7 article by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren that provides some of the examples of Palestinian incitement highlighted by Israeli officials and links to the Israeli presentation that documented them.

It is true that the article’s headline places “incitement” in scare quotes (“Israeli Official Points to ‘Incitement’ by Palestinians”) and constantly describes the phenomenon as mere claim by Israeli officials. And it is true that such circumspection and ostensible objectivity are notably absent when the newspaper deals with criticism of Israel — no scare quotes were used when the newspaper slandered Israeli leaders as “shrill,” “strident,” “stubborn,” “abrasive” and “derisive.” But despite this, the piece is one of the most detailed expositions The New York Times, to its credit, has provided to date of the important issue.

Palestinian hate speech, the encouragement of anti-Israel violence, and the denial of Jewish rights to the land matter, because they all serve as potent fuel for the conflict. The type of compromises being asked of the parties to the conflict are difficult on their own, and are all the more difficult when Palestinians are being asked to strike a deal with “barbaric monkeys” and “wretched pigs,” as the Jews are described on Palestinian television. Sustainable peace will require Palestinians to stop rocket attacks from Gaza, stoning attacks in Jerusalem, and bus bombs deep in Tel Aviv — “Peace for Israel means security,” Martin Luther King explained — but when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas embraces Palestinian terrorists responsible for brutally murdering Israeli civilians and describes them as heroes, that encourages Palestinians to view Israelis as legitimate targets. And if Palestinians are told again and again that a Jewish state is illegitimate, or even an offense to God, then the mere existence of that state will feel like a provocation, before or after a peace treaty is signed.

Hatred obstructs peace. That is why Jodi Rudoren’s article is important, and why The New York Times needs to deal with Palestinian incitement, forthrightly and consistently, so long as the phenomenon exists. Just as Israeli announcements of settlement plans make headlines at the newspaper no matter how many similar headlines have appeared before, coverage must be given to Palestinian hate rhetoric that equates Jews with Nazis, crusaders or pigs and that urges the murder of Israeli and Jews.

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