Amid Chaos, Israelis Take a Stoic View, a front page New York Times article by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren (Aug. 29), contained no breaking news from Israel, nor was it an in-depth analysis of a current issue. Instead it was about Israeli reaction to the turmoil in Egypt and Syria, and it was the fifth article by Rudoren this year to include accusations of Israeli societal racism or sexism. You’ve got to hand it to the reporter – she certainly knows where to turn for quotes that impugn Israeli society.
In January she turned to Nadim Nashef, whom she described simply as “the director of Baladna, a Haifa-based youth organization,” to discuss the Arab vote in Israeli national elections. In fact, Baladna is known for fostering a culture of grievance and separatism among Arab-Israeli youth. For example, it launched a campaign opposing national service by Arab citizens of Israel (who are exempt from military service, if they choose not to serve) with the argument that such service is “a branch of the occupation army, which has always acted against the Arab-Israeli population and the Palestinian people in general.”
While Rudoren did not bother to inform readers of the youth organization’s core negative stance against Israel, she did leave readers with a quote from the organization’s director alleging Israeli racism:
“Israel is using the Arab parties and the Arab citizens voting to say it’s a democracy; it’s not,” he said. ”But then we need some kind of voice for our community, some people to speak out against racist rules and racist legislation.”
Not two weeks later, Rudoren introduced Moshe Zimmerman as a historian who specializes in sports, to assert that rowdy, xenophobic soccer fans in Israel represent the country’s society that “on the whole is getting more racist.” Again, she left out certain facts about her source. She neglected to tell readers that Zimmerman is less known for sports than for his penchant for signing anti-Israel petitions, and making derogatory statements about Israelis, including comparisons to Nazis and Hitlerjugend (Hitler youth).
In the same article Rudoren also cited others to allege Israeli racism – representatives of the Mossawa Center, whom she described as advocates “for civil and human rights.” What she failed to inform readers was that the organization is well known for its active opposition and attempts to delegitimize the Jewish state. She also cited Adalah, which she described as “a legal center for Arabs in Israel” that “counted 20 discriminatory laws passed by the current government.” What she neglected to tell readers was that laws Adalah labels discriminatory include revoking the citizenship of those convicted of terrorism; withdrawing salaries from Knesset members found guilty of serious crime; and failing to provide government funding for rallies and activities opposing Israel as a Jewish state.
Rudoren’s Aug. 29th front-page story was about the response of Israelis to “the chemical attacks to the north in Syria and the military crackdown against Islamists to the south in Egypt” and consisted of selected man-in-the-street interviews. And again Rudoren included a quote designating Israeli soceity as increasingly “racist.” This time, Rudoren quoted Eva Illouz, a sociologist and president of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, to assert that events in Syria and Egypt “rigidify the already powerful racist tendencies in Israeli society.”
It is noteworthy that the same Eva Illouz had recently published a column in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz contending that
A country based on Jewishness that exists in so many institutionalized ways creates intolerable inequalities and exclusions.
Can it be a surprise, then, this academic would give a quote about Israeil societal racism?
The concept that it is racist for a Jewish state to exist hearkens back to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution in 1975 defining Zionism as a form of racism. The singling out of the Jewish national movement to be condemned and delegitimized was initiated by the Soviet Union and the PLO. It culminated in the UNGA resolution that was supported by the Arab world. That resolution was subsequently repealed in 1991, but there are those who are still opposed to and determined to delegitimize the concept of a Jewish state. They constitute just a marginal element inside Israel.
To repeatedly seek out such people to impugn Israel is unfair. To present them as unbiased, neutral sources is dishonest. But it just this type of reporting – selective reporting indicting Israel, and prejudicing readers about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – that passes for good journalism at The New York Times. And it is just this type of unfair, misleading journalism that CAMERA seeks to end.