NY Times Errs on Druze, Downplays ISIS (Updated)

Judging by a recent story in The New York Times, some of the worst terrorist organizations in the world are upset with Israel because its control of the Golan Heights. It seems they’d otherwise be okay with the Jewish state. And according to that same story, the Druze are not Israeli citizens but still volunteer to serve in the country’s army.

“Islamic State”

The Oct. 5 story by Jodi Rudoren states that “the Nusra Front, the Qaeda-affiliated group controlling towns in sight of Israeli territory; Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia backing the Syrian Army; and the Islamic State, also called ISIS, all consider Israel an illegal occupier of the Golan,” language that drastically understates and misleads about the position taken by those organizations. All of the groups mentioned consider Israel as a whole to be an illegitimate state; fundamentally and philosophically, they make no distinction between the legality of Israel’s presence in the Golan and its presence in the Galilee and beyond.

This is most obviously true with IS, which especially makes a point to claim that the Sykes-Picot borders are illegitimate. In the same way it would be misleading to describe Hamas as thinking specifically southern Israel should be an Islamic state, it is misleading to say IS thinks specifically the Golan is illegally occupied.

Israeli Druze

Elsewhere the piece asserts, “There are also about 22,000 Druze, a native sect that mostly shuns Israeli citizenship but volunteers for its military.” The sentence’s wording would lead readers to understand that the Druze sect as a whole shuns Israeli citizenship and volunteers for the country’s military.

This misleads in a couple of ways. Most directly, it clearly suggests that Golan Druze who don’t take Israeli citizenship still volunteer for the IDF. Non-citizen Druze cannot serve in the IDF. And though it begins by referring to the subsection of Druze living on the Golan, the structure of the sentence would would lead readers to believe that the Druze as a whole shun Israeli citizenship and volunteer for its military. But the Druze within Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries are all Israeli citizens. And they don’t volunteer, but rather are drafted into the IDF.

We will update this space if the newspaper publishes a correction or clarification.
Oct. 16 update:
The newspaper corrected one of its errors on Oct 12. It’s correction states,
An article last Sunday about the anxiety among the Jewish population of the Golan Heights as violence from the civil war in neighboring Syria threatens to spill over the border referred incorrectly to the 22,000 members of the Druze sect in the Golan Heights, which Israel seized in 1967. Although most do shun Israeli citizenship, it is not the case that they generally volunteer for the Israeli military. (The Druze who live in Israel’s pre-1967 territory are Israeli citizens, and the men are subject to the draft.)

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