NYT Part II: Telling Readers How to Think About Palestinians

A CAMERA Op-Ed in Times of Israel showed how New York Times reporters besmirch Israel’s leaders by injecting negative commentary into news articles. “Shrill,” “strident” and “derisive” were pejorative adjectives used by Times news reporters to describe the Israeli prime minister’s review of anti-Jewish violence by Palestinians since the 1920’s. Their condemnation of Mr. Netanyahu’s reference to Palestinian violence and anti-Jewish hatred is paralleled by their own refusal to report fully on the topic. In fact, The New York Times has come under harsh criticism from CAMERA for turning a blind eye to the glorification of terrorism and violence against Jews on government-sponsored Palestinian television.

True, every couple of years the newspaper runs an article that ostensibly focuses on Palestinian anti-Israel indoctrination. But not only do these articles ignore the worst examples of Palestinian incitement, they inevitably soft-pedal the entire issue, pretending that it is fueled by Israel in order to prevent peace negotiations, or that it is part of a bilateral phenomenon, with Israelis sharing the guilt– something that is clearly not the case. The bottom line is that The New York Times refuses to report the simple truth about Palestinian hate speech and indoctrination to violence.

Take, for example, The New York Times’ latest article about Hamas high school textbooks, entitled “To Shape Young Palestinians, Hamas Creates Its Own Textbooks.” Correspondents Fares Akram and Jodi Rudoren note that
Among other points, the [Hamas text]books, used by 55,000 children in the eighth, ninth and 10th grades as part of a required “national education” course of study in government schools, do not recognize modern Israel, or even mention the Oslo Peace Accords the country signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1990s.

The most disturbing aspect of these textbooks, however, is not only that they teach Palestinian children to reject modern Israel and the Oslo peace accords, but that they instruct youth in the use violence against Israelis and promote such attacks as benefitting the Palestinian people . According to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, the new books include “lessons about various methods of Palestinian resistance.”

When Hamas talks of “Palestinian resistance” it means one thing — the murder of Israeli civilians for political gain, or, more accurately, terrorism. That Hamas is using high school text books to promote terrorism comes as no surprise to those who follow MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch’s documentation of Palestinian TV broadcasts and speeches. There, terrorism is routinely glorified, and terrorist leaders urge the Palestinian public to “slit throats,” wreak destruction” “harvest the skulls of the Jews” and “annihilate the Zionist entity.”

But this sort of graphic genocidal rhetoric is not what The New York Times wishes to present to its readers, so it avoids ever making mention of such unpleasantries. It also avoids clearly pointing out that the new Hamas textbooks encourage and legitimize the use of terrorism against Israelis. Instead, the article acknowledges in one sentence that the books are “part of a broader push to infuse the next generation with its militant ideology” without spelling out what this “militant” ideology entails. Such direct terms as “suicide attack,” “abduction,” “bombing,” and “terrorism,” are eschewed in favor of words like “battle,” “riots,” “uprising,” and even “resistance” to describe Palestinian attacks against Israelis and Jews.

To its credit, the article does mention Hamas’ denigration of Jewish religious texts, denial of Jewish roots in the country, description of Zionism as a racist movement, expansionist vision of Palestine that encompasses all of present-day Israel, and exaggeration of Hamas’ military achievements, but, at the same time, it downplays the entire issue as a bilateral phenomenon.

According to the Times, the textbooks are an example of “dueling narratives” in a fight over territory, used as a propaganda tool by Israel to withstand American pressure to reach a peace deal. The reporters assert:

Textbooks have long been a point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which dueling historical narratives and cultural clashes underpin a territorial fight. And they are central examples of what Israeli leaders call Palestinian “incitement” against Jews, held up as an obstacle to peace talks newly resumed under American pressure.

This passage follows the newspaper’s overall pattern of downplaying Palestinian hate speech in what is already minimal coverage of the issue, by casting it as a debatable Israeli accusation in a longstanding fight. The last time the newspaper ran an article about the topic, in December 2011, it was headlined and framed as Israelis “finding fault” with Palestinians. That article focused more on attacking the credibility of and motives behind Israeli charges of incitement than it did on providing examples of Palestinian incitement.

It is telling that in this article, as well, The New York Times places the word “incitement” in quotation marks, qualifying it as a claim by Israel. In this way, the newspaper continues to avoid presenting the issue as straight, unvarnished fact. Nor does it accept the concept that Palestinians are guilty of terrorism. In sharp contrast to their qualification of the use of the word “incitement,” reporters adopt Hamas’ justifying parlance as their own to describe terrorist attacks, notably without the use of quotation marks. They assert:

Hamas has added programs, like a military training elective introduced in high schools last year that focuses on resistance to Israel.

There is no qualification of the word “resistance” — the word preferred by Hamas to justify its attacks against Israel. The same double standard is evident elsewhere, as well. Where Mr. Netanyahu’s exposure of historic Arab violence against Jews in an earlier article was labeled “strident” and “derisive,” the demonization of Israel and Jews in Hamas textbooks is characterized far less vehemently as “questionable treatment of Israel and Jews.”

Thus, in the topsy turvy world of the New York Times, Israeli exposure of Palestinian wrongdoing is “contentious” “shrill” or “derisive” while Palestinian terrorism against Jews is simply  “resistance to Israel.”

Comments are closed.