NYT: Shaping Perceptions of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

In its day-to-day coverage and analysis of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, where does the New York Times choose to focus its lens? Which details and quotes does it choose to emphasize and which does it choose to ignore? These choices are what shapes the reader’s view of the situation.

The New York Times did not focus on or publish quotes from the weeks-long campaign of incitement by Palestinian Authority leaders – one that falsely alleges Israel plans “to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the alleged Temple” in its place, that threatens to open “the gates of hell before the occupiers,” and that calls upon Palestinians to “widen the circle of the confrontation with the occupation forces and the herds of settlers, to open all the fronts in the villages, cities, and refugee camps.”

Nor did it report on widely circulating pictures and footage of Hamas campers in costume enacting attacks on Israelis and “liberating” the Al Aqsa mosque as they talk of “killing Zionist pigs.”

The newspaper similarly chose to ignore the savage terrorist stabbing by a Palestinian teenager of a random Israeli supermarket employee that left the victim fighting for his life– much less, to draw any connection between the brutal attack and the aforementioned incitement.

Indeed, such merciless stabbings of unassuming innocents in Israel are almost invariably perpetrated by young Palestinian men and women who view such barbarism against Israelis and Jews to be a noble cause. And as the evidence shows, Palestinian children and teenagers are indoctrinated by the Fatah and Hamas leadership to dehumanize Israelis and glorify their murders.

What did the New York Times choose to quote on the day of a violent attack that can only be seen as the result of relentless, institutionalized Palestinian incitement?

A website article by Isabel Kershner on the day of the attack focused on the ailing health of PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat and reported that

…some of the messages aired on Israeli news sites were scathing, wishing Mr. Erekat a speedy death and mockingly decrying the possibility that he might be saved by the health system of the state he has disparaged.

“A transplant? Forget it,” wrote one reader. “But cigarettes are on me.”

A link embedded in the word “messages” suggests that what Kershner actually meant were comments posted in the “talkback” section of an online article, only one of which wished Erekat a speedy death as compared with more that wish him a full recovery. Such talkback sections are often unmoderated and notorious for extreme but inconsequential outbursts by those whose full identity is undisclosed. It is therefore impossible to extrapolate from any “talkbacks” anything about how prevalent these views are in Israeli society. The suggestion that these comments were “aired on Israeli news sites” misleadingly confers upon them a greater importance than they deserve.

Moreover,  if Ms. Kershner wanted to quote a negative comment that accurately reflects why some oppose donating an organ to Mr. Erekat, why not quote the comment (from the same linked talkback page) that connected such reluctance to Erekat’s anti-Israel libel about a massacre in Jenin? (In 2002, Erekat, along with other Palestinian leaders, publicly and falsely alleged that Israel had perpetrated a massacre of Palestinian civilians and annihilated their refugee camp, when, in fact, nothing of the sort had happened.)

But false allegations and anti-Israel libels by Palestinian leaders like Mr. Erekat, who is described only as “a leading voice of the Palestinian cause for decades” and “a passionate and perennial champion of Palestinian statehood” is something the New York Times prefers to conceal. Perhaps because the same sort of false allegations are being used to incite murders against Israelis today. And this incitement is by the very same Palestinian leadership that the New York Times wants to portray simply as “champions of Palestinian statehood.”

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