The New York Times’ Knee-Jerk Editorial Bias

“A precipitous Israeli overreaction” is what a January 15, 2005 New York Times editorial labelled Israel’s decision to end all contact with the Palestinian Authority (PA) until it begins to take action against the type of terrorism unleashed against Israel on January 13. (New York Times, "A Double Blow to Mideast Peace," Editorial, January 15, 2005)

The bombing attack jointly carried out by members of various Palestinian terrorist groups in collaboration with PA security forces claimed the lives of six Israeli civilians. This prompted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to refuse to negotiate with the PA until newly elected Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas agrees to crack down on Palestinian terrorists–something he has thus far refused to do. The Times editorial, nevertheless, labelled Israeli Prime Minister Sharon an “ally” of the terrorists behind the attack, while attempting to “contrast” Mr. Abbas as “clear and unwavering in his view that anti-Israeli violence has been and continues to be extremely harmful to the Palestinian cause.”

The Times editorialists’ disregard for the facts – even those reported by the newspaper’s own foreign correspondents – underscores their penchant for hectoring and blaming Israel whatever the circumstances. After all, in the two weeks preceding the editorial, the newspaper had covered the following disturbing events:

  • At a campaign stop in the Jenin refugee camp, Mahmoud Abbas was hoisted onto the shoulders of Palestinian gunmen and was welcomed by Zakariya Zubeidi, local Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades leader and a man sought by Israel for terrorist involvement. (New York Times, "Abbas Gets Strong Support from Palestinian Militant leader," Dec. 30, 2004)
  • At other campaign rallies and in interviews, Mr. Abbas promised that his leadership would not crack down on Palestinian "militants" but would instead shield them from Israeli forces. "We will not forget the wanted, the heroes," he said, "They are fighting for freedom.” (New York Times, "Abbas Seeks Duty to Shield the Militants," Jan.2, 2005)
  • Mr. Abbas has called Israel the "Zionist enemy." (New York Times, "Abbas Denounces Israel After Tank Fire Kills 7 Youths," Jan.5, 2005)

Given these events and Mr. Abbas’ stated refusal to confront the terrorists, Israel’s response hardly seems “a precipitous overreaction.” But then the Times’ wrong headed attacks on Israel are well known. Who can forget the notorious June 9, 1981 editorial blunder, ranting against Israel for taking out Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor? “Israel’s sneak attack on a French-built nuclear reactor near Baghdad was an act of inexcusable and short-sighted aggression,” the Times editorial thundered. (The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, wrote that the world owed Israel a vote of thanks for protecting against future nuclear aggression.)

The January 15 editorial is just another example of how knee-jerk editorial bias at the Times trumps logical reason when it comes to Israel.

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