The New York Times: Misleading by Omission

A New York Times’ article about a July 14th Palestinian terror attack in Jerusalem contains no falsehoods or errors, but nevertheless manages to mislead readers both about Jerusalem and its holy sites, as well as the motives behind the events. The article, entitled “2 Israeli Police Officers Killed in Attack in Old City of Jerusalem,” recounts how armed Arab-Israelis killed two Israeli police guarding an entrance to the Temple Mount and wounded another, while Israel security forces responded by evacuating and closing the holy site.

The Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest and Islam’s third holiest site, is currently administered by the Jordanian Muslim Waqf and is under Israeli security control. The powerful Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, which is considered Judaism’s epicenter, is increasingly denied by Arab and Muslim leaders.  And since 1929, when Jerusalem Grand Mufti Haj Amin al Husseini inflamed murderious anti-Jewish rampages with the dishonest battle cry to “defend” the Al Aqsa mosque from Jewish plans of takeover, this specious allegation has been used repeatedly as a clarion call for violent jihad. (For a more detailed analysis, see “The Battle Over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount“.)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority are central to the two-pronged attack on Judaism’s legacy on the Temple Mount. They use Jewish visitation there as a pretext to encourage violence and  repeatedly deny the existence of the Jewish Temples and Judaism’s long history there, turning to the media and to international bodies like UNESCO to supplant Jewish history and ties to the site with Arab and Muslim ones. Mr. Abbas played a fundamental role in spurring the 2015-16 “knife intifada” or “wave of terror” that resulted in a wave of stabbings, car ramings and murders of civilians when he publicly declared:

The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours, and [the Jews] have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem. (Translation: Palestinian Media Watch)

This essential context to this story is missing from the New York Times article. There is nothing about the continued Palestinian/Muslim assaults on the legitimacy of Jewish claims to the holy site, nothing about Palestinian incitement of violence on the pretext of protecting the Al Aqsa mosque, and nothing about how Jews were not allowed any access at all to their holy sites when it was under Jordanian Muslim control. Instead, the only history provided is that:

 The Old City is in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war and then annexed, a move that was never internationally recognized.

What about the fact that Jordan, for its part, captured the Old City, expelling its Jews, destroying their holy sites and denying them access before annexing the area in a move that was never internationally recognized?  No doubt, editors at the New York Times would argue that this is not relevant information.  

Similarly, while the article notes that “The gates around the Old City have been the scene of numerous deadly stabbing and gun attacks, mostly against police officers guarding the historic area…” and that “dozens of civilians have also been killed in a wave of Palestinian attacks…since the fall of 2015,” it conceals the fact that immediately before this wave of violence, Mr. Abbas called on  his people to “defend Al-Aqsa” from Israeli encroachment. This too is doubtless considered by Times editors to be irrelevant, needless information. 

Instead, the Palestinian leader’s condemnation of the violence in a phone call to the Israeli prime minister (in addition to the insistence that Israel reopen the holy site) is emphasized, complete with the attribution of a noble motive—the “[apparent]…effort to calm the atmosphere.”  This  “apparent” altruistic motive is in sharp contrast to the self-serving motive originally attributed  to Israeli authorities. Their reassurances that the temporary security measure  did not signify a change to the status quo was portrayed in a selfish light, as “an apparent effort to head off more violence and criticism.”  

Attributing a motive is not objective journalism. And when there is such an obvious discrepancy in the motives attributed to Palestinians and Israelis, it is further indication of partisan journalism. (Subsequent versions of the article removed attribution of  a motive to the Israeli police, substituting it with the more acceptable “[keen awareness] of the sensitivities.)”

And so continues the New York Times simplistic coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with its focus on Israeli actions while omitting the essential context that would enable readers to understand the unfolding news events.

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