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Op-Ed: The Anti-Israel Bias of the New York Times

Interview with Ricki Hollander and Gilead Ini of CAMERA.
Published: Monday, July 28, 2014 10:19 PM


Manfred Gerstenfeld interviews Ricki Hollander and Gilead Ini

The New York Times (NYT) is guilty of advocacy journalism. Both its editorial pages and news reporting lean heavily toward an anti-Israel perspective. This is in blunt contravention of its directive to journalists in the Ethical Journalism handbook it publishes, ‘to cover the news as impartially as possible’ and ‘tell our readers the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it.’

“Without employing the type of crude incitement against Israelis that is rampant in Palestinian society, the NYT poisons the public's mind against Israel by shaping the perception of the Jewish state as responsible for many, if not most, of the region's ills. It does this with double standards in reporting about Israel versus her enemies and recounting only half the story. It sanitizes the role of Israel's adversaries, including terrorist organizations, and obsessively indicts Israel at every turn.”

Ricki Hollander and Gilead Ini are senior analysts at CAMERA, where they co-authored the major long-term study Indicting Israel: New York Times Coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.    

“In addition to news coverage, CAMERA's study looked at the newspaper's opinion pages over a period of 9 months in 2011-2012. NYT editorials are written by a board of journalists who adhere to an apparent formula in their columns about Israel. First they pay lip service to Israel's right to defend itself. Then after the ‘but,’ they devote the bulk of the column to condemnation of any self-defensive action by Israel.

They ignore facts, statistics, and anything else that would provide readers with a deeper understanding of, or sympathy for Israel's actions.

"We found that 6 out of 7 NYT editorials addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict were negative toward Israel, while none were positive. Opinion columns by NYT staff followed the same pattern of condemning Israel: 5 out of 6 were negative toward Israel, while none were positive. As for invited Op-Eds on the topic, 15 out of 20 were negative toward Israel, while only one was positive.

"An earlier 19-month CAMERA study conducted in 2006-7, also found a preponderance of columns critical of Israel, many of which were written by Arab leaders and even some by a Hamas representative. By contrast, there were no columns by any Israeli leaders.

"In the past, there were columnists who wrote positively about Israel, namely William Safire and Abe Rosenthal. But since their retirement and passing, there is no one to balance the largely negative opinion of Israel on the newspaper's editorial pages.

“In the global context, Israel faces discrimination through NYT’s disproportionate scrutiny of its conflict. The paper also holds the Jewish State to a much harsher standard relative to the Palestinians. Author Virgil Hawkins in his book Stealth Conflicts, shows that the media's focus on Israel came at the expense of reporting on conflicts up to a thousand times more deadly than ones between Israel and its neighbors.

"The newspaper's disproportionate focus is also reflected in its headlines.  Our study identified 12 headlines implicating Israel for killing Arabs. None implicated Arabs, although 14 Israelis were killed by Arabs during the same period.

“One among many examples of the NYT’s double standards can be found in its disparate treatment of violent attacks. When in 2012, several Jewish teens beat an Arab teenager in Jerusalem resulting in injuries that required hospitalization, the newspaper covered the story on its front page above the fold. The attack was framed as reflecting negatively on Israeli society as a whole.

A second front page story informed readers that the attack, ‘revealed festering wounds regarding race, violence and extremism.’ Has there ever been a beating by teenage thugs anywhere else in the world that made the front page of the NYT twice?

“Contrast this with the newspaper's treatment in 2011 of a gruesome massacre perpetrated by Palestinian teens in the Israeli town of Itamar. The NYT buried news of this murder of a Jewish couple and three of their young children, including a three-month old girl, deep inside the paper. Nor did any articles about the attack focus on what it indicated about Palestinian society's morals and racism.

“The NYT's news pages are, at times, indistinguishable from its opinion pages. In one month, the NYT used the following subjective and hostile adjectives about Israeli leaders in its news reporting: 'shrill,’ ‘strident,’ ‘stubborn,’ ‘abrasive,’ and ‘cynical.’ One reporter asked ‘whether Israel is guilty of “hopeless hypocrisy”’ because the country opposes nuclear enrichment by Iran, a country sworn to Israel's destruction.

“Unfortunately, turning to the NYT’s public editors (ombudsmen) is not a solution. Their columns tend toward general platitudes about the conflict being a hot-button issue that generates criticism ‘from both sides,’ as they equate thoughtful and evidence-based complaints with those of Israel's most virulent and hateful enemies, for whom nothing is anti-Israel enough.

“To inform passersby of NYT’s extreme bias, CAMERA has hung up a large billboard on a building opposite the newspaper’s editorial offices in Manhattan.”