Friday, May 4, 2012

New York Times coverage of Israel: What Comes After Ridiculously Biased?

By Barry Rubin

With the arrival of Jodi Rudoren as correspondent, New York Times coverage of Israel and related issues has now gone to a new level of ridiculous bias, especially after a predecessor who really did try to be fair.

 What is most impressive about Rudoren's record so far is that there is no attempt to give the faintest appearance of balance. She probably doesn't understand what that concept means. And she certainly knows that the editors and ombudsman won't hold her accountable.

We in Israel have grown used to media prejudice and, given our low expectations, probably accept more of it without complaint than anyone else in the world.

Yet the following lead was the absolute last straw for me, in an article entitled "Palestinians Go Hungry to Make Their Voices Heard":

"The newest heroes of the Palestinian cause are not burly young men hurling stones or wielding automatic weapons. They are gaunt adults, wrists in chains, starving themselves inside Israeli prisons."'

 This is not news coverage but revolutionary romanticism. And consider the implications:
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--The article does not tell us that they are in prison for a reason. These are overwhelmingly people who have murdered or tried to murder civilians during a period, by the way, when their supposed governmental representative, the Palestinian Authority, was not at war with Israel.

--They were in fact "burly young men...wielding automatic weapons" when thrown into prison after trials. Most of them admit--indeed brag about--their crimes and make it clear that they would continue such deeds if released.

--Consequently, these people are NOT heroes to Palestinians, a macho society generally, because they are pitiful, gaunt, and starving but because they were heroes of an armed struggle defined in genocidal terms.

--The Palestinian Authority and Hamas holds these people as role models to young people so that they will be inspired to grow up to kill more Israelis.

--"Gaunt adults, wrists in chains" seems pulled from the nineteenth century novels of Victor Hugo.

--Remember, these are the people still in prison because of the bloodiness of their crimes after Israel has released hundreds of others in prisoner exchanges or amnesties designed to indicate good will and promote negotiations.  They are still in jost ail not out of cruelty or even out of a sense of justice and self-defense but because they generally are the most merciless in deliberately slaying those who are weak and helpless.

--The author's goal is to make readers say, "Those horrible Israelis are so mean and repressive, mistreating those poor people! We must do something!" And it is to make Jewish readers to say, "We must distance ourselves from this evil country (or government) that so betrays basic Jewish principles of mercy and justice." The former call for pressuring Israel in order to hurt it; the latter urge pressuring Israel for its own good and talk about a crisis of Zionism in producing such a terrible system.    

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

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