The New York Times “Rededication” Must Address Middle East Reporting

New York Times Building. REUTERS.

Michael Berenahus Contributor, Haym Salomon Center

In a most unheard of declaration from a major news source, The New York Times essentially apologized for its poor reporting of a major event — the recent election of Donald Trump. Further, the Times assured its readers that its aim is “to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor.”

It is the second part of this newfound “rededication” — the reporting of the world “honestly” — that will pique the interest of many who follow the Middle East and notice that The New York Times is blatantly biased in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nobody understands the anti-Israel bias in the pages of The Gray Lady better than the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). For four decades, CAMERA has monitored, scrutinized and corrected the Times as well as media outlets across the globe.

Senior Research Analyst for CAMERA, Gilead Ini, told the Haym Salomon Center:

The New York Times can’t be expected to rededicate itself to impartiality and honesty if it doesn’t recognize and admit where it has previously fallen short of these goals — a glaring example of which being the paper’s handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Unfortunately, this type of acknowledgment is missing from the publisher and editor’s letter.

Ini continued:

Will the newspaper heed the call of one of its former editors to stop treating Palestinians as “just victims”? Will it sufficiently cover and fully explore the role played by Palestinian incitement to violence and continued rejection of a Jewish state in the Middle East in the continued conflict? Or will it continue to advocate for Palestinians? If the latter, don’t hold your breath for changes in any of the other contentious topics covered by the newspaper.

Simply put, for the Times to truly “rededicate” itself, they need to start adhering to the facts when describing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than, quite frankly, parroting a Palestinian narrative. Further, the omission of pertinent facts manipulates a reader’s understanding of the conflict and misrepresents it. To make the transition over to honest journalism easier, I’ve compiled a list – cheat sheet — of the many facts and points that the Times must include if “honesty” is its new policy:

  1. Israel captured the “West Bank” not from the Palestinians but from Jordan. Similarly, they gained control of Gaza not from the Palestinians but from Egypt. Both areas were captured by Israel in defensive wars and most definitely not from “Palestinians.”
  1. The Palestinian Liberation Organization was founded in 1964, before Israel gained Judea and Samaria (a.k.a. the West Bank) or Gaza, proving that the Palestinian movement was created to “liberate” Israel from the Jews, not to form a state in the West Bank and Gaza.
  1. The Palestinians are taught in their schools that Haifa, Jaffa and Tel Aviv are “Occupied Palestine” — not part of Israel. Palestinian children are indoctrinated with hatred against Jews from the time they first enter school and often on state-sponsored television.
  1. There are many occupied territories in the world, though most are unlike this one since Israel didn’t gain the territories from the Palestinians. But we never hear about the others because of a double standard. Why is there disproportionate coverage?
  1. Other countries would fight back much harder than Israel if rockets were fired at their cities, and few would criticize the defensive measures.
  1. Speaking of double standards, the United Nations adopts more resolutions against Israel each year than against all other countries combined – more than Iran, Sudan, Syria, Russia, North Korea, China, etc. How is that possible? Why doesn’t the Times report about this double standard? The Times actually quotes the UN to support the case against Israel! With its recognized investigative reporting, the Times should instead challenge the UN and expose the charade.
  1. The UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently refused to recognize the holiest site of Judaism – the Temple Mount – as a Jewish site. Where was the outrage at the Times?
  1. Does it make sense for Israel to create a state for a people who publicly proclaim their plan to destroy Israel?
  1. With whom should Israel negotiate for peace – the leaders of Gaza or the leaders of the disputed territories?  Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are two separate factions that don’t communicate and have somewhat different philosophies.  Should there be a three-state solution?
  1. The West Bank and Gaza are not “Palestinian” or Arab lands. They are lands that the Palestinians want for a future state. And that is not a “done deal.”

The Times, in its zeal for honesty, should not only walk the walk but also talk the talk. It is long overdue for them to refocus how they report the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Dr. Michael Berenhaus is a contributor to the news and public policy group, Haym Salomon Center. He is co-founder of ‘Boycott The Post’ and of ‘Eye on the Post’ — two non-profit organizations that monitor media coverage at The Washington Post and other news services to ensure accuracy, fairness and truth as it relates to Israel.