History suggests this is the real motto of The New York Times. The decades of sins of omission, commission, double-standards, hypocrisy, inaccuracy and malice would in most cases be sufficient to conclude a publication is anti-Semitic, but the Times has achieved sufficiently hallowed status from reporting on non-Jewish events to give it a Teflon coating for most readers.
All the above deficiencies were present in its recent stories related to the recent Gaza conflict. Others have elaborated on them after they were published, but it was hard not to be reminded of the front page filled with photos of Palestinians supposedly killed by Israel after reading about the latest atrocity in Syria. Here’s how The Wall Street Journal reported it:
At least 90 people, including 27 children, have been killed in shelling by pro-government forces since they laid siege to a section of the city [Daraa] at the end of June, according to Dr. Anas Almasalmeh of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, an aid group based in the U.S. The blockade on the neighborhood, known as Daraa Al-Balad, has largely cut off food, water, electricity and medical supplies to more than 50,000 people, according to residents and aid groups. The fighting has forced an estimated 24,000 others to flee their homes, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
When I searched the Times for Daraa, no story on the attack appeared in the results. There were no photographs of the 27 Syrian children who were killed with their backgrounds. There was no documentary video by the people of Daraa, as there was from Gazans, describing the hellish attack by the forces of the “Butcher of Damascus.”
The reason for the Times’ disinterest is clear and consistent with its history—Arabs/Muslims killing Arabs/Muslims isn’t news; editors consider it routine. Had a Jew been among the Syrian forces, however, you can be sure it would have been reported.
The opinion pages are, if possible, worse than the news. When it prints at the end of guest essays, “The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor,” what they really mean is a diversity of anti-Israel opinions.
Take a recent column by Roger Cohen, one of the veterans of the growing stable of anti-Israel writers (broken up only by the token conservative and pro-Israel Jew Bret Stephens). Cohen is continuously disappointed that “democratic Israel” has failed “to come close to the ideals of its 1948 founding charter—that the nascent state would ‘ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.’ ”
Well, what country, including the United States, does not fail to come close to its ideals?
Cohen, like most journalists, also acts as though history begins with his arrival. His column was about the violence in May when Israeli Arabs in several cities rioted, and there were instances of retaliatory attacks by Jews. According to Cohen, “People on both sides are awakening to the need to address Israel’s failed coexistence.”
News flash, Roger: Israeli Jews and Arabs have been aware of the need to coexist and the accompanying difficulties since 1948. The riots in May 2021 were disturbing for Israeli Jews and Arabs alike, but they were not unprecedented; what made them newsworthy was the fact that such instances of violence are so rare. According to historian Ephraim Karsh, “The May 2021 riots by the Israeli Arabs, like their October 2000 precursor, were not an act of social protest but a nationalist/Islamist insurrection in support of an external attack. It was not socioeconomic grievances that drove the Israeli Arabs to wreak wanton violence on their Jewish compatriots for the second time in 20 years but the growing radicalization attending the decades-long betterment of their socioeconomic condition.”
Pretending history began with his interviews in 2021, Cohen doesn’t acknowledge the past violence, the decades of calm or even the peace between the communities that has held since May. The most devastating refutation of his thesis was the lack of any violence during the entire period he visited Israel. He talked to people who suffered in May, but he could find no one whose restaurant was burned down while he was there or any Arab women chased by Jewish vigilantes.
I’m in Israel now, and there are no riots. I visited Jerusalem and the Old City. There were indeed clashes there in May, as there are periodically, often provoked by the so-called “moderate” Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who incites Muslims to save the Al-Aqsa mosque from the Jews who are not threatening it.
Cohen doesn’t mention Jerusalem, so I guess he didn’t have time to visit the place where Jews, Christians and Muslims are in closest proximity. His narrative would have been spoiled if he accurately reported that women in hijabs were walking peacefully through the same Arab market with men in shtreimels and cassocks.
Could he have found people with complaints?
Undoubtedly, as would also be the case in mixed neighborhoods in the United States and other countries. It’s Israel’s failure to achieve perfection that gives critics ammunition. For anti-Semites and columnists for the Times, however, the Jewish state is the only worthy target.