This 2024 - Let's Win the Battle of Headlines
OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

The paper of record becomes more desperate to smear Israel

Add that to the fact that there has been no shortage of stories about how Palestinians are suffering.

A giant billboard outside the offices of The New York Times, put up by CAMERA. Source: CAMERA.
A giant billboard outside the offices of The New York Times, put up by CAMERA. Source: CAMERA.
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.

Whenever you think The New York Times hits a new low in its coverage of Israel, it finds a way to go lower. It’s bad enough that its editorial pages are the go-to place for Israeli critics, cranks and antisemites, but the news section is little better. In one week were examples of how both sides of the paper operate to smear Israel.

Before getting to the acts of commission, let’s consider the Times’ omissions. Loyal readers of the “paper of record,” have you read that in the first six months of 2023, Israelis have been victims of 3,640 acts of terror, including 2,118 cases of rock-throwing, 799 attacks with Molotov cocktails, 18 attempted stabbings, and six car-rammings? That does not count more than 1,500 rockets fired at Israel.

This is the context for Israel’s military actions in Jenin and elsewhere, but how many articles have you seen about what it’s like for Israelis to live under these conditions? There has been no shortage of stories about how Palestinians are suffering.

How many reports of the plight of Palestinians have addressed how their leaders treat them?

Attention is rightly focused now on Israel’s democracy. How many stories have you read about the lack of democracy in the areas controlled by the Palestinians?

What did make the news was the Sense of Congress resolution asserting that Israel is not a racist or apartheid state; rejecting all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia; and pledging that the United States will always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel.

The resolution was prompted by the ignorant remark by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, calling Israel “a racist state.”

Without mentioning her by name, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries issued a statement from the Democratic leadership disavowing her remarks and stating unequivocally, “Israel is not a racist state.” Another 43 Democrats signed a letter including her name that denounced her comment.

She subsequently backtracked, and in a statement that was not much of an improvement, said: “I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist. I do, however, believe that Netanyahu’s extreme right-wing government has engaged in discriminatory and outright racist policies and that there are extreme racists driving that policy within the leadership of the current government.”

The resolution reaffirming support for Israel was adopted by a vote of 412-9, with Jayapal voting in favor. The nine nays were the unofficial anti-Israel caucus of Democrat Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; Jamaal Bowman and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of New York; Cori Bush of Missouri; Andre Carson of Indiana; Summer Lee of Pennsylvania; Ilhan Omar of Minnesota; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; and Delia Ramirez of Illinois. Another caucus member, Betty McCollum of Minnesota, voted present.

The Times’ headline said: “House Votes Resoundingly to Back Israel, Rebuking Democratic Critics.” Still, Capitol reporter Karoun Demirjian wrote that “while the vote was lopsided in favor, the number of Democrats who went on the record against the resolution … was striking, underscoring a growing boldness on the left for challenging Israel even at the risk of being branded a bigot.”

Demirjian was impressed by the courage of nine out of 212 Democrats (4%) to essentially admit to being antisemites.

Seriously?

Jayapal certainly didn’t want to be viewed as a bigot.

The person who doesn’t mind is Tlaib. She was the only one who spoke on the floor against the resolution; her rant, however, warranted two paragraphs.

If anything, the vote should have silenced those claiming support for Israel has eroded, but Demirjian tried to spin the result to conform to the Times’ narrative of a widening gap between Israel and the United States.

That narrative could be found on the editorial side of the paper where Thomas Friedman, the Old Faithful of Israel critics, touted his talk with President Joe Biden and followed it up with an open letter to the president calling on him to save Israel from itself. The columns were vintage Friedman as they illustrated how he sometimes believes he is the Delphic Oracle speaking for the Almighty and other times that he is the Almighty.

Friedman said he had a conversation with Biden about Israel’s judicial reforms. In Oracle mode, he declared, “Biden is now deeply worried for the stability and future of Israel.” In his 75-minute discussion, however, Friedman produced a single direct quote that did not support his conclusion:

This is obviously an area about which Israelis have strong views, including in an enduring protest movement that is demonstrating the vibrancy of Israel’s democracy, which must remain the core of our bilateral relationship. Finding consensus on controversial areas of policy means taking the time you need. For significant changes, that’s essential. So my recommendation to Israeli leaders is not to rush. I believe the best outcome is to continue to seek the broadest possible consensus here.

Lacking any other statement from Biden, he repeated the line “vibrancy of Israel’s democracy” two more times. The rest of the column is Friedman’s usual expression of knowing better than Israelis what is good for them.

That was also the subject of his follow-up column, where he shifted to Almighty mode and wrote an open letter to Biden. Having failed to convince the president of the wisdom of his council during their discussion, Friedman felt he might have greater luck by putting it in print with the title “Only Biden Can Save Israel Now.”

Friedman expressed his dismay that all he got from the president was a “very measured statement” and called on Biden to tell all his cabinet secretaries to call their Israeli counterparts to warn them if they didn’t abandon their intent to fulfill the wishes of the Israelis who elected them, America’s strategic interests in the Middle East would be damaged.

What are those interests?

According to Friedman, the power of Israel’s Supreme Court. Since when? In what document has any official ever said the U.S. relationship has anything to do with the court? Even if you believe that court reforms are unwise, they don’t affect the broad values we share as nations of immigrants, with strong religious traditions and belief in freedoms of the press, speech, and assembly that are on vivid display.

Friedman says the other interests at stake are the phantom two-state solution and the long-dead Oslo process. Even after the 412-9 vote in Congress, Friedman insists that Biden won’t be able to broker a deal to bring Saudi Arabia into the Abraham Accords because of Democratic opposition to the judicial reform. He also claims that the Gulf states in the accords are “cooling” while all evidence is to the contrary.

Friedman hoped Biden would put the screws to Israel before the vote on “reasonableness,” but the president failed to take his advice.

It must be frustrating to believe in one’s omnipotence only to be ignored.

For Friedman, the good news is he can always count on having the Times as a platform and a news division that will reinforce his skewed image of Israel.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Israel is at war - Support JNS

JNS is combating the barrage of misinformation with factual reporting. We depend on your support.

Support JNS
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates