Mondoweiss / February 2, 2023
Patrick Kingsley’s irresponsible reporting from Jerusalem signals how The New York Times will frame the rising violence in occupied Palestine.
What just happened to Patrick Kingsley, The New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem? Here at this site we’ve noticed a modest, uneven, but undeniable improvement in his paper’s coverage since he took the post. But the other day, he published a grotesque report that equals the worst of any of his predecessors.
What’s even more dangerous is that his article signals how the pro-Israel media will frame the rising violence in Israel/Palestine that has already become inevitable.
Kingsley’s headline says it all: “As Israelis Grieve, Some Palestinians Exult, and Some Fear What’s Next.” A young Palestinian, Khairy Alqam, opened fire outside a synagogue on January 26, killing 7 Jewish Israelis before being shot to death himself. Kingsley interviewed his father, who called his son “a legend and a hero.” He spoke to more Palestinians and then concluded, “Some Palestinians like Mr. al-Qam express little sympathy for Israeli civilians and live in an environment where Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians are celebrated and their perpetrators lionized.”
There’s no reason to doubt the narrow accuracy of Kingsley’s report. But all you have to do to recognize the bias is ask whether the Times will ever run a report headlined: “As Palestinians Grieve, Some Israelis Exult, and Some Fear What’s Next.” This site has long pointed out that The Times, along with the rest of the U.S. mainstream media, is careful to hide Israeli extremists by either refusing to interview them at all or by only quoting their milder remarks. This strategy has become harder now that these same far-right Jewish supremacists are part of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, and two of their leaders are ministers with responsibility for “security.”
Any reporter could attend any political rally for the two, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, and hear plenty of bloodthirsty comments. Kingsley’s sentence could be reversed with no loss of accuracy: “Some Israelis like Mr. X express little sympathy for Palestinian civilians and live in an environment where Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians are celebrated and their perpetrators lionized.”
Kingsley’s article is only a beginning of this biased framing. Netanyahu’s far-right government is provoking a Third Intifada; Palestinian deaths in the occupied West Bank are already rising. The mainstream U.S. media angle is clear: Palestinians hate Israelis (Jews). They are already attacking Israeli Jewish civilians. The Israeli military is only responding to these hateful attacks and scrupulously aiming at military targets. Violence by armed Jewish settlers/colonists will be downplayed or ignored.
Completely left out will be the following paragraph, which should be part of every article about the West Bank:
Israel has militarily occupied West Bank Palestine since 1967, and has continued to violate international law by moving hundreds of thousands of Jewish-only settler/colonists into the territory. In response, Palestinians have . . .
Noura Erakat, the legal scholar and activist, eloquently tweeted at some length about how she had responded to a U.S. media request for comment on the latest violence in the West Bank: “Palestinians under siege, subject to killing by world’s 11th most powerful army & deputized settlers but news producers want me to come on air to comment on Palestinians celebrating the killing of 9 Israeli settlers?”
She continued: “Why this pathology of Palestinians and apology for apartheid? Why exceptionalize this Palestinian expression when you know full well ANY human who lived under such devastating circumstances without an army or international protection would similarly respond to this operation?”
And: “It’s the combination of absolute removal of context, together with dehumanization of Palestinians, that makes media more interested in examining Palestinians as hateful rather than absolutely emblematic of humanity.”
James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Larg