Mondoweiss / December 31, 2022
Here’s a shocking and disgusting example of how The New York Times slants its coverage of Israel’s occupation of West Bank Palestine. You only have to contrast The Times with The Washington Post to see just how offensive the New York paper is.
First, the actual news. The Washington Post headline got straight to the point:
2022 was deadliest year for West Bank Palestinians in nearly two decades
The Post continued by warning that “The surging violence . . . could escalate further as Israel’s most far-right government, which includes Jewish supremacists who have incited violence against Palestinians, is sworn in. . .”
Over to The New York Times. Even long-time observers of how the paper distorts the Israel/Palestine news will be astonished, even speechless, at how it twisted the year-end statistics of Palestinian deaths.
The article opens with a 4-paragraph anecdote about how two Palestinian militant groups tried to claim 27-year-old Muhammad Abu Naise as a member after Israeli troops had killed him. One quick paragraph summarized the year-end West Bank death statistics– “the deadliest for Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank since 2005” — and then the long report promptly turned right back to its central theme:
The high Palestinian death toll has cast a fresh light on the practice of armed and political Palestinian groups claiming as members or publicly honoring all those killed by Israel, one that blurs the distinction between civilians and armed fighters. It is a tradition that some [Palestinian] families object to, saying they don’t want loved ones used for political purposes.
This is a jaw-dropper. You would think that, if anything, “the high Palestinian death toll” would be “casting a fresh light” on why Israeli soldiers are killing so many more of them, the highest number since 2005. But The Times report, by Raja Abdulrahim and Hiba Yazbek, continues in the same spirit, focusing on the Palestinian resistance organizations and their alleged questionable conduct after Israel kills Palestinians. This is a classic blaming the victim ploy.
By contrast, The Washington Post reports truthfully, and does include the point of view from the Israeli side, in the third paragraph. Post reporter Miriam Berger says,
Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups and U.N. experts have blamed the bloodshed on Israel’s excessive use of force and open-fire rules during near-daily military operations, as well as rising assaults by settlers in the West Bank. Israel said its forces are responding to fatal attacks on Israelis by Palestinian militants, which have also spiked this year.
The Post also reminds readers that Israelis this year killed 2 U.S. citizens — journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and Omar Assad. Neither appears in The Times account.
Finally, The Post warns that the West Bank violence will almost certainly get worse. “Far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir,” who just became Israel’s minister of national security, “has proposed giving police and soldiers wider latitude to use live ammunition and shielding them from criminal prosecution for killing or injuring Palestinians.”
The new security minister Ben-Gvir goes unmentioned in The New York Times article.
The abysmal New York Times article is more than just an accidental failure. You have to conclude that:
The Times realized it had to report the year-end casualty statistics.
So it looked for a way to shift attention away from the major perpetrators — the Israeli military and Jewish settler/colonists — and put it on the Palestinians.
James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large