Opinion

The New York Times has an Israel problem

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Opinion,Op-Eds,Israel,The New York Times,Middle East,Media,Newspapers,Palestinians

On the morning of June 14, 1993, the bloodied body of Israel Tenenbaum, a 72-year-old Holocaust survivor, was discovered near his workplace in Israel.

The hotel security guard was bludgeoned to death with a steel rod by Muqdad Salah.

Salah, now 47, was a Palestinian member of Fatah, who was freed last year by Israel as part of a prisoner release agreement brokered by the United States.

But the front-page article in the March 30 edition of the New York Times entitled “Remaking a Life, After Years in an Israeli Prison” all but described Salah as victim and Israel as perpetrator.

“I want a son — or a daughter — I want someone to inherit me,” Salah told the Times. “Many times, I dreamed of it in prison. I saw this house and the children, playing with toys. I dream more now. I don’t want 10, two is enough for me. I want to give all my energy to them.”

Using lots of warm and fuzzy quotes and photos of his recent wedding, Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren portrayed Salah as a kind soul and devoted family man simply seeking to “travel,” to “see people” and to “breathe the air.”

But he can’t because a condition of his release restricts him from traveling and requires him to check in regularly with Israeli security personnel, thus implicitly maligning the Jewish state as the oppressor in Salah’s life.

This was hardly the Times' first attempt to paint Israel as the aggressor. In 2008, the Times reported as Israel Defense Forces began a three-week incursion into the Gaza Strip to stop Palestinian rocket fire into Israel.

According to IDF spokeswoman "Anat," whose last name was withheld, an unidentified New York Times reporter “asked assuming questions and was never interested in the truth. I was asked why Israel fired on a tractor taking wounded civilians to the hospital. I was unaware of the incident, but told the reporter I would find out what happened.”

Anat continued, “It turned out that the tractor was being used by Hamas as a shield and they were firing at us. Sadly, this is a common tactic among the terrorists, but the Times reporter could care less about the truth. They had already determined what their story would be about.”

Supporters of the Jewish state and media watchdog groups are not taking the Times’ bias lightly.

From within the newspaper’s Manhattan offices, for example, Times staffers can see a billboard across the street that asks, “Would a great newspaper slant the news against Israel? The New York Times does.”

Demanding the newspaper “stop the bias” is the Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

“There is a bias, pro-Palestinian — deep down blame Israel reporting at the New York Times,” said CAMERA senior research analyst Gilead Ini. “There is a sense that the coverage starts with the perspective — understanding — that Palestinian Authority are the good guys, while the reporters’ personal feelings reveal anti-Israel sentiment and on occasion allow for criticism toward Hamas.”

In March 2011, three Israeli children and their parents were murdered by two Palestinians who committed the atrocities; including decapitating a three-month-old infant while the family was asleep. The Times story on the Fogel family massacre appeared on page A-16.

Yet, an August 2012 mob attack that left a 17-year-old Palestinian hospitalized twice made the Times’ front page. The Times used the incident to question Israeli morality. The murder of sleeping Israeli children and their parents brought only questions about Jewish settlements.

Last August, CAMERA sponsored a campaign confronting the Times about its silence over Palestinian media outlets inciting violence and ignoring “genocidal anti-Jewish rhetoric.”

Also exposed was what CAMERA described as the Times' “whitewash” of the murder of 15-year-old Malki Roth and 14 others who perished in a 2001 suicide bombing at an Israeli pizzeria.

“We had hoped the Times would raise the bar. Instead, the editorials kept getting worse, and too many reporting errors went uncorrected,” said Ini. “The goal of the current awareness campaign is to bring about institutional change at the Times. We want them to abide by journalism ethics; right now they have their own narrative.”

But why let facts get in the way of a good story and a pre-determined agenda?

Paul Miller is an op-ed contributor to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. He is also principal of Pauliegroup LLC, a Chicago-based new media and political consulting firm.

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