An op-ed in disguise: What the NYT got wrong

The New York Times has historically been very critical of Israel. Israeli ambassadors and advocates have spent years writing counter op-eds in response to officially published articles by the Times.  2019 is proving to be no exception to the trend. It is, of course, necessary and valuable to represent multiple viewpoints in the American media. However, once in a while, one comes across a commentary that is so full of fallacies that something must be said for the sake of journalistic integrity.

Today is April 22nd. A New York Times article entitled “For Palestinians, ‘No Light at the End of the Tunnel’” popped up on my Twitter news feed. In the comments thread of the tweet, the outrage was clear, and the tweet was on the cusp of getting “ratioed,” which is when the comments outnumber the favorites and retweets.  This peaked my interest and so I clicked on the link. Having just read Jason Greenblatt’s op-ed, also in the New York Times, on why the world should put the blame for the disparity in Gaza on Hamas more than anyone else, I was expecting some sort of opposing stance in the form of another op-ed. Op-ed sections are just that after all, a place where the exchange of ideas can happen without much interference from editors and where opinions take the front seat over hard statistics. But this was not the case. This was an officially published article, listed in the Times’ section of their website allocated to coverage of the Middle East.  I could not sit idly by watching Israel get slandered to oblivion. To let these claims that were made by such a prestigious and powerful newspaper go unchecked would feel wrong on my moral compass. So, I set off to put my critical thinking to the test and try to find the falsities and hard biases in the piece. It didn’t take me long.

“Palestinians have wanted to shake free of Israeli domination since the West Bank was first occupied in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.” The article attempts to make an entire political argument based on the testimony of one family interviewed. While reporting a lot of what was said with direct quotations, the authors of the piece also subtly throw in their opinions. This gives an aura of fact. This first quote is where things get dicey. Referring to what is widely known as the Six Day War as the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 is more than a waste of words. It’s also an attempt to draw some sort of moral equivalence. Well into the existence of the State of Israel, the Six Day War was actually when  Jordan, Egypt, and Syria combined on three fronts in an attempt to annihilate the budding Israeli state and wipe out the Jews who inhabited it.

“For many of them, his victory has pushed a two-state solution far beyond the already distant horizon, where it existed in the minds of Palestinian politicians.” The two-state solution was offered to the Palestinians on at least three huge occasions throughout history, well before 2019 and Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection. These were by the U.N. partition plan, during the summer of 2000 at Camp David, and most recently in 2008 by the then prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert. Olmert even offered to withdraw from nearly the entire West Bank, a demand Palestinian leadership has been making for some time, and yet Abbas would not agree. Palestinian politicians, as the article calls them, had the two state solution served to them on a plate by Israel, and decided to be picky eaters.  Aside from this, the two state plan still remains the goal of many of those involved in the modern-day peace process. The Palestinian governments of the past and present have always been the obstacles to this plan, proving to be no partners for peace.

“Jamal found himself researching why young Palestinians committed a wave of stabbing attacks in 2015 and 2016. What he learned, he said, applied to their entire generation.

“Most feel that no one is protecting their dignity,” Mr. Zakout said.”

The article, perhaps in an effort to show that the Palestinians historically have had no other choice but to turn to slaughtering Israeli civilians in the past, does an even better job at showing the flawed logic of Palestinian terrorists. Mr. Zakout is essentially saying: “The attitude of young Palestinians is that the Palestinian Authority is no good for us, let’s go kill Jews.”  It also ignores the very prevalent anti-Semitism that still exists in much of the Middle East. The Jews have always been blamed for problems in the world, an aspect of anti-Semitism older than time itself.

“Brothers Rameh and Rand Musmar come from a family of patriots. Their grandfather and father both fought against Israel.

Rameh, 31, used to be a fighter in Fatah’s armed wing. He was imprisoned for three years, then released in a 2008 deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He quit Fatah in 2012.”

Yes, the authors here have established the fact that they are, indeed, interviewing a former terrorist, which should be a huge red flag for readers. Fatah was recognized by the United States as an arm of terrorism, responsible for such bloody atrocities as the Coastal Road Massacre, where 38 civilians, including many children, were gunned down and burned alive inside an Israeli bus in 1978.  However, the journalists provide this former terrorist with the platform of international media to use to push his ideas.

“In the mid-2000s the West Bank was embroiled in an uprising against Israeli rule.”

This one came straight from the authors of the story. This is not a quote from the Palestinian family being interviewed. The Second Intifada was no rightful “uprising,” which would imply some sort of justification for terror. No, the Second Intifada was five years of vicious, constant attacks against Israeli civilians. Waves upon waves of suicide bombings turned all of Israel, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, into burning, tense battlegrounds.  The scars of the bombings against Israelis who had nothing to do with the conflict and were simply living their lives still cut deep and fester today. But this article considers these waves of despicable terrorism an “uprising,” and offers no further details and no other perspective.

How much longer will the editors at prominent media outlets like the New York Times allow deliberately misleading, and frankly, false statements on Israel like the ones presented here to be published in their internationally relied-upon paper?  The award-winning columnist Bret Stephens, who writes for the Times, acts as an opposing viewpoint to articles like the one I saw today, and the paper should be commended for attempting to balance the conversation. However, official journalistic pieces, which seem to be more dressed up op-eds, aid in the demonizing of Israel, an evil that is omnipresent in America today. This demonization creates an environment where Jews are targeted, harassed and discriminated against behind a guise of fake political activism.  When will things change? How much longer will we have to wait? How much longer can we afford to?

*All quotations in this article from: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/21/world/middleeast/israel-west-bank-palestinians.html

About the Author
The author is an engaged Israel advocate, who served as the president of Catamounts Supporting Israel, and was a Hasbara fellow in the past. He majors in Communication at the University of Vermont. He enjoys talking politics regarding U.S.-Israel relations, and is moving to Israel after he graduates to join the IDF.
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