Behind Robert Mackey’s Continued Assault on Israel

The New York Times has distinguished itself as one of the most anti-Israel papers of today. Its writers habitually skew events to fit a particular narrative, one that is misleading and often, devoid of any truth. But among its cadre of writers, there stands one who is without a doubt, heads and shoulders above the rest in terms of both his anti-Israel invective and propensity to engage in outright mendacity and that dubious distinction goes to Robert Mackey.

To say that Mackey’s coverage of Israel is reprehensible simply doesn’t do justice to the word. Consider his latest article, Israelis Start #BringBackOurBoys Campaign. An outpouring of sympathy for three Israeli youths kidnapped by Arab terrorists while hitchhiking prompted those supportive of Israel to take to social media in an effort to bring attention to their dire plight.

Here’s Mackey’s spin; “A group of Israelis trained to promote their country online started a #BringBackOurBoys campaign last week after three teenagers disappeared on their way home from religious schools in the occupied West Bank.” First, how does Mackey know for certain that Israelis created the site? The kidnapping produced a wave of both outrage and support throughout the international community, from Brazil to the United States. The Facebook page that Mackey refers to could have therefore been created in any number of countries and by any number of people of varied nationalities.

Second, assuming that the page was created by Israelis, how does Mackey know that those who created the page were “trained to promote their country online.” Mackey embeds that part of the sentence with a link to an article that talks about Haifa University offering an elective to students on ways to combat international deligitimization efforts by anti-Israel activists. But Mackey has no way of knowing that the creators of the page took such a course or even attended Haifa University for that matter and the leap is therefore beyond irrational. Indeed, Israelis are among the most prolific users of social media and are also among the most tech savvy so it’s not a stretch to imagine that some kid or a group of kids, devoid of any formal “training” commenced the campaign.

Here Mackey’s malevolence truly comes to fore. He creates a moral inversion of sorts by linking grassroots Israeli efforts to free the kidnapped youths to automaton-like agents of government propaganda. This certainly is not the first time that Mackey has engaged in this sort of insidious yellow journalism.

Indeed, as CAMERA points out, during operation Pillar of Defense, a private Israeli citizen had uncovered yet another Palestinian hoax, this one involving the wide dissemination of a photo of an injured child purportedly hurt by indiscriminate Israeli fire. However, the caption accompanying the photo was false. The child had been injured six years prior after falling off a swing. The Israel Defense Forces then published the true version of events on its Twitter account. But to Mackey, the story wasn’t about malicious and false propaganda disseminated against the Jewish State; the story was about how, in Mackey’s words, “Israel’s military pursues enemies on Twitter.” Mackey displays little or no interest in reporting on substantive lies against Israel; he chooses instead to obsessively focus on how Israel’s “propaganda machine” moves into high gear.

Third, whereas most commentators and writers have noted that the hitchhiking youth were kidnapped in the West Bank, Mackey stands out from the crowd by reminding his readers that the kidnapping occurred not in the West Bank but the “occupied” West Bank, as if the boys brought this upon themselves for being in a place they shouldn’t have been. Moreover, by adopting such terminology, which incidentally has officially and unequivocally been rejected by the government of Australia, Mackey has clearly picked sides leaving little doubt about where his sympathies lie.

Fourth, as blogger Yisrael Medad very astutely points out in a talkback, Mackey is besotted (in an unhealthy way) by social media aimed at freeing the captive youths but completely ignores the Arab “three-finger salute” campaign in which children and adults hold aloft three fingers to signify victory and identification with the terrorists who kidnapped the three Jewish children. We can deduce one of two things from this disparate treatment. Either Mackey identifies with the kidnappers or more likely, does not approve of the action but views gleeful Palestinian identification with it as harmful to the Palestinian cause and thus chooses to ignore it, much like the way the New York Times ignored cheering Palestinians after 3,000 Americans were murdered on 9-11.

Fifth, Mackey has a penchant for citing to fringe, anti-Israel and often times, anti-Semitic bloggers in his posts. He has a particular fondness for the rabidly anti-Israel blogger, Ali Abunimah who has created an online industry of vitriolic hate for the Jewish State. The instant article is no exception.

Mackey refers to a tweet by Abunimah in which Abunimah alleges that an Israeli Facebook page calls for the “kill[ing] [of] a Palestinian every hour.” Mackey accepts Abunimah’s translation of the page without reservation or equivocation, as if everything sputtered by Abunimah represents truth. In fact, the page translates as follows; “Until our youth are returned, every hour we shoot a terrorist.” Not exactly politically correct but a far cry from Abunimah’s deliberately skewed translation. That Mackey doesn’t even bother to double check the translation is reflective of either shoddy journalism or deliberate mendacity.

But ultimately, it is the vettors at the New York Times, those we trust to ensure that what we are reading is accurate, who are responsible for what we see in print. Unfortunately, the gatekeepers are sleeping or worse, complicit in Mackey’s deeply troubling reporting.

About the Author
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor. He has authored several articles covering political and military issues concerning Israel, the United States and the Mideast at large.
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