A Year of Israel Coverage at the “New York Times”

March 7 2019

Highlighting some of the most egregious examples of the New York Times’s dishonest and misleading reporting on the Jewish state and its conflict with the Palestinians, Gilead Ini identifies several patterns. These include covering up the extreme positions of anti-Israel groups and public figures, to the extent that Omar Barghouti—founder of the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS)—wrote a letter clarifying that BDS’s goal was not to protest settlements in the West Bank, as the Times had it, but to destroy the Jewish state. In another case, a reporter selectively quoted an anti-Israel statement, along with objections to it, so that the latter came across as nonsensical. And then there are things the Times does not consider fit to print:

On March 20, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas called David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, the “son of a dog.” The New York Times ignored the story, leaving readers in the dark about a dramatic diplomatic incident. You might ask whether the newspaper would likewise look away if an Israeli prime minister denounced an American ambassador.

The record gives a clear answer. A couple of years earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized a statement by then-U.S. ambassador Dan Shapiro as being “unacceptable and incorrect.” At the time, the Times shined the spotlight on Netanyahu’s incomparably milder statement, covering it in a news story and again in an editorial that slammed Netanyahu’s critique as “unusually personal and unfair.” Apparently “son of a dog” is neither of those. . . .

Mahmoud Abbas was far from the only beneficiary last year of the newspaper’s selectively gentle touch. Consider this headline, published during the wave of Palestinian riots along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel: “Battle Weary, Hamas Gives Peaceful Protests a Chance.” . . . Only a day before the Times headline [was published], Israel had uncovered a Hamas attack tunnel leading from Gaza into Israel. A few days before that, Hamas’s leader Yahya Sinwar declared to Palestinians gathered at the Israeli frontier, “We will take down the border, and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies”—a chilling and illuminating threat that Times reporters opted not to report.

That tunnel and those words are not peaceful. Nor were the rocks, firebombs, and explosives hurled at Israeli targets during what another article . . . nonetheless insisted was Gaza’s “experiment with nonviolent protest.”

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More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Media, New York Times

What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy