The myth of “Zionism is racism” resuscitated in New York Times news articles, including one “extremely strange”
Press articles from New York Times increasingly report the Israeli-Arab conflict through the frame “Zionism is racism”.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once described this lie as the “big red lie” – “the last great horror of the Hitler-Stalin era”. In 1991, even the New York Times editorialists denounced him, as expressed in a now repealed UN resolution, as “shameful”.
Yet it is off again. Monday one Times press article began, “MOUNT GERIZIM, West Bank – In the occupied and largely separated West Bank …” American readers of the newspaper will choose “segregated” as a reference toBrown v Council of Education schools, the separated and unequal era of Jim Crow.
Tuesday another Times press article, which, like the first, bore the signature of Times Jerusalem bureau chief Patrick Kingsley paraphrased Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, director of Al Aqsa Mosque: “The de facto policy change is part of a larger set of offenses against Palestinian dignity in the occupied territories, he said. Then came a direct quote: “This is the reality that prevails, not only at the Aqsa Mosque, but also at the checkpoints and other places in Palestine,” he said. “We are constantly faced with racist discrimination and violations of our human rights. “
Once again, the reference to “constant racist discrimination” will not be lost on an American public of progressives. Times readers educated to be anti-racist following the police murder of George Floyd. You could say it’s just a quote, not the Times itself, but the Times chooses which quotes to use and whether to frame them with context and fact-checking to give readers a sense of reality. And a model is a model.
Racism and segregation are wrong. The application of this American framework to Israel is also flawed: clumsy, misguided and inaccurate, as are similar efforts to view Israel and the Palestinians through the prism of South Africa and apartheid. Those who apply it often do it one way; they are not asking, for example, why it is not “discrimination” for Ben & Jerry’s to refuse to sell ice cream to Jewish residents of the West Bank.
The second article, on Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, has additional flaws. He said, “For many Palestinians, the change is provocative and unfair. They believe that Muslims have already made a big concession to the Western Wall, which is now mainly used by Jewish worshipers although it is also important to Muslims. In 1967, Israel even razed an Arab quarter next to the wall to create more space for Jewish prayer.
Why was there “an Arab quarter” next to the wall? This Times the article does not explain, but the online version at least hyperlink to a Times 1971 article this explains, “Since the Middle Ages, according to archaeological evidence, the 25 acres of the Jewish Quarter within the walls were central to Jewish piety and Orthodox culture in the holy city of King David. There were over 50 synagogues in this overcrowded space, with a population of 16,000 Jews at the turn of the century… The fall of the Jewish Quarter to Arabs on May 28, 1948, “was the darkest event of the war. independence of Israel, ‘wrote Mayor Teddy Kollek years later. From then until 1967, medieval synagogues and seedy dwellings in the Jewish Quarter lay under the rubble of war artillery. Squatters have started to settle. Arab families gradually came to regard the neighborhood as their home.
This is not the only notable omission of context. Yair Rosenberg, Senior Writer at Tablet magazine, highlighted on Twitter: “Extremely weird New York Times article about Jews praying at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem which nowhere mentions that the Temple Mount is * the holiest site in all of Judaism. * The whole story is meaningless if you omit this essential fact ! He added: “The article explicitly says that the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif is the third holiest site in Islam. It was a deliberate choice to put aside the fact that this is the holiest site in Judaism. The Times should correct and add some basic religious context to the article.
Professor at Brandeis University and former State Department official Yehudah Mirsky, wrote, “All @Yair_Rosenberg written in this thread – about Jerusalem, journalistic practice and more – is true. And his call the Times‘extremely bizarre’ omission here is, say, very, very polite.
It is New York Times coverage of Israel these days: omitting the critical context while trying to impose an irrelevant and inaccurate interpretive framework.
Ira Stoll was editor of the Forward and North American editor of the Jerusalem Post. His media review, a regular feature film by Algemeiner, can be found here.