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The New York Times' Broken Moral Compass

The New York Times' Broken Moral Compass

The Times double standard and obsession with criticizing Israel moves into overdrive.


On August 21, 2012, The New York Times ran an article on the front page, above the fold, entitled "Young Israelis Held in Attack on Arabs" about seven Jewish Israeli teens arrested for beating several Arab teens – even sending one, Jamal Julani, to the hospital. In her coverage of this appalling incident, Isabel Kershner writes that

"the poisoned political environment around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has affected the moral compass of youths growing up within it."

By "youths," Kershner means only Jewish Israeli youths as she gives scant mention to any Arab on Jew violence, citing "suicide bombings that killed scores" as part of "the second Palestinian uprising" only in the third-to-last paragraph of the article, where she also writes that "in some of the tenser predominantly Arab neighborhoods, Israeli cars and buses are frequently stoned." Those mentions are in paragraph 27 of a 29-paragraph story and appear on the jump page, rather than page one.

Kershner bolsters her thesis that Israeli society is morally corrupt by citing the firebombing of an Arab taxi on the West Bank "apparently by Jewish extremists, though there have been no arrests," and by quoting educator Nimrod Aloni who says,

"This is directly tied to national fundamentalism that is the same as the rhetoric of neo-Nazis, Taliban and K.K.K."

If proven true, the accusations against the teens being held are despicable. However, to extrapolate from this reprehensible incident that the ethics of Israeli society as a whole are in question is quite a leap. That would be like indicting all of America for recent mob beatings that took place in South Carolina, North Carolina, Chicago, Virginia, Alabama, California, Baltimore, or New York City. In fact, though occurring much closer to New York Times headquarters, none of these events merited front page, above the fold, placement.

Double Standard

If the beating of an Arab teen is the result of the "the poisoned political environment around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" and therefore warrants front-page coverage, certainly other incidents would warrant similar placement.

Recent attacks against Jews in Jerusalem were completely ignored by the Times.

In April, three members of a Jewish family were hospitalized after being attacked by a group of Arab teens with chains, clubs and a knife in a Jerusalem park. CAMERA research turned up no mention of this attack in the pages of the New York Times. Earlier that month, when a Jewish man was attacked with an axe by a Palestinian Arab youth outside of Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, there was no mention of the attack in the Times. In March, a 19-year-old female soldier was stabbed by a Palestinian teenager on Jerusalem's light rail train; this news was reported by Kershner but ran as a brief on page five.

When five members of the Fogel family were slaughtered in the town of Itamar in the West Bank last year, the New York Times ran an Associated Press brief on page five. The next day, Kershner's article about the atrocity ran on page 16. Subsequent mention of this story in Times’ articles ran on page 4, page 6, page 15, and page 8.

One could fairly ask why the hospitalization of a single teen warrants more prominent placement on the pages of the Times than the savage, premeditated murder of five members of a single family, including the near decapitation of a 3-month-old infant. Certainly this attack also grew out of "the poisoned political environment around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Societal Approval of Violence

It must be noted that the teens who are accused of perpetrating this inexcusable attack were arrested and face charges. In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, before the beating but after the taxi incident and pledged to hunt down the perpetrators of the firebomb attack.

The Times depicts an entire culture that has been escalating toward racism.

This hardly indicates societal approval of such actions. Yet Kershner quotes Aloni describing, "an entire culture that has been escalating toward an open and blunt language based on us being the chosen people who are allowed to do whatever we like." Kershner describes "a national conversation about racism, violence, and how Israeli society could have come to this point."

By contrast, that conversation is certainly not happening within Palestinian Arab society. The Palestinian Authority – not to mention Hamas which rules Gaza – actively engages in incitement of violence against Jews and Israelis.

Palestinian Media Watch regularly documents instances of PA dehumanization and vilification of Jews and Israelis:

Using media, education, and cultural structures that it controls, the PA has actively promoted religious hatred, demonization, conspiracy libels, etc. These are packaged to present Israelis and Jews as endangering Palestinians, Arabs, and all humanity. This ongoing campaign has so successfully instilled hatred that fighting, murder and even suicide terror against Israelis and Jews are seen by the majority of Palestinians as justified self-defense and as Allah's will.

The charter of Hamas quotes the Hadith:

The Prophet, Allah's prayer and peace be upon him, says: "The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,' except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews."

The Times’ Kershner is familiar with this incitement, having written about Palestinian Media Watch last year in an article that ran on page 16. Nowhere in that previous article does she question "how Palestinian society could have come to this point." Nor is the "moral compass" of all Palestinian Arabs indicted.

Media monitors have previously reported on the Times' obsession with criticizing Israel on its editorial pages – and obsessive hectoring and criticism that contradicts any rational view about what should warrant public concern and attention.

Now, this same policy is applied to the news pages. To run Kershner's story on page one shows a gross lapse in editorial judgment. Clearly, the story is newsworthy, but when it comes to Israel, New York Times editors seem oblivious to the rules of fair and unbiased reporting.

September 2, 2012

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 17

(12) Mr. Cohen, February 19, 2017 6:14 PM

STOP BUYING the New York Times!

Over the past 25 years, there have been many times when I literally prayed to G_d that Jews should STOP BUYING the New York Times.

Any Jew who buys the New York Times is like an African-American who buys the newspaper of the KKK (assuming that such as newspaper actually exists).

How to Convict the New York Times
of Unfair Bias Against Israel:

(11) Anonymous, December 16, 2012 11:36 PM

Sarit Catz thinks she can read minds!

Note this comment near the top of this article: "By "youths," Kershner means only Jewish Israeli youths as she gives scant mention to any Arab on Jew violence, " How on earth does Catz know that the Times journalist "means only Jewish Israeli youths"? I read the Times material as referring (rightly or wrongly) to youths on all sides.

(10) prof. I.T. Young, September 3, 2012 8:42 AM

Are we still expected, in fact chosen, to be "a light unto the nations? If so then we - the same we that we will utter repeatedly from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur - are obligated to be responsible for our own actions. The above article echoes the childish excuse: "By 'youths,' Kershner means only Jewish Israeli youths as she gives scant mention to any Arab on Jew violence". I hear my children fighting and excusing themselves by saying that the other one started it. As children perhaps they are not yet responsible for their actions but teenage Jewish youths are. And the subsequent statement shows that perhaps Jewish adults as well are in denial: "If proven true, the accusations against the teens being held are despicable." If proven true, it will not be the accusations that are despicable but the 'teens'.

Anonymous, September 5, 2012 8:29 AM

No excuses, but that's not the point

Professor Young, the article above is very clear that there is no excuse for what the teens allegedly did, so i don't understand why it sounds like you disagree with it. The article above is about an important source of information that spins facts in a way that abusively distorts the perspective of the people who voluntarily buy it from them. In other words, it is not about whether the teens are good or bad, it is about whether the newspaper is good or bad.

(9) Baruch, September 3, 2012 5:32 AM

Yes, but...

Over the past 10 years, I have probably made over a thousand attempts to get my Jewish friends and family to stop buying the New York Times. 2 people did cancel, about 1% of the people I begged & cajoled. At the end of the day, The New York Times is a business, not a charity. If it prints this stuff and we want it so bad that we willingly pay for it, how can you write an article complaining about them? The New York Times moral compass is not broken, they are printing what the possibly broken moral compass of hundreds of thousands of Jews who love Israel are paying them to print every day. Aren't they?

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