Editor's Note: This article is part of the Press on Palestine series, an initiative by Palestine Square. It includes selections from July 2022. Press on Palestine highlights bias in mainstream American reporting on Palestinian and Arab-Israeli affairs.
In July, The Washington Post prints an op-ed by U.S. President Joe Biden who parades hypocrisy on Israel’s human rights record; The Wall Street Journal whitewashes Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies in Jerusalem; and The New York Times continues its disinformation campaign on Israel’s murder of renowned Aljazeera correspondent, Shireen Abu Akleh.
1. The Washington Post – July 9, 2022
Why I’m going to Saudi Arabia by Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden penned an op-ed in The Washington Post ahead of his visit to the Middle East in July. He wrote about pushing Saudi Arabia on its human rights record, including holding it accountable for the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and imposing visa bans on MBS-appointed officials harassing dissidents abroad.
Aside from the fact that Biden has no intention of challenging Saudi Arabia’s deplorable human rights record, his administration's hypocrisy is blatant in this op-ed, which preceded a visit to Occupied Palestine. While Saudi Arabia is at least acknowledged as a human rights abuser by the American government, the Israeli regime’s crimes are totally ignored. The ongoing erasure and dispossession of Palestinians – with an average of three Palestinians being displaced by Israeli authorities per day that Biden has been in office — is not worth a word.
This sums up the hypocrisy of U.S. foreign policy: Biden fails to name any of Israel’s abuses, while claiming that “fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when I travel abroad, as they will be during this trip, just as they will be in Israel and the West Bank.” Whether in his Washington Post piece or during the trip to Occupied Palestine itself, Biden completely ignored Israel’s violations, including the recent murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, whose family he refused to meet.
Biden subsequently emphasized America’s commitment to Israel, bragging that the U.S. Congress bestowed the Israeli government “the largest support package… in history.” Also, while claiming that, without his influence, the 2021 Israeli assault on Gaza “could easily have lasted months,” he fails to mention that the U.S. supplied many of the weapons that wreaked death and destruction on Palestinians in Gaza. The $4 billion support package for Israel will also be used to further terrorize Palestinians.
In offering uncritical space for official U.S. state propaganda, media outlets continue their collusion in the crimes being committed against Palestinians.
2. The Wall Street Journal – July 29, 2022
Israel Is Investing in East Jerusalem, Generating Opportunity—and Anger by Dov Lieber
Dov Lieber’s article in the Wall Street Journal on the Jerusalem municipality’s policies completely whitewashes Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing and erasure in Jerusalem. He reduces the horrifying and systemic impact of forced displacement of Palestinians in Jerusalem to “collateral damage” of otherwise benevolent, apolitical policies. The claim that Israel’s actions in Jerusalem are “part of a quality-of-life campaign that is providing desperately needed services in East Jerusalem” overlooks the fact that these services will only be provided to illegal settlers, not to Palestinians.
More crucially – and demonstrative of The Wall Street Journal’s lax editorial standards and close ties to regimes like Israel and the UAE – Lieber fails to mention the Jerusalem Master Plan, closely followed by Mayor Nir Barkat, which has an explicit aim of reducing the Palestinian population in Jerusalem. The Wall Street Journal uncritically published the municipality’s proclamation that it aims “to improve life in a part of the city where well over half of Palestinian residents live in poverty,” failing to mention that the aim is to force Palestinians out and that it is Israeli policies that impoverish Palestinians. The article mostly consists of talking points linked to Israeli ruling policy.
Lieber’s article overlooks the myriad of ways in which Israel discriminates against Palestinians living in Jerusalem. They have long had their needs neglected, and Israeli Occupation Forces frequently attack the limited Palestinian services available, including cultural centers and healthcare services, most recently ahead of the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh.
Finally, while the article hints at the difficulty that Palestinians face when applying for building permits from the occupying authority, it does not present the sheer extent of the challenge. Only 13 percent of East Jerusalem is zoned for construction, and only 7 percent of Palestinian planning applications are accepted, forcing the embattled Palestinian population to build without permits and face attacks from a municipality that wants to expel or exterminate them.
3. The New York Times – July 4, 2022
Bullet Too Damaged to Prove Who Killed Palestinian American Journalist, U.S. Says by Patrick Kingsley and Lara Jakes
The New York Times’ Patrick Kingsley and Lara Jakes continued to focus on the bullet with which an Israeli sniper killed Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May, repeating debunked Israeli claims that Abu Akleh may have been killed by either Israeli or Palestinian gunfire. The so-called journalists – who are long-standing propagandists for the Israeli regime – regurgitated Israeli and U.S. propaganda that Israel does not intentionally harm journalists, despite decades of evidence to the contrary. They opted to obsess over ballistics, rather than acknowledge the clearly-documented murder of a woman wearing a vest marked “PRESS.”
After several independent investigations concluded that Israel is responsible for Abu Akleh’s murder, the continued insistence by New York Times reporters to obscure the facts of the matter is disinformation. It is particularly vexing that the victim in this situation is a journalist, and that shielding Israel from accountability for her murder will only serve to make journalists’ lives in Palestine even more dangerous. The only logical conclusion is that Kingsley and Jakes have a commitment to Israel that is far stronger than their commitment to journalism or to the lives of their colleagues.