NYT Waffles Between Erasure and Truth; WSJ Closes Ranks with Israeli Apartheid
September 25 2022

Editor's Note: This article is part of the Press on Palestine series, an initiative by Palestine Square. It includes selections from August 2022. Press on Palestine highlights bias in mainstream American reporting on Palestinian and Arab-Israeli affairs.

In August, seeking to boost their approval ratings ahead of the November elections — the fifth in three years — the Israeli regime’s top politicians bombed Gaza yet again. 49 Palestinians were killed, including 17 children. Nearly 400 more were injured, with some made blind by Israeli strikes. 

During and following this politically-motivated assault, readers across the world were exposed to continued decontextualized reporting on Palestine, as well as a barrage of pro-Israel propaganda. In one article, however, we saw a refreshing departure from an editorial policy that has long legitimized Israeli crimes. 

1. The Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2022
Israel Reopens Gaza Crossing as Cease-Fire Holds, By Dov Lieber and Aaron Boxerman 

Throughout its coverage on the latest bombing of Gaza, The Wall Street Journal relied on Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) as a principal source, ignoring any Palestinian or UN voices. 

In this particularly damning report, the authors omit the number Palestinians killed. When child victims were briefly mentioned — again, without a number being offered — there is no context regarding the fact that they were targeted by the IOF. 

To cleanse the Israeli regime’s culpability, the authors mention how “Israel has eased some restrictions on Gaza” — as if the Israeli regime is generous and the restrictions are reasonable. The authors fail to mention the socio-economic impacts of a 15-year-long illegal blockade on more than two million Gazans. 

The article is presented with the rhetoric of a war. But even the Israeli regime has admitted that the latest bombing of Gaza was a “pre-emptive” attack. The mention of strikes and home demolitions — purportedly conducted to combat “terrorism” — ignores the fact that there are countless unprovoked attacks on Palestinian lives and property by the IOF. 

In the most disturbing attempt to present Israel in a positive light, the reporters legitimize the targeted killing of five Palestinian boys who had been playing in a cemetery. Callously described as “one such incident in which several children were killed” — deceptively presented as simply a cost of war — there is an intentional omission of the fact that the IOF deliberately inflicts pain on soft targets who live under their Occupation. 

2. The New York Times, August 18, 2022
Palestinian Rights Groups Raided by Israeli Soldiers by Patrick Kingsley by Raja Abdulrahim

Adbulrahim covered the Israeli raids that targetted seven Palestinian human rights organizations in August. While she did not offer background into the long history of Israeli attacks on Palestinian civil society, she also — unlike other notoriously pro-Israel NYT reporters, like Patrick Kingsley and Isabel Kershner — avoided using the Israel Occupation Forces as a legitimate source in a refreshing departure from NYT policy. She gave voice to Palestinian human rights workers who have been labelled terrorists by the apartheid regime — they are quoted throughout the piece, something unusual in a newspaper that typically works to erase the Palestinian identity. 

The piece makes sure to explain that the seven human rights organizations have been recognized internationally, and have even received funding from the European Union. It describes the brutality of Israeli raids against the offices — the theft of phones, computers, even toasters – and the fact that Israeli officials have not offered up any evidence to support the ludicrous allegations. 

It is frustrating to see that figures like Ned Price, the Biden administration’s State Department spokesman, are quoted without any context about their longstanding anti-Palestinian rhetoric. That being said, Abdulrahim notes that many parties — from Israeli NGOs to Human Rights Watch to a UN Special Rapporteur — consider Israel to be imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people. NYT editorial policy has been careful to omit this in most coverage of the Occupation, or to actively discredit it. Perhaps, as public opinion in the United States shifts towards solidarity with Palestine, mainstream liberal outlets will inch closer to their readership.

3. The New York Times, August 26, 2022
A Social Media Star of a Changed Middle East: An Arab From Israel in Dubai by Patrick Kingsley

From the title of his article, NYT reporter Patrick Kingsley erases Palestinians. This is a good indication of what is to come in this puff piece for the Israeli regime. 

Nuseir Yassin — the focus of Kingsley’s profile — is a prolific normalizer who goes by the name “Nas.” Israel propagandists have long used the few sympathetic Palestinians as tokens to justify the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Having “Arab doctors and lawyers” in the Apartheid state is not a measure of equality: it’s status quo. Palestinians who fought against Israeli militias and stayed in their homes after the 1948 Nakba are also occupied. 

As Israel tries to position itself as a global tech leader, the use of Yassin — who has millions of social media followers and also owns a tech company — is a PR win-win. He subtly praises Emirati authoritarianism, claiming that he has more rights in the UAE than any democratic country — a ludicrous notion, given that the Emirati regime is a serial human rights abuser, having jailed dissenters, even using Israeli spyware technology to surveil slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s wife. Freedom of speech is non-existent in the pro-Israel Gulf monarchy. But this is not a problem for Yassin, who now makes much of his money in the UAE. 

The piece describes Nas as one of the 20% of Israel’s Arabs, erasing the Palestinian identity and denying the Nakba. In Kingsley’s world, Nas just happens to be an Arab-Israeli — absolutely no context is given. 

The article is littered with countless other examples of pseudo-journalism. For instance, Kingsley manages to find a couple of normalizing Palestinians to praise Yassin… but, unsurprisingly, he doesn’t offer up any Israeli who can say a word of praise on record for the social media star, even with his millions of followers! This is because Israelis overwhelmingly vote for political parties that spew hate and push the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians — hardly any would have a nice thing to say about an Arab, let alone a Palestinian. Israel is the intruder in the region, having occupied Palestine, invaded Lebanon, bombed Syria, and waged wars against Egypt. 

While trying to whitewash the Occupation of Palestine — while simultaneously whitewashing Israeli tech — Kingsley notes that “Arabs in Israel” (like Nas) are “exempted from compulsory military service… and few enroll voluntarily, to avoid fighting fellow Palestinians. That makes it harder for them to penetrate professional fields, particularly the tech industry, where researchers have found that elite Israeli military experience makes it easier to get hired.”

There is no “fighting.” There is no “elite Israeli military experience.” A nuclear regime routinely kills Palestinian civillians from the sky and from a distance, often using planes, drones and snipers. There is no war — there is an Occupation, enforced with illegal raids, home demolitions and killings. Palestinians live in an Apartheid state — and the NYT, with articles like these, is scrambling to legitimize it. 

About The Author: 

Laura Albast is a Palestinian-American journalist, editor, and media analyst. Her publications and appearances include The Washington Post, The New Arab, Arab American News, Doha News, Al Jazeera, TRT World, KPFA and other outlets. She holds degrees from the American University of Beirut and Boston University and is currently the Senior Editor of Digital Strategy and Communications at the Institute for Palestine Studies-USA in Washington, DC — she is the managing editor of Palestine Square.

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