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The New York Times exhibits a palpable want of sympathy for Israel

The New York Times, Golan, Mandate of Palestine, Palestine, Yassir Arafat, Judea and Samaria, Mahmoud Abbas, Mousa Ibn Marzouk, Khaled Meshaal, Mohammed Dehlan, Arab, Muslim, Red Sea

Oped

The New York Times exhibits a palpable want of sympathy for Israel

The New York Times has long exhibited a palpable want of sympathy for the Jewish state. In its thousands of articles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past 73 years, it has never yet adduced the relevance of the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine, including Article 4, which called on the Mandatory authority to “facilitate immigration” and encourage “close settlement by Jews on the land”. Writes Hugh Fitzgerald

The New York Times has long exhibited a palpable want of sympathy for the Jewish state. In its thousands of articles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past 73 years, it has never yet adduced the relevance of the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine, including Article 4, which called on the Mandatory authority to “facilitate immigration” and encourage “close settlement by Jews on the land.” Nor has it ever bothered to explain what territory was to have been assigned, according to the Mandate, to the future Jewish state. That territory included all the land from the Golan in the north to the Red Sea in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.

On the few occasions when The Times has mentioned U.N. Security Council 242, which was passed unanimously on Nov. 22, 1967, and recognized Israel’s right to retain territory won in the Six-Day War that it needed in order to hav “secure [i.e., defensible] and recognized boundaries,” it has ignored the very clear explanation of the resolution’s significance by its chief author, the British ambassador to the U.N. Lord Caradon. Instead, Times’ stories too often repeat the Arab claim — which Lord Caradon memorably shoots down — that according to UNSC 242, Israel must give up all of the territory it won in 1967.

The Times has never devoted articles to the colossal theft of Palestinian aid money by Yassir Arafat ($1-$3 billion), Mahmoud Abbas ($400 million), Mousa Ibn Marzouk ($2.5 billion), Khaled Meshaal ($2.5-$5 billion), Mohammed Dahlan ($100 million), nor ever described the system of government sinecures paying ten times the average wage, that the P.A. hands out to relatives and friends of its leaders.

The Times has never explained why the place names Judea and Samaria, in uninterrupted use in the Western world for several thousand years, were supplanted in 1950 by the Jordanians, when they started to call the area they had seized west of the Jordan in 1948 as the “West Bank,” so as to efface the Jewish connection to the land.

The Times opens its Opinion Page to such people as Peter Beinart (who “no longer supports Israel as a Jewish state”), and a great many others, including Muslim and Arab contributors whose want of sympathy for Israel is palpable. Its regular columnists include the stridently anti-Israel Nicholas Kristof, who writes about Israelis “stealing land and bombing civilians,” and the anti-Israel Tom Friedman, who is angry mainly because Israel doesn’t immediately follow all the advice he – the World’s Greatest Authority — so freely provides. Only Bret Stephens, among the columnists, can be counted on to give Israel a fair hearing.

But you can find a subtle undermining of Israel even where you might think it couldn’t possibly appear — in the Times’ food section. A recent report on olive oil in an Israeli village offers an example here: “World’s Best Olive Oil? New York Times Headline Says It’s ‘Palestinian,’ But Dateline, Watchdog Group, Map All Say ‘Israel,’” by Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, October 21, 2021:

The New York Times food section is highlighting olive oil from a town the article’s dateline correctly identifies as “RAMEH, Israel.” But the article’s sub-headline describes the town as “Palestinian,” and the article itself also describes the place as a “Palestinian mountain village.”

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis called on the Times to correct the error. A CAMERA blog post by Tamar Sternthal, the director of the watchdog group’s Israel office, said, “While some residents of Rameh might identify as Palestinian – (just 7 percent of Arabs living in Israel self-identify as Palestinian, according to a 2020 survey) – the geopolitical reality is that Rameh is located within Israel’s internationally-recognized pre-1967 armistice lines.”

As a place, Rameh is clearly located in Israel – Israel within the green line, not in the territories some insist on calling “occupied.” The story’s dateline reads “RAMEH, Israel.” Why then did the Times describe Rameh twice – in its sub-headline and in the article — as “Palestinian”?

The Times declined to issue a correction, telling CAMERA, “Rameh is both an Arab town and a Palestinian one, and either is correct. Arab citizens of Israel increasingly identify as Palestinian, a subject we’ve written much about. Calling it a Palestinian town refers to the character and inhabitants of the town and doesn’t imply Palestinian sovereignty or Israeli occupation. And the dateline on the article says Rameh is in Israel.”

CAMERA argued that by refusing to correct the mistake, the New York Times was “Demonstrating a total abandonment of the journalistic imperative mandating strict adherence to factual accuracy.”

Rameh does not become “Palestinian” because Arabs live in it, and a very few of those Arabs–we know from polls that only 7% of the Arabs in Israel identiy as “Palestinians” – call themselves “Palestinians.” Would we call a border town in Texas “Mexican” just because most, say 80%, of its population is Mexican in origin? No, it’s still in the United States, and would be identified as such. TheTimes might have described Rameh, accurately, as “the Arab-populated Israeli town of Rameh” but the writer of this particular article, herself a Palestinian, chose not to do so.

The watchdog [Tamara Sternthal, at CAMERA] also faulted the article for advancing “the fallacious notion that Israel’s founding and the state’s subsequent policies are solely responsible for Rameh’s decreased olive oil output.” In fact, other factors are at play, including the decline of agriculture in favor of more lucrative work, a trend that has affected farming by Israeli Jews (and by American farmers in the United States) as well.

How would Israel’s founding, or its state policies have caused decreased olive oil output in Rameh? The bizarre charge is made, but no evidence is produced. Readers of the Times’ food section might be interested to learn that Israeli Jewish producers too, have experienced a 33% decrease in olive oil production in 2021 over the rolling average for the previous five years. Weather, the Covid pandemic, and better-paid jobs in other occupations affect Jewish and Arab farmers alike. It is certainly plausible that some Arab farmers in Rameh, like Jewish farmers, would choose to work in more lucrative fields than growing olives. This isn’t a sinister plot to damage Arab olive oil production; it is simply the free market in labor at work. One can well imagine the outcry If Israeli policies were somehow forcing Arabs to remain as low-paid farmers engaged in olive oil production.

The Times food section has a history of anti-Israel bias, to the point of using the term “pearl couscous” instead of “Israeli couscous.”

The full headline and sub-headline of the article are, “The Best Olive Oil in the World? This Village Thinks So. Rameh, a Palestinian town surrounded by olive groves, has long had a reputation for producing especially good oil.”

The controversy kicked up a storm on Twitter. “Everything Israel-related at the New York Times gets a standard political spin, even olive oil,” commented the founder of NGO Monitor, Gerald Steinberg.

The author of the Times’ food section article, Reem Kassis, is also the author of a February 2020 Washington Post “perspective” article headlined, “Here’s why Palestinians object to the term ‘Israeli food’: It erases us from history.” The article said, “As it is for many Palestinians, the term ‘Israeli cuisine’ is hard for me to swallow. … presenting dishes of Palestinian provenance as ‘Israeli’ not only denies the Palestinian contribution to Israeli cuisine, but it erases our very history and existence.”…

Reem Kassis is a Palestinian food writer who seems to have no other subject but the Palestinians, their travails and miseries under Israeli “occupation,” and the appropriation of “Palestinian” foods by Israeli Jews.

Kassis decries the supposed appropriation or “theft” of Palestinian foods by the Israelis, but it is she who has her history wrong. The dishes that characterize both Israeli and Palestinian cuisine – hummus, felafel, shakshuka, tabouleh, couscous, tajine – all originate outside of the area. They have been “stolen” as much by the “Palestinians” as they have been by the Israelis.

The origins of hummus are not certain, but many believe it originated among the Copts in Egypt. The earliest known recipes for hummus appear in cookbooks in 13th century Egypt. Others claim hummus was originally Greek. Still others claim that hummus was brought to “Palestine” by the Crusaders, who had first discovered it in their travels through Turkey. Shawarma was brought to “Palestine” by the Ottoman Turks. Felafel was brought from Egypt by the Copts, for whom it was a staple. The egg-and-tomato dish shakshuka has been part of Sephardic cuisine for centuries, especially in North Arica, and was first brought to Israel by Jewish immigrants from Libya and Tunisia in the 1950s and 1960s.Couscous and tajine are both dishes that originated among the Berbers of North Africa, then spread to the Arabs in the Maghreb, and finally travelled east to “Palestine” and beyond. As far as I can tell, there appear to be no so-called “Palestinian” food dishes that originated with the Palestinian Arabs themselves.

Will any of this appear in the food section of the New York Times? Of course not. This information about where the Israeli/Palestinian foods originally came from does not accord with what the newspaper of record sees fit to print, which is only that which undermines the Jewish state. These facts make clear that the “Palestinians” are grossly mistaken in their claims that Israelis have “stolen” their foods.

As for the village of Rameh — apparently known for its olive oil — despite the efforts of Palestinian-American food writer Reem Kassis, who in her Times article repeatedly refers to the village as “Palestinian,” Rameh is no such thing. It is part of Israel, and has been ever since the Jewish state was declared in 1948. Its population does not identify as “Palestinian” but as Muslim, Christian, and Druze. Hit with complaints, the Times has refused to rectify its mistake. Instead, it’s going to brazen it out, claiming that the epithet “Palestinian” was properly used because it identifies the inhabitants, not the village itself. So “Rameh” is described in the Times as a “Palestinian village” rather than as what it should be called, an “Israeli village” with “Muslim, Christian, and Druze” inhabitants (remember: only 7% of the Arabs in Israel call themselves “Palestinians”). The Times needs again to be asked: in your news pages, do you call El Paso – with Mexicans making up 83% of its population – a “Mexican” city? No, you do not. Why then call Rameh — after having provided “Rameh, Israel” as the story’s dateline — a “Palestinian” village?

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Blitz’s Editorial Board is responsible for the stories published under this byline. This includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on WeeklyBlitz.net

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