The NYT’s unsubtle war on fairness in covering the Arab-Israeli conflict

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (

Al-Akhbar Management

In a few articles over the last few days, The New York Times’ hostility to the Palestinian people and their just cause was revealed to all. First, there is a note from Public Editor Margaret Sullivan.

The role of the public editor of the Times is rather perfunctory: similar to the role of the office of ombudsman in the Lebanese republic (there is such an empty office in Lebanon). The editor almost always addresses the coverage of the conflict and always absolves the paper of the obvious charges and evidence of bias in favor of Israeli war and occupation. Every treatment of news coverage by the public editor inevitably begins with what I call the “Bill O’Reilly ploy:” O’Reilly often attempts to dupe his viewers by claiming that he is fair, and he cites at the end of his program two comments by “viewers,” in which one accuses him of far right bias, and another, inexplicably, accuses him of far left bias. The two accusations against O’Reilly absolve him of the charge of bias. Similarly, the public editor of the Times began her treatment by indicating that people on both sides accuse the Times of bias, and thus this false equation serve to exonerate the Times. But this statement is rather absurd: who in his or her right mind actually accuses the Times of pro-Palestinian bias? The right-wing nutty organization called CAMERA, which believes that Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu are biased against Israel, conveniently provides the Times with the necessary material to claim that the paper is attacked for its coverage by both sides.

Comically, the public editor allows the international editor to claim that the paper and its staff are not partisan on Arab-Israeli issues. This is like saying that Alan Dershowitz is really neutral on Arab-Israeli matters, or like Dershowitz’s recent claim that he is “pro-Palestine.” The public editor informs us that there are no Arabic-speakers in the Times’ Israel bureau and that there are no plans to open an office in Ramallah due to financial reasons. The public editor, you see, is very easily persuaded. She concludes that the paper tries very hard to be fair and that fact that children and spouses of the Times correspondents serve or have served in the Israeli terrorist army is no big deal (no one mentions that the husband of Isabel Kershner – not only her son – served in the Israeli army).

Secondly, the newspaper covered the racist Israeli bill about how the Jewishness of the state supersedes all other considerations in Israel. What is remarkable about the Times, is that all racist laws and practices are referred to as “controversial” or “contested.” Controversial is euphemism for racist, but the applicable latter term could offend Zionist readers so it is avoided at all cost. And the paper, typically, always goes out of its way to provide justifications and rationalizations for Israeli war crimes and racism. Thus despite the pattern of continuing Israeli murder of Palestinian civilians, the paper found it necessary to inform readers, in an article about a racist Israeli bill, that it came after “recent wave of deadly Palestinian attacks against Israelis in the city and beyond.” Thus, readers are expected to sympathize with the Israeli move.

Thirdly, the paper published on Sunday an article by a reporter who worked at the Israeli publication, The Jerusalem Post. She makes this statement in her article: “All the while, Israeli officials have continued to declare that Jerusalem will remain Israeli, while Palestinian officials insist that Jerusalem belongs to them.” This is the kind of false symmetry that US media always concoct to make the outrageousness of Israeli stances appear less outrageous. Look at that sentence: while it is true that Israel insists on controlling all of Jerusalem, the writer blatantly lies when she claims that the Palestinians (or “Palestinian officials”) “insist that Jerusalem belongs to them.” That is not even the stance of Hamas. No Palestinian official insist on controlling all of Jerusalem and they only speak of East Jerusalem.

Fourthly, the paper carried an article about the conflict over the holy sites in Jerusalem. And notice how Israeli repression and restrictions on freedom of worship is portrayed in a favorable light: “The Israeli police also frequently limit access by age and gender, citing security concerns, and closed the site altogether after the shooting of the activist, though they have imposed no restrictions the last two Fridays.” But such qualifying statements never accompany references to Palestinian “restrictions.” And the Israeli propaganda machine often talks about “Palestinian restrictions” on Jewish worship in East Jerusalem prior to 1967, but the Zionists omit an important fact: that it was the Hashemites of Jordan (who have been on the payroll of the Zionists) who were in charge of the holy sites, and not the Palestinian people. Worse, even images of the Muslim holy sites are considered by Zionists of the Times as “political propaganda: “Images of al-Aqsa hang in virtually every Palestinian home and have become a central component of political propaganda.” What is propagandistic about hanging images of the mosque in Palestinian homes, and how can one display an image of Jerusalem without including the mosque in the image? And if someone were to claim that all images of the Wailing Wall are the work of “political propaganda” one would be immediately accused of anti-Semitism.

In sum, The New York Times does not even try to hide its biases and blatant propaganda on behalf of Israel. The public editor in her treatment, or the international editor in his/her responses to questions, simply assume that readers are idiots and that their comprehension skills are well below that of toddlers or chimps.

Dr. As’ad AbuKhalil is a Professor of Political Science at California State University, Stanislaus, a lecturer and the author of The Angry Arab News Service. He tweets @asadabukhalil.


Sir thine report informs us of the rags known as EBOLA PRESS -
to be strongly avoided and exterminated

rest assured it is fit for dog excrement only if anything

I suppose one like NYT whitewasher-in-chief could also claim that slavers and slaves are both biased about the slavery, and only "balanced" view is OK.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><img><h1><h2><h3><h4><h5><h6><blockquote><span><aside>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

^ Back to Top