I’ve written a number of times (as have, increasingly, many others) about the multiple failures of the New York Times to inform its readers—the world, really, given the importance of the Times—of the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Today’s lead editorial reaches a new low—well, there have been lots of lows. It’s a typical Times editorial on the issue, a wringing of the hands, blaming both sides equally for the current disaster.
Just as it has repeatedly done in past editorials, the Times does not so much as even mention Israel’s occupation and repression—an omission so misleading that it amounts to a kind of indirect lying. But beyond that, today’s editorial contains what can only be characterized as an outright lie. With no qualification, the editorial states that “Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction.” In fact, there is very strong evidence--its Charter and occasional rhetoric notwithstanding—that in practice Hamas would accept any negotiated two-state settlement that has the support of the Palestinian people. In his indispensable article in the current New Republic, John Judis reviews some of that evidence, and there’s a lot more that has been accumulating for at least the last ten years.
The Times is entitled to argue that the evidence is not dispositive, I suppose, but it is assuredly not entitled to ignore it—especially on an issue that is critical not only to understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but settling it.
During WWII the Times played down the increasing evidence of the Holocaust—later, it apologized, essentially admitting that it didn’t want to highlight what might have been seen as just a Jewish issue. Then, during the run-up to Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the Times ran prominent news stories that accepted the administration’s claims about Iraqi nuclear weapons—later, it again apologized.
Maybe one day the Times will also apologize—once again, far too late—for the way it has dealt with the Israeli-Palestine conflict. But I, for one, won’t forgive it.