Bureau chief Jodi Rudoren’s new article doesn’t even rise to the level of false moral equivalence.
I don’t like to pile on in the left-wing criticism of the New York Times’ coverage of Israel/Palestine; as a rule I find it irritatingly “even-handed,” equating the violence of the subjugator with that of the subjugated, but this, after all, is a big step up compared to the coverage by so many other American media, which simply see the Palestinians as the aggressors and Israel as fighting back in self-defense. But yesterday’s article by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren about the violence in Jerusalem doesn’t even rise to the level of false moral equivalence; it frames the story completely as one of Palestinians attacking Israelis, now and before, without any provocation from Israel whatsoever.
The story, “In Jerusalem Unrest, Signs of a ‘Run-Over Intifada’ for the 21st Century,” is a long one, but except for one fleeting reference to the “Israeli occupation,” it makes no allusion to Israel’s rule over the Palestinians. It takes the trouble to define the word “intifada” (“shaking off”), but doesn’t say what the Palestinians might want to shake off, except the “status quo,” about which nothing is said.
It asserts that the burning of Mohammed Abu Khdeir was a “revenge attack” for the kidnap-murder of three Israeli teenagers, but doesn’t suggest that the kidnap-murders might have come in revenge for anything.
Rudoren writes that Arafat “directed” the violence of the second intifada, but doesn’t say who was directing the violence of the occupation at the time, because in her article there is effectively no occupation, nor any Israeli violence at all.
The story focuses on the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary, but makes only a passing mention that Israeli police are stationed on it – without making it clear that Israel is in control of the holy site, that Palestinians consider this to be a problem, and that Israeli control of the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary may have something to do with the current violence in Jerusalem.
The story ends, however, on an even-handed note with a quote about the extra-political problems faced by both Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem, what Rudoren calls the city’s “deep challenges” – poverty, ultra-Orthodox Jews who don’t work or serve in the Israeli army, Palestinians who don’t vote in municipal elections.
Bravo. Finally, some “context.”