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The NYTimes editorial: A clever attempt to gaslight us

I do not think they can easily walk back their own culture of contempt for Prime Minister Netanyahu, for Israel in general, or for the truth in particular when it comes to the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

by Phyllis Chesler

And so the New York Times has actually, finally, issued an editorial apology. 

I am not persuaded. This is pro forma PR. It is also a clever attempt to gaslight us. What else can it be? Suddenly, the very purveyor of poisoned propaganda against the Jewish state, presumes to stand apart from its own historical role which consisted of disappearing the 20th century Holocaust and of incitement to genocide against the Jews in the 21st century. How can it stand apart from itself? 

The apology concerns the “appalling political cartoon...of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” The cartoon? What about the countless articles, editorials, and opinion pieces which damned the Israeli Prime Minister even more fatefully than this single cartoon? I do not think they can easily walk back their own culture of contempt for Prime Minister Netanyahu, for Israel in general, or for the truth in particular when it comes to the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

The apology is blind. It notes “white nationalist” attacks on Jews and on mosques and the “rightward drift” of Israel and of some European nations—as if this is the primary source of anti-Semitism. As if this is the terrorism we all must fear. It fails to note that brown-skinned (wealthy and educated Muslims) just blew up brown-skinned Christians in Sri Lanka; that brown-skinned Muslims are slaughtering brown-skinned Christians all over the Arab Middle East and in Africa. It fails to note that brown-skinned (wealthy and educated Muslims) just blew up brown-skinned Christians in Sri Lanka; that brown-skinned Muslims are slaughtering brown-skinned Christians all over the Arab Middle East and in Africa. It fails to note that the quantum escalation of Jew hatred is coming to us from the educated Left in the West and from the Islamic world and from Islamic community leaders in the West.

Therefore, I do not think that the Times has learned any important lesson. It does not seem to see the larger, global picture and is not in command of what’s happening in America either.

Sadly, I now agree with the Klarsfelds but with one modification: VISIBLE Jews are no longer safe anywhere on earth. If we can pass—physically, politically—we might still get by. But not with any honor. We are no longer automatically safe in synagogues or in Jewish schools and Centers. But we have known that for a long time, haven’t we? Isn’t there a police presence, metal detectors, etc. at every Israeli consulate, Jewish organization, and at so many synagogues?

If we were as honorable as the 20th century Danes, we would all dress as Chabad emissaries as we walk the streets. But the NYT’s does not suggesting doing so.

What will it mean to stop reading the New York Times? To stop believing what they publish? What will it mean for the Jews who swear by the Times as if it were the Torah?

Once, I, too, swore by every line the New York Times printed.

Once, I was glad to appear in their pages in interview after interview. My books were routinely reviewed there, twice on the front page of their Book Review. Over the years, I published numerous op-ed pieces and letters—and once, my face actually appeared on the cover of their Sunday magazine. 

And then, it all went south when Arafat launched his well planned Intifada of 2000 and even further south on 9/11. I had been dealing with anti-Semitism among leftists, feminists, academics, and the glitterati since the early 1970s but the 21st century hit me hard. I began reading my home town newspaper very carefully. Daily, I was mortified, outraged, and deeply puzzled.

How could the media that I was taught to trust—to swear by—be so consistently wrong about Israel? And about Islam? In article after article, which I began documenting as did CAMERA and HONESTREPORTING, I was astounded by how their headlines were always—not sometimes but always—diabolically deceiving; how the context, if any, was always—not sometimes but always—diametrically opposed to the truth; by how much space they allotted to demonizing Israel for daring to defend itself and by how little space they allowed for what I know to be the facts, and what others might mistakenly refer to as “my narrative.” 

Photos of suffering Palestinians (who were sometimes Iraqis or Syrians) dominated the issue. Photos of Israeli dead, dismembered, shell-shocked, evacuated, did not appear at all or very often. “Gunmen” or “insurgents” were how the NYT’s referred to Arab Muslim terrorists, at least until the facts fully unfolded elsewhere and forced them to describe reality, however reluctantly, however late in the day; these corrections were always—not sometimes—buried in the back pages or in small print. 

On my watch, almost every single day, year after year, for almost nineteen years now, a single issue of the Gray Lady might feature anywhere from two to eight articles damning Israel. False maps, interviews with biased “experts” in so-called new stories, Op-Ed’s, Editorials by the staff, all appeared in the same issue.

Every so often, a one-off piece might appear by Israel’s Ambassador, or Matti Friedman or Yossi Klein Halevi or Ruth Wisse. But such pieces did not appear every day or every week year after year as the poisoned propaganda did.

Look: If the Times is truly repentant, they will have to start by naming and firing the editors responsible for this “appalling cartoon”—and those who are in charge both of them and the process; start hiring new journalists who are ready to brave Hamas’s wrath by telling the truth about Gaza—just for starters; and commit to publishing as many pro-Israel op-ed pieces every week as they have published op-ed pieces against Israel. And after they’ve done so for nineteen years or more, I will begin to trust their coverage of the Middle East. 

Maybe.

There is blood on their hands. The question is: Do they know it? And do they care?

We shall soon see.

First published in Israel National News. 

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