Monday, March 24, 2014

NYT Violates Basic Journalism Rule

by Leo Rennert

A basic journalism rule requires opportunity for rebuttal when an article takes aim at a particular target.  But don’t expect compliance with this rule at the New York Times, where attacks on Israel are dished out without any response.

As is starkly evident in a March 21 article by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren about construction plans for East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“Revelations over Israel’s continuing construction plans for West Bank settlements renewed outrage among Palestinian leaders,” Rudoren starts off. 

Citing Peace Now, a pro-Palestinian anti-settlement outfit, Rudoren then reports that more than 2,000 housing units “advanced through the bureaucratic process.”  Also that municipal officials in Jerusalem “granted housing permits for nearly 200 apartments in two Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, which most of the world considers to be illegal settlements.”

Piling on, Rudoren then gives the floor to a well-known PLO propagandist, Hanan Ashrawi, who declares, “This has to stop.  Building is not just building, it’s not something that is so benign.  Building is the willful destruction of a two-state solution.  It’s a constant act of aggression.  It’s a war crime.”

And that’s where the article ends.  Ashrawi has the first and last word.  With Peace Now providing its own anti-Israel reinforcements.

But what about an Israeli response?  What about some comments or explanations from Jerusalem’s mayor.  

Forget it.  Rudoren is not writing a fair, balanced, evenhanded article.  She uncritically accepts the words of Peace Now and Ashrawi.  This is not a piece that belongs in the news section.  This is pro-Palestinian propaganda.

A fair, evenhanded article might include responses from Jerusalem’s mayor and from a settlement spokesman.  In turn, they might point out to Times readers that for several years, there have been no new settlements or enlargement of existing settlements.  Construction of additional housing units has been confined to sites within existing settlements or within Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.  And, no small matter, these new housing units will remain under Israeli rule under any peace-pact scenario.

As to the legality of such construction, Rudoren easily could have found experts to point out that pending a final peace agreement, Palestinians have no title to West Bank lands.  These are disputed territories awaiting a final seal of sovereignty.  And Israel has proven that in exchange for peace, settlements can be withdrawn, as happened when Israel pulled out of Gaza.

But Rudoren evidently is not interested in fair, balanced journalism.  The only thing that matters to her is to blacken Israel and swallow the Palestinian line.

Leo Rennert


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