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Did NYT's Jodi Rudoren write her worst piece ever?

January 23, 2014 at 5:15 am

Even by the standards of The New York Times’ news coverage, a recent Jodi Rudoren piece on “incitement” by Palestinians was abysmal.

Based on the article’s word count, an estimated 70% of Rudoren’s piece is dedicated to putting forward the Israeli case about Palestinian ‘incitement’, with a mere 20% allocated to a Palestinian rebuttal and counter-claims. Rudoren included in the article seven specific examples of alleged Palestinian incitement, and just two examples by Israelis.

In fact, the article’s very first sentence, claiming that “Adolf Hitler is quoted on the websites of Palestinian Authority schools”, was wrong: a correction placed at the end of the piece notes that in fact, “the quotes appeared on the Facebook pages of the schools, not on other school websites”.

Rudoren regurgitates, almost entirely without critical scrutiny or merited scepticism, a report produced by the Israeli government – which itself was drawn from the work of the Jewish settler-run Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). PMW’s head Itamar Marcus was derided in an Israeli court no less, as somewhat less of an ‘expert‘.

The only person quoted by Rudoren who is neither an Israeli nor a Palestinian official is David Pollock, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Rudoren did not see fit to inform the reader that WINEP is a pro-Israel think tank and AIPAC-offshoot that a decade ago was already described as shifting rightwards.

Pollock contends that incitement by Israelis can be dismissed as the work of “unofficial, extremist fringe individuals” that is “disowned and discouraged, for the most part” by government officials. Revealingly, this echoes, and thus affirms, a comment by Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz earlier in the piece, who tells Rudoren that “the problems were coming from Palestinian government sources, not rogue individuals”.

Should Rudoren have wanted to include any, there would be no shortage of examples of outright racism and incitement by Israeli officials, religious leaders, media pundits and academics targeting Palestinians (see here, here, and here).

Indeed, Steinitz, the Israeli minister so generously quoted by Rudoren, is no stranger to inflammatory ‘incitement’ himself, having previously described “blocking off” Israel’s southern border to African refugees, who he called “infiltrators”, as a “Zionist act”. In 2003 – in Rudoren’s own paper – Steinitz said Palestinian spouses living together in Israel threatened the country’s “demographic balance”, and that Palestinian families wishing to live together should move to a future Palestinian state.

Rudoren ignores all this, the glorification of the military in Israeli society, the racist rhetoric, and the total denial of basic Palestinian rights to self-determination. Like the Israeli officials and propagandists she happily channels, The New York Times’ correspondent wants to hide the fact that Palestinians ‘learn to hate’ when Israeli soldiers shoot their friends, imprison their relatives, bulldoze their homes, and blockade their communities.

Please note: Page updated at 14.07 GMT on Jan 10,2014 – text on fifth paragraph amended to include the word “not” in “Rudoren did not see fit to inform the reader that WINEP is a pro-Israel think tank…”

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.