Middle East Media Sampler #13 / Daniel Goldstein

August 1, 2011
New York Times Op-ed index for July 2011
1) Mideast Countdown – Carol Giacomo – July 10, 2011

Mostly a preview of possible diplomatic activity for the week. There’s a suggestion that the failure for meaningful negotiations is in part due to Israel. I’m going to give this one a pass and call it neutral.

2) Bad Borders, Good Neighbors – Ephriam Sneh – July 10, 2011

I don’t much like the fundamental theme of Sneh’s op-ed – settlements are bad. The demographic threat is overblown. Though it’s wrong it’s hard to argue that this op-ed is anti-Israel.

3) All hail the (Democratic) King – Ahmed Charia and Joseph Braude – July 11, 2011

This op-ed is a tribute to King Mohammed VI of Morocco. The op-ed praises King Hassan II and Morocco for their ties to Israel and Jews.

Anti-Israel 0 / Pro Israel 1

4) The Revolution is not over yet – Hamadi Redissi – July 15, 2011

The op-ed is not about Israel but about the upcoming elections in Tunisia. Dr. Redissi discusses the platform of the Al Nahda party. Al Nahda is Islamist. Redissi believes that if Al Nahda takes the moderate approach and follows the path of Turkey’s AKP, it will be good. In one line though, Redissi criticizes Al Nahda for favoring a ban on ties with Israel. Usually throwaway lines in New York Times like that have the opposite message.

Anti Israel 0 / Pro Israel 2

3) A Year of Waste – Roger Cohen – July 15, 2011

I’ve written about this awful, counter-factual screed. Among Cohen’s points was that Israel’s insistence on being called a Jewish state was a gratuitous demand. The op-ed was simply and elegantly skewered by a letter writer, Fiona Grady, who observed that all of Israel’s neighbors called themselves “Arab” states and thus the only way to peace was for them to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state.

Anti Israel 1 / Pro Israel 2

5) Not befitting a Democracy – Editorial – July 17, 2011

This editorial was a gross overreaction to Israel’s recently passed law against boycotts. The editorial quoted from Ha’aretz and its overwrought condemnation of the bill and mentioned that the ADL also opposed the bill. It did not mention that other countries, even the United States, have similar laws with no great damage done to their democracy. That last point was excised from the news report about the passage of the law.

Anti-Israel 2 / Pro-Israel 2

6) Russian Winter Arab Spring – Denis Corboy, William Courtney and Kenneth Yalowitz - July 25, 2011

One line about Israel. I don’t want to read too much into it.

Anti-Israel 2 / Pro-Israel 2

7) I.H.T. OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR; A Strike Against Free Speech – Ahmed Tibi – July 28, 2011

Ahmed Tibi is, according to the brief bio accompanying the op-ed, the deputy speaker of the Knesset. In this op-ed, in which he correctly identifies explains the anti-boycott law, he refers to Israel as a “democracy,” as if it isn’t really. Tibi has a lot of chutzpah. Among other things, though he is a resident of Israel, he was a long time advisor to Yasser Arafat. To put it mildly, though he serves in the Knesset, his loyalties are uncertain. I doubt many other countries would allow someone like Tibi to serve in it its government. That Tibi does so, is evidence of his freedom. Furthermore, a few months ago Human Rights Watch, a group not known for its sympathies for Israel, released a report showing that the PA doesn’t tolerate dissent.

Anti-Israel 3 / Pro-Israel 2

8) Israel’s Lost Chance – Aluf Benn – July 29, 2011

Alub Benn is one of the better diplomatic correspondents in Israel. However, that doesn’t mean that he is free of biases. The first part of this op-ed is excellent. The end, when he claims that PM Netanyahu “picked a fight” with President Obama, is wrong. The New York Times, for example, reported that it was President Obama who mentioned the 1967 borders in his speech despite a request from Netanyahu not to. He’s also being alarmist about the Palestinian effort to use the UN to bypass negotiations with Israel. There are reports that many in the PA (despite public statements to the contrary) wish to back down from those efforts; and Israel’s efforts to engage Europe have had some limited success. Finally since the whole point of the unilateral declaration effort is to bypass negotiations it isn’t at all clear that Israel could make enough concessions to get the Palestinians (who walked out of talks) back to negotiations.

Anti-Israel 4 / Pro-Israel 2

9) I.H.T. OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR; Israel’s Identity Crisis – Yonatan Touval – July 29, 2011

Echoing Roger Cohen’s complaint, Touval claims that it’s ridiculous for Israel to demand that the Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state. The problem is that the Arab and Palestinian refusal to acknowledge this, is at the heart of the conflict. The Palestinians explicitly reject the historical ties of Jews to the land of Israel. Accepting Israel as Jewish state would be a reversal of this deeply held belief that is an obstacle to peace.

Anti-Israel 5 / Pro-Israel 2

The methodology I used was to do a search of opinion articles in the New York Times since July 1, 2011 and limited the search to Opinion that included “Israel.” I did not include letters to the editor in the survey. The inspiration came from previous public editor Clark Hoyt’s The danger of one-sided debate, as he argued that it was proper for the New York Times to give op-ed space to a spokesman from Hamas. It occurred to me that the New York Times has a largely one sided debate regarding Israel and this index is a way of quantifying that bias.

Anti-Israel 2 / Pro-Israel 2

Daniel Goldstein is a media critic and recovering blogger. He has been critiquing media bias against Israel since his first letter to the editor in 1987.
MERIA Journal
Middle East Review of International Affairs
The Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal is the world's largest journal on the region, published quarterly by the GLORIA Center with a global audience

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