Commentary Magazine


All the Anti-Israel News That Fits

Bashing the New York Times’s coverage of the Middle East is a full-time occupation for some, but today the grey lady published a story out of Gaza that had to make even its most loyal readers wince. In a summer when much of the press, and in particular the Times Jerusalem Bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, seemed to disgrace themselves by their lack of coverage of Hamas terror activities in Gaza, today’s piece marked a new low that is likely to reinforce the paper’s unfortunate reputation for anti-Israel bias.

The story concerns what the headline says was a teenager’s “ordeal as a captive of Israelis.” In it, 17-year-old Ahmed Jamal Abu Raida claims that he was captured by Israeli forces during the recent fighting in Gaza and then threatened, beaten, tortured, used as a human shield, and then forced to search for terror tunnels. But, as the article, which appears under the bylines of Times stringer Fares Akram and Rudoren, related, there are some problems with his story. Despite the detailed narrative provided by Abu Raida, he has no proof of any of it. The teenager couldn’t so much as show the Times correspondents a single bruise. Nor did his family take pictures of his terrible state when he was returned to them after his release from custody. They also say they disposed of the clothing he wore even though it might have bolstered his story or provided evidence that his story was true.

Oh, and one more thing about his family. Abu Raida is not your stereotypical poor Gazan kid. His father is, in fact, a high-ranking official in the Hamas government of Gaza.

Now it is entirely possible that a young Palestinian with close ties to Hamas who was captured in the area where terror tunnels were found had nothing to do with any terrorist activity and may have been roughly treated by Israeli soldiers. Indeed, the fact that Abu Raida was released after a relatively short time in Israeli hands indicated that the Israelis felt that he was not a combatant.

But the question here is not so much whether we believe the teenager has embellished the story of his time in Israeli hands to appear like a greater victim/hero in the eyes of his family and other Palestinians or if his allegations are a concerted attempt by his father’s colleagues to put forward another false smear of the nation they seek to destroy. The real question is why the publication that still deems itself America’s newspaper of record would choose to go to print with a story that it admits it cannot independently verify and whose source is, to put it mildly, not someone who could be considered an objective or reliable witness where Israel is concerned.

You don’t have to have to be an expert on the Middle East or an experienced journalist to understand the reason why Hamas and a pro-Palestinian NGO brought Abu Raida forward with his tale of wicked Israelis insulting Allah and threatening to let dogs tear him apart. After several weeks of Israelis pointing out that Hamas was using the population of Gaza as human shields, the terror group and its allies were desperate to come up with a counter story that would reverse the narrative and make it appear as if the Israel Defense Forces were using Palestinians in this manner.

That the Times would choose to highlight this story and grant it the imprimatur of its pages is that the newspaper and many other mainstays of the liberal mainstream media have been angrily pushing back against accusations that they deliberately downplayed the way Hamas used mosques, hospitals, schools, and shelters and other heavily populated civilian areas to launch rockets at Israeli cities as well as to use them as entrances for terror tunnels. Throughout the course of the recent war, the Times hasn’t published photos of Hamas fighters. Nor did most members of the press manage to stumble into any of the thousands of rocket launches that were going on in the narrow strip right under their noses.

The explanation for this reluctance to photograph or report on Hamas using civilians as human shields in this manner isn’t a puzzle. Reporters were either intimidated into silence (something that Hamas boasted about) or they were sufficiently biased against Israel as to be unwilling to do anything to tell the truth about Palestinian terror activity. But despite the obvious nature of this glaring omission in their coverage, journalists like Rudoren openly scoffed at critics and denied that anything was amiss. Indeed, Rudoren mounted a spirited defense of the integrity of the foreign press in Gaza and insinuated that their critics were the ones who were biased.

But Rudoren’s decision to embrace a story that smears Israel even though she can’t independently verify, let alone prove, that a word of it is true gives the lie to any claims of journalistic integrity. Suffice it to say that if an Israeli who was the son of a Likud minister in the Netanyahu government were to come forward with a tale of Arab wrongdoing with the same lack of proof, they would be dismissed out of hand. If a story were to be published about such an accusation, it would be focused on an effort to debunk it and to portray the claim as transparent propaganda, not a credulous heart-rending account of suffering.

For the Times to go whole hog on Abu Raida’s tale says less about Hamas than it does about their own bias. It’s little surprise that Hamas would attempt to produce new Pallywood productions designed to harm Israel’s reputation at a time when the group’s cynical decision to launch a war and to conduct terror operations should be undermining any foreign support for their cause. But it is shocking that professional journalists that take umbrage at even the slightest accusations of bias lobbed in their direction would decide to print a story that is nothing more than a Hamas press release. The Abu Raida story is but a tiny footnote in the overall narrative of the fighting that has been going on in Gaza. But it provides new and damning evidence of the Times’s bias against Israel and the decline of the professional standards of its reporters and editors.

Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »

8 Responses to “All the Anti-Israel News That Fits”

  1. SHIRLEY LEWIS says:

    Here is the phone number to call to cancel one’s print and digital subscription to NY Times. If you have already done so, ask all your friends and relatives to follow suit. One does NOT need the NY Times to be informed. As a matter of fact, one is much better informed without it.


    Subscribing to the NY Times should be considered a disgrace by all Americans, not just Jewish Americans. Lying about Israel is lying about Jews. That’s anti-Semitism straight up.

    Here are three key substitutes:
    1) Wall Street Journal. Its mid-East news coverage is far from perfect but its editorial pages truly know the difference between right and wrong and are chock full of information.
    2)Israel National News – everything Ly’in Times won’t report.
    3) Palestinian Media Watch. Sign up for the e mail bulletins. What the so-called “moderate” PA/PLO/Fatah/Abbas & Co. tells its own people vs what it tells the US/West.

  2. JACK LEVEY says:

    With the same lack of proof? What makes you think Jodi Rudoren or her editors would credit the pro-Israel story if it were backed up by all the proof in the world?


    The Ha’aretz newspaper in Israel couldn’t resist publishing this story. One would think they don’t have enough 3rd rate journalists of their own that they have to publish articles from the NY Times. The Ha’aretz newspaper should be (once again) ashamed!


    To the 3 fine preceding comments there is nothing to add. Stopped reading the NY Times years ago myself, and never really became invested in Ha’aretz. The editorializing and reporting from both, about Israel, is buffoonish. CAMERA feasts on their lack of journalistic integrity.

    More concerning than these numerous in-the-weeds stories that fit the theme of bias and are grounded in recent news bits that seem to suffice as grist for discussion and to make general points, is the endgame looming ever larger and, paradoxically, offering less substantive ways to talk about it with the he-said-she-said sort of ‘facts’ that granularize the whole topic of Israel’s survival the last 20 years.

    The endgame for the NY Times and Ha’aretz, and the Obama Administration is a Palestinian state. Samantha Power sits tidily in her UN chair, behaving well vis-à-vis Israel, despite past tirades against her government and its policies, waiting for the day to pull an Andrew Young and provide the missing vote to make it clear Israel must revert to pre-1967 borders. After all, despite the fact that it is now known the Obama Administration advocated Turkey’s and Qatar’s terms to the leadership of Israel for a cessation of hostilities with Hamas, there has been no recanting of that position nor any walk-back on it by State Department spokespeople. Israel has to weigh a severe, but justified, response to Hamas against the issue of resupply and the possibility of a Northern front with Hezbollah igniting, in the shadow of an ongoing, slow-motion US betrayal of its interests to Iran’s desire for nuclear weapons, amid the storm of the EU’s anti-Semitism and never-ending anti-Israel policies, so that maybe, just maybe, the US will resist the urge to pile on in the replacement of 242 and 338 with some new resolution midwifing a Palestinian state; this boxing in of Israel for another Obama Administration betrayal seems more like the true object of the swarm of ‘facts’ that Israel must daily rebut.

    Since nearly everything President Obama has done in the Mideast has empowered Israel’s enemies, why would he stop until there is a Palestinian state on his watch. Judi Rudoren and all the other faux-journalism in the world must have a good laugh at the effort expended to push back on the tide of their nonsense. Meanwhile there is still another more damaging wave coming.

  5. LOUIS OFFEN says:

    For an excellent expanded(!) discussion of press coverage generally of Gaza, and the NYT in particular, I highly commend:

  6. LOUIS OFFEN says:

    Under American law, no one can be convicted of a crime unless they are judged guilty beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt. In most civil matters, the party alleging breach of a duty must prove that their allegation is more likely true than not. What is the journalistic standard for publishing what amounts to naked allegation, is it anything more than the mere “possibility” that the allegation is true, because it has not been conclusively proven untrue?

    Should the re-telling of lies ever be characterized as “news”?

  7. TIKI SHAPIRA says:

    The sad ‘truth of the New York Times is that this once great & important newspaper has blown itself to rubble with only their name left referring to their great past.

    In every conflict the ‘truth is the first victim. The NYT is taking this literally.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!

Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
for full access to
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
Don't have a log in?
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.