The portrayals of the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict in the two main New York newspapers could not be more different. Snapshots of the two papers on October 17, 2015 and the editorials from the prior days frame the conflicting attitudes.
On October 17, 2015, each paper posted a picture of an attack that occurred in Hebron. The Wall Street Journal captured the Palestinian who posed as a journalist stabbing an Israeli soldier. The New York Times showed a picture of two Israeli soldiers standing over the dead Palestinian.
The Wall Street Journal covered this story – and many of the stories over October 2015 when Palestinians attacked Israelis – as Palestinians as the aggressors and Israelis as defending themselves. However, The New York Times almost uniformly showed all Palestinians as victims and Israelis as the armed aggressors.
New York Times: On October 15, the Times ran an editorial entitled “The Cycle of Violence in Israel.” The title and the opinion piece described a country that is in a never-ending cycle of “attacks and reprisals“, blaming neither party as being aggressor or instigating the violence. The attacks were referred to as Palestinian “uprisings,” and the Times pointed the finger at a few parties:
- “Yasir Arafat, could speak for all Palestinians” back in 1993 so there was a better prospect for peace according to the Times behind a unifying leader. It neglected to state that the same Arafat walked away from a serious peace offer and then launched the Second Intifada in 2000, killing thousands.
- The Times correctly stated that “Mahmoud Abbas is bitter and unpopular” which makes it difficult for him to lead and deliver peace negotiations. The paper failed to point out that Abbas has constantly incited violence against Israelis and never put forth any public comments on his willingness to compromise on his demands to create peace.
- “Netanyahu has demonstrated little interest in a two-state solution” according to the Times, even though he is the only person that specifically has demonstrated a desire for peace: handing over half of the “Holy Basin”, Bethlehem, in 1996; a ten month settlement freeze in 2010; releasing dozens of terrorists; and repeatedly stating his willingness to engage in direct peace talks anytime, anywhere.
The New York Times described the only solution to ending the cycle of violence as “creating an independent Palestinian state alongside an Israel whose right to exist is fully acknowledged by all Palestinians.” Note that the Times language specifically does not mention any Israeli demands of “security” and recognition as a “Jewish State.” According to the Times, the only thing creating violence is the lack of a Palestinian state.
Wall Street Journal: On October 16, 2015, the WSJ had an editorial called “The Knives of Jerusalem.” The Journal’s attitude about the violence and approach could not be more different than the New York Times:
- The WSJ called the Palestinian Arab attacks “terrorism” five times, a term never used by the Times (nor by the Obama Administration for that matter)
- “[A] deep-seated culture of hate” among Palestinian Arab society was at the core of the attacks
- Blame is specifically placed on Palestinian leaders including Abbas spreading “rumors” and “lies” about Israel to incite the Arabs.
The WSJ noted that Israel will need “to ride out another storm of terror.” Peace will ultimately come when Palestinians realize that the Jews are not going to leave: “The sooner they [Israelis] impress on Palestinians that they will never bow to knives or bend to terror, the sooner the stabbings will end.”
The Times placed the principal blame for the attacks on Israeli “occupation” and therefore the solution is a peace agreement / a separation accord. Their pictures and articles repeatedly use images of Palestinians as victims and Israelis as militant occupiers.
The WSJ placed the blame on Palestinian Arabs who have denied the right of Jews to live in the holy land as self-governing people since the League of Nations gave Jews that legal right in 1922. Peace will only come when Palestinian Arabs give up the fight and accept that the Jews are never going to leave. Their articles are more likely to show Israel as at the frontlines in the battle against Islamic radicals, similar to much of the western world.
The pictures and articles of the two papers have been consistent in their coverage of the conflict, and the weekend of October 17, 2015 brought the contrast into clear focus.
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