The New York Times All Out Assault on Jewish Jerusalem

The week before Israeli elections always brings out the bile in the anti-Zionist New York Times. This election, scheduled for September 17, was no exception.

The front page screed (not worthy of being called news) on September 14, 2019 called “A Challenge to the Essence of Old Jerusalem, Coming by Cable Car,” was written by Michael Kimmelman, an architecture critic, leading a reader to imagine a piece covering the “essence” of Jerusalem’s architecture and the proposed modern cable car. While the article did touch on those points, the observations were drowned out by the paper’s anti-Jewish narrative of Judaism’s holiest city.


Front page and page A8 of the September 14, 2019 New York Times

The opening paragraph directs the reader that Jerusalem is a city of Muslims and Christians and… well, there aren’t any Jews.

“At a glance, Jerusalem’s Old City and its surroundings still look pretty much as they must have looked centuries ago. The Old City’s yellow walls still read in silhouette against an ancient landscape of parched hills and valleys. The skyline is still dominated by the city’s great Muslim and Christian shrines: the gold, glistening Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus was said to have been buried.”

Has Kimmelman even visited the city? The “parched hills and valleys” are dotted with modern apartment buildings and hotels. The Old City skyline includes the newly rebuilt Hurva Synagogue (2010), reconstructed now for the third time, first built in 1694.

Jerusalem’s Old City with a mix of Muslim, Christian and Jewish sites
(photo: First.One.Through)

The article’s second paragraph showed ignorance in addition to blindness.

“But this is about to change. Israeli authorities have approved a plan to build an elevated cable car to the Western Wall, the holiest site in the Jewish world, by 2021.”

The Western Wall, the Kotel, is not the holiest site in Judaism; that is the Temple Mount. The Kotel is only a retaining wall of the Temple Mount where Jews have been relegated to use since Suleiman I kicked the Jews off of the Temple Mount in the 16th century.

With bona fides of ignorance established, the author leaned into his bias, pointing a finger at “right-wing Israeli leaders” as the promoters of a plan which “has provoked howls of protest from horrified Israeli preservationists, environmentalists, planners, architects and others who picture a global heritage site turned into a Jewish-themed Epcot.

This is the “essence” of the article.

Israelis enjoy a full-throated democracy and opine on everything. Such a new visible transportation system would obviously prompt outcries, mostly on the basis of aesthetics, which is presumably why it was an architecture critic penning the article. But The Times’ anti-Israel politics quickly overwhelmed the story.

The article stated that the cable car proposal is being advanced by “right wing” leaders and opposed by many Israelis. The “global heritage site” – which readers were just educated has no Jewish ties – will be transformed by the radicals into a Jewish Disneyland (ie. fake and cheesy to bring in tourist dollars). Even fellow Jews were nauseated. The Arabs must be apoplectic.

Queue the Times’ right-wing racist Prime Minister Netanyahu theme music.

Moving quickly from the architecture of the site, Kimmelman went full-politics describing Netanyahu’s announcement of annexing “nearly a third of the occupied West Bank.” This diversion from transportation and architecture into politics went to the heart of the author’s view: the cable car is a Jewish takeover of Arab sites and heritage. Tying those themes together Kimmelman continued:

“The cable car project is an example, illustrating how Israel wields architecture and urban planning to extend its authority in the occupied territories. Whatever its transit merits, which critics say are negligible, the cable car curates a specifically Jewish narrative of Jerusalem, furthering Israeli claims over Arab parts of the city.

For the Times, the environmentally-friendly approach of helping bring the over 2.4 million tourists visit the Kotel in the cramped ancient city had little to do with tourism or transportation, but served as yet another example of Israel’s right-wing government turning Arab lands into Jewish assets. The article never mentioned that Jews have been a majority in Jerusalem for 150 years, that two Jewish Temples stood at the center of the Temple Mount, nor that Jerusalem is the focus of prayer for Jews around the world.

Instead, the article continued on a theme that Jewish fanatics were forcing Arabs from their homes and entrenching an illegal occupation.

“From Mount Zion, the cars will land near the Western Wall, on the rooftop of what is to be multistory center for a right-wing Jewish settler organization called the City of David Foundation, in the midst of a Palestinian district of East Jerusalem called Silwan. The City of David oversees archaeological excavations centered on uncovering biblical Jewish remains in an effort to cement an ancient Jewish connection to a contested site. Israel considers East Jerusalem annexed, but international law considers it occupied territory.”

A paragraph so rich in alternative facts and fake history, it deserves to be unpacked:

  • The City of David Foundation is not a “right-wing settler organization” but a foundation which promotes archaeological discovery and tourism, something that people of all religions and political persuasions enjoy.
  • The City of David does not “oversee” excavations; they help fund the work which is performed by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
  • The area of Silwan was originally founded by Jews from Yemen in early 1880’s. It is not a “district of East Jerusalem.” East Jerusalem was a blip in history that lasted for only 19 of Jerusalem’s 4,000 years, which ceased to exist over 50 years ago. Further, it is not “Palestinian,” but a predominantly Arab neighborhood which also includes Jews.
  • The notion that the only reason that Israel is doing excavations is to “cement an ancient Jewish connection to a contested site” is vile and disgusting. Israel has archaeological excavations all over the country – do Jews need to validate their history everywhere in the holy land? Uncovering the unified Jewish capital city of King David and King Solomon from 3,000 years ago is an exciting discovery for the entire world and each discovery is a celebration for anyone who has read the bible. But not for Kimmelman, who added “Archaeology works hand in glove here with settler efforts to press Jewish claims to the land.

Remarkably, the article descended into further conspiracy theories from there.

Kimmelman wrote that Israelis treat Arabs as invisible and are forcibly evicting them from their homes to make way for this attraction. The goal is to give tourists a “Jewish version of the city’s history” from a time when “there were no Christians or Muslims.

The author leaves the reader with the feeling that it is also the current intent of the right-wing settler government of Israel to see a city devoid of Muslims and Christians, as “the cladding of East Jerusalem’s settlements in Jerusalem stone, the architectural uniform traditionally worn by buildings in Jewish West Jerusalem, helps spread the image of a single Jewish city.

For the New York Times, the “essence” of the Old City of Jerusalem is its Arab character navigated via narrow walkways, now being violated by right-wing Jewish invaders changing and scarring its demographics, character and approach. Especially at election time, the Times wants to warn everyone that the “essence” of this Israeli government is racist colonial Jewish supremacists.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The New York Times will Keep on Telling You: Jews are not Native to Israel

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The Jews of Jerusalem In Situ

The Dark Side of Jerusalem Day: Magnifying the Kotel and Minimizing the Temple Mount

Ending Apartheid in Jerusalem

The New York Times Inverts the History of Jerusalem

The New York Times Major anti-Netanyahu Propaganda Piece

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Today’s Inverted Chanukah: The Holiday of Rights in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria

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The Jews of Jerusalem In Situ

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the term “in situ” as “in the original place, or the place where something should be,” or, alternatively, “in the original place instead of being moved to another place.” In the world of archaeology, there is nothing more valuable than finding an object “in situ” as it gives the ancient room, building and town where the object was found, important context in both time and purpose. Unfortunately, due to ancient sites being raided for centuries, most historical finds are traded in the black market, destroying the ability to accurately relay the provenance of the object and the story of the place from which it was taken.

However, last week the world was blessed by two remarkable discoveries in the City of David, just south of the Old City of Jerusalem’s external walls, of ancient Jewish objects found in situ.

In the ruins of what is currently thought to be a large municipal building dating back to the 6th or 7th century BCE, was a clay seal bearing the inscription “LeNathan-Melech Eved HaMelech – which translates to “[belonging] to Nathan-Melech, Servant of the King.” Such servant to the king is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in 2 Kings 23:11.

The second item is a blue agate seal saying “LeIkar Ben Matanyahu” – “(belonging) to Ikar son of Matanyahu.”

Finding these two items in their original location is a blessing and curse for many. For those people who enjoy learning about history, these ancient Jewish finds in what is believed to be the original capital of the unified kingdom of Israel under King David is considered an important piece of the puzzle to understanding the location and way of life of the Jewish people in Jerusalem thousands of years ago. However, for those people who want to see modern Jews evicted from Jerusalem in favor of Arabs, the findings present an obstacle in convincing Jews that they should abandon their history and religion.

Like the finding of the seal of King Hezkiah in Jerusalem in December 2015, and the burnt remains of a Torah scroll found in a synagogue in Ein Gedi, these findings attest to the long history of Jews living throughout the area east of the Green Line. Arab news sites like Al Jazeera refuse to print any of these stories, in an effort to continue to lie to its readership about the history of the Jews in the holy land which predates Islam by thousands of years.

The incredible discoveries makes one consider the two alternative definitions for “in situ” described above: the ancient Jewish finds in Jerusalem were located “in the original place instead of being moved to another place,” while the modern Israeli Jews themselves and the capital of the Jewish State are “in the original place, or the place where something should be,” in Jerusalem.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Gimme that Old-Time Religion

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Gimme that Old-Time Religion

Two of the three main monotheistic faiths had amazing historical revelations in July 2015. If you read the New York Times, you only learned about one of them.

Quran

On a front page story with a large accompanying color picture, the New York Times relayed an incredible discovery: an old Quran that had been sitting on the shelves of the University of Birmingham, England for a century, was dated to around the year 600CE plus or minus 50 years.  That would make this version of the Quran the oldest manuscript in Islam.

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New York Times Front Page Story on Quran,
July 23, 2015

According to Islamic tradition, their prophet Mohammed received divine revelations and compiled the Quran sometime between 610 to 632CE. Religious scholars had debated whether the Quran was passed down in oral form for many generations after Mohammed’s death before ultimately being written down. If the text indeed was written down on the parchment when it was prepared (sometimes parchments were washed and reused, and carbon-dating only relates to the parchment but not the actual ink and text), it would answer that outstanding question.

The Hebrew Bible

Three days before the world heard about the dating of the oldest Quran, researchers uncovered one of the oldest texts of the Hebrew Bible, dating from around 500CE.

EinGediscroll1
Charred scroll from synagogue in Ein Gedi
(photo: Shay Halevi/Israel Antiquities Authority)

In the 1970s, the piece of a charred scroll was discovered in Ein Gedi in the Judean Desert. Only in July 2015 were researchers able to use the latest technology to decipher the damaged text to reveal sentences from the book of Leviticus. While older documents (by 500+ years) of the Hebrew Bible had been discovered not far from Ein Gedi, those documents were found hidden in jars within caves.  This scroll was found in the ancient synagogue of Ein Gedi, revealing the earliest discovery of a Torah scroll housed in a synagogue.

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Text from the Ein Gedi scrolls
(photo: University of Kentucky)

Both of these stories are amazing in terms of history, religion and science.  It brings to mind an old gospel song: “Give Me that Old Time Religion!”

Yet the part “that’s NOT good enough for me” (to paraphrase the song) is the nagging question why the New York Times never misses an opportunity to slight Israel.  The discovery of one old religious treasure received front page attention (for Islam) but a text from 100 years earlier didn’t even get a passing mention (for Judaism).  Was it because the scrolls were found in the Judean Desert which further underscores the long history of Jews in the contentious Jordan Valley?

Why do you think the NYT mentioned only one of these stories?


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