Should We Care What They Write?

“Did you see The New York Times headline about the terror attack? Did you see how they lumped together and equated the victims and the terrorist murderers?”

Since I am not — and never was — a subscriber to The New York Times, I hadn’t seen the article my colleague was referring to, nor did I have any desire to learn about it, let alone write about it.

In addition to the fact that the question was asked of me on Isru Chag, the first day back at work after a highly enjoyable but very exhausting Yom Tov, and my mind was very much elsewhere, I saw no reason to use an article to spell out what has already been proven countless times: While much of mainstream media has an anti-Israel bias, The New York Times has made this bias one of the core principles of its reporting process.

Then I reconsidered.

By the time I got to my office, the article my colleague described had already made its way to the only place it really belongs — the dustbin — thanks to CAMERA, an organization that focuses on media bias, I saw a quote from another NYT article written on Wednesday, October 7, by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, titled “New Violence Reminds Many of an Intifada.”

The lede paragraph read:

As the bodies have piled up over the past week — four Israelis killed in two Palestinian attacks, four Palestinians slain by Israeli troops — people here have been nervously debating whether they are witnessing the onset of a third intifada.

As CAMERA pointed out, according to this characterization, the score is even — four vs. four — with each side inflicting equal damage on the other. Missing from this paragraph is the fact that those killed and targeted by Palestinian terrorists were innocent Israeli civilians — men, women and babies — while three of the four Palestinians killed were in the process of murdering Israelis. The fourth Palestinian was part of a group engaged in violent rioting when an IDF bullet aimed at the foot of the leader of the rioters ricocheted off the ground and hit the victim.

Granted, no matter how many protest articles will be written, media outlets like The New York Times or the British BBC (which is in a class of its own when it comes to anti-Israel bias) will continue to choose which facts to state and which aspects to misrepresent to put Israel in the worst possible light. While it is no longer politically correct to be openly anti-Semitic in America, unfairly bashing Israeli Jews is still considered perfectly appropriate. As long as Jews will be in galus, anti-Semitism in one form or another will persist.

It is tempting to look the other way and not give any credibility to the likes of The New York Times. But there are very valid reasons not to do so.

For one thing, there are many levels of bias. Though sometimes it doesn’t appear that way, these outlets could skew their reporting even more than they already do. Speaking up against the blatant bias exhibited by these outlets may help convince them not to go even further in twisting the facts. Anti-Israel articles give fodder to our enemies and incite violence, and lowering the level of bias — or even keeping it from getting worse — is also an accomplishment.

Furthermore, how we respond to anti-Semitism — whether it appears in the form of a rock or an unfairly written article — is part and parcel of our mission as Jews in exile. Even more important than the public denunciation of media bias is the internal soul-searching that anti-Semitism must bring. It is vital that we take every opportunity to remind ourselves that our only hope is through remembering that we are not a nation like other nations, but an am levadad yishkon, a nation that has always and will always stand alone.

We must not, however, consider it sufficient to deplore the actions of the international mass media or the extreme left-wingers in Israel who are inciting Palestinian violence. Without in any way taking away the guilt and blame that lie on the Palestinian leadership, the terrorists and their sympathizers, those reckless Jewish individuals who, in startling violation of halachah, ascended to Har HaBayis also have the blood of innocent Jews on their hands. The Palestinians were looking for an excuse for murder and mayhem, and these individuals gave it to them.

May the Shomer Yisrael protect His children from all harm and may we soon merit to see all evil removed from the earth with the Geulah Sheleimah.