The New York Times‘s shameless Nakba distortion

on 31 Comments

The NYT’s front page leader propagandistically claims (emphasis added):

“Israel’s borders erupted as thousands of Palestinians marched from Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and the West Bank on the anniversary when Arabs mourn Israel’s creation.

NewYorkTimes Front Page, Nakba Day, 2011

I call this a distortion because Palestinians actually mourn the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Can you imagine what it would be like if the NYT stated this honestly and plainly? Palestinians mourn the personal and collective impact — lives, homes, and land lost, refusing their right to return. By framing it as mourning “Israel’s creation” – shifting the focus from legitimate Palestinian suffering to the debatable merits of Jewish state-centric nationalism – the NYT promulgates the Zionist frame of “they want to destroy the state of Israel.” 

Also note in the story, Ethan Bronner fails to mention UN Resolution 194 or international law in general. Res. 194 “resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date…”

What does it say about the NYT that their editors accept an article with such a drastic elision? Especially when written by a Zionist whose son serves in the very army that shoots to kill refugees who wish to return and live at peace, as many Palestinian refugees in fact desire? I spoke to some in the Dheisheh refugee camp. They don’t want to destroy Israel. They want to rebuild their villages.

31 Responses

  1. James
    May 15, 2011, 8:57 pm

    …”mourning “Israel’s creation”………
    any thinking person ought to be able to see right thru this, however it does cast a very bad light on the integrity of the new york times, if anyone thought they had any integrity to begin with………..

  2. hughsansom
    May 15, 2011, 9:15 pm

    Here’s the real kicker — Unless I’m overlooking some part of the Times website and/or the paper edition, as of about 9pm (when I checked online), the Times had _changed_ the language of the intro paragraph to make their bias less blatant.

  3. Jim Haygood
    May 15, 2011, 9:20 pm


    I always keep one of these ‘Daddy’s Little Helpers’ clutched in my hand whilst reading the Tel Aviv … sorry, New York Times.

    And I’d suggest you do too.

    link to

    • MRW
      May 15, 2011, 10:31 pm

      NYT = NTAT

      • Matthew Taylor
        May 16, 2011, 2:48 am

        What does NTAT stand for?

      • Sumud
        May 16, 2011, 4:22 am

        New Tel Aviv Times?

      • MRW
        May 16, 2011, 9:37 am


  4. robin
    May 15, 2011, 9:49 pm

    Not surprisingly, NPR’s news coverage of the protests committed this exact same distortion, defining the Nakba as “about” the creation of Israel and neglecting any mention of the Palestinians’ ethnic cleansing, dispossession, or even a blameless “refugee problem”.

  5. pronomad
    May 15, 2011, 10:10 pm

    Not just the NYT. I’m extremely disappointed to see that Al Jazeeera English, in reporting on Egyptians demonstrating in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, is also describing the Nakba as mourning “the day Israel was created.” Puzzling; one would expect an Egyptian reporter and native Arabic speaker to be well aware of the true significance of the word.

    • James
      May 15, 2011, 11:21 pm

      who owns al jazeera and huffington post these days?

      • MRW
        May 16, 2011, 10:16 am

        Good question, James. Al-Jazeera put out some thing about bin Laden not speaking English…an all-stars of the people who knew him. How the hell did he communicate with Brzezinski and Charlie Wilson when they were running the Mujahideen project in the 80s? He was born in Saudi Arabia or Yemen at a time when all rich Saudi kids, especially the royals, were educated by private British (and French) tutors: they wouldn’t have been able to talk to their British bankers without it. Or read their bank statements.

        The Al-Jazeera thing was also about trying to say that bin Laden didn’t have a kidney or health problem. If I was aware of it in 2001, before 911 (because I was watching this guy since 1996) then it wasn’t a big secret. The CIA visit to the Dubai hospital in July 2001 was not exactly a state secret; it was reported before 911. It didn’t make sense to me that they were visiting him when there was bin Laden trial in Lower Manhattan in Feb 2001, which I was also following at the time.

        I remember reading (circa 2005/6/7)—and it must remain as a rumor because I didn’t keep the link or file it—that an Israeli bought Al-Jazeera English, or was a big shareholder. That didn’t make much sense to me either, because I thought it was all based out of Qatar.

      • James
        May 16, 2011, 12:02 pm

        thanks mrw.. i remember something similar to your last paragraph… i will keep looking into this..

      • James
        May 16, 2011, 12:58 pm

        link to
        Israeli media mogul Haim Saban mulls stake in Al Jazeera

        from aug 2009..
        and even from mondoweiss..
        link to

        and then the trail goes dead…………
        al jazeera shares no info on their website of ownership that i can find………….

      • lysias
        May 16, 2011, 1:18 pm

        Are you sure the CIA visit to bin Laden in the hospital in Dubai was reported before 9/11? My recollection is the story was broken by Le Figaro after 9/11, in like October 2001.

      • lysias
        May 16, 2011, 1:23 pm

        But would Haim Saban have approved of the Al Jazeera coverage of the Egyptian revolt that helped bring Mubarak down?

    • pronomad
      May 16, 2011, 9:40 am

      And so it continues; Radio France Internationale’s coverage of yesterday’s clashes categorized the Nakba in the same way. Amazing how the media can report on “refugees” approaching the “border”, and not make the connection between their refugee status and the Nakba.

      • MRW
        May 16, 2011, 10:18 am

        Just look at the owners. Doesn’t Haim Saban now own one of the biggest stations in Germany? I know he owns Univision.

  6. Chaos4700
    May 16, 2011, 12:24 am

    Do you suppose Ethan Bronner wrote this from the comfort of his ethnically cleansed apartment in Jerusalem? “As Israel Clashes with Palestinians?” Try “as soldiers open fire on civilians protesting their treatment at the hands of militant European colonialists.”

  7. Parity
    May 16, 2011, 1:30 am

    Joel Brinkley, whose foreign policy column is syndicated in 50 newspapers, defines the Nakba (which he lowercases) as “the Arab world’s ‘day of catastrophe,’ the day Israel was founded” (“In the Arab world, it’s not just about Israel anymore,” Insight, San Francisco Chronicle, March 6, 2011)
    link to

    Joel Brinkley, is a professor of journalism at Stanford University and a Pulitzer Prize-winning former correspondent for the New York Times. He describes himself as having spent many years working in the Middle East. His mischaracterization of the Nakba shows how little effort the mainstream press has made to understand the Palestinian story and how reporters feed on each other’s ignorance.

    • Avi
      May 16, 2011, 3:32 am

      Parity May 16, 2011 at 1:30 am

      He describes himself as having spent many years working in the Middle East.

      Netanyahu has been working “many years” in the Middle East, too.

      And so has Ethan Bronner.

    • Woody Tanaka
      May 16, 2011, 8:18 am

      To the mainstream media “working in the Middle East” means nothing more than advancing the Zionist agenda for American consumption. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Middle East, per se, but only of the Zionist program of conquest.

  8. Richard Witty
    May 16, 2011, 3:00 am

    Do you think that the picture is representative of the demonstrations, or misrepresentative?

    That the left posted similar photos of groups attempting to break through the frontier fences, indicates to me that the picture is representative.

    There is a similar commentary on Mondoweiss’s shameless use of the word “shameless”, to habitually describe the shameless patterns of shameless forms of dissent.

    • James North
      May 16, 2011, 10:01 am

      Richard Witty said, ‘The Holocaust was such a terrible event that it exempts Israel from having to follow international law.’

      • Richard Witty
        May 16, 2011, 10:12 am

        That is an example of a shameless intentional misrepresentation.


      • Erasmus
        May 16, 2011, 2:34 pm

        Another “misrepresentation” and “bad aiming”:

        link to
        While the death toll is more than twenty and injured persons run into the few hundreds, this is what Haaretz writes today, 16May11 –

        “…..IDF forces opened fire on demonstrators on the Syria border,
        a p p a r e n t l y killing s e v e r a l of them…..

        …Barak said that IDF soldiers acted with r e s t r a i n t and d i s c r e t i o n and only opened fire at t h e l e g s of protesters when other crowd dispersal methods proved insufficient….”

  9. seafoid
    May 16, 2011, 6:58 am

    The UK guardian is not much better

    link to

    “Violence breaks out as Palestinians march on Israel’s borders on Nakba day – which means ‘catastrophe’ and marks the day Israel came into being and thousands of Palestinians were ***displaced***”

  10. Woody Tanaka
    May 16, 2011, 8:18 am

    Of course, this is the New York Times.

  11. gazacalling
    May 16, 2011, 9:04 am

    In South Dakota they celebrate Native Americans’ Day. The NYT should report on it with the headline, “Native Americans Mourn the Creation of the United States.”

  12. Kathleen
    May 16, 2011, 10:03 am

    Nothing new out of the bloody times. They are paving the way for Netanyahu this week. Israel threatened, bad bad bad Iran , give us more money

  13. Justice Please
    May 16, 2011, 1:42 pm

    Julius Streicher was hanged in Nuremberg. Granted that what the NYT does is probably not the same, but why do we treat the propagandists of our time so lightly?

  14. lysias
    May 16, 2011, 3:31 pm

    Financial Times buried its explanation of the demonstrations pretty deep in its story — Protests on Israeli borders leave 13 dead (by Tobias Buck in Jerusalem and Abigail Fielding-Smith in Beirut), but it was pretty straightforward when it did get around to giving the reason:

    The two incidents were the most serious by far on a day that saw tens of thousands of demonstrators come out across the Arab world to mark the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian nakba.

    The term means catastrophe in Arabic, and is used to describe the year of Israel’s foundation, when 700,000-800,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled by advancing Israeli forces.

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