‘NYT’ self-censors, axing headline blaming Israeli settlements

Israel/Palestine
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The New York Times changed the headline but not the web address. (Screenshot via talknic)

The New York Times changed the headline but not the web address. (Screenshot via talknic)

Yesterday we reported that The New York Times was early on the story of John Kerry’s Senate testimony– in which he lay blame for the breakdown in the peace process chiefly on Israel, for missing a prisoner release deadline and then announcing new settlements.

The Times headline was direct:

“Israeli Settlement Plan Derails Peace Talks, Kerry Says.”

The Israelis have complained about Kerry’s remarks. And the State Department has tried to back off from Kerry’s analysis.

And someone has been calling the Times, too. Because, glory be to God, now that piece has a new headline:

“Mideast Frustration, the Sequel.”

Mark Landler’s piece had begun with a forthright statement that Kerry blamed Israel’s announcement of 700 settlements in Jerusalem as the cause for the breakdown of the talks.

Now his piece has lost its bite and become a meditation on Kerry and his predecessor James Baker. The first three paragraphs are :

For those who suspect that the Middle East peace process has become a diplomatic drama, playing on an endless loop, Secretary of State John Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday could serve as Exhibit A.

Explaining to the senators why his latest efforts to bring together the Israelis and the Palestinians had almost broken down last week, Mr. Kerry could have been channeling Secretary of State James A. Baker III when he explained a similar impasse to House members 24 years ago.

While Mr. Kerry said both sides bore responsibility for “unhelpful” actions, the precipitating event, he said, was Israel’s announcement of 700 new housing units for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. That came three days after a deadline passed for Israel to release Palestinian prisoners, and it undercut an emerging deal to extend the negotiations.

The piece also includes a quote from Aaron David Miller lamenting Kerry’s statement as no good for peace. That wasn’t there before. You can see the original story here.

This is self-censorship, and disturbing. A lot is at stake here. The talks are about to fail. Blame is the last thing the Israelis want. That would change the paradigm; Palestinians are always to blame.

Thanks to James North, to Bill McGowan (who’s on the IF Stone beat) and Representative Press, who covers the change as a “disgrace”:

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