We keep close tabs on how often Palestinians get quoted in the New York Times because it’s a good measure of the power differential inside the American establishment between Israelis and Palestinians. And since last Friday’s historic UN Security Council resolution against settlements in occupied territories, the Times has been doing a particularly lousy job of finding Palestinians to quote.
Like this story two days ago: “U.S. Transition Puts Israeli Focus Back on Palestinians.” The headline promises that you’re gonna be hearing from Palestinians. Not to worry. Peter Baker quoted Benjamin Netanyahu, Isaac Herzog, Avigdor Lieberman, Zalman Shoval, Dore Gold, and Ehud Yaari, as well as American warhorses Tamara Cofman Wittes, Robert Satloff and Daniel Kurtzer. Nine Israelis and Americans (and all Jewish, it would appear).
How many Palestinians in an article focused on Palestinians? One: Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian negotiator, who
said in a conference call sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars this past week that an embassy move would prompt the Palestine Liberation Organization to withdraw recognition of Israel that was granted as part of the Oslo peace accords.
And by the way, a liberal Zionist was used to voice “Arab” opinion:
While many Arab leaders have tired of the Palestinian leadership, they may have to respond if their citizens are stirred to outrage. “If the street’s reactions get too heated, it will be easier for these Arabs to jettison the Israeli relationship than to stand in the way of their own people’s anger,” Mr. Kurtzer said.
Must be hard to find Arabs on the telephone. . .
Peter Baker’s first take on the UN resolution a day earlier quoted Zero Palestinians, while quoting: an unnamed Israeli official, Tzipi Livni, Michael Oren, Ben Rhodes and Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL.
Back when the story broke on Friday, the first Times article on the resolution broke the quote boycott and cited two Palestinians, but mostly others: Danny Danon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald J. Trump, Chuck Schumer, Ronald Lauder, Lindsey Graham, the American Jewish Committee, the World Jewish Congress, J Street, Samantha Power — and then, as an afterthought, Riyad Mansour of the Palestinian mission to the U.N. and Hazem Kassem of Hamas.
And this article by Peter Baker today shows the quota is back in effect. The one Palestinian quoted is Riad Malki, the foreign minister, saying that Palestinians will be going to international fora backed by the new resolution. But after that it’s back to business: Mitchell Barak, Ron Dermer, Oded Revivi, Anat Ben Nun, Betty Herschman, Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman, Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu. Non-Jewish experts on the conflict also don’t count in the Times.
By the way, this story, about fresh Israeli defiance in building new settlements, is the lead article in today’s Times, and it follows standard NYT policy in another respect — it doesn’t point out that the “settlements” are illegal under international law, because the Geneva convention says you cannot transfer a civilian population into occupied territory.
Here is the Times‘s weasel equivocation:
By declaring Israeli settlements illegal, [Israelis said], the United Nations essentially took away the one chip that Israel had to trade, meaning land.
The article is insinuating that the settlements weren’t illegal for the last 40 years, ever since this has been an issue. Maybe the Times thinks that international law is not fair. Maybe the newspaper think an exception should be made for Israel. They’re entitled to their opinions and should express them on the editorial page, but the facts are that the settlements are illegal under international law. You put facts in an article, you put opinions on the editorial page.
The latest BBC report offered the boilerplate language that the Times could use:
The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
Thanks to Donald Johnson for this story.