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

on 33 Comments
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”:

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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33 Responses

  1. James North on April 9, 2014, 11:55 am

    It has been a busy 24 hours at Hasbara Central.

  2. seanmcbride on April 9, 2014, 12:01 pm

    Per usual, be sure to scan and analyze the Readers’ Picks among the comments.

    Much of the time the New York Times (like the Washington Post) appears to be a propaganda arm of the Israeli government and the Israel lobby — and a crude one at that. Among thoughtful readers it invites ridicule more than outrage. Sad.

    • adele on April 9, 2014, 12:48 pm

      agreed Sean. For quite a while now (since Cast Lead it seems?, can’t pin down a time exactly but it seems it all went dramatically downhill for Israel since then) the readers’ comments online at the NYT have been overwhelmingly pro-justice for Palestinians, consistently calling out Israel’s erroneous ways. The editors are certainly aware, but they are part of the life-support system for Israel so they keep on providing CPR. The body’s stiff at this point, DOA.

  3. chet on April 9, 2014, 12:16 pm

    It’s interesting to speculate as to WHO at the NY Times got the call (or email) and as to WHO, ultimately, made the decision to revise the original reporting.

  4. pabelmont on April 9, 2014, 12:32 pm

    It’s interesting to see headlines change. Was an electronic copy made of the original headline?

    NYT: “Ohhhh, excuse me, I misspoke! Really!” Well, they are in good company. Christie misspoke when talking in the imperial presence — of the current Dearth Vader, also known as Shelly Adelson.

    • Krauss on April 9, 2014, 1:43 pm

      There is a new piece up on the NYT website on the controversy of Kerry saying the obvious:

      Headline: Israel Says It Is ‘Deeply Disappointed’ by Kerry’s Remarks on Peace Talks

      Not quite “Kerry blames Israel”, but more along the lines of psychodrama between what is supposed to be America’s closest ally and America itself. Or – what is increasingly obvious to even mainstream conventionals – is becomming or has already become an albatross around America’s neck

      In the past few months, the passive-agressiveness between Israel and America has been astounding.

      America should have ditched Israel as a favoured nation a long time. Even on purely realist grounds, it has long since outlasted its usefulness. And the notion that Israel is a “light unto the nations”, nobody but the most delusional believes that anymore, even among Zionists.

      • Krauss on April 9, 2014, 1:51 pm

        By the way, this is just something that is a guess, but do you guys think Israel’s almost-intentional blowing up of the peace talks had anything to do with the fact that Iran and the Western powers(plus Russia & China) are about to meet in Vienna this coming week? They are pushing for a much more comprehensive deal.

        Netanyahu has long wanted to focus on the Iranian issue and blowing up the talks would not only allow him to do that, it would also prevent him from getting too serious in the talks. I’m sure he’ll try to bring them up again in a year or two. Just endless talking.

        But in his mind, Iran is where he wants the focus to be, and a simmering “peace deal”(even if never serious) would zap energy from the issue he wants the world to care about, plus it allows him to fearmonger uninhibited.

      • Erasmus on April 10, 2014, 2:58 pm

        Re Krauss: …”America should have ditched Israel as a favoured nation a long time.”

        yes, indeed. No only that.

        Israel is nothing else but an enormous liability for the USA.

        Its a drag for the USA’s reputation, howsoever critical this may be anyway, dragging the USA into further global isolation.
        Beyond this , the special I-US alliance and special relationship is very, very costly in money terms. At the cost of US-citizen, especially the less fortunate ones.

        One wonders how long the US electorate continues to vote for representatives maintaining this costly relation. For what????

  5. jd65 on April 9, 2014, 12:39 pm

    Good piece here. And, as always, excellent work from Representative Press. If anyone here is unfamiliar w/ the man being interviewed by RT at the end of the vid, I suggest googling four words: “Miko Peled Revolution Books.” The first hit will be an excellent, long talk given by Peled. It will give you a good idea of where he’s coming from and why he should be amplified when/if at all possible. He doesn’t shy away or sugarcoat in any way the fact that, at the root, Israel is to blame. As he says, this is not a balanced issue. So he doesn’t give balanced talks. To give a “balanced” talk, as defined by nearly all mainstream media (ie: NYT, CNN, ABC, Fox, NPR, etc…), is to be inaccurate. Balance? Oy veh…

  6. talknic on April 9, 2014, 1:13 pm

    LOL … NY times didn’t change the web address

    Like all Israeli apologist propagandistas, they fail

  7. W.Jones on April 9, 2014, 4:08 pm

    They are in the habit of shutting down the News and the peace process. The Nakba is decades old history and yet the lamestream hardly notices it. How are you to expect that they will report it if during the course of a conflict, the pals get deported a second time like in the Nakba?

    A growing minority of Israelis (30%) support this “solution” to their demographic “problem”.

  8. LanceThruster on April 9, 2014, 4:26 pm

    He should have gotten Sheldon Adelson’s approval first…

  9. Shingo on April 9, 2014, 5:08 pm

    This is why I laugh at those who criticize dates like Russia for having state controlled news papers.

  10. Shingo on April 9, 2014, 5:19 pm

    It’s also funny how on one hand the NYT is trying to spin this as Kerry blaming both sides, yet Aaron David Miller is criticizing Kerry for making statements harmful to the peace process.

    Why would criticizing both sides be harmful?

    Hasbara fail!

    • Boomer on April 10, 2014, 6:20 am

      Re: “Why would criticizing both sides be harmful?”

      From my perspective, it is harmful because it perpetuates the fiction that the current situation, including the dispossession and oppression of Palestinians, is not imposed by Israel and the USA. By which, I mean that any valid criticism of the Palestinians is insignificant compared with valid criticism of Israel and the USA. But that’s just my perspective.

      Among U.S. politicians, of course, the perspective is different. I recall one of the top female federal officials from California telling her audience something to the effect, “we don’t want an even-handed policy, we want to support Israel.” I don’t recall whether it was Pelosi or one of the senators, but on this issue it hardly matters: they blur together. That may be true due to their sincere Zionist-racist beliefs, or simply because is that they know what happens to politicians in the U.S. who dare to call for an “even handed” I/P policy. It may sound reasonable to most Americans, but that does not matter.

  11. irishmoses on April 9, 2014, 5:25 pm

    “How are you to expect that they will report it if during the course of a conflict, the pals get deported a second time like in the Nakba?”

    The abbreviation “pals” for “Palestinians” is used as a term of scorn by many who see the Palestinian people as a hindrance to their goal of achieving a Greater Israel, largely, if not totally, devoid of Palestinians. While I know this particular use was not intended as anything other than abbreviation, I’ve seen it so misused as a term of scorn that I believe it is no more appropriate than the term “hebe” is as an abbreviation for “Hebrew”, or “Izzi” would be for “Israeli”.

    The Palestinian people have been deprived of almost all symbols of dignity, such as nationhood, so can’t we at least take the time to honor their complete name?

    This may seem like a petty complaint, but words do matter.

  12. ritzl on April 9, 2014, 5:40 pm

    I’m curious as to how Aaron David Miller squares his “belief” that the Israel Lobby is a chimera or paper tiger, with his buttressing of it in this article.

    Shouldn’t this be an perfect opportunity for him to advance his own theory? If so, wouldn’t he take embrace the moment to poke gaping holes in the very flimsy Israeli narrative? Instead he seems to reinforce the flimsy narrative.

    More BS on display from people that sound soooo reasonable in a meandering philosophical sort of way, but when it comes right down to it, are anything but reasonable. Downright SOS/group-thinkists.

    • ritzl on April 9, 2014, 6:31 pm

      Miller waffling on his “belief”:

      The Lobby doesn’t have a veto because non-Jews are a big part of our political thinking [it’s up to them…]… But then he goes on to say that “until” non-Jews ante up in numbers the Israel/Jewish Lobby will hold sway.

      He is a two-stater, so that explains his NYT quote, but it doesn’t explain why he declines to give “non-Jews” the political information/ammunition, in this circumstance, to make the/a/any break from the Israel lobby, again, given his “belief” that US political supplication to the status quo is anything other than a prescription for a NOT two-state outcome.

      He continues to have the opportunity and ability to provide distinguishing information, to enable a political result that he desires, yet doesn’t.

      I don’t get it.

      • American on April 10, 2014, 12:39 am

        ”But then he goes on to say that “until” non-Jews ante up in numbers the Israel/Jewish Lobby will hold sway.”

        Yeah well, get the I-people out of the US media so more non Jews know what is going on and they will ante up.
        Miller is a bought zio tool.

      • ritzl on April 11, 2014, 1:56 pm

        @American- I take heart that Miller’s “reasonableness” is now noticeably self-contradictory. It’s not obviously/laughably self-contradictory yet, but it’s coming. As you imply, the pseudo-reasonable backfill needs more exposure and context. That’s coming too. Slowly.

        Chu just posted these profound words from Avigail Abarbanel:

        Direct link to her site:

        Irrefutable and aspirational. The “arc of the moral universe,” one grain of morality at a time.

      • American on April 11, 2014, 2:05 pm

        ritzl says:

        ”Chu just posted these profound words from Avigail Abarbanel: link to ”

        thanks for pointing out ..gotta love Avigail….she’s so damn smart and has a conscience…and guts.

  13. Binyamin in Orangeburg on April 10, 2014, 12:06 am

    Also cut out was a quote from Tzipi Livni to the effect that the 700 new settlement units was approved by Israel’s anti-two state housing minister for the express purpose of tanking the talks.

    Here’s the story that was cut:

  14. Kathleen on April 10, 2014, 12:09 am

    Quite the segment on Hardball Chris Matthews with Carter. They talk about illegal settlements, the recent breakdown but Chris Matthews states that the hang up was Netanyahu demanding that the Palestinians have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. They also veer over to Iran. Carter brings up Israel’s nukes

  15. DICKERSON3870 on April 10, 2014, 1:38 am

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

    MY COMMENT: I’m certain that AIPAC, ADL and CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting) all have the Times on “speed dial”.

    SEE: “Why the U.S. Media Barely Covered Brutal Right-Wing Race Riots in Tel Aviv”, By Joshua Holland, AlterNet, 6/17/12

    [EXCERPTS] Several weeks back, Israel was rocked by a night of right-wing race-riots targeting African refugees. . .
    . . . The story received very little coverage in the. . . States. . .
    . . . Recently, Middle East analyst MJ Rosenberg appeared on the AlterNet Radio Hour to discuss the Tel Aviv riots, the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program and how the Israel lobby helps narrow the discourse around Israel in the United States. Below is a lightly edited transcript of the discussion (you can listen to the whole interview here.)

    • JOSHUA HOLLAND: From your inside perspective on that organization [AIPAC], what did you see as far as their tendency to call out criticism that they think is illegitimate or beyond the pale?
    • MJ ROSENBERG: They [AIPAC] consider all criticism of Israel illegitimate. It’s all beyond the pale. I suppose their definition would be if by some miracle someone like Joseph Lieberman made a statement critical of Israel it would be legitimate. When I worked there in the ’80s, back before everyone had computers, they had a big war room where all they did was assemble every bit of data on members of Congress, on candidates, but also on writers, celebrities – anyone in the public eye.
    In those days they would just put them in these folders. They always had at hand all this negative information — what they considered negative information — to tar people as being anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic. That stuff would be given to reporters if something came up. They were either initiated on their own to give to reporters or some reporter called them because they had a treasure trove of information.
    They still operate that way. In those days they did it directly; now they have former staffers and people who are close to the organization in the blogging world and political world who do it for them. They do it so much. When you read that someone is anti-Israel they’re the ones putting it out there. They’ve got the data. . .
    • JOSHUA HOLLAND: . . .Speaking of our discourse, I want to talk about an issue that came up recently that’s gotten very little coverage in the United States. There were a series of violent race riots by right-wing Israelis against African immigrants in Tel Aviv. This was a big deal. I was looking at the US coverage and it was amazing at how little attention these riots received. . .
    • MJ ROSENBERG: . . .This is a common thing. When there are bad things going on inside Israel — the way they treat the Palestinians and in this case the way they’re treating these poor African refugees from loathsome regimes who wind up in Israel — these stories are … I don’t want to say suppressed in the United States, but it’s striking how much coverage they get in Israel itself and how a paper like the New York Times is too scared to touch it.
    I have to say they’re afraid to touch it. The reason is when an American outlet talks about Israel in any way that’s negative, or reports on anything negative about Israel, they will be inundated with complaints from powerful people who will tell them, “why are you picking on Israel?” They always say, “why is it that China is doing all these things and you’re not writing about that?” Of course, they do. You even see it in the blogosphere too, the intimidation. If you aren’t utterly secure in your position in the media then you don’t mess with Israel. More to the point, you don’t mess with the people here who are Israel’s enforcers. . .


    • DICKERSON3870 on April 10, 2014, 1:50 am

      P.S. ALSO SEE – “The AIPAC Politics of Smear: The Secret Section in Israel’s U.S. Lobby That Stifles American Debate”, By Gregory D. Slabodkin, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 1992, pages 7-8, 89-91

      [EXCERPTS] During the reign of terror that Senator Joseph McCarthy unleashed in the 1950s, when the reputations and lives of many loyal Americans were ruined by false charges of “communism” and “treason,” American Jewry was overwhelmingly opposed to the Wisconsin senator and his blackmail by blacklists. According to the Gallup polls of the time, the percentage of U.S. Jews who opposed McCarthy’s smear tactics was twice that of the rest of the population. Many Jewish organizations passed resolutions condemning McCarthy’s ruthless character assassination.
      Today, however, such national Jewish organizations as the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) are using the same tactics to stifle open debate of U.S.
      policy in the Middle East.

      • Secretly Circulated Lists
      To conduct this “neo-McCarthyism,” AIPAC operates a covert section within its research department that monitors and keeps files on politicians, journalists, academics, Arab-American activists, Jewish liberals, and others it labels “anti-Israel.” AIPAC selects information from these files and secretly circulates lists of the “guilty,” together with their alleged political misdeeds, buttressed by their statements, often totally out of context.
      Just as McCarthy’s permanent investigations subcommittee labeled criticism of specific policies of the U.S. government as “anti-American,” or “pro-Soviet,” AIPAC labels criticism of Israeli government policies “anti-Israel,” “pro-Arab” or “pro-PLO.” Still worse is the pro-Israel lobby’s redefinition of “anti-Semitism” to include any such criticism of Israel or its actions. . .
      . . . AIPAC’s “opposition research” department traces its roots to I.L. (Sy) Kenen, who founded AIPAC in 1954. As editor of AIPAC’s weekly Near East Report, he often attacked critics of Israel in his aptly titled column, “The Monitor.” Besides monitoring, analyzing, and responding to “anti-Israel” comment and activities in the United States, Kenen also kept files on AIPAC’s “enemies.” In his final year AIPAC began to expand its intelligence-gathering operations.
      Kenen’s memoirs, “Israel’s Defense Line: Her Friends and Foes in Washington”, record how AIPAC pooled resources in 1974 with the American Jewish Committee and other national Jewish organizations to create a “truth squad.” Its purpose was to combat “pro-Arab propaganda” and the emerging “Arab lobby,” which Kenen believed to be a growing threat to the U.S.-Israel relationship.
      “While vigorously defending Israel’s perceived interests, the organizations that created the truth squad turned into a kind of Jewish thought police,” journalist Robert I. Friedman explains. “Investigators—sometimes overzealous Jewish college students, sometimes sources with access to U.S. intelligence agencies—were used to ferret out critics of Israel, Jew or gentile, wherever they might be. At ADL and AIPAC, files were opened on journalists, politicians, scholars and community activists. Their speeches and writings were monitored, as were, in some cases, their other professional activities. And they were often smeared with charges of anti-Semitism or with the pernicious label of self-hating Jew. The intention was to stifle debate on the Middle East within the Jewish community, the media and academia, for fear that criticism of any kind would weaken the Jewish state.”
      When Kenen stepped down as executive director of AIPAC in December 1974, the task of monitoring Israel’s “enemies” was left to the department of research and information at AIPAC, where it has remained ever since. . .


  16. Boomer on April 10, 2014, 6:47 am

    Thanks for this. Over the past 15 years I’ve become aware of how much propaganda we are exposed to from sources I used to regard as reliable and objective. The Internet is mostly responsible for that belated education, and this site certainly plays a key part.

  17. dont drink the water on April 10, 2014, 10:39 am

    I emailed the author of the NY Times story and he got back to me:

    The reason the headline was changed is that I filed a completely new, analytical take on the Senate hearing that compared Kerry’s testimony to a similar hearing with James Baker in 1990. In no way was there an effort to censor the story. The headline on the news story was on the Web for 8 hours, and the story set the tone for the media coverage of this issue for the week (see the Israeli government’s angry reaction to Kerry’s comments).

    In this era of digital journalism, we almost always file an initial news story, followed by a more analytical story, which runs in the next day’s paper, and the headline is always different to distinguish them.

    Thanks for writing.

    Best, Mark Landler

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