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New York Times published piece about Netanyahu’s racism, then rewrote all of it

on 31 Comments

On March 17, the day of the 2015 Israel election, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Jewish Israelis that Arabs were voting “in droves” (alleging, in a conspiratorial manner reminiscent of white supremacists in the US Jim Crow South, that “Left-wing organizations are busing them out”). Second-class Palestinian citizens voting is supposed to be a very bad thing in Israeli democracy.

The New York Times published an article about the incident—and more generally about Netanyahu’s bigoted, jingoistic, far-right tactics to attract more votes—titled “Netanyahu Expresses Alarm That Arab Voter Turnout Could Help Unseat Him.” The piece was written by Isabel Kershner and Rick Gladstone. At least, for the moment, that was the case.

Several hours later, the NYT published a rewrite of the article—a rewrite not just of parts of it, but of all of it. According the the website NewsDiffs which tracks edits to “highly-placed articles on online news sites,” between 5:13 pm and 9:08 pm on March 17 100% of the article was re-written to mostly erase the focus on Netanyahu’s racism.

The new title? The much more innocuous “Deep Wounds and Lingering Questions After Israel’s Bitter Race” (itself a modification on a previous headline of “Deep Wounds in Bitter Race”)—now, with just one author, Isabel Kershner.

The former article used the words “racism” (twice), “racist,” and “racial fearmongering.” The second line of the piece read “Opponents accused Mr. Netanyahu of baldfaced racism that smacked of desperation.” It included statements and quotes such as:

  • The Zionist Union alliance denounced Mr. Netanyahu’s language as racial fearmongering.
  • “No other Western leader would dare utter such a racist remark,” Shelly Yacimovich, a senior member of the bloc, wrote on Twitter. “Imagine a warning that starts, ‘Our rule is in danger, black voters are streaming in quantity to the polling stations.’”
  • “A prime minister who conducts propaganda against national minority citizens is crossing a red line of incitement and racism,” said Dov Hanin, a Joint Arab List candidate. “Such a message, voiced by a prime minister on the very day in which citizens are supposed to be encouraged to go out to vote, is testimony to a complete loss of compass and his preparedness to smash all principles of democracy just for the sake of his own leadership.”

The latter article removed the quotes from Netanyahu’s opponents, leaving only the line “Opponents accused him of baldfaced racism.” And, no longer at the beginning of the piece, this sentence is now buried in the middle, where studies show most readers will not see it.

Netanyahu is quite simply whitewashed in the second article. This new draft—doubtless penned when NYT editors realized Netanyahu would likely be the next prime minister—is significantly kinder. Its thesis is essentially that Netanyahu is not actually a racist and that he does not truly unequivocally oppose the two-state solution. It features lines such as:

  • Mr. Netanyahu has a long history in power and has in the past demonstrated that he can change positions from campaigning to governing. His record is as a pragmatist, analysts said.
  • “I am sure that Netanyahu, with his broad historical perspective, if he is prime minister again, will be thinking long and hard about what legacy he will want to leave behind with regard to the demographic makeup of the country and its standing in the world,” said Gidi Grinstein, founder of the Reut Institute, an Israeli strategy group. “In the end I would not rule out his going back to the two-state solution.”

Euphemistically, the esteemed publication writes “In the final days of a closely fought election race, Mr. Netanyahu threw all political and diplomatic niceties to the wind.” That is one way of saying that, in order to attract votes, the right-wing Israeli prime minister resorted to base racism, fear-mongering, and—in what Ali Abunimah pointed out is strikingly reminiscent of early-20th-century anti-Semitic tropes—conspiracy theories about powerful foreign interests supposedly conspiring to unseat him.

In the end, the New York Times, doubtless the most well-respected US newspaper, is notorious for its pro-Israel slant. It scarcely hides it. And even when it tries, it’s found out.

Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a journalist and writer based in New York City. His work has been featured in a variety of publications. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton. His website is

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31 Responses

  1. just on March 18, 2015, 3:12 pm

    “In the end, the New York Times, doubtless the most well-respected US newspaper, is notorious for its pro-Israel slant. It scarcely hides it. And even when it tries, it’s found out.”

    The “well- respected” status needs to change if the paper won’t. It’s an undeserved perch. Thanks for contributing, Ben. Thanks to NewsDiffs , too.

  2. Maximus Decimus Meridius on March 18, 2015, 3:28 pm

    It’s been interesting to read the British version of the NYT – The Guardian. Poor Jonathan Freedland had to scrap the editorial he had prepared ready to roll the morning after Herzog’s triumph – full of gush about ”a new dawn”, ”a brave choice” and ” both sides must be ready for painful compromise”.

    Instead, stunned at the blow to his dream castle image of Israel, it’s taken him several hours to come up with this predictabIe piece of mourning over the damage to – yes, you’ve guessed it – Israel’s ”image”.

    • a blah chick on March 18, 2015, 4:16 pm

      I couldn’t finish that Freedland article because after a few minutes the mendacity became so strong it started to leak out of the computer speakers and foul the air. I barely escaped with my sanity in tact.

      Thanks a lot.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on March 18, 2015, 7:16 pm

        I swear you could almost feel the breeze from all that Freedland-esque hand wringing over the ‘soul of Israel’.

    • Bornajoo on March 18, 2015, 5:46 pm

      Thanks for the link MDM. The NYT and guardian, birds of a feather. They both have israel loving Jewish zionists as gatekeepers so there is no hope of any credible reporting or reality. They will spin the unspinnable. And these are supposedly the objective liberal left newspapers in the USA and UK. What a joke.

      I’m so glad Freedland didn’t get his Herzog. (Although there still might be a twist)

      Many thanks Ben

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on March 18, 2015, 7:14 pm

        And the thing is… He STILL hides behind the lie that a ‘2 state solution’ is possible!

        Still. Even now.

        I do think libzios of Freedland’s generation are a lost cause. They have been so deeply indoctrinated in the cult that there’s no way out for them. They have far too much to lose, psychologically speaking, if the facade of the Zionist dream comes crashing down. So they must maintain it at all costs, however daft it makes them look.

        Nice to see that most of the comments were sensible. I find it goes one of two ways with CiF threads: either the hasbrats get a heads up and infest it from the start, or they’re pretty reasonable. This was one of the latter, even if there’s been a belated rearguard action from the usual suspects.

      • HStrumm on March 19, 2015, 6:09 pm

        It’s time to get the racism inherent in political Zionism out for debate. Visit:

      • just on March 19, 2015, 8:08 pm

        Many thanks, HStrumm.

        A worthwhile endeavor, indeed.

  3. Rusty Pipes on March 18, 2015, 3:44 pm

    Gee, ya think Brooke Gladstone at On The Media will touch this subject in this week’s show?

  4. a blah chick on March 18, 2015, 4:02 pm

    Wow, I’m glad I read it in its original form. What surprised me was the level of anger and frustration. For the NYT it really minced few words. But I’m not surprised that they ended up re-writing it.

    Trust me, folks, now the REAL re-writing will begin. Soon people who were upset yesterday will be saying that the Butcher’s rhetoric was just electioneering and not to be taken too seriously.

    Nevertheless the anger is still out there and as it grows what are the chances of another timely attack on an Israeli institution? As the Republicans were saying back in the nineties it would be irresponsible not to speculate.

  5. Cliff on March 18, 2015, 7:58 pm


    ‘deep wounds’

    I’m sure North Korea and Iran have ‘deep wounds’ too, when it comes to NYT’s reporting on their problems.

    Fuck the NYT and Zionism.

    • Krauss on March 18, 2015, 10:27 pm

      Cliff, I was in total rage yesterday as I read the NYT’s shocking whitewash in the post-election.

      Their blanket defence of Jewish Apartheid will seriously strain their credibility with young educated progressives in America in the coming years. Do they want their Middle Eastern coverage to be equated to the equivalent of Tom Friedman’s reputation?

      That’s the path they are on.

  6. JWalters on March 18, 2015, 8:03 pm

    Could it be this change reflects a difference between the staff and the owner? Might the recent editorial shake-up have had anything to do with honest reporting about Israel?

  7. talknic on March 18, 2015, 8:06 pm

    Most worthy news services publish a retraction or similar when they change an article.

    The NYT is a slimy pro-Israel propaganda front

    Original (

    The original version is “By ISABEL KERSHNER and RICK GLADSTONE” — Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem, and Rick Gladstone from New York. Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting from Jerusalem, and Robert Mackey from New York.
    The second version is “By Jodi Rudoren ” — Jodi Rudoren contributed reporting from Tel Aviv, Diaa Hadid from Nazareth, Israel, and Michael D. Shear from Washington

    It isn’t the first time the muck bucket has left a trail littered with evidence of its duplicity

  8. just on March 18, 2015, 11:36 pm


    “A swastika was posted on the bulletin board of a Jewish fraternity in a George Washington University dorm on Monday, leading upset students to immediately report it to police.

    The symbol — recognized as an emblem of hate from Nazi Germany — apparently came from an internal source: A member of the fraternity, who is Jewish, admitted that he posted it there.

    GW’s president, Steven Knapp, wrote in a message to the campus community that “while the student claims his act was not an expression of hatred, the university is referring the matter to the MPD for review by its Hate Crimes Unit.”

    On Tuesday, the student was expelled from the fraternity by national leaders of Zeta Beta Tau.

    “This type of behavior is unacceptable and is not tolerated by the brothers of this fraternity,” Nick Carr, president of the local chapter, said in a statement. “We are appalled by the actions taken by this undergraduate.””

    • Walid on March 19, 2015, 12:38 am

      “The symbol — recognized as an emblem of hate from Nazi Germany ”

      Just, I can understand that an older generation of Jews could be seriously traumatized at seeing a swastika, but to pretend an equal suffering at the sight by young kids is showbusiness. Expelling the Jewish kid from the fraternity for it is equally absurd.

      • CigarGod on March 19, 2015, 8:58 am

        But, Walid,
        Didn’t the artist try to pass it off as the work of an anti-semite…with the intent to incite?
        If that is the case, Expulsion seems appropriate.

      • eljay on March 19, 2015, 9:18 am

        || Walid: Just, I can understand that an older generation of Jews could be seriously traumatized at seeing a swastika, but to pretend an equal suffering at the sight by young kids is showbusiness. ||

        I agree.

        || Expelling the Jewish kid from the fraternity for it is equally absurd. ||

        The kid has committed an act of anti-Semit…I mean, “Jew hatred”. (That is what they’re calling it these days, isn’t it?) He should suffer the same consequence for his action that a non-Jew would suffer for a similar action.

      • Walid on March 19, 2015, 9:29 am

        CigarGod, I’d have written it as another youth antic, but an irresponsible one nonetheless. I’d be curious to rate it against other fraternity antics. I think in this case, the Zionists jumped on the occasion to make capital out of it and to make noise about it in the press.

      • CigarGod on March 19, 2015, 9:35 am

        Perhaps. I just can’t comfortably place such a thing in the antic category. If the offender was 11…okay.
        Yes, it seems like the zios are always on deck to capitalize on every opp. But then…i jump pretty fast, myself.

      • Mooser on March 20, 2015, 12:25 pm

        Walid, if you ask me, a Jewish kid from a Jewish fraternity who posts a swastika to try and.. try to… Jeez, who knows, anyway, that kid shouldn’t be in college, he should be getting therapy.

        “Didn’t the artist try to pass it off as the work of an anti-semite…with the intent to incite?”

        Real college material, that one.

      • Mooser on March 20, 2015, 12:43 pm

        .” I’d be curious to rate it against other fraternity antics.”

        Try that, those are articles about a fraternity videoed singing racist songs or chants at a party, and the consequences. Just happened, so it’s nice and current.

        And remember (as I didn’t!) the kid was expelled from the fraternity, not from school. He needn’t be too discouraged.
        I’m sure if the young man only will apply at the local Hillel chapter, they will find activities for him commensurate with his proclivities.

    • Rusty Pipes on March 19, 2015, 5:55 pm

      And because there was nothing more newsworthy happening that day, WaPo covered the incident prominently. Of course, WaPo covers every incident of campus anti-Muslim incitement just as prominently.

  9. SonofDaffyDuck on March 19, 2015, 9:11 am

    It is always fun to see the “Kershner-Rudoren tag-team-for-Bibi” in action.
    I often wonder what a gentile analysis of the US-Israeli relationship in NYT would look like?

  10. hophmi on March 19, 2015, 10:06 am

    Or they wrote an update story early in the day, and then folded that story into a larger one later in the day. Oh well, Ben will make what propaganda he can out of these things.

    • justicewillprevail on March 19, 2015, 12:09 pm

      The only problem with your little excuse/theory is that the facts don’t support it.

    • Shingo on March 19, 2015, 4:23 pm

      Or they wrote an update story early in the day, and then folded that story into a larger one later in the day

      In which case the story would not have changed, but been updated the way they do here on MW.

      That’s so pathetic Hop, I doubt even you are swallowing your own crap.

      • Mooser on March 20, 2015, 12:27 pm

        “That’s so pathetic Hop, I doubt even you are swallowing your own crap.”

        Hophmi never goes off his diet! After all, we are what we eat.

        But it isn’t so much what Hophmi says, no, what really carries the conviction, and persuades every reader, winning both the point, and fostering new amity whenever he posts, is his tone. He has that ability, like all the best American essayists and commentators, of making every person feel like they are hearing from an old fiend.

      • Keith on March 20, 2015, 5:09 pm

        MOOSER- “After all, we are what we eat.”

        Thanks for the straight line, however, I doubt that the vulgar punch line would pass moderation. Maybe next time.

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