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A ‘NY Times’ report hides the truth: Israel’s airstrikes across the Mideast are arguably designed to sabotage Trump-Iran talks

Media Analysis
on 11 Comments

Whether the chronically biased New York Times coverage of Israel is motivated by deliberate calculation or sheer incompetence is an intriguing question. Here’s the latest example; the lead story in today’s print edition is a long report on Israel’s attacks across the Middle East against what the article calls Iran’s “Arab allies.” In recent weeks, Israeli warplanes and drones have struck at targets in Syria, Beirut and Iraq.

The article could have been written by Israeli intelligence. (In fact, one of the 3 Times reporters, Ronen Bergman, is rumored to actually have such connections.) The article completely adopts the Israeli point of view — that an aggressive, bellicose Iran is arming proxies across the region, and that Israel is only reacting, defensively. Here is the paper’s slant, “. . . Iran’s opportunistic expansion in much of the Middle East is coming up against fierce Israeli pushback.”

This is criminally one-sided and misleading. First, the Times takes until the 29th paragraph to point out that Benjamin Netanyahu faces close elections in less than 3 weeks, which just may have encouraged him to order the attacks to win votes.

But an even more glaring sign of Times bias or incompetence is that the long article nowhere — nowhere — points out that Donald Trump may be moderating his hostility toward Iran, and seems open to at least considering going to the negotiating table. This is the last thing that Israel wants. For years, Tel Aviv has tried to induce the U.S. to attack Iran, and Netanyahu in 2015 made that infamous speech to the U.S. Congress to try and sabotage the Obama administration’s Iran deal.

In Lobelog, the distinguished researcher Sina Toossi did the Times’s work for it. His headline tells the story: “Israeli Strikes Seek to Bait Iran and Scuttle U.S.-Iran Diplomacy.” Toossi points out that “the timing of the Israeli strikes suggests that they are at least partly aimed” at stopping Trump from following up on the peace feelers that French President Emmanuel Macron put out at last weekend’s G7 meeting. 

Maybe the Times doesn’t trust Sina Toossi. But what about yesterday’s editorial in Haaretz, the respected Israeli newspaper, which raised the same suspicions about Netanyahu’s true motivations? The paper said simply and clearly:

Now Netanyahu is confronting a change in direction in Trump’s policy, which is reflected in an attempt to arrange a meeting and reach an understanding with the Iranian leadership. . . These circumstances explain Netanyahu’s decision to escalate Israel’s military activity against Iran and its proteges in the region. . . 

The Times propaganda article rattled on for 43 paragraphs without a single mention of Netanyahu’s incentive to sabotage the possible Trump-Iran detente. Again, is this deliberate bias — or just incompetence? 

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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11 Responses

  1. bcg on August 29, 2019, 1:07 pm

    “But an even more glaring sign of Times bias or incompetence is that the long article nowhere — nowhere — points out that Donald Trump may be moderating his hostility toward Iran, …”

    I think it’s long past the time when we need to stop looking at Trump as a rational actor who has ideas, plans, desires, or a coherent worldview. For the third time he’s claimed his father was born in Germany when in fact he was born in New York. (Trumps grandfather was born in Germany).

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/02/trump-wrongly-claims-his-dad-was-born-germany-third-time/

    • Misterioso on August 30, 2019, 10:18 am

      @bcg

      So far, Trump is “moderating his hostility toward Iran.” He has been advised by heads of the U.S. military and other experts in the State Department that a war in the Gulf would be unwinnable and prove to be a huge disaster for all concerned. Netanyahu and his gang want a war because it is inevitable that in the long run, with the slow but sure shift in public opinion taking place, America will correctly view “Israel” as a major geopolitical liability and positive relations with Iran (population 83 million) as a major asset.

  2. mondonut on August 29, 2019, 1:49 pm

    arguably = the truth

    Sure it is. And anything remotely “arguable” must be included in a NY Times piece or they are guilty of hiding something.

    • DaBakr on August 30, 2019, 2:28 am

      Who exactly considers the Haaretz a “respectable” paper except for MW readers and a tiny % of actual far left israels?

      If iran is indeed supplying hezbolla with advanced weaponry and machinery to build it themselves then it doesn’t matter much wether trump talks to rouhani or not. (And the money is on not. Not because of Israel but because the iranians have absurd preconditions for any meeting, just like the first “best bad deal” fiasco that Obama pushed

      • Talkback on August 30, 2019, 5:04 am

        DaBakr: “Who exactly considers the Haaretz a “respectable” paper …”

        As if you could understand the answer to this question …

      • Misterioso on August 30, 2019, 9:52 am

        @DaBakr

        Sigh. The fact that you and your ilk question the respectability of Haaretz further confirms that it is indeed a “‘respectable'” newspaper.

      • DaBakr on August 30, 2019, 4:06 pm

        @mst

        Right. Kind of like groucho Marx quipping he would never want to join a club that would have him as a member. But I would only correct your statement to reflect that it is people of your “ilk” that revere the Haaretz hard left stance. Very few Israelis read or trust it. And it only stays afloat because of its English language internet edition which serves far left jews, anti -zionists,anti -Israelis and surely a lot of plain old jew haters as well. My take is its 80% hysteria (alpher) 15% typical investigative journalism (with a slant) but not bad and the other 5% is Levy and Haas and their incredible screeds which they can publish as Israelis with impunity and enjoy freedom of the press (like no other government in the region) while attacking the state.
        No denying that Levy and Haas have a fascination to many that see zionism and Israel as a train wreck. Of the two, I would tend to trust Haas as the more devoted and honest (she evidently is somewhat while Levy has been coopted by the Palestinian cause and it’s money for years.
        But yes, my ilk proves your point. But then you have no idea where I get news from. There are arabic and Turkish news. India and China. Hope you realize there are hundreds of reporters from all over the world based in jerusalem. Anyway, if Haaretz survives another five years it will be a miracle. (And I hope they do. It’s another voice,another pov)

      • DaBakr on August 30, 2019, 4:21 pm

        @tb

        Yes, I think I can. I could make a crude joke, make an insult but I understand why Haaretz is so important to a site like MW. It’s not unlike why JVP is important. and guess what? I’m fine with yall loving your Haaretz. I don’t have to like it for you to enjoy. So enjoy. (And no, I don’t like the JP, AY, TOI, much either. All too msm coopted)

      • Talkback on August 31, 2019, 4:40 am

        DaBakr: “I’m fine with yall loving your Haaretz. ”

        And I’m fine with you suffering from delusions of love and hatred. But this results of your indoctrination is one of the reasons why you wouldn’t understand the answer to your question.

    • DaBakr on August 30, 2019, 4:33 pm

      @mnt

      Right. There are currently about seven working ‘arguments’ about the why,when and where of the past week and strikes in iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Yemen. There is no certain truth to any of them yet except they all are connected to the Mullah regime and it’s IRG.

      Too many questions even for the NYT vast coverage to handle.

      Before slinging arguments as truth first answer how Iranian quad drones were used from within Lebanon to bomb hezbollah. Then answer if there is any hard evidence that hezbollah supposedly had two industrial mixers for solid rocket fuel destroyed. Then explain the Iranian rocket blowing up on its launch pad. The militants carrying Iranian made UAVs that Israel did admit to targeting and the fiasco in the hormuz straights. After that, North can start whining about bibi trying to stop trump from doing anything he wants to do.

  3. Vera Gottlieb on August 31, 2019, 11:03 am

    And when all this backfires…then what? Don’t go whining to the world.

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