Today’s front-page New York Times report on the Trump/Netanyahu annexation plan is a disgusting example of pro-Israel bias. In the U.S., Times coverage matters more than ever, because regional newspapers have cut their own foreign reporting and TV network news divisions similarly station very few correspondents overseas anymore. In the 2020 American media landscape, the Times sets the tone.
First, the Times calls the Trump/Netanyahu proposal a “peace plan,” without quotation marks or other indications that the very definition is vigorously challenged. Many already argue that “annexation plan” is more accurate, but the paper ignores them.
Next, the long Times article repeats the Trump/Netanyahu view at length, and barely lets critics get a word in edgewise. The paper gives Trump, Netanyahu and their supporters 11 paragraphs to expound their views, making the article sound more like a White House press release than a balanced look.
Only one single Palestinian is allowed to comment — Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority. Here is Abbas’s brief quote: “We say a thousand times over: no, no, no.” The effect is to portray the Palestinians as knee-jerk naysayers, without a substantive critique. Meanwhile, CNN International did track down Noura Erakat, the distinguished Palestinian-American legal scholar, who gave a thoughtful response on air. Why didn’t the New York Times call her, and other Palestinians who could have explained in detail what’s wrong with the “peace plan?”
Instead, the first semi-critic of the annexation plan doesn’t come on stage until paragraph 24, and he turns out to be a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Israel lobby think tank affiliated with AIPAC. But even the fellow, David Makovsky, did not try to hide that the Trump announcement “reaffirms the worst fears that this is more an annexation plan than a peace plan.”
The Times report barely mentions Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The paper nowhere says how many Israeli “settlers” have moved there illegally. In fact, the only time the word “occupation” appears is in a quote at the very end from Senator Bernie Sanders, who called for an end to it. (Sanders’s statement is in the article’s online version, but he didn’t make the cut into the print edition.)
The Times report nowhere mentions another sinister feature of the annexation plan — the threat to de-nationalize Palestinians who live today within Israel’s 1967 borders, and force them into the new Palestinian “state.” Shock and fear at this proposal was all over the internet, but the Times reporters couldn’t be bothered.
The paper included an unconsciously humorous statement. It said Trump’s announcement “ended years of suspense over a highly anticipated peace plan.” This is either a lie or journalistic malpractice. There was no “suspense;” the only question was precisely how pro Netanyahu the annexation proposal would be.
Finally, we have to turn to the honest Israeli newspaper Haaretz to find an angle that the pathetically gullible Times report missed: the Trump/Netanyahu plan counts on the Palestinians to turn it down. Here’s what Amir Tibon says today:
The only part of the Trump plan that will assuredly be implemented is the annexation bit. All other parts of the plan will be contingent on Palestinian acceptance of a plan that, as previously written in Haaretz, was written with the clear intention of getting the Palestinians to reject it. This means that as a result of the plan, Israel will continue to control the entire West Bank and no Palestinian state will be established.