The bias in today’s New York Times report starts right in the print edition’s headline, which calls Trump’s proposal a “peace plan,” without quotation marks. The paper repeats the slant in the very first sentence, which cites “the American plan for Middle East peace.”
That Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, the true author of the proposal, call it a “peace plan” and want the world to agree is certainly news, which the Times should report — but with the appropriate indications that their view is not a fact. But George Orwell’s point in Nineteen Eighty-Four is that if you control the language you shape what people think; you can even prevent them from thinking certain things.
The full headline in today’s Times is a good example. It reads: “3 Palestinians Killed in Surge of Violence After Release of Trump’s Peace Plan.” As such, it reinforces the decades-long narrative: “Intransigent, Violent Arabs Choose Violence Over Peace.” But replace “Peace Plan” with “Annexation Plan,” even just in that headline, and you will already get a different reaction.
Orwellian language is already a big part of the Israel Palestinian conflict. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis violate international law and move permanently to occupied Palestine; anywhere else, they would be called “colonists.” But here, they are almost universally described as “settlers,” a more benign, pioneering image.
Amira Hass, the courageous Haaretz reporter who has covered occupied Gaza and the West Bank for decades, eliminated bias in her article by simply calling the proposal “the Trump plan.”
Today’s Times report continues its policy of ignoring the Palestinian citizens of Israel, 20 percent of the country, several hundred thousand of whom could be de-nationalized by the Trump plan. Ayman Odeh is the leader of the Joint List, the third-largest force in Israeli politics, and he issued a statement after a Palestinian from Haifa opened fire on Israeli Border Police officers
A citizen of Israel should never use a weapon. . . Arab citizens have chosen the path of a civil, democratic and just struggle to end the occupation and for peace and equality. . . We won’t accept any other way.
Let’s borrow from George Orwell again. The New York Times continues to treat Ayman Odeh as a “nonperson,” even though he is a significant political leader in Israel. Reporting his plea for nonviolence would disturb their narrative of violent Palestinians.
Finally, coverage in the Times and elsewhere in the U.S. mainstream cannot hide its exasperation that the Palestinian people don’t just admit their defeat and submit to the Trump plan. This is a view that is clearly immoral, but the mainstream thinks it is being hard-headed and realistic.
Is it? Akiva Eldar, 74 years old, is one of Israel’s most distinguished journalists; he reported at Haaretz for 35 years, and he now contributes to Al-Monitor. Here’s what he had to say yesterday about Israel’s occupation of Palestine:
One day the occupation will end. That will happen in 10 years from now, or 50, or 100, and after who knows how many more dead, how many more widows and orphans. The choice was and still is between dividing the country into two states and bringing about reconciliation between the two peoples — or having a conflicted binational state in which two nations shed each other’s blood.