Two articles in today’s New York Times show that the paper is belatedly waking up about Palestinian citizens of Israel and their growing role in Israeli elections, but the Times still has a long ways to go before it tells the full truth.
Patrick Kingsley’s report does focus on the Joint List, the coalition of “Arab-led” political parties that increased their strength to 15 seats in the next Israeli Parliament, making it once again the third-largest force in the country. He actually quotes four Palestinian citizens of Israel, who are usually non-persons in the Times, (although he relies for ‘expert analysis’ on Louis Fishman, a professor at Brooklyn College). He also mentions the Joint List’s leader, Ayman Odeh, describing him as “a charismatic lawyer” who possesses “eloquence and approachability.”
Odeh may be ’approachable,’ but the Times still can’t find his phone number to schedule a profile.
The Times’s unfamiliarity with Palestinian citizens may explain a serious error in Kingsley’s article in the print edition; “about two in five Israelis are of Arab ethnicity.” (Someone at the Times must have woken up, because a correction appended to the online version notes that the correct percentage is one in five).
There is worse. Both Kingsley and David Halbfinger, in an adjoining article on the ongoing post-election maneuvering, repeat charges by Benjamin Netanyahu and others that the Joint List includes “supporters of terrorists” and “terror supporters.” But no one on the Joint List gets the chance to respond. Ayman Odeh in particular is a passionate advocate of nonviolence, but you won’t learn that in the Times.
Once again, Halbfinger whitewashes a major reason that Israel has had 3 elections in less than a year and may now need a fourth: the Jewish political parties are too afraid of racism among Jewish Israelis to risk a governing pact with the Joint List, even a tacit one. Telling one out of every five Israelis that the people you vote for will never form part of the government is electoral apartheid, pure and simple.
Let’s look quickly at how the Guardian, which occupies roughly the same ideological space in Britain as the Times does here, covered the same story. Right in the third paragraph, Guardian reporter Oliver Holmes says the Arab Israeli parties were “boosted by a backlash to racist campaigning by Benjamin Netanyahu.” No quotation marks around “racist.” So far, you won’t read anything that direct — and accurate — in the New York Times.