Annexation in West Bank Palestine, which Israel may decree only a week from now, could trigger the biggest upheaval in the area in more than a decade — but the New York Times is mostly missing in action. Editorial page columnists Thomas Friedman and Bret Stephens, both of whom have extensive experience in the region, have not said a word so far. Annexation is prompting division and anxiety among the U.S. pro-Israel lobby, and in the U.S. Congress, but so far the Times’s army of correspondents in the nation’s capital have not reported on any of it.
The only coverage is emanating from the paper’s Jerusalem bureau, and it is inadequate and biased. Today’s article is typical; it is a tedious analysis of what high level Israeli and American officials think about annexation. Not one Palestinian is quoted anywhere — even though Haaretz, the trustworthy Israeli daily, reports that thousands of Palestinians demonstrated in Jericho yesterday against Israel’s illegal land grab. The protesters included ambassadors from the European Union, China, Russia and Jordan.
Today’s Times article, by David Halbfinger and Michael Crowley, failed in other respects. It nowhere explained that 600,000 Jewish “settlers” have already illegally invaded the West Bank; it repeatedly referred to Donald Trump’s “peace plan,” without quotation marks, even though critics say that “annexation plan” is the more accurate description, and it did not mention Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire pro-Israel gambling magnate and Republican campaign donor, who Donald Trump is surely taking into account as he decides what to do. (Instead, the report carried clumsy comments by Dennis Ross, the professional U.S. peace processor, who turns out to be inarticulate on top of his pro-Israel bias.)
The latest Times report echoes its June 19 article, which also left out all Palestinians and only “warned” that annexation could create “security risks” for Israel if Palestinians react with “a new uprising.” One biased sentence deserves attention:
The fear most unnerving Israelis is that their sons and daughters could be sent into combat.
What the Times means here is “Jewish Israelis.” The 20 percent of Israeli citizens who are of Palestinian origin don’t count, nor do the 3 million Palestinians who live in the occupied West Bank.
You have to go back to June 8 in the Times to hear from any Palestinians at all. That Times report says that to deter annexation, the Palestinian Authority is taking nonviolent actions, which it calls “provocative steps.” Somehow Israel’s plan to illegally annex up to 30 percent of the West Bank is not regarded as “provocative.”
The Times still has a week before Israel’s annexation may go into effect. We suggest that David Halbfinger visit the West Bank village of Nabi Salih and talk to Ahed Tamimi, the brave young Palestinian woman who spent 8 months in prison in 2018 for slapping an Israeli soldier, and to her remarkable family. Halbfinger briefly reported about Ahed Tamimi back then, but so far he hasn’t followed our suggestion to actually get her side of the story. Now would be a good time to start.