by Gilead Ini
(CAMERA) — Once again, the New York Times has taken aim at Jewish history. Once again, in doing so, the paper has shown that, given the choice between embracing anti-Israel narratives or straightforward, factual journalism, it too often chooses the former.
In an April 10 story, Times reporter Raja Abdulrahim turned a historical fact into a dubious allegation, writing about the cradle of Jewish history: “Israel insists that there has been a Jewish presence in the West Bank for thousands of years.”
Of course, the sustained Jewish presence in the area, long known as Judea and Samaria, isn’t a mere claim. It is a historical fact, and one that historians and archeologists — not to mention serious journalists — would have no problem attesting to. Throughout the centuries, Jews dwelled from Hebron to Hyrcania, Nablus to Naaran, Susya to Shuafat, Jericho to Jerusalem, and across the biblical heartland.
But with the word “insists,” the newspaper signals to readers otherwise. Readers should at best be skeptical of this claim, Abdulrahim and her editors convey. At worst, they should see it as a lie peddled by a country that, just one sentence earlier in the article, was accused of illegal behavior.
Trimming the Timeline of Jewish Sovereignty
This erasure of Jewish history is part of a pattern at the newspaper. A few months ago, a reporter claimed that “the Jews enjoyed two previous periods of sovereignty in the land in ancient times, but both lasted only about 70 or 80 years.” This “but” was so important that the Times chose to highlight it on Twitter.
But… it is false. In fact, Jewish kingdoms had ruled for more than three centuries. The article trimmed away three quarters of the timeline of Jewish sovereignty.
After initially balking when CAMERA challenged the assertion, journalists eventually published a correction.
Et Tu, Temples?
Several years ago, under the headline “Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem’s Holiest Place,” reporters sought to raise doubts about whether Jewish temples actually existed on the Temple Mount.
The piece opened:
Within Jerusalem’s holiest site, known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims, lies an explosive historical question that cuts to the essence of competing claims to what may be the world’s most contested piece of real estate.
The question, which many books and scholarly treatises have never definitively answered, is whether the 37-acre site, home to Islam’s sacred Dome of the Rock shrine and Al Aqsa Mosque, was also the precise location of two ancient Jewish temples, one built on the remains of the other, and both long since gone.
After backlash, including from one of the experts quoted in the piece, the paper ran a correction acknowledging that the article misrepresented the scholarship as questioning whether the temples existed on the Temple Mount, rather than where exactly on the site they were.
An “Exclusively Arab” Jewish Quarter
A New York Times editorial about American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital similarly conceals Jewish history by telling readers that East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City’s Jewish Quarter, had been exclusively Arab before Israel’s meddling:
“Palestinians anticipated being able to locate their capital in East Jerusalem and to have access to Muslim holy sites there,” the editorial states — ignoring throughout the presence Judaism’s holiest site). “East Jerusalem was exclusively Arab in 1967,” it continues, “but Israel has steadily built settlements there, placing some 200,000 of its citizens among the Arab population and complicating any possible peace agreement.”
But this part of Jerusalem was “exclusively Arab” for only 19 years, and this was only because it was ethnically cleansed of its Jews in 1948. By using 1967 as the only historical reference point, the paper hides thousands of years of Jewish presence behind a miniscule 19-year stretch that stands out as an anomaly and a disgraceful stain on the history of the area.
Concealing the Israeli Narrative Behind a Palestinian One
Perhaps it is only fitting that Abdulrahim’s piece this week erases Jewish history, since its apparent purpose is to erase the Jewish narrative in the face of a wave of Palestinian terrorism.
The piece, written by someone who, at least in her youth, defended Hamas and Hezbollah violence, takes aim at Israel’s security barrier precisely at the time that its importance was highlighted by a spate of deadly Palestinian attacks, including two attacks, in Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak, by Palestinians who infiltrated Israel from the West Bank. Despite a few lines acknowledging that the barrier is a security measure, the piece promotes the Palestinian narrative that the barrier is a “land grab” by Israel.
Incredibly, the article says nothing about the terror attacks in Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak, though they are clearly relevant to any discussion of the barrier. It seems this recent history, just like ancient Jewish history, doesn’t fit the narrative.
Gilead Ini is a Senior Research Analyst at CAMERA.