The Times and Israeli Propaganda
Dear Mr. Calame:
Your predecessor as Public Editor at the Times, Daniel Okrent, bristled at the suggestion that the Times news coverage was often slanted to favor Israel.
Well, things haven't changed. Take a look at the news story of Tuesday, October 13, 2005, by Warren Hoge headed "UN Is Gradually Becoming More Hospitable to Israel."
It isn't that the story recounts what Israeli representatives and supporters see as their advances in the United Nations or that the only real sources in the story are official Israeli government functionaries (UN Ambassador Dan Gellerman and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom) and officers of Israeli front groups (Harold Tanner, Chairman of the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations; Abe Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League; and Amy Goldstein, Director of United Nations Affairs of B'Nai B'rith); nor even that these understandably partisan individuals describe the United Nations as having an "institutional bias against Israel" (Foxman).
Perhaps given his information sources we can even understand Hoge's gratuitous "news" statement that the UN special committees dealing with Palestinian rights are considered as "forums for Israel bashing" and are considered to be candidates for elimination as having "outlived their usefulness."
No, it isn't any of these things that makes the news story an outrage. We have even sadly come to expect these things in Times stories. Actually, I was surprised that Abe Foxman didn't suggest that the United Nations was a hotbed of anti-Semitism. He came close.
What was appalling in the story was that after telling us that "antagonism between Israel and the United Nations goes back a long way" your reporter cited only the dispute over the "Zionism is racism" resolution of 1975 as an example of Israel's UN troubles. The many United Nations Resolutions and other actions critical of Israel's actions abusing the Palestinians and in violation of international law are not mentioned at all except in the non-informative context of the "39 [US] vetoes to protect Israel from Security Council censure" over many years.
The clear implication is that these vetoes were amply justified to prevent injustice to an oppressed Israel, which is a farce if one understood the substance of the subjects of the critical resolutions and the huge majorities favoring them (illegal land seizures, killing of innocents, etc.). The reality is that Israel had become a rogue state in the view of the vast majority.
The story contains not a word about the fact that every single major international human rights organization from Amnesty International to Israel's own B'Tselem has repeatedly condemned Israel's record of abuse of Palestinians under universally accepted standards and the criticisms of the United Nations by Israel and its supporters, so faithfully mirrored by Mr. Hoge in his "news" story, applies to these very same organizations and are hurled against them routinely by Israel and its fans - but discreetly is not mentioned here presumably because the UN is seen as more unpopular target in the US.
Also not mentioned is the recent decision of the International Court of Justice holding that the Israeli "settlements" - all of them - are actually illegal land seizures under international law and that the "wall" constructed in the West Bank was illegal and must be removed.
The bottom line is that this article is nothing more than a transparent propaganda piece for the government of Israel in the guise of a news story and a disgrace to a great newspaper like the New York Times. And it simply will not fly to say that sophisticated Times readers recognize the story for what it is, an interview with Israeli partisans. The Times would never run a similar "news story" presenting the views of supporters of the Palestinians and their supporters in the United Nations. It never has and I dare say it never will.
What is the Public Editor going to do about this? If you don't address this outrage then I ask, what good is the Public Editor function at the Times anyway?
Albert Regan Doyle, Esq.
224 Daniel Drive
Sanibel, FL 33957
Tel 239 395-0372