“Before Passover I was approached by a friend of mine, an owner of a fashion house who advertises regularly in the New York Times, to write a letter on her behalf. Last year she threatened to withdrew her advertising in protest to the Times' distorted coverage of Jewish building in Jerusalem. The publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, invited her to meet his staff where apparently some meeting of the minds took place. Last month's coverage by the Times of the Itamar horror re-ignited her desire to stop her advertising. She wrote another letter and Sulberger replied. My letter for her was her counter-reply. She sent a somewhat shorter version of the letter I wrote below which I believe you may find interesting.
Dear Mr. Sulzberger
New York Times
I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my letter, which I trust is motivated by a desire to portray your paper in the light you believe it should be seen. My purpose in this response is not a naive attempt to convert you to my political persuasion. I recognize that people can legitimately disagree on many issues such as the role of government, the efficacy of universal healthcare, or the advisability of entering a particular war. But as publisher of the “newspaper of record,” I believe you owe your readership accurate unbiased reporting. It’s not that the Times is typically inaccurate. It is the frequency and the severity of the exceptions to your otherwise fine reporting which color the paper’s reputation and credibility. The New York Times wields great power. It can influence the outcome of elections by selectively deciding which stories to report, how to report them, and which stories to bury somewhere in the bowels of the newspaper. Furthermore, the Times’ opinions are not always relegated to the editorial page. I miss the balance in the Op Ed page that a William Safire provided, and regret the Times’ decision not to hire a true replacement with his point of view. My overriding point is that specifically the New York Times would be better served with balanced objective reporting.
There is a primal difference between the many issues of the day and those pertaining to the State of Israel. Most issues can be honestly debated from defensible positions of either liberalism or conservatism, and the consequences, while profound, cannot be deemed as life-threatening. However, the ultimate consequences to issues relating to Israel are existential and life-threatening. Israel is the only state among nearly two hundred other countries which is forced to defend its legitimacy and justify its existence. Today that battle is being fought in the media and academia, both heavily dominated by the left, and Israel has all but lost that war. For reasons too numerous and complex to get into in this letter, the left has adopted the “Palestinian Narrative” to the point where Israel is compelled to defend itself against the absurd charge that it is an “apartheid” state. The problem is fueled by the vast financial resources of fundamentalist Islam. Hundreds of millions of Muslims today truly believe this “apartheid” canard as well as other monstrous historical lies such as the “Blood Libel,” the Protocols, and that the Holocaust is a myth. These beliefs are the product of their schools and midrassahs, the incessant harangues by their imams, and of their media. Formerly respectable Western media outlets such as the Guardian, the BBC, CNN International, and others openly or inferentially also give voice to many of these historical falsehoods. While the New York Times is hardly in their company, the left-leaning slant of most of its reporters - and nearly all its editorial staff - often abets the growing demonization of Jews and Israel.
Although history is reputedly told by its victors, the ostensible losers of all their wars have successfully concocted a new history called the “Palestinian Narrative” which is increasingly accepted by the intelligentsia, the media, and a growing number of governments. History and the Palestinian Narrative cannot coexist. Israel is either the illegitimate creature of supposed world sympathy toward Jews after the Holocaust at the expense of millions of hapless “Palestinians,” or it is the culmination of a national movement begun in the latter part of the nineteenth century to reestablish a Jewish state in its historical homeland. Either Palestine was teeming with millions of Palestinians in the late 1800's which the Jews slowly displaced, or Palestine was a thinly populated area for millennia and Jewish immigration and development through the mid twentieth century was never realized at the expense of the indigenous or the newly-arrived Arabs. Either the Arabs were thrown out of their homes in the 1948 war and had yearned for their return ever since, or most had left on their own accord at the urging of their leadership and have since been consigned by their Arab hosts to “refugee” camps. Either Jews or Christians are graciously welcomed in Muslim lands and granted full freedoms including the right to build their houses of worship or it is Israel which has given full rights to their Arab citizens and has resettled an equal number of Jewish refugees who were evicted from their homes in Arab countries where they had lived for centuries. Both histories cannot be true. If anyone on your staff has bought into these ideologically-driven revisionist “histories,” they can verify which is factual by just by researching what the New York Times reported at the time.
There is an underlying reason why the Mufti of Jerusalem violently opposed mutually beneficial Jewish immigration and development which led to the slaughter at Hebron in 1929 and other atrocities. The same reason explains why nearly five hundred million refugees since WWII were successfully resettled except for the original 650,000 permanent “refugees” of Palestine. It’s called Islam. Since the 1930’s the Jews have twice accepted a two-state solution, and Oslo marks the third time, but the Arabs rejected all these offers. Many wondered why Arafat refused to sign on to the 1998 Wye accords which gave him 98 per cent what he wanted. He likely wouldn’t have signed had he been offered 100 per cent. Why? It’s called Islam. Muslim leaders openly and unabashedly state that even if Israel were eliminated there still would be no peace in the world. Muslims have their own agenda. Americans shouldn’t serve as “useful idiots” in that process, as do the Europeans.
Ever since Oslo where the State of Israel unilaterally agreed to a two-state solution in exchange for nothing tangible other than peace and a recognition by its “peace partner” as a Jewish state, it has been battered by two intifadas, numerous terror bombings, and an accelerated program of vile hatred and dehumanization in the Palestinian media. When Israel evacuated southern Lebanon, Hizbulla demonstrated its appreciation with rocket attacks. When it unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, Hamas promptly took over and likewise showed its appreciation with thousands of rocket attacks. When Israel finally reacted - in a humane and measured fashion - it was appropriately “complimented” with the UN Goldstone report. Yet this administration and many of your writers including Thomas Friedman believe that by forcing Israel to make deeper one-sided concessions now, peace will break out and the Muslim world will be sated. Was 911 that long ago? Was Munich that long ago? Why should a country mortally weaken itself as a means to improve the chances of peace with a determined implacable foe? If Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt is already being openly repudiated by the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood, how can a peace treaty survive with the likes of Hamas or indeed with most Palestinians who categorically reject the presence of a Jewish state on “holy” Muslim territory? Unfortunately, many on the left, including the Jewish and Israeli left like Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappe, Neve Gordon, and Amos Oz have adopted much of the fabricated Palestinian narrative. Unfortunately too, history has never been so totally trashed and declared irrelevant, even by well-intentioned people seeking to accommodate the so-called “realities” of the day
You argue in your letter that the Times is fair and accurate in its Middle East reporting and defend the propriety of an inflammatory headline of Israeli “confiscation” of Arab land which was intensified with a photo of peaceful, praying, protesting Arabs with evil Israeli soldiers in the background. That combination was clearly by design. The body of the story vaguely dealt neither with the headline nor the picture. Such subliminal incitement differs only in magnitude from the fictitious evocative pictures of “suffering” Arabs plastered all over the world press after the fabricated “massacre” in Jenin, or the use of staged photos of Mohammed Al Dura during Arab-instigated violence. Moreover you never addressed why the atrocity in Itamar was not only lightly covered in your paper, but further diluted by referring to its victims as “settlers” - the penultimate pejorative de jure after “racist.” Are the Chinese “settlers” in Tibet, the Polish “settlers” in East Prussia, the Russians “settlers” in the Kurile Islands and Chechnya, the Turks “settlers” in much of Cyprus, or the Americans “settlers” in America? And Israel has a far stronger historical claim to their “settlements” than any of the above. If I recall correctly our settlers were called “pioneers.” The content and tone of your paper’s reporting about Israel can affect the lives of millions of people. The Times already has an admittedly sad history of under-reporting and burying news of the Holocaust. It could have saved many people had it acted differently. Why chance a similar repetition now?
While Israel is busy justifying its legitimacy, Europe and South America are about to join the Muslim countries in unilaterally declaring a state of Palestine. This is in direct contravention of the Oslo accords as well as an affront to history. The Obama administration is putting enormous pressures on Israel to make further concessions in their delusional supposition that it would bring peace. Any deal foisted on the parties will be regarded by Muslims as a “hudna,” or a Koranic sanctioned insincere truce, in preparation for resuming the Jihad. America was often alone in preventing specious UN sponsored resolutions and sanctions from being implemented, but with this administration, that commitment is seriously in doubt. To paraphrase Abba Eban, America may turn out to be the umbrella taken away when it started to rain. Bias, omission, and deceptive juxtapositions with respect to Israel can no longer be taken lightly.
It would be refreshing if you chose to hire a Charles Krauthammer or a Melanie Phillips to give some balance to your Op Ed page. I trust that Krugman and Dowd will welcome the challenge. If “sensitivity training” is mandated for racial insensitivity, why not offer some “history training” to those responsible for reporting its creation? I would personally love to continue being part of the New York Times family as do thousands of others in my community, but a mid-course correction is long overdue. It will certainly benefit the Times, both financially and in its overall regard in the eyes of our world. I truly hope you will enable such a historic new direction.”