New York Times has still not mentioned the AI report on Israel

By any stretch of the word, one would think that the blistering critique of Israel’s apartheid practices by Amnesty International would constitute ‘news’. And yet, as James North writes, a week has passed and the New York Times has still not written a single word on the report. This is from the newspaper that prides itself as being the ‘newspaper of record’ and has on its masthead the slogan “All the news that’s fit to print”, implying that within its pages you will get all the news that you need to know.

This will not come as a surprise to veteran media watchers who have long known that this newspaper serves as a conduit for the message of the Israel lobby in the US, providing cover for Israeli apartheid practices under the guise of being even-handed by occasionally allowing minor criticisms to be written.

North writes:

Let me start this indictment of the New York Times’ coverage of Israel/Palestine on a personal note. I’ve been following the U.S. mainstream media closely for more than a decade for Mondoweiss, with a particular focus on the Times. In 2019 I spoke at the annual conference of the excellent Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and my topic was “How the New York Times Rigs News on Israel Palestine.” (My talk, available on YouTube, has gotten nearly 27,000 hits, which suggests that there is interest in the subject).

So when it comes to New York Times bias, I’m not naive. But I admit to being astonished, almost speechless, at the fact that more than a week has passed since Amnesty International released its landmark report charging that Israel was characterized by “apartheid” — and that so far, America’s newspaper of record has not printed a single word. The omission is especially stunning because Times journalists often cite Amnesty reports about human rights violations elsewhere in the world. Just last month, for instance the paper mentioned Amnesty in 7 different articles.

Haaretz, the leading newspaper in Israel, has not been afraid to run at least 5 articles so far about the Amnesty report. So the Times’s failure to report any of this is no oversight, but a deliberate effort to suppress the news.

North thinks that the newspaper will eventually be forced to address the AI report, at least so that the most fervent apologists on its editorial board like Thomas Friedman and Bret Stephens can argue as to why the report should not be taken seriously. They are likely trying to figure out how to best counter the message of the AI report while still maintaining the facade of neutrality. North gives the example of how they treated the report by Human Rights Watch last year that reached the same conclusion as AI.

Last April, when Human Rights Watch released a similar report that said Israel practices “apartheid,” the paper’s Jerusalem bureau chief, Patrick Kingsley, did publish an article — even though he attacked the report before he even summarized it fully. A source in the Israel/Palestine journalism world is nearly certain that Kingsley has pitched an article this time around, but that Times editors have blocked it so far.

How long can the Times news blackout continue? Is it possible that the paper’s higher ups recognize that they will have to eventually publish something, but by the time they get around to it the news will have simmered down enough to pass with less notice.

North contrasts the newspaper’s deafening silence on the AI report to the strong statement made by the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voices for Peace that said:

“We, the Rabbinic Council of Jewish Voice for Peace, stand by the recent reports which use the term ‘apartheid’ to describe Israeli rule over Palestinians. The past year’s reports by B’tselem, Human Rights Watch and now Amnesty International contain well-documented evidence describing how the State of Israel maintains a system of identity-based domination over Palestinians. This detailed evidence demonstrates the systemic and shocking human rights violations and extreme violence and cruelty unleashed upon Palestinians living both under Israeli military and civil jurisdiction.”

The Times is not alone in this blackout of the AI report. I went through NPR’s flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered after the AI report was released on February 1 and there too I did not find any mention of the report. (There was an article on the NPR website but as far as I can tell it was not on any radio program.) This is typical. Many so-called liberals and progressives, individually and in the media, shy away from saying anything that shows the Israeli apartheid system for what it is.

This is how the propaganda system in the mainstream media operates, by ignoring, delaying, underplaying, and slanting coverage of any news that reflects badly on the US or Israel or any other US ally in order to make the coverage more favorable while doing the opposite to make an adversary look worse.


  1. says

    … by ignoring, delaying, underplaying, and slanting coverage of any news that reflects badly on the US or Israel or any other US ally…

    Actually, I’m pretty sure no other US ally gets or has ever got the sort of preferential treatment Israel have been getting lately. Israel is the specialest of the special.

  2. Matt G says

    My father is a retired Unitarian Universalist parish minister who was very involved in interfaith matters in my hometown. Most of his group consisted of liberal Christians and Jews. He told me that the ONLY issue on which there was disagreement with the rabbis was on Israel.

  3. says

    The US continues to ignore its laws that say “no arms sales to countries using the weapons for oppression.”
    In fact, we don’t sell Israel weapons: US taxpayers give Israel money to buy US weapons. Surprise -- they’re a great customer!

  4. says

    Many so-called liberals and progressives, individually and in the media, shy away from saying anything that shows the Israeli apartheid system for what it is.

    Because even though it’s easy to refute, being accused of anti-semitism is an emotional, painful, potentially damaging distraction.

    I watched Night and Fog and talked with Elie Weisel when I was in 8th grade. It did not go well and he accused me of anti-semitism in front of my whole school. That left a mark and got me rustled in the locker room by some football players. I admit I have been a bit sensitive to the “accusation of anti-semitism” gambit ever since.

  5. says

    Weisel called you an anti-Semite, in front of your school, when you were just a teenager?! That’s disgraceful even for the Israel lobby.

    Then again, Israel and their bigoted fan-base have been pretty cozy with ACTUAL ANTI-SEMITES who make up a huge chunk of the Retrumplitarian (and pro-Israel) base, so maybe that’s not so low by their standards after all…

  6. says

    @Raging Bee: yes. It’s a story I haven’t told (my high school classmates remember, though). I haven’t made anything of it because, frankly, I don’t want anyone pulling “you hate Israel because of childhood humiliation!” Bullshit. Weisel was so deranged by PTSD that I think he should be forgiven for much. He was not acting on behalf of the Israel lobby, he was just a nobel laureate trying to teach some high school students that the holocaust was a bad thing. I’ll think over whether to do a post at stderr about what happened.

  7. Allison says

    I’m not surprised. And it’s not just Israel. The NYT, like most (all?) of the Mainstream Media, is an arm of the power structure, and it reports things the way those in power want them reported. The Black Lives Matter movement grew up in part in reaction to the lies that the media kept telling about the people murdered by the police.

    Back before I retired, I commuted into NYC for work, and there were always copies of the NYT left behind when the other commuters got off the train. For I while, I’d collect a copy, but eventually I got disgusted with what I was reading. It was obvious to me that the NYT was in large part about telling well-off New Yorkers what they should believe and value if they wanted to be seen as with-it. Unfortunately, most of the people I know around here quote the NYT as if it were Holy Writ.

  8. says

    The NYT also interferes with politics. By deciding when and how to break stories like Abili Ghraib or the warranless (illegal!) wiretapping scheme. The NYT has regularly met with the administration (whichever) to negotiate when and how to release embarrassing information. Yet, they lean on the narrative that when they published the pentagon papers they were all about the truth.

  9. mnb0 says

    @1 RagingB: “I’m pretty sure no other US ally gets or has ever got …..”
    An interesting hypothesis, so I decided to do a little test (quite unscientific, I know). I searched for Black Pete Netherlands in the NYT. Sure enough I found an article from 2014 (ie three years after the antiracism protests started) called “Where Dutch racism lurks”.

  10. Holms says

    “Newspaper of record” really needs to be put in scare quotes. I seem to remember they have the same reluctance to post anything sceptical of US military intelligence and strategy.

  11. Haifa Child says

    I tuned into my local NPR station and happened to hear Rashid Khalidi talking about the history of the Israeli-Hamas conflict. He mentioned the ethnic cleansing of Haifa in April/May of 1948. (

    In all my years of listening to NPR, I’d never heard this described in such terms. My parents were married in Haifa and were forced to flee in terror in April 1948. Even they only mentioned bits and pieces of this experience. Since then, I’ve written to professor Khalidi asking for more details and he replied within hours. Since then I’ve read most of his books as well as those by Ilan Pappe (The Ethnic Cleaning of Palestine) and it’s taken be most of 6 months to come to terms with what my parents (and 750,000 others who were ethnically cleansed) had experienced. The stories my parents told me of Haganah barrel bombs rolled into Arab neighborhoods at night and trucks with loudspeakers blaring warnings in Arabic were precisely what Pappe describes in his book.

    I’ve been dismayed at the lack of coverage by NPR. I also searched for any coverage on the radio but found only one online article (who reads NRP news online?). It’s a shame really. It’s like a taboo subject. Almost like a secret agreement.

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