By Tamar Sternthal
As Israelis marked Holocaust Remembrance Day at ceremonies naming individuals among the 6 million murdered Jews, The New York Times reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has in the past been “vilified” because he “challenged the number of Jewish victims.”
In an article today about Abbas’ statement condemning the Holocaust, Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren writes: “Mr. Abbas has been vilified as a Holocaust denier because in his doctoral dissertation, published as a book in 1983, he challenged the number of Jewish victims and argued that Zionists had collaborated with Nazis to propel more people to what would become Israel.”
This passage is characteristic Times treatment of Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinian claims, no matter how specious or unfounded, are treated with neutrality at best, and afforded credibility, at worst. Abbas had written in his dissertation: “it is possible that the number of Jewish victims reached 6 million, but at the same time it is possible that the figure is much smaller – below one million.”
In stating that Abbas “challenged” the fact that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, The Times journalist falsely implies that there may actually have been substance to his claim.
The Times’ deferential language regarding the Palestinian leader’s Holocaust revisionism stands in stark contrast to the paper’s derisive treatment of Israeli leaders who six months ago had provided (correct) figures for Iranian sanctions relief. While Abbas “challenged” the figure of 6 million slaughtered Jews, Israeli officials “appear to have distorted what Iran would get.” (In fact, they didn’t.)
Rudoren’s characterization of Abbas being “vilified” for having “challenged” the number of Holocaust victims is consistent with her editorializing in another article last month. At the time, she unforgettably wrote that Israelis “demonized” Palestinian Muqdad Salah, who had bludgeoned to death the sleeping 72-year-old Holocaust survivor Israel Tenenbaum.
Through The Times’ lens, the Palestinian murderer of a Holocaust survivor is “demonized,” and the Palestinian Holocaust revisionist is “vilified.”
Similarly, in The International New York Times print edition yesterday, the bureau chief refers to “Hamas, the militant Islamic group widely seen in the West as the devil.” (The online edition has by now substituted this bizarre formulation with the relatively neutral description: “the militant Islamic group that is widely reviled in the West.”)
Is Rudoren mocking the West’s antipathy towards Hamas, an organization which is responsible for countless suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings and rocket attacks which have killed hundreds, and maimed thousands?
Five paragraphs later, in the seventh paragraph of the article, The Times journalist buries the essential fact that “the United States and Europe have also outlawed [Hamas] as a terrorist organization.”
What justification is there for entirely ignoring the organization’s own deeds and words? The Hamas charter, for instance, exhorts: “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stone, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”‘
Thus, while Hamas routinely “demonizes” and “vilifies” Jews, The Times won’t say so.
Even Rudoren’s article early this year about Palestinian incitement, including descriptions of Jews as “barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs,” never says that Palestinians “demonize” or “vilify” Jews or Israelis. Instead, Rudoren blandly refers to the anti-Semitic incitement as “negative statements.”
“Fairness” is a primary value of the Gray Lady. According to its Standards and Ethics guidelines, “The goal of The New York Times is to cover the news as impartially as possible – ‘without fear or favor,’ in the words of Adolph Ochs, our patriarch.”
But so long as Holocaust revisionists and purveyors of genocidal anti-Semitic rhetoric are treated with more deference than Holocaust victims and survivors, Och’s lofty vision remains just that. As long as murderers are treated with more favor than victims, there is extreme partiality.
For now, the “demonized” murderer of a Holocaust survivor, the “vilified” Holocaust revisionist, and Hamas, “seen as the devil,” punctuate The Times’ troubled Israel coverage.
In the real Israel, other victims – loved ones of Israel Tenenbaum, Holocaust survivors, relatives of those fallen in Hamas terror attacks – stand in silence remembering those belittled and forgotten by The Times.