The New York Times has published a correction emphasizing that it doesn’t consider Jerusalem’s Old City part of Israel — and highlighting the newspaper’s own double standards and failures to grasp basic geography.
The correction, in the June 21 print edition of the Times, reads as follows:
Because of an editing error, an article on Saturday about knife attacks in the Old City section of East Jerusalem referred incorrectly to a claim of responsibility for the attacks by the Islamic State. It was not the group’s first for attacks on territory internationally recognized as part of Israel; the status of East Jerusalem is disputed.
What the Times doesn’t report, but is disclosed by the website Newsdiffs.org, which tracks the stealth changes to Times articles published online, is that this Times correction is itself a correction of an earlier version of the correction.
The earlier correction read:
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to a claim of responsibility by the Islamic State for the attacks in East Jerusalem. It was not the group’s first for attacks on territory internationally recognized as part of Israel; the status of East Jerusalem is disputed.
And just for context and understanding, the passage the Times corrected had read:
The Islamic State took responsibility for the attacks, a claim that could not be confirmed independently. Analysts said it was the first time the group had made such a claim about an attack in Israel.
Strangely enough, in the transition from the first correction to the second, the Times inserted two new errors. The second correction erroneously describes the article as “about knife attacks.” The original story correctly described the Palestinian Arabs as “armed with knives and a improvised submachine gun.” The second correction also erroneously describes the attacks as having been “in the Old City.” The original story had correctly described the attacks as having been “outside the walls of the Old City.”
This is just the latest example among many of Times deep confusion verging on incompetence when it comes to the basic geography of Jerusalem. For a selection of earlier examples, please see the earlier Algemeiner articles “The New York Times Gets Lost in Jerusalem” (May 15, 2016) and “Temple Mount Geography Confounds New York Times” (May 16, 2017).
There’s a substantive point here beyond mere Times incompetence or ignorance or clumsiness. The correction highlights a double standard. When it comes to demographic counting, or blaming Israel for what happens in the “occupied territories,” the Times is all too happy to impute Israeli control over land. So it is, for example, in the recent and as-yet-uncorrected Times article claiming, falsely, that “official Israeli and Palestinian population statistics indicate that Jews have been a minority in the territory Israel controls for several years now.” Yet when Jews are getting attacked by terrorists in Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, the Times goes falling all over itself rushing to remind people with a correction that “the status of East Jerusalem is disputed” so somehow therefore it doesn’t really count as an attack in Israel.
Whatever else can be said for this episode, it’s not an example of Times journalism at its best. And if you think you might file a complaint with the newspaper’s public editor about it, forget it; the Times has eliminated the job.
Algemeiner . Ira Stoll