Words of the Week

“A worldview. A narrative. A frame. Whatever you call it, when it comes to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, The New York Times clearly seeks to steer readers toward the view that the Palestinians are, more or less, ‘just victims.’ And the necessary inverse is that Israel is, more or less, just a victimizer.

This narrative requires the newspaper to obsessively focus on the Israeli occupation, Israeli settlements, and Israeli right-wing ideologues as the explanation for the conflict in general and Palestinian attacks on Jews in particular. It must also downplay the role Palestinian hate speech, incitement to violence, and rejectionism has played in the conflict. Apparently, it also requires the newspaper to dismiss the Jewish connection to any part of the West Bank.

After all, if the entirety of the West Bank and every last settlement is legally, morally, and factually ‘Palestinian land,’ no Israeli concession to the Palestinians is a meaningful compromise. And any Palestinian accommodation that accounts for Israeli security concerns, or for Jewish historical and cultural links to the territory, would be an indulgent favor. This view excuses, and even encourages, the Palestinians’ refusal to compromise.

Meanwhile, Palestinians engaging in violence against Israeli civilians are, according to this view, motivated by a defense of their objective rights, not nationalism or xenophobia. In short, every day without a resolution to the conflict is another day of Palestinian victimization and Israeli aggression. No matter what the facts may be, the frame remains intact.

This, of course, is a facile and tendentious way of understanding the conflict—one supported by unprofessional and unethical journalistic practices. To quote Goldman’s piece on the Crown Heights riots, ‘Fitting stories into frames…is wrong and even dangerous. Life is more complicated than that. And so is journalism.'”

Source: Gilead Ini, “At the New York Times, Special Words Reserved for Certain Territories” (The Tower)