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Israeli Ambassador So Furious with a New York Times Story He Wrote a Letter to the Editor


"...it really isn’t asking too much to expect them to at least get their facts straight..."

The New York Times is facing more scrutiny from the pro-Israel community over Middle East-related articles it published this week, prompting the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. to write a letter to the editor complaining about the controversial coverage. This as the paper was forced to issue a correction after a conservative website pointed out an inaccurate key, lead fact in an article.

As TheBlaze reported on Tuesday, the venerated newspaper was the target of sweeping criticism after publishing a front page article on Monday that appeared to downplay Palestinian stone-throwing against Israelis, which one youth characterized as a “hobby.”

The U.S. does not officially define the building of Israeli settlements as "illegal." (File photo: Getty)

Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren took the paper to task over the report penned by Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren. In a letter to the editor published on The Times’ website, Oren wrote, “While Palestinian protagonists are described in detail, their Israeli victims are largely dehumanized ‘settlers’ — no name, age or gender.”

Rudoren’s article included a chart showing the amount of time Palestinian stone-throwers have spent in jail.

“The article could have added another chart: the names of Israelis who have been killed or permanently maimed by rock throwers and the time they have spent hospitalized. One of the names would be Adele Biton, a 2-year-old seriously wounded by a stone in March,” Oren wrote.

“The article notes that Palestinian youths attack Israelis “because their brothers and fathers did.” By breaking that pattern, Palestinian leaders can prepare their people for peace,” he added.

The Washington Free Beacon on Wednesday found a major inaccuracy in an article Rudoren published the day before about how Palestinians view an Israeli government decision to build housing in Judea and Samaria as “destructive” to U.S.-sponsored peace talks which began last month.

Rudoren reported that the U.S. views Israeli building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to be “illegal.” However, while the U.S. opposes the construction of settlement housing, it does not officially define that activity as “illegal.”

She wrote, “The United States, along with most of the world, considers these [Israeli] settlements illegal, and some of them sit in the heart of the area imagined as a future Palestinian state.”

This is the correction The Times appended to its article on Wednesday:

An article on Monday about a decision by the Israeli cabinet to add several Jewish settlements in the West Bank territory seized by Israel in the 1967 war to a list of communities eligible for extra subsidies and better mortgage rates and loans for new homeowners misstated the United States’ view of such settlements. While much of the rest of the world considers them illegal, as the article noted, the United States has taken no formal position in the last several years on whether they are legal or illegal. (In a statement on Tuesday, the State Department said, “We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity.” )

The Free Beacon examined a 2012 analysis of the issue written by a former senior official at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Steven Rosen.

“This is not the declared policy of the United States,” Rosen wrote. “Successive U.S. administrations have deplored settlement activity as an obstacle to peace, but no American president—except Jimmy Carter—has taken the view that building Jewish homes in Jerusalem constitutes a violation of the Geneva conventions.”

Rudoren told the Free Beacon of her stone-throwing story, “I don’t have any comment on the criticism, which I’m sure you’ve seen has come from both sides. Lots of praise, too, for getting behind a stereotype/caricature, though it is of course quieter.”

She sent the Free Beacon a response that The Times standards editor Philip Corbett sent to those who had written to the paper to complain. That letter read in part, “…I respectfully disagree with the idea that our story was biased or in any way supported or glamorized the stone-throwers.”

“The purpose of the piece was to give a close-up, detailed look, to help readers better understand this ongoing element of the conflict,” Corbett wrote.

“I think few readers would feel that our story glorified the practice or its consequences,” Corbett added.

“To be clear, this story was just one piece of our continuing, extensive coverage of the region and the conflict,” he wrote. “It was not meant to address every related issue. But I think it provided a thoughtful, memorable, and detailed look that many readers found enlightening,” he wrote.

The Times in December also issued a correction for an article Rudoren  authored. He wrote that construction of an Israeli suburb of Jerusalem would cut off Bethlehem and Ramallah from Jerusalem and divide the West Bank in two. Palestinians complain that Israeli construction will make establishing a contiguous Palestinian state impossible, though Israel has in the past removed Jewish residents from their homes in order to hand land to the Palestinians and to Egypt after Camp David.

Jonathan Tobin of Commentary Magazine writes that “these issues are not minor goofs.”

“Many in Israel and in the pro-Israel community have long since given up hoping for fair coverage of Israel in the New York Times,” he writes.

“But while we are used to the bias on their opinion pages and the slanted nature of their news coverage, it really isn’t asking too much to expect them to at least get their facts straight and to put stories in an accurate context,” Tobin adds.

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