The New York Times Finally Finds ‘Terrorists’ in Israel: Jewish Ones

The New York Times has long maintained a gross double standard of coverage when it comes to Israel’s security. Palestinian terrorists who target Jewish civilians are rarely if ever described as terrorists. Even violently anti-Israel groups like Hamas are at worst “militants” in the Times, or even noted for their “roots in charity.” The ultimate Palestinian terrorist, PLO leader Yassir Arafat, was merely a “father figure of Palestinian nationalism” with a “heroic history.”

The Times stepped shamelessly across yet another line of balance in Tuesday’s edition, using the word “terrorism” in a headline about terrorism in Israel – when committed by Israeli Jews.

Reporter Isabel Kershner wrote under the headline “Israel Faces New Brand Of Terrorism, This Time From Young Settlers.

Yet the Times has long refused to refer to Palestinians who commit terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens as terrorists (they prefer more antiseptic terms like “militants” or “gunmen”) in their stories, much less in headlines. But when terror attacks are evidently committed by Israeli Jews, the paper’s reporters and headline writers are happy to retroactively label previous attacks on Israeli Jews as “terror,” only so they can then instantly apply the term to Israeli Jews:

To hear his father tell it, Mordechai Meyer, 18, a high school dropout, has spent the past few years camping out with his teenage friends in the rolling hills around Jewish outposts like this one in the northern West Bank. They want “to live simply, to build their own things and to commune with God,” said the father, Gedalia Meyer.

But Israel’s domestic security agency, Shin Bet, says the younger Mr. Meyer belongs to a Jewish terrorist network, some of whose members have been charged with grave crimes, including the July arson attack that killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents in the West Bank village of Duma. The two suspects in that case also spent time in these hills.


Shin Bet says the group poses a continuing danger of violence, and the authorities have gone after it using extraordinary methods that were previously reserved for Palestinians accused of terrorism. Suspects have been imprisoned without charge under administrative detention orders, and have been denied meetings with lawyers for as long as three weeks.

Yet equally accurate labeling of Palestinian terrorists has been extremely rare at the New York Times.

Shin Bet says there are about 30 to 40 activists in the “hard core” of the Revolt, many of them from a radical fringe of settlers known as hilltop youths. They are said to operate in squads of two or three, using weapons like fire bombs and spray paint.

Mordechai Meyer was placed in administrative detention five months ago when the authorities suspected him of involvement in arson attacks on two churches, but lacked enough evidence to charge him. A few days later, Meir Ettinger, a grandson of Meir Kahane, the American-Israeli rabbi considered the father of far-right Jewish militancy, was also detained; Shin Bet said Mr. Ettinger is the leader of the Revolt, although it says the network has no strict hierarchy.


Shin Bet said Mr. Meyer was detained because he posed a danger as an active member of a terrorist network. He remains under house arrest at night and is barred from going anywhere in the West Bank except Maale Adumim, where his family lives.


The Revolt extremists’ manifesto says they seek the collapse of the state of Israel, with its democratic government and courts, and the creation of a Jewish kingdom to replace it based on religious law, with all non-Jews expelled.

Shin Bet has made public a manual that it said was written by another activist, Moshe Orbach, with instructions on how to set fire to mosques and Palestinian houses.

The Revolt is a more extreme outgrowth of an older generation of hilltop youths following a doctrine known as the “Price Tag,” which called for attacks in the West Bank against Palestinians and the Israeli military for two purposes: deterring official moves against illegal settlement construction, and revenge for Palestinian attacks on Jews.

In contrast, a story on the same page by Tim Arango about an ISIS attack on a shopping mall in Baghdad used the word “terror” just once: “At a shopping mall. The Islamic State, the terrorist group also known as ISIS or ISIL that controls large parts of Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the complex attack.”

There was more bias on Tuesday: An Alissa Rubin brief from France in that same edition -- “Teenager Attacks Jewish Teacher in Marseille With a Machete” -- went into deep denial on why a Jewish teacher was attacked with an ax:

A teenager attacked a Jewish teacher with a machete in the southern French city of Marseille on Monday, and afterward told the police that he had carried out the attack in the name of God and the Islamic State, according to the Marseille prosecutor.....The teenager, who will soon turn 16, is of Turkish-Kurd origin, according to the prosecutor. The majority of Kurds oppose the Islamic State, so it was unclear what had motivated the teenager to carry out the attack.

Seriously? Even the left-wing UK newspaper The Independent, no friend of Israel, admitted the obvious:

Upon being detained, the boy praised Allah and Isis and told officers: “The Muslims of France dishonour Islam and the French army protects Jews,” according to Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin.

The stabbing was anti-Semitic and involved some degree of premeditation, Mr Robin said, telling a press conference the attacker was likely to have been radicalised online without his parents knowledge.

Clay Waters
Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.