As edited by... “The International Herald Tribune”

January 28, 2004

CONTENTS

1. BBC Chairman resigns
2. As edited by… the IHT
3. IHT's photo choice
4. New York Times' own bias against Israel
5. "As Edited by... 'The Herald Tribune'" (Jerusalem Post, January 27, 2004)



[Note by Tom Gross]

BBC CHAIRMAN RESIGNS

The Chairman of the Board of Governors of the BBC resigned today after a judicial enquiry in Britain made scathing criticism of the BBC's bias against America and her allies in its coverage of the Iraq war. BBC reporters today said they were "staggered" by the degree to which they had been criticized. Their bias against America, however, pales when compared to the bias of their news reporting against Israel.

"THE IHT OFTEN SUBTLY ALTERS NY TIMES COPY TO MAKE ITS READERS DISLIKE ISRAEL MORE"

I attach an article by Evelyn Gordon, who has worked for both The Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz, outlining how, since the International Herald Tribune came under the full control of New York Times last year (after the Times bought out the Washington Post's share), it has begun altering New York Times copy in an effort to make Israel look worse.

"Anyone puzzled by the vast difference between European and American attitudes toward Israel ought to spend some time comparing two newspapers: The New York Times and the Paris-based International Herald Tribune," writes Gordon.

"... IHT articles are credited to the Times and appear under Times reporters' bylines. But it turns out that IHT editors often "improve" the Times copy a bit. The adjustments are minor in terms of the amount of text changed, yet sufficient to give the reader a completely different understanding of events... the IHT often subtly alters Times copy to make its readers dislike Israel more."

(The full article, with examples of edited text by the IHT, is attached below.)

CHOICE OF IHT PHOTOS ALSO GEARED TO STIR PASSIONS AGAINST ISRAEL

Tom Gross adds:

The New York Times-owned IHT, aimed mainly at audiences in Europe and Asia, also regularly runs photos that don't correspond with its accompanying stories – photos designed to paint Israel in a more menacing light.

For example, on January 14, 2004, a Palestinian mother, blackmailed into becoming a suicide bomber rather than face death through honor killing after she was caught cheating on her husband, murdered four Israelis at the checkpoint through which Palestinian workers cross into Israel from Gaza.

The next day, January 15, 2004, instead of showing a photo of the bomb scene, or its victims, or the perpetrator, the IHT ran a huge photo across most of the top of its front page of an Israeli soldier pointing a gun at Palestinian laborers, and another large photo at the top of page 4 showing another Israeli soldier, gun in hand, near unarmed Palestinian civilians. The IHT's story on the bombing made no references to the identity of the victims. The photos, which took up considerably more space than the text of the articles, bore virtually no relevance to the articles, or the previous day's news.

These photos contrast with those used that day by traditionally anti-Israeli newspapers like The Guardian of London and El Pais of Madrid, both of which ran photos of the suicide bomber, gun in hand. The Financial Times ran a photo that day on page one of Israeli medics examining the remnants of the bomber's victims. These photos all came from news agencies to which the IHT subscribes, and could have used.

El Pais also called her a terrorist in its page one headline, a word that the IHT strenuously seeks to avoid using when talking about Palestinian terror, as opposed to other forms of terror (example, headline: "Paris won't release terrorist," IHT page 3, January 17, 2004, in reference to the Lebanese killer of an American military attachι.)

NEW YORK TIMES ITSELF OFTEN UNFAIR TO ISRAEL

Many, particularly outside the U.S., assume that the New York Times is "pro-Israel." In fact, it would be truer to say that the opposite is the case. Those new to this email list may wish to read my own article on this subject from last March:

All The News That's Fit To Print? The New York Times and Israel
www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-gross031403.asp

-- Tom Gross


ARTICLE IN FULL

AS EDITED BY... 'THE HERALD TRIBUNE'

As Edited by... 'The Herald Tribune'
By Evelyn Gordon
The Jerusalem Post
January 27, 2004

Anyone puzzled by the vast difference between European and American attitudes toward Israel ought to spend some time comparing two newspapers: The New York Times and the Paris-based International Herald Tribune.

That may seem like an odd statement, since the IHT is owned by the Times and most of its articles are Times reprints – or at least, so the reader would assume, as they are credited to the Times and appear under Times reporters' bylines.

But it turns out that IHT editors often "improve" the Times copy a bit. The adjustments are minor in terms of the amount of text changed, yet sufficient to give the reader a completely different understanding of events.

I discovered this only last month, having never before thought to compare an IHT article to its Times original. What sparked the discovery was a piece in the IHT's December 27-28 edition, entitled "Israeli tactics assure future bombings, Palestinians assert" and credited to the Times. The article's main thrust was that the Israel Defense Forces believes its two-pronged anti-terror campaign – construction of the separation fence and frequent raids aimed at arresting terrorists and destroying bomb-making facilities – has significantly reduced the number of successful attacks.

But the article also claimed that the December 25 bombing at the Geha Junction ended a three-month period that "seemed to be a sort of unofficial cease-fire. In that time, Palestinian radical groups carried out no suicide bombings."

This struck me as outrageous, since a cease-fire implies that no attacks were attempted – whereas, according to IDF statistics, there were no fewer than 22 attempted suicide bombings during that time, all foiled by Israel's security forces. But when I checked the article on the Times Web site in preparation for an angry letter to that paper, I discovered the following:

The Times never referred to this period as a cease-fire.

The Times explicitly mentioned that "numerous terror attempts" had been made during this period and were thwarted by Israel; that entire paragraph was cut from the IHT piece.

The Times did not say that Palestinians "carried out no suicide bombings," giving the false impression that they attempted none; it merely said, correctly, that no bombings took place.

Moreover, the Times article carried a very different – and far more accurate – headline:

"Bombing after lull: Israel still believes the worst is over."

The result is that the average Times reader came away with the following impression: Israel's military activity produced three months in which no Israelis were killed, despite "numerous terror attempts." This activity is thus saving Israeli lives, and therefore potentially justifiable.

But the IHT reader received the opposite impression: Neither the fence nor the raids were justified, since there was an "unofficial cease-fire" and Palestinians were not committing attacks in any case. Moreover, since no attempts took place during this period, Israel's activity did not save a single life.

In short, rather than preventing bombings, Israel is, as the IHT headline asserts, "assuring future bombings" by persecuting the Palestinians for no reason.

The IHT later published a letter from me on this subject, but again with crucial distortions. One sentence was cut altogether: "The version of the article that appeared in The New York Times did mention that 'numerous' attempted attacks were thwarted during this period and did not refer to it as a 'cease-fire.'"

Another sentence – "according to Israeli army statistics, Palestinians attempted to carry out 22 suicide bombings during this time" – was replaced by "according to one count, Palestinians attempted to carry out more than 20 suicide bombings during this time."

Thus the IHT cut both of the sources I cited for my assertion that attacks were attempted – the Times and the IDF - and substituted an unsourced "according to one count." That leaves the reader with the impression that I have no source – I cannot even say according to whose count – and my assertion is therefore not credible.

Since this episode, I have discovered that the IHT often subtly alters Times copy to make its readers dislike Israel more.

On January 2, for instance, the Times ran an article stating that in 1973, the Nixon administration considered invading three Arab countries "if the [oil] embargo, imposed by Arab nations in retaliation for America's support for Israel in the 1973 Middle East war, did not end." The IHT altered this to state that Nixon planned to invade "if tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors continued to escalate after the October 1973 Middle East War or if the oil embargo did not abate."

Moreover, the IHT erased the statement – repeated twice in the Times article – that the embargo was due to America's wartime support for Israel, substituting the statement that it was imposed "to try to pressure the United States and other Western countries to force Israel to withdraw from Arab land."

Thus the Times reader concludes that Nixon was angered by an Arab action, the embargo, which was retaliation for an American action – wartime support for an ally. Israel was clearly involved, but this was primarily an Arab-American dispute.

The IHT reader, in contrast, concludes that Nixon's main concern was not the Arab action, but "tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors"; the embargo gets only second billing. Moreover, the embargo was aimed not at American policy, but at a mysterious Israeli seizure of Arab land whose background – the fact that it was captured in a defensive war – is never explained. In short, the entire crisis was Israel's fault.

Very few people know more about Israel than what they learn from the media. It is therefore not surprising that readers fed on a diet of such subtle distortions view Israel as the villain.

Unfortunately, in Europe the IHT's behavior is the norm rather than the exception.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.