The NY Times’ Libels About “Extremist Settlers” are a War Against the Whole Jewish State

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Director of Research and Special Projects, Liz Berney, Esq. released the following critique:

The New York Times ramped up its unending media war to delegitimize Israel and Israelis in an ugly, libelous, lengthy (almost 15,000-words) anti-Israel propaganda piece entitled, “The Unpunished: How Extremists Took Over Israel” (May 16, 2024). 

This long-winded Times hit piece barely mentioned unceasing Palestinian Arab terrorism (the real, overwhelming issue); libelously transformed Palestinians into innocent victims of “Jewish terrorists” (when in fact, “Jewish terrorists” are extraordinarily rare to non-existent); repeatedly libeled innocent Jews as “extremists” and “terrorists”; ignored massive illegal Palestinian Arab building; relied on anti-Israel, foreign-funded NGOs such as Yesh Din that pursue anti-Israel lawfare and fabricate claims against Israelis; omitted and falsified history and international law to attempt to deny the Jewish people’s lawful and historic rights in Judea/Samaria; and promoted hostile Biden administration actions against Israel and harsh sanctions against innocent Israelis. 

The Times’ propaganda is designed to undermine all of Israel.  For instance, as the ZOA has often explained, and as the Israel Defense and Security Forum (ISDF) of over 22,000 Israeli reserve security officers and operatives likewise explains, Judea/Samaria and its Jewish communities are crucial to Israel’s security. Without them, Israel would be indefensible. The Times’ libelous attacks on Israel’s unquestionable rights to these areas and the Jews living there threaten Israel’s continued existence.

The Times reversed reality regarding who the terrorists are:  The Times article repeatedly called Jews and Jewish leaders “extremists,” “illegal settlers,” “Jewish terrorists,” “settlers,” “extremist settlers,” “extremist rabbis,” “ultraright,” “unpunished for their misdeeds,” and “truly radical figures.”

By contrast to the article’s persistent drumbeat of anti-Jewish invective, the article never used the correct terms “Palestinian Arab terrorist,” “Palestinian terrorist,” “Arab terrorist,” “Arab extremist,” “Palestinian radicals,” “radical Islamists,” “extremist imams,” or any variation of such terms. 

The Times article also never revealed that Palestinian Arab terrorists have been perpetrating and attempting to perpetrate literally thousands of deadly shooting, firebombing, stabbing, Molotov cocktail, boulder throwing, vehicle ramming, arson and other terror attacks against innocent Jews each and every year.  (The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ huge “Wave of Terror” webpage lists an average of about ten Arab terror attacks on Jews per day.  And the list doesn’t even include the enormous number of daily rock-throwing and other “minor” attacks on Jews that also endanger Jewish lives.) 

The Times article also never revealed that Palestinian Authority (“PA”) police and security officers (trained by American forces) perpetrated or attempted 150 attacks on Jews during the last year.  

The Times article moreover never mentioned that the Palestinian Authority gives $300 million to $400 million of “pay to slay” payments to Arab terrorists to murder Jews each year.  Nor did the Times see fit to mention that the PA incites Arabs and Arab children to kill Jews and spill Jewish blood, non-stop, in speeches, media broadcasts, television specials; social media, children’s schools, schoolbooks, official religious sermons; streets, schools and sports teams named after Jew-killers, posters plastered all over honoring Jew-killers, etc., etc.

Nor did the Times mention that a senior Fatah (PA) official recently smuggled advanced combat equipment from Iran into Judea and Samaria, including fragmentation charges, Iranian anti-tank mines, anti-tank missiles, 25 hand grenades, 16 RPGs and 50 pistols. 

In the extremely rare instances when the Times’ lengthy anti-Israel screed mentioned any Palestinian Arab terrorism, the article disparaged the Jews who expressed concerns about it, reacted to it, or were victims of it.  

For instance, the article portrayed former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman as a settlement-supporting bankruptcy lawyer uninterested in pursuing a (hostile) American lieutenant’s complaints on behalf of Palestinian Arabs.  When Ambassador Friedman responded to the Times that “it was clear that the violence coming from Palestinians against Israelis overwhelmingly was more prevalent” and expressed concerns about the Palestinian “leadership’s embrace of terror and unwillingness to control violence,” the Times disdainfully attributed this to Friedman merely “seeing things differently.” 

The Times also dehumanized two young Jewish brothers, Hillel Yaniv, 21, and Yigal Yaniv, 19, whom Palestinians murdered in February 2023, as merely “two [unnamed] settlers,” and mentioned nothing about the circumstances of their murder.  When the Yaniv boys had to drive on the road through Huwara, en route to their Torah studies, Palestinian terrorists rammed their vehicle into the Yaniv brothers’ car, trapping the Yanivs in their car, and then executed the Yanivs in a rain of bullets.

The Times also failed to reveal that Huwara is a terrorist hotbed.  In the month leading up to the Yaniv brothers’ murder, Palestinian Arabs perpetrated two to three rock and Molotov cocktail attacks each day against Israeli cars traveling on the route that passed through the village.  Similarly, the Times did not mention the massive celebrations in Huwara following the Palestinians Arab terrorists’ execution of the Jewish Yaniv boys.  

And the Times failed to mention dozens of other deadly terror attacks around the same time.  Less than two weeks before Palestinian Arabs slayed the Yaniv brothers, Palestinian Arab terrorists deliberately rammed into and murdered two other Jewish brothers – children Yaakov Yisrael Paley, age 6, and his brother, Asher Menahem Paley, age 8, along with a young, newly married yeshiva student, Alter Shlomo Lederman, age 20.

But instead of condemning, describing or even acknowledging the daily horrific gauntlet that Jews face when driving along the road going through Huwara or waiting at a bus stop, the Times condemned Israeli Finance Minister Smotrich for calling for Huwara to be dismantled by the government. 

And instead of condemning the real Palestinian Arab terrorists, the Times libeled innocent Jews such as Yinon Levy (whom ZOA recently spoke with), and lauded the Biden administration for placing uncalled-for harsh sanctions on Levy and other innocent Jews.  Biden’s despicable sanctions order was apparently based solely on anti-Israel NGOs’ fabrications.  We also understand that some of the Jews whom Biden recently sanctioned for allegedly engaging in “threats to peace” in Judea/Samaria were actually battling Hamas terrorists in Gaza at the time.

The Times Omitted the Reality of Massive Illegal Arab Building (the Fayyad Plan) in Judea/Samaria, and Falsely Portrayed Jews as the Encroachers:  

The ongoing reality in Judea/Samaria is that the Palestinian Authority has been methodically pursuing the “Fayyad plan” to build massive numbers of illegal structures (including unneeded “schools,” roads, etc.) to take over all of Judea Samaria, specifically Area C – the area that the Oslo Accords designate for full Israeli control.  With the help of European funding, the Palestinian Arabs have built over 80,000 illegal structures and new “villages” in Area C, on Jewish-owned land, Jewish National Fund land, archeological sites, military ranges, and nature reserves.  These new Palestinian Arab structures are often situated to surround, choke off and endanger Jewish towns. 

The Times article omitted the building of massive illegal Palestinian Arab structures, and instead tried to reverse reality.  For instance, the Times article began by falsely depicting “Kirbet Zanuta” as a Palestinian community on a windswept hill near Hebron, whose 150 villagers faced “threats” from “encroaching” Jewish “settlers,” had to flee because no one would help them, and then found their village demolished. This depiction bears no resemblance to reality. 

In fact, the site of Khirbet Zanuta was an important archeological site with artifacts from major historic periods stretching back over 2,000 years– declared to be an archeological site during the British Mandate.  In 1999, Palestinian Arabs illegally began to encroach on this archeological site, by erecting 3 tents.  Aerial photos showed that there were no structures on the site prior to 1999.  (It never was a Palestinian Arab village.)   In subsequent years, the Palestinian Arabs illegally built corrugated structures, and later illegally built other structures, all without permits.  The Palestinian Arabs even destroyed and used archeological remains as building material. 

The new Palestinian Arab “Khirbet Yanuta villagers” (really, Bedouin Arab squatters) had plenty of help from lawyers from anti-Israel non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as ACRI, funded by European governments and anti-Israel groups such as “New Israel Fund” and Soros’ Open Society Foundations.  The NGO lawyers filed legal cases to prevent Kirbet Zanuta’s illegal structures from being demolished, during a decade of litigation. 

Demolition orders were issued in 2007, but their implementation was repeatedly delayed, on the condition (included in the Court’s orders) that the Palestinian Arabs must not construct more illegal structures on the site.  Ignoring the Court orders, the Palestinian Arabs continued to build more illegal structures, including 16 more illegal structures in 2013-2014.  In 2017, Israel’s High Court of Justice (Israel’s Supreme Court) issued an order again delaying implementing demolition, upon the condition that the Palestinians engaged in no further construction at Khirbet Zanuta. 

In 2018, the Palestinian Arabs again promptly violated the High Court’s order by constructing an illegal large mobile “school” in the middle of the Khirbet Zanuta archeological site.  In April 2018, the Civil Administration exercised its right under the Supreme Court order to demolish this illegal mobile school.  The Palestinian Arabs (aided by groups from the EU, Belgium, Britain, France Ireland, Luxembourg, Spain, and Sweden that fund illegal Palestinian Arab building all over Area C) then illegally built another illegal “school” out of bricks and mortar, doing irreparable archeological damage, and outrageously held a gala opening with Palestinian Authority officials to celebrate violating the Israeli Supreme Court order.  They later did more damage by paving an illegal access road. 

The Jewish land preservation organization Regavim filed three petitions to enforce the Court order against these illegal Palestinian structures, but Regavim’s petitions were ignored for years.  (See Regavim’s 2021 situation report, p. 44.)  ZOA has contacted Regavim for an update, which we will add to this article when received.  Regavim advised us that they filed another petition, that the Civil Administration took additional legal action, and the illegal Beduoin squatters are continuing to take actions.  Regavim also plans to write a detailed response to the New York Times falsehoods, which ZOA hopes to republish.

In any event, this is the reality all over Area C:  Tens of thousands of new, illegal Palestinian Arab structures and “communities” funded by foreign governments and anti-Israel groups have sprung up on and encroached on Jewish-owned land lawfully designated for Israeli control. Demolition orders against these illegal Arab structures have been delayed interminably, with the assistance of an army of foreign-funded anti-Israel lawyers.  And High Court orders to the Palestinian Arabs to stop building these illegal structures are ignored with impunity.

By contrast, when Jews build a home in a lawful Judean town that extends even one foot over the town limits, the Civil Authority promptly demolishes the entire Jewish home.  The “dual system of justice” is one that severely discriminates against Jews – and has let Palestinian Arabs violate the law with impunity.

In sum, the New York Times’ false portrayal of the Jews as the encroachers acting with impunity is a complete inversion of the truth.

The Times Misleadingly Omitted the Jewish People’s Prior Presence in Judea/Samaria, Eastern Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan:

Misleadingly, the Times completely omitted the Jewish people’s long presence in ancient and recent times up to 1948 in Judea/Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan.  Instead, the Times repeatedly called these areas “new territories” that Israel “seized” in the 1967 War, and “new territory” that Israel controlled after 1967.

In fact, Jews were the largest religious group in Jerusalem, centered in the Old City, from at least the time of the first census in 1844 to 1948, when seven Arab nations invaded Israel in a war to annihilate the Jewish people and state. 

In the 1948 war, Israel lost the Jewish communities in Gaza (including Kfar Darom), eastern Jerusalem (including the Jewish Quarter and Old City which contains the Jewish people’s holiest sites) and Judea/Samaria (including Kfar Etzion  and others).  All these Jewish communities were seized by the invading Arab armies, and the Jews living there were murdered or expelled.  The Jews who resettled areas such as Kfar Etzion after I967 included the children of those whom the Jordanians expelled or killed in 1948. Also, Jewish resettlement of Hebron brought a longstanding Jewish community back to life that Arabs massacred in 1929.

The Times’ out-of-context portrayal of Israel as “seizing” “new” territory in 1967 also misleadingly implied that Israel was the aggressor in the 1967 war.  In fact, the war was a defensive one for Israel.  Egypt and Syria massed hundreds of thousands of troops at the border,  armed to the teeth; expelled the UN Emergency Force and ended the buffer zone; flew sorties over Israel and closed the Straits of Tiran.  Israel’s Prime Minister sent messages to Jordan’s King urging him not to attack Israel, and assuring Jordan that Israel would not take action against Jordan if Jordan refrained from attacking Israel.  Jordan nonetheless attacked Israel – and only then, Israel fought back and reconquered the areas of eastern Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria lost to Jordan in 1948.

The Times’ misleading omissions and portrayals were obviously all designed to try to delegitimize Israel’s rights to her homeland.  

The Times Omitted International Law Guaranteeing the Jewish People’s Rights in Judea/Samaria; and Instead Cited the Inapplicable Geneva Convention:

The Times article repeatedly falsely referred to Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria as “illegal settlements.”   In one instance, the Times claimed that the legality of these Jewish is “an open question.”  The Times totally ignored the relevant binding international legal agreements and treaties (including the League of Nations Covenant, the San Remo Resolution, the Lodge-Fish Resolution, the British Mandate for Palestine, the Anglo-American Convention, and the UN Charter “Jewish people’s clause”) that guarantee and designate the lands including Judea/Samaria for reconstituting the Jewish homeland, and which guarantee that no such territory “shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of” the government of any other foreign (non-Jewish) power. 

The Times also completely ignored the careful examination of Jewish communities’ status by the Levy Commission (headed by esteemed former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy), and the Levy Commission’s conclusion that when Israel recaptured Judea/Samaria after 19 years of unlawful Jordanian occupation (1948-1967), “the original legal status of the territory was restored, namely, a territory designated as a national home for the Jewish people, who had a “right of possession” to it during Jordanian rule while they were absent from the territory for several years due to a war imposed on them, and have now returned to it.”  The Levy Commission Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria further concluded that Israel’s presence in Judea/Samaria is not an “occupation.”

The Times also ignored official U.S. recognition in 2019 that Jewish “settlements” (communities) in Judea/Samaria are legal, announced by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after “carefully studying all sides” of the legal issues.  Secretary Pompeo also noted during his announcement that former President Reagan had also stated in 1981 that Jewish settlements are not illegal.

Instead of citing the relevant law and expert and official conclusions, the Times misleadingly cited, out of context, an inapplicable line in the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbade an “occupying power” from deporting or transferring “parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”   The Geneva Convention only applies to “high contracting parties” (signing nations) and thus does not apply to a dispute with the Palestinian Authority, which is neither a signer of the Convention nor a nation.  The Geneva Convention is also inapplicable because it only applies to occupation of another nation’s sovereign territory – and Israel is not occupying any other nation’s sovereign territory.  Israel has the lawful right to Judea/Samaria.  In addition, the Geneva Convention concerns forcible transfers.  It does not apply to Jews building homes in and resettling the lands that Jordan expelled the Jews from when Jordan and six other Arab nations attacked Israel in 1948.  Further, leading international legal scholar Professor Eugene Kontorovich explained that the Geneva Convention has never been applied to prevent voluntary building of homes anywhere in the world. 

Ironically, the Geneva Convention was designed to protect Jews from a recurrence of the Holocaust (the forcible transfer of Jewish German citizens to death camps), and now the New York Times and other anti-Israel groups are trying to weaponize the Geneva Convention against the Jewish people’s rights to live in the Jewish homeland.  As Professor Kontorovich notes, when someone says that it is “illegal” for Israel to allow Jews to live in eastern Jerusalem or Judea/Samaria, he is really saying that “the areas from which Jordan expelled the Jews in 1949 need to be depopulated of Jews forever.”  However, in fact, there no legal obligation to keep eastern Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria depopulated of Jews.

Repeating the Times’ History of Antisemitism and Israel-Hatred:

Sadly, the recent uber-long Times article regurgitated numerous past Times propaganda libels against Israel and her people, and is nothing new.

The New York Times has a long history of extraordinarily biased, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel propagandizing.  Studies and books have documented the Times’ anti-Zionism and egregious failures to report on the Holocaust – a terrible case of journalistic malpractice and betrayal of the Jewish people, that likely played at least some role in the Roosevelt administration’s failures to take significant timely action to save millions of European Jews.  Similarly, today, the Times’ libels aid the Biden administration’s hostile actions and statements against Israel and Israelis.

Unfortunately, the Times acted in a similar vein both before and ever since its shameful malfeasance during the Holocaust.  The Times has printed grossly antisemitic cartoons; numerous articles edited by an antisemitic senior editor who tweeted, “I was going to say ‘Crappy Jew Year,’ but one of my resolutions is to be less anti-Semitic.  So…. HAPPY Jew Year. You Jews”; numerous glowing “human interest” articles whitewashing Palestinian Arab terrorists who in reality knife and murder Jews and overwhelmingly support October 7; articles libelously casting pro-Israel Americans as influence peddlers; and articles falsely portraying Jewish victims and Jews who defend themselves as  terrorists, “occupiers,” “extremists” and “illegal settlers.”

As a Forbes exposé documented in 2014, Times articles blamed Israel for misfired Hamas rockets; failed to report Hamas’ use of civilians as shields; and failed to report Hamas’ hundreds of rocket launches from UNRWA facilities, schools and mosques.  (“The Media Intifada: Bad Math, Ugly Truths About New York Times In Israel-Hamas War,” by Richard Behar, Forbes Mag., Aug. 21, 2014.)  ZOA and CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis) have written dozens of articles and analyses pointing out the Time’s false, biased anti-Israel and antisemitic reporting. (See, for example, here and here and here and  here and here and here.

Conclusion:  In sum, the New York Times article is an outrageous inversion of the truth, international law, and the real situation, designed to undermine the lawful, sole Jewish state and her people.

Center for Law & Justice
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