Last week, Israel’s leading human rights group, B’Tselem, declared for the first time that Israel is an apartheid regime, a move that sent shock waves around the globe. But so far neither the New York Times or Washington Post have reported on it.
Liberal Zionists open the New York Times these days with shivers of anxiety. Last week, Israel’s leading human rights group, B’Tselem, declared for the first time that Israel is an apartheid regime, a move that sent shock waves around the globe.
Liberal Zionists know that if the “apartheid” designation spreads even more widely, they will have some public squirming to do — such as explaining why they continue to oppose the worldwide campaign for Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS).
But so far in the New York Times: not a word. Liberal Zionists have nothing to fear yet from the Washington Post either. Nearly a week has passed, but neither the Post, nor the Times, has published a single word about B’Tselem’s announcement in either news reports by their own correspondents or in opinion columns.
The news blackout fortunately did not extend to all the U.S. mainstream media. National Public Radio, to its credit, promptly broadcast a report by its Israel correspondent, Daniel Estrin; his dispatch included the standard both-sides-ism, but NPR listeners did get to hear words like “apartheid regime” and “Jewish supremacy.”
And CNN’s website also immediately added a report on the B’Tselem designation, although it’s unclear how much its television audience was informed.
What’s mysterious about the Times/Post blackout is that B’Tselem’s (Jewish) executive director, Hagai El-Ad, is eminently quotable. Here he is in the British Guardian, in the lead sentence of his own opinion piece:
One cannot live a single day in Israel-Palestine without the sense that this place is constantly being engineered to privilege one people, and one people only: the Jewish people. Yet half of those living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea are Palestinian. The chasm between these lived realities fills the air, bleeds, is everywhere on this land.
The New York Times has long had difficulty finding B’Tselem’s telephone number. Nearly 7 years ago, this site noted that Times reporters rarely quoted its reports on human rights. We said:
It is an Israeli group, not connected to any political movement, and its accuracy has never been successfully challenged over the more than two decades since it was founded. It relies on hundreds of supporters and volunteers to monitor human rights violations in occupied Palestine
Since then, there was some improvement in the Times. In 2019, for instance, Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger quoted B’Tselem 5 times. The citations were perfunctory, and Halbfinger did not profile the group, but at least readers got to briefly hear its point of view. Then, in 2020, he lost their phone number again; no input the entire year, even though there were plenty of human rights violation in Israel/Palestine.
So, finally, what does B’Tselem actually mean? Here’s from the group’s website, is the explanation:
B’Tselem in Hebrew literally means “in the image of,” and is also used as a synonym for human dignity, The words are taken from Genesis 1:27: “And God created humans in His image. In the image of God did He create him.” It is in this spirit that the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights.”
CORRECTION: On January 12, the Washington Post did run an Associated Press article on the B’Tselem apartheid designation. But the AP dispatch is not listed on the paper’s home page under “World,” and the Post never followed up with its own correspondents.