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HomeGeopolitical CompassThe LevantThe New York Times Distorts the Palestinian Struggle

The New York Times Distorts the Palestinian Struggle

Author: Holly M. Jackson

Affiliation: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Organization/Publisher: Journal of Palestine Studies (Preprint)/ MIT

Date/Place: May 19, 2021 / Cambridge, USA

Type of Literature: Thesis

Number of Pages: 17


Keywords: Palestine, Apartheid, New York Times, Israel, Media Framing, Manipulation, Bias, Intifada




As the ‘third Intifada’ was raging among Palestinians after Israel launched its fresh attacks and settler projects in the Sheikh Jarrah area of East Jerusalem, Western media faced massive criticism for manipulating the coverage in favor of the ‘terror state’ of Israel. Even social media users ran boycott campaigns against the New York Times for placing an advertisement which attacked celebrities for supporting Palestinians and their cause. This thesis utilizes “natural language processing toolkits” to probe the media coverage of the first two Palestinian Intifadas – 1987 until 1993 and 2000 until 2005 – which data indicates that the New York Times was biased against Palestine. The research analyzes 33,000 NYT articles for (1) their use of active/passive voice and (2) the objectivity, tone, and violent sentiment of the language used. In both cases, bias was found against Palestinians. “A pro-Israel bias in those reporting on Israel and Palestine is glaring,” the author notes. After her findings, the author advises that readers need “to be critical of the sources they reference.” Drawing upon American activist Alison Weir’s work, the author discusses “disproportionate” reporting by the New York Times which gives readers a “substantially incorrect impression of the conflict.”

Using data analysis methods, the author identifies how Palestinians were “still scapegoated in American news” when there was a disparity in death rate during the Second Intifada which was intense in comparison to the First Intifada. “Israeli violence far exceeded the extent of Palestinian violence, and, in fact, far exceeded the extent of the First Intifada.” “No one in the Times’s stable of regular columnists is a consistent defender of the Palestinians,” the thesis quotes The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. It adds that Israeli occupation is aided by US support to Tel Aviv and that “analysis of American news coverage is critical to understanding the politics of the Palestinian struggle since news coverage directly and indirectly influences US foreign policy.” “This paper (New York Times) serves as a case study of how Orientalist bias is pernicious in American news coverage – and is farther-reaching than many may anticipate,” the author concludes.


By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-Resident Research Associate



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