Thousands of Fake Copies of the New York Times Hit NYC Streets Reimagining Paper as Balanced on Palestine

NY Times' Jerusalem Bureau has been a haven of pro-Israel sentiment and whitewashing apartheid

Photo Credit: M. Shcherbyna/Shutterstock

Frustrated with the New York Times’ unfair coverage of Israel and Palestine, human rights campaigners took matters into their own hands on Tuesday, printing and distributing a stunning 10,000 parody versions of the paper that imagine the premier news outlet as responsible and balanced.

Titled “Rethinking our 2015 Coverage on Israel-Palestine: A Supplement,” the satirical issue hit the streets of New York blaring headlines such as “In the Footsteps of Mandela and King: A Non-Violent Movement Gains Ground Ten Years On,” a reference to the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel. Other articles are titled, “Congress to Debate U.S. Aid to Israel” and "IDF Generals Blame Israeli Government for Recent Violence."

One story reveals that, following his trip to Israel, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio will hold a conference on Islamophobia at Brooklyn College. Another article announces that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has decided to ditch her presidential bid and will instead become director of the nonprofit Human Rights for All Women Foundation, which is based in Ramallah, New York, Nairobi and Charleston.

In real life, the self-styled progressive DeBlasio pledged in a secret meeting with AIPAC representatives that "City Hall will always be open to AIPAC." And Clinton, a vehement supporter of Israel, has vowed in a letter to one of her most generous donors, pro-Israel billionaire Haim Saban, to attack the grassroots BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement as president.

10,000 parody versions of the New York Times hit the streets Tuesday. (Image: Jewish Voice for Peace

A Haven of Pro-Israel Sentiment 

Since 1984, the New York Times Jerusalem Bureau has been based in the former residence of Hassan Karmi, a famed BBC Arabic broadcaster. Karmi was driven from his property in 1948 when Israeli forces expelled him and his neighbors in the organized ethnic cleansing camaign that transformed some 750,000 Palestinians into refugees. The Karmi home was among around ten thousand take over by Jewish Israelis the next year. Today, Hassan Karmi's daughter, the author and London-based activist Ghada, must ask the NY Times bureau for permission to view her family's former home.

Over the years, the New York Times Jerusalem Bureau has been consistently staffed with dedicated Zionists. Former bureau chief Ethan Bronner reported on occupied Palestine while his own son served in the Israeli army, and failed to acknowledge that a pro-Israel PR firm run by a settler was organizing his speaker's bureau and even furnishing him with stories. 

Current NY Times Jerusalem Bureau deputy editor Isabel Kershner -- an Israeli citizen -- also has a son in the Israeli army and is married to Hirsh Goodman, a pro-Israel public relations specialist and analyst who has consulted for the Israeli Ministry of Defense. 

Jodi Rudoren, the outgoing Times Jerusalem Bureau chief, composed poetry to dead Israeli soldiers, wrote that a funeral of Palestinians killed by the Israeli military "didn't feel entirely human," described anti-Palestinian lobbyist Abe Foxman as her "personal defamation protector" in a candid video, and generally whitewashed Israeli extremism out of her coverage.

Rudoren's replacement, Peter Baker, appears set to continue the trend. In earlier coverage at the paper, he described Israel's occupation forces as a model for American conduct. 

Prank Paper Provides Missing Context

The prank paper includes an advertisement for the company Shalom Cement, which builds “the finest separation walls.” The spoof continues: “No walls say 'apartheid' like Shalom Cement.”

The prank includes an important Corrections section, which notes: “It has come to our attention that the vast majority of articles about violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories have failed to include the names of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces."

The stunt quickly captured attention and headlines, with the Village Voice speculating that the paper was the work of the Yes Men, who produced their own spoof New York Times edition in 2008 announcing the end of the Iraq war. But the mystery was put to rest Wednesday when groups including Jewish Voice for Peace New York, Jews Say No! and two other unnamed New York organizations "devoted to justice in Palestine and Israel" claimed responsibility in a press statement which was first reported by Salon.

“The articles highlight Israel’s ongoing policies of military occupation, displacement, and oppression, and ‘facts on the ground,’ such as settlement expansion, the rise in settler violence, discriminatory anti-democratic laws targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel and the increase of right-wing voices in the Knesset,” the organizations declared.

“As a leading source for news in the United States and in the world, the New York Times has a responsibility to its readers to provide fair, balanced, and fact-based coverage. Our paper reflects the news that we wish the Times and other papers would report,” said Jewish Voice for Peace New York organizer Candace Graff. “It includes the context and facts too often missing from the New York Times and other U.S. media outlets.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

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