Jewish Settlers on a "Rampage"

The Times clearly has no sympathy toward conservatives in Israel, either, judging by two recent stories from Israel-based Ethan Bronner. "An Israeli Party Tips Further Right as Its Leader Woos Centrists" was filed fromJerusalem on Thursday, documenting conservative Benjamin Netanyahu's attempt to keep his centrist coalition together.

Primary election results in Israel for the opposition Likud Party this week have put its leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, in a bind: His list of parliamentary candidates is notably more hawkish than he is, making it harder for him to campaign on the promise to form a centrist coalition if elected.

Major victors in the primaries held Monday and Tuesday either reject territorial compromise with the Palestinians or are so skeptical of Palestinian intentions and capacities that they dismiss negotiations with them as a waste of time. Mr. Netanyahu has been assuring Arab, European and American officials that if, as voter surveys suggest, he is elected prime minister in February he will continue talks with the Palestinians and govern with a broad coalition.

"We see a list which might make it difficult for Netanyahu to govern as he had planned," said Zalman Shoval, his longtime foreign affairs adviser and a former ambassador to Washington, who did not win a secure place in the primaries. "The general public is not represented by the composition of the Likud list."

Bronner wondered if Israeli's truly realized they voted for going "further right":

Analysts are divided on whether or not the nature of the Likud list has sunk in and on whether voters are more focused on the economy, education and crime than on Middle East peace and would still prefer Likud.


Since previous hawks became more dovish once they were in power, some Israelis argue, the same will happen to whoever wins in February. They point to the change of heart that occurred in former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the departing prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and say Mr. Netanyahu will go down the same path.

But the selection this week of a number of Likud candidates seems likely to complicate that analysis. Attention has been focused on the election of Moshe Feiglin to the secure 20th spot on the Likud list as well as a number of others whom Mr. Feiglin's supporters helped choose, voting in a bloc.

Mr. Feiglin is among the most unyielding of West Bank settlers. He has advocated Israeli withdrawal from the United Nations and the cutoff of water and electricity to the Palestinian areas. He says that there is no Palestinian people and that there will never be a Palestinian state, and that Israel will hold onto everything it has now. In a television interview on Wednesday, he advocated annexing the West Bank and paying Palestinians to leave.

On December 5, Bronner wrote about Jewish settlers being forcibly removed from a building in the Israeli city of Hebron. The Times' front page that morning featured a photo of a soldier dragging one female settler along the ground. But the emphasis of the story and the photo captions were not on the protesting settlers, but on the "angry rampage" after they were forced out of the building.

Israeli soldiers and police officers forced Jewish settlers from a contested building in the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday. Some settlers then went on an angry rampage, and Israel declared the southern West Bank off limits to nonresidents.

In a departure from the Times' typical liberal tut-tutting about police breaking up protestors, Bronner's text gave a hat-tip to the police's "stealth and efficiency" at clearing out the "defiant settlers" - a group the Times has always been hostile to in its reporting. He also repeated the hostile word "rampage."

Israeli troops forcibly evicted about 200 hard-line Jewish settlers from a contested building in this volatile biblical city on Thursday, the first serious clash in what seems to be a spiraling confrontation between the government and defiant settlers.

The operation, carried out by 600 soldiers and policemen with stealth and efficiency, took half an hour and resulted in two dozen relatively light injuries. But events did not end there. Young settlers then rampaged through Palestinian fields and neighborhoods, setting olive trees on fire and trashing houses.

Another photo caption from that December 5story featured the same hostile terminology:

Jewish settlers rampaged Thursday on the roofs of Palestinian homes in Hebron, responding in fury to the forced eviction of settlers from a disputed building.

The pro-Israel media bias watchdog CAMERA noticed this trend back in 2000; after the start of the Second Intifada, pointing out that Palestinian rioters and protestors were rarely marked with the R-word.

Under the headline "Jews Rampage, Arabs Demonstrate," CAMERA's Tamar Sternthal pointed out (emphasis Sternthal's):

In coverage of the current violence between Palestinians and Israel, many news correspondents are using lop-sided language in reporting on Jewish attacks against Arabs versus Arab attacks against Jews. Arab mobs, whose actions range from stoning Jews praying at the Western Wall to firing guns at Israeli soldiers to destroying Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, are typically characterized as "protestors" or "demonstrators." In contrast, Jewish mobs, who since Monday night have attacked Arabs and their places of employment, homes, and worship, are described as "rampaging."

For example, on Oct. 10, 2000, New York Times' Deborah Sontag writes that:

Thousands attended funerals there [in Nazareth] on Monday for two Israeli Arabs killed on Sunday night, by Israeli riot police, after Jews rampaged through the heart of town.

The accompanying photo is similarly captioned:

Funerals were held in Nazareth yesterday for two Israeli Arabs killed in confrontations after Jews rampaged through Arab areas. Masked Arab youths roamed the town, where many criticized Israeli police.

In contrast, when it comes to Palestinian rampaging, Sontag uses the softer term "protest," which gives a false impression of non-violence. In the same article, she writes that:

. . . the Israeli cabinet decided early this morning to avoid exploding a tense situation and gave Yasir Arafat more time to quiet protests.

More Times bias: Craig Smith's April 2004 Times profile of a family of Jewish settlers in Gaza before they were cleared out by Israel detailed the hardships of a settler family (one family of eight had three children maimed by a Palestinian mortar shell), but included a paragraph that bordered on blaming the victims of terrorism for bringing attacks down on themselves:

Flagships of extreme Zionism that often attract hard-line ideologues, they provoke Palestinian fury and are difficult for the army to defend.