NYT denies reality of Israeli occupation

A leading US publication fails to recognize that these Israeli troops are occupying the West Bank.

Nedal Shtieh APA images

The New York Times has stood by its description of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip as “disputed territories,” the terminology preferred by the Israeli government but overwhelmingly rejected internationally.

Referring to this week’s controversial debate at Brooklyn College, a New York Timesreport includes a summary of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel in the third paragraph, saying that “[the BDS movement’s] goal is to pressure Israel to restore disputed territories and grant equal rights to Palestinians.”

I wrote to the paper pointing out that: (a) the BDS call has three clear goals: an end to Israel’s occupation, equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees; and (b) the use of the term “disputed territories” is highly problematic as it is language that masks the fact that the West Bank and Gaza Strip are in fact occupied.

Replying on behalf of Greg Brock, senior editor for standards, his assistant Zach Jonk informed me that after discussions, the paper had “decided not to issue a correction.”

We paraphrased the overarching goal of BDS, and it was not an inaccurate description. Those territories are indeed disputed.

Let us leave aside the fact that it is not difficult to simply cite the explicit three goals of the BDS call — rather than paraphrase or surmise an overarching goal. The paper’s doubling down on the “disputed territories” formulation is troubling, as it is a phrase promoted by the Israeli government in order to deny the reality of occupation.

Israel’s preference for the language of “disputed territories” is well known, and is also promoted by its propagandists (see this Danny Ayalon op-ed or this paper by Dore Gold).

Needless to say, Israel is totally isolated in its description of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as “disputed” rather than occupied: the latter view is upheld by the UN, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, contracting parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and so on.

Despite re-emphasizing that point to The New York Times, the article remains uncorrected — while the paper’s professional standards are severely compromised.




Perhaps The NY Times' Greg Brock should read the extensive “Report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” (31 January 2013, UN Human Rights Council) The Reports states unequivocally "A situation of military occupation prevails in the OPT." Further, the Report supports the BDS campaign: "Private companies must assess the human rights impact of their activities and take all necessary steps – including by terminating their business interests in the settlements – to ensure they are not adversely impacting the human rights of the Palestinian People in conformity with international law as well as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights." http://www.ohchr.org/Documents....


The term "disputed territories, is, of course, incorrect. The occupation and Jewish settlements of Palestinian land are a clear violation of International Law. I'm sure the NY times knows that, but it is, afterall, a zionist centered newspaper and has been for decades. Their censorship and propaganda spin for Israel have assisted the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies by keeping the public falsely informed.


"Zionist-centered"? No. Rather: The Times is beholden to "Israel right or wrong" American groups such as AIPAC, JDL, and their corporate and individual sponsors and donors. The Times' founder Adolph Ochs and his heirs the Sulzbergers have always been careful to publish " all the news that's fit to print" -- unless "the news," or descriptives that legitimately or correctly might be used in news stories or editorials might be offensive to or condemned by groups, organizations, or segments of the community with which the Times wants to continue to be accepted and respected.


Disputed or occupied?

Even if we would consider 'the Palestinian territories' politically 'disputed' -, these 'territories' are occupied in any legal sense of the word. I furthermore do object the use of the term 'territories': this is occupied Palestine.

I therfore propose to speak of 'occupied Palestine' only, from now on.

Palestine is disputed in so far as there is just one country that wants to annex large portions of Palestine, pretending it is entitled to its territory.

In the same sense 'evolution theory' is 'disputed, as long as there are people who pretend the earth and life on it is 'created'. Or the earth being round is 'disputed', as long as there are people who pretend it is flat...


OCCUPIED PALESTINE must indeed be the correct designation. It is NOT
"occupied Israel" of course.


Zionist apologists among the NYT policymakers (i.e., most of those who make decisions about such things at the NYT) will do and say anything they have to to protect Israel's impunity. I wonder if they would consider labeling the original 56% of the British Mandate for Palestine set aside for Zionists (as a result of the Truman-influenced UNdemocratic partition vote (UN 181) in 1947) or the difference between that 56% and the 78% Israel ended up with after the 1949 armistice (the difference being conquered militarily BEYOND the territory allotted by UN 181) as 'disputed'. Doubt it. That would impinge upon Israel's fundamental legitimacy. While the Times doesn't mind throwing Palestinian legitimacy into the shadows, it certainly would not do so in regard to Israel's 'legitimacy'. And this from the 'paper of record' in the US. Is there any wonder why Americans are so in the dark when it comes to the facts about the Middle East?


Occupied Palestine seems to me to be the most accurate term in describing the situation even as it regards the state of israel itself.


Presumably for the NYT and their israeli henchmen by whom this paper is financed the territories are "disputed". For nearly everybody else these lands are occupied.


In "disputed territory", grammar defines that the adjective pertains to "territory". So NYT states that the territory itself is disputed. Do they mean it does not exist? They mean the hills have the wrong heighth on maps? Something wrong with the soil?

No, NYT. Not the territories are disputed. Their occupatiuon is disputed. Or governance. Or claims to ownership. So the wording you should use is more like: "the territories, whose occupation is disputed, ...".


The territories aren't even "disputed". It's a convenient word that Israelis have conjured up to hide the fact of the occupation.

I've never understood why the Palestinians minimum demands are not the 1947, lines, which gave theam about half of Palestine, and included much of the Gallille and more seacoast. That's what the UN alloted to them. (Of course, how can the UN give half of a country to another people in the first place?)

The Palestinians are poor negotiators, and poor advocates of their case. The Palestinians clearly have justice and intenational law on their side. If there is to be a two state solution, they should demand 50%, not 22%.

BDS should boycott all Israeli productzs, not just settlement products. After all, it is Israel that is building the illegal settlements and blowing up Palestinian homes.



Palestine is officially the State of Palestine and recognized overwhelmingly as such by the United Nations. What's disputable about that? The only people who call Palestine anything other than its official name are doing so to further the colonization plans of the Eretz Israel faction, (Likud, settlers), people who think they are Chosen and better than you or me or anyone else. This gives them the right, they think, to do whatever they want, like slaughter Palestinian children, because God approves. In the meantime, the rest of the world is discovering how wonderful we all are and joining hands to solve problems like hunger and globe warming. Fence sitting time is over. Is it going to be a healthy happy planet or pollution and warmongering until we are all killed?


Since the Nov 29 2012 General Assembly vote "the only legally, politically and diplomatically correct ways to refer to the 22 per cent portion of historical Palestine occupied in 1967 are now 'the State of Palestine', 'Palestine' and 'occupied Palestine'. 'Palestinian Authority', 'occupied territories' and 'occupied Palestinian territories' are no longer acceptable."
John V Whitbeck and others.
I'm sorry, I have no link for the quote, but the person named is an international lawyer based in Paris.


Since the West Bank has a military governor, who apparently has the power to turn colleges into universities, how can anyone dispute that it is under military occupation?


Disputed and occupied are not mutually exclusive terms. One can dispute something, and still be wrong in his claim.


The NYT is not alone in favouring Zionism when it comes to reporting on Palestine . All news outlets in Europe and North America follow the same line and that line comes straight from the halls of Jerusalem . Thanks to outlets like WRMEA , RABBLE and EI the truth is slowly being revealed. But we have a long way to go.

When I first became aware of the truth regarding Palestine more than 40 years ago I felt as if I was a lone voice in the wilderness. Change has come slowly but has come. Whenever I become discouraged I think back to that day in late 1968 when I first heard the truth from 2 anti- Zionists Jews.
Back in 1968 a person could not say a word against Zionism or Israel. It was a given that Israel had the right to do what it wants with Palestinians. It was , of course , a land without people for a people without land!! Of course no one mentioned the million or so Palestinians who had lived there for 1000's of years.
We were told that before the Zionist arrived there was nothing but empty desert. Again no one mentioned the olive and orange groves. No one mentioned the farms. No one mentioned PALESTINE!!

Things are changing. There is a saying," The mill of the gods grind slowly , yet they grind exceedingly fine."!!


Think of the NYT as a communications branch of the State Department. It has oodles of information (mostly correct, but filtered) and experts at persuasion and spin, but only a bit more latitude in opinion than Obama's press secretary -- it identifies with the interests of the state.

In this case, the U.S. government officially recognizes the occupation and its illegality, but the Times expresses its real position: acquiescence to annexation.

Not for nothing was there a magazine called Lies Of Our Times (LOOT), but unfortunately it ceased publication. Nowadays, visit Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (http://fair.org/ -- not to be confused with hasbara copy-cats); you can subscribe to its email bulletins.

Ben White

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Ben White is a freelance journalist, writer and activist, specialising in Palestine/Israel. His articles have been widely published in the likes of The Guardian‘s Comment is free, Al Jazeera, Electronic Intifada, New Statesman, and many others. He is the author of ‘Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide’ (2009, Pluto Press) and ‘Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination & Democracy’ (2012, Pluto Press). Ben is a researcher/writer for the Journal of Palestine Studies.