The New York Times has paid scant attention to Palestinian vandalism and attacks on Jewish religious shrines — whether in east Jerusalem or in the West Bank. Protecting the Western Wall or Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus or Rachel’s Tomb near Hebron is not high on the Times‘ coverage agenda.
What does concern the Times and warrants an alarming two-page spread in the Sept. 22 edition is Jewish presence on Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren pulls out all the stops in warning that any increase in Jewish visitors is bound to be seen as a provocation by Palestinians — with God knows what consequences. The headlines set the tone: “Claiming the Heart of Jerusalem” and “Jews Increasingly Challenge Rules to Claim Heart of Jerusalem.”
A bit of background history. Temple Mount is where the Bible says Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Temple Mount is the place where stood the First and Second Jewish Temples. Still, in a magnanimous gesture, Israel has delegated administration of the site to a Muslim Wafq. Tens of thousands of Muslims — whether Israeli or Palestinian — can pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque or visit the Dome of the Rock.
Contrast this with Palestinians hurling stones on Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall below Temple Mount. Or repeatedly targeting Joseph’s Tomb and Rachel’s Tomb. Yet, Rudoren gives Palestinians a pass.
Her agenda instead is to depict Jewish visitors to Temple Mount as a major source of friction and a threat to peace negotiations.
So how massive is this Jewish invasion of Temple Mount? Rudoren has to acknowledge that in all of 2011 there was a mere pittance of 8,247 Jews on Temple Mount, and the numbers “dipped slightly last year.” And even she concedes that “the numbers remain tiny compared with the 10 million annual visitors to the Western Wall below.”
So why such great alarm about peaceful Jewish visits to Temple Mount? What counts for Rudoren is that “Palestinian officials say what used to be a trickle of individuals has given way to “groups of 40, 60, 90.” And for this, Rudoren and the Times pump up a kind of breathless warning a la The Jews Are Coming, the Jews Are Coming.
Bottom line: Another example of selective, anti-Zionist journalism as practiced by Rudoren and the Times, which resent Jews standing up for their rightful claims in the Holy Land.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers