New York Times Taking a Cheap Jab at Israel. Again.

 In combatting antisemitism, Promoting Tolerance

Dear New York Times,

My name is Sabrina Soffer, I’m 17 years old, and am looking forward to attending George Washington University as a freshman this fall. I intend to major in International Politics with a focus in public policy. 

I am passionate about politics and am heavily interested in the events shocking our world every day. My parents and I read a variety of news publications, but the New York Times has always been my personal favorite. With insightful articles across all topics and a diverse panel of op-ed columnists, The New York Times has often been my go-to source. I’ve long trusted the reporting delivered and the analysis of facts, especially during chaotic times like election seasons and tumultuous global conflicts. Indeed, the Coronavirus outbreak has devastated our world in inscrutable ways. I admire the Times’ decision to provide free coverage during the pandemic. 

However, about a week ago, when I was scrolling through ‘The Coronavirus Outbreak’ section, I was gravely disappointed. I stumbled upon the article Israeli Army’s Idea Lab Aims at a New Target: Saving Lives. I had various issues reading this article, even after just reading the lede. 

To begin, the author, David Halbfinger, heads his piece with “The Israeli Defense Ministry’s research-and-development arm is best known for pioneering cutting-edge ways to kill people and blow things up, with stealth tanks and sniper drones among its more lethal recent projects.” Immediately following, Halbfinger praises Israeli technology surrounding the virus, commenting that their “latest mission” was “lifesaving.” After reading this, I felt angry and greatly disappointed with the Times for allowing such biased reporting to be published– and even more so in a fact-based section of the paper! I would understand if Halbfinger was a columnist, writing an opinion piece about his negative feelings toward the Israeli Defense Ministry.

Claiming that Israeli Defenses’ purposes are to “kill people and blow things up” is absolutely inappropriate, casting Israel as a murderous state. He ignores that their pioneering technologies are intended for self-defense from daily terror threats surrounding its every border. For the author to mix his negative feelings and scornful tone to make a negative statement in a report about Israeli advances in COVID-19 medicine is distasteful.

After further research, I discovered that Halbfinger is also the sitting bureau chief of the New York Times in Jerusalem. In fact, his bio directly taken from the New York Times states that “he covers Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and the Middle East.”

I am appalled. This would suggest that most coverage of the Middle East reported by the Times is conveyed through an Anti-Israel lens. Piecing together the facts, connecting the details, journalistic rigor? Is “the truth” really “worth it?”

I respect that we all have our opinions, and I support any platform that enables them to be expressed. Understanding both sides of any controversy is essential to a society where the best ideas emerge to the top. But in a time like this, NO PUBLICATION should be taking sides when REPORTING FACTS. The coronavirus outbreak CANNOT BE used as a source to manipulate reader’s political beliefs. This is what infuses invalid biases and hatred into American society: this is what pits us against each other; it is what tears us apart.

While I continue to read the Times for my daily dose of news, I hope that they reconsider the articles they publish. But this type of conduct, especially during these sensitive times, is reprehensible. Chief editors, reporters, columnists, and staff, please realize the harmful consequences of making negative, illegitimate, general statements. I urge you to revise the lede of the article, Israeli Army’s Idea Lab Aims at a New Target: Saving Lives, or simply remove it. In a period where weNEED to hear THE TRUTH, we NEED honest reporting. And, New York Times, I’ve always had faith in you.


Sabrina Soffer



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