This graph shows another bias of the NYT. The blue bar indicates the number of articles that cover the certain
religious group; the red bar indicates the actual population of the certain religious group in the region. The
graph is drawn based upon the proportion, not the number to compare two variables. As we can easily infer from
the graph, despite the extremely high percentage of the population of Muslim Arabs in Palestine, they were
undoubtedly underrepresented in the articles. In reverse, the number of articles about Jews is relatively high
when compared with the actual population of Jews in the region.
III.4 Sources other than New York Times
To get a balanced view, I looked for sources other than New York Times that describe the status quo from 1851 to 1880 in
the perspective of Arabs or the third party. Among uncountable books and treatises on Palestine, "Perceptions of Palestine:
their influence on U.S. Middle East policy" written by Kathleen Christison provides the unbiased description of Palestine in
a neutral tone. In the first chapter, "Palestinians in the Nineteenth-Century Mind", Christison points out the partial
viewpoint of travelogues, their influences on Americans, American sentiment toward Palestinian issues and Arab's attitudes.
Including Mark Twain's derogatory depiction of Palestine as a desolate land, many travelogues made a lasting impact on people
in viewing the region. These biased travelogues were often used by "U.S. propagandists for Israel" and "Israeli government press"
to justify the massive settlement of Jews in the Palestinian region. (17)
Americans, as a result, became
used to accept the ideal of Zionism and the oppression of Arab people in Palestine without hesitation. Also Christison says
the sentiment underlying the U.S. Middle East Policy could be characterized by "Orientalism" marked by the elements of both
religion and politics. (18)
On the one hand, Americans got purely interested in the mystique state itself,
yet on the other hand, like the doctrine of "Manifest Destiny", they considered Palestine as a place to be owned and ruled by
themselves. In the perspective of Western Christians, the U.S. government erroneously regarded its intervention in the regional
politics and the Zionist movement as justifiable and morally right. However, the Arabs in Palestine were not prepared for the U.S.
intervention at all. They simply ignored the circumstances without any sense of a common entity while feeling no need to present
their case. (19)
III.5 Major issues in news articles and American stance
Major issues that are steadily touched throughout the articles from 1851 to 1880 can be categorized into six items. They are as following below;
1. Historical significance of the region, Jerusalem
2. Jaffa Colony in the Holy Land
3. Explorations, excavations, development and rebuilding; Palestine Exploration Fund
4. Jews in Palestine, protections of Israelites in Palestine, Turkish rule
5. Academic interests in the region, studies, researches and lectures: agriculture, religion, geography, history
6. Disposal of the part of the territory by sale
Basically, six topics above are the major focus of the 70 articles. Even at a glance, it is possible to recognize the United States
was quite actively engaged in working out the fundamentals of the further relations with Jews and the Palestinian Arabs. Followings
are the NYT's attitudes toward each issue, which can be generalized to certain extent as the official American stance.
1. The New York Times considers Jerusalem as one of the most historically significant site. It often expresses awe about
biblical importance of the region.
2. Jaffa Colony in the Holy Land is described in a rather neutral tone. It views the colony as no more than a means of additional
economic profit of the nation. The New York Times is positive in addressing the easy status quo of the colony and its bright future.
3. The New York Times in its articles indirectly champions the cause of the explorations, excavations, development and rebuilding of
the Holy Land. It also praises the intention and the progress of Palestine Exploration Fund high in the relevant articles.
4. The New York Times is hostile against the Turkish rule of Palestine. It criticized the leadership and governance of Ottoman
Palestine. Also it supports the cause that the United States should protect Israelites in Palestine. It expresses sympathy with the
"miserable" conditions and state of Jews under the "cruel" Turkish rule. The New York Times often calls for an action to better the
status quo in Palestine.
5. It, however, seems to be purely interested in the Palestinian region. It is enthusiastic about informing the public of further
discoveries or results of the researches in Palestine. Also it announces about even the minor lectures that cover history or geography
6. As it shows a detached and unaffected attitude about Jaffa Colony, the New York Times addresses only the facts about the disposal
of the part of Palestine by sale. The underlying perspective is to be covered below.
III.6 Underlying Perspectives and Implications
To briefly state the American attitudes toward Palestine from 1851 to 1880 in a sentence, the United States still viewed Palestine as
a mystical state with little to be known, yet it was obviously against the Turkish rule and considered the region as the cornerstone
of both American economic development and the cozy relations with Jews. The United States reflected in the New York Times is strictly
for its own economic interests and diplomatic supremacy in the relation with Palestine and its people. As a matter of fact, every
nation has been always pursuing national interest as the ultimate goal; therefore, it seems too plain and meaningless to simply state
the United States did so. However, what is worth pointing out is that the United States had been in accordance with the cause of Jews
even before the Zionist movement gained its momentum and publicly formed in late 1880s. While exploring and excavating the site in
order to gather the sufficient amount of information about Palestine, the United States also sympathized with Israelites that inhabited
in the region under the Turkish rule with emotional words such as "miserable". The shift of tone through the articles is noticeable;
when it talks about Jaffa Colony and the sale of the part of the region to whomever relevant Jews agreed with, the New York Times
mentions only the facts devoid of any opinion, yet when it comes to touching the issues of Palestinian Jews, it appeals to emotion
and sympathy. It shows the New York Times strived to imbue readers with that there is nothing wrong in its explorations of the region,
colonization and the sale of the territories. Along with purely academic interest in Palestine, the development and rebuilding of the
region by the United States were completely justified as the effort to restore the Holy Land which is qualified as historically significant
and religiously symbolic. In the same context, the biased viewpoint that the United States should protect Jews in Palestine was artfully
rephrased into a general support for human rights so that the nearly propagandistic point of view turns into one natural enough to convince
other nations to embrace without a suspicion. At the end of those articles, as a result, the point the New York Times intends to make is
totally justified at any rate. Also, the New York Times calls for an action to redress the wrong committed in the region of Palestine.
Perhaps even back then, the United States started to at least indirectly uphold the intention and purpose of the Zionist movement that
mounted to the international organized migration of Jews from other countries to the Holy Land.
III.7 What the NYT did not write about
Also none of the articles mentioned about Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is "the Sunni Muslim cleric in charge of
Jerusalem's Islamic holy places, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque". (20)
As the highest religious leader in the Muslim
lands, Grand Mufti was a spiritual symbol of Islam. From 1851 to 1880, however, there was no article at all that covered Grand Mufti
despite the fact that he must have had a great influence on the Arabs of the region. I interpret it as a serious bias that could lead
to the formation of the wrong impression about Palestine in the United States.
IV.1 Implication of the research
Through the close examination of all the NYT articles about Palestine from 1851 to 1880, I could figure out the basic perspectives
underlying the biases and the one-sided views of the articles. Then, I generalized those viewpoints into the official American attitudes
towards the Palestinian issues since the New York Times was the most widely-read newspaper in the United States. In a nutshell, the New
York Times failed to impartially address the issues while intentionally emphasizing certain points and omitting others. It is possible
to infer that the fact that Jews owned the NYT company had a great impact on its attitudes toward Palestine. By presenting the viewpoints
in three perspectives; Western nations, the Middle East and Palestine, and Jews, I could provide the comparison between the status quo
in real and the description of the New York Times. This research not only shows the New York Times distorted the facts in favor of Jews
and Western countries but imply that the government and those who share common interests can easily use the press to disseminate their
ideals. Also it shows that the press can play a role as the indicator of the official stance of a nation. Hence, it is possible to figure
out the official stance about the issues and the general sentiment of the people by looking at how the press including the major newspaper
approach the issues and delivered its opinions about them.
IV.2 Limits and beyond
The limit of this research is perhaps that I referred solely to the New York Times. I guess if I had also used other materials than the
New York Times, the generalization I made could have been more solid and valid. However, I provided a fair analysis of the attitudes
and the underlying perspectives of the New York Times articles, which can be, to certain extent, generalized into those of the United
States. I think this research can be the basis for further study about the American policies towards Palestine before the Zionist
movement gained its impetus.
Note : websites quoted below were visited in 2010.
1. New York Times
Articles from January, 1st 1851 to December 31st 1880
2. Reich, Bernard. Historical Dictionary of Israel. New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1992
3. Shulman, Abraham. Coming Home To Zion: A Pictorial History of Pre-Israel Palestine. Garden City,
New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1979.
4. Rubin, Jacob. Pictorial History of Israel. New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1958
5. Mattar, Philip. Encyclopedia of the Palestinians. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2000.
6. Pappe, Ilan. A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
7. Christison, Kathleen. Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on US Middle East Policy.
California: University of California Press, 2001
8. Wikipedia; Zionism; Demographics of Palestine; Grand Mufti of Jerusalem; Jerusalem in Judaism
11. Friedland, Roger; Hecht, Richard D. To Rule Jerusalem. University of California Press, 2000
Back to WHKMLA Main Index
WHKMLA, Students' Papers Main Page
WHKMLA, Students' Papers, 13th Wave Index Page