July 11, 2019

IT’S ALMOST LIKE THEY HAVE AN AGENDA OR SOMETHING: Since its founding in 1998, Birthright has sent approximately six hundred thousand young Jews to Israel on free ten-day tours to connect them with their Jewish heritage. Other than a couple “stranded or brave tourists during wartime” type stories, the Times has covered these trips exactly twice. Once in 2000, when the focus was on a controversy over the costs of the trip and who, if anyone,  should be paying for them, and once in 2007, albeit relegated for some reason to the “New York region” section of the paper.

Over the past year, several groups on the left have protested Birthright, on the typical leftist theory that any nonprofit organization must have a left-wing agenda or die. As a result, the Times has run no less than two anti-Birthright stories, one in June focusing on protests against Birthright for not focusing on “the occupation,” the second yesterday on a politicized “alternative” trip sponsored by the left-leaning JStreet.

It doesn’t take a news maven to see what is objectively the bigger story: Birthright itself, with its 600K participants and one of the most innovative and successful religious/ethnic programs in recent American (most participants are American, as are most diaspora Jews) history, or the handful of activists protesting Birthright plus the forty participants on the “alternative” tour. But the Times has determined that the latter is actually the more important story, because it fits their agenda of hostility to the mainstream Jewish community’s support for Israel.

This is less interesting as a comment on the Times and Israel, and moreso, in my opinion, as an excellent example of how the Times and other MSM outlets don’t simply report the news, they actually shape it by deciding based on their own agendas what to cover and how much.

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