Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January/February 1997, p. 37
CAMERA Targets New York Times to Expose Anti-Israel “Bias”
by Mitchell Kaidy
CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), a hard-line pro-Israel media monitor, has unveiled a new crusade that will certainly startle two of the most consistent apologists for Israel in the American media, syndicated columnists William Safire and A.M. Rosenthal of The New York Times.
CAMERA is soliciting $160,000 in public funding to conduct “a multi-faceted campaign to expose the bias and promote more complete and accurate reporting” in The New York Times, a daily newspaper regarded by most U.S. journalists as one of the nation’s most consistent defenders of Israel.
Proposing to produce a series of monographs dealing with New York Times coverage of Israel, CAMERA also would “convene a symposium on the subject and undertake a public information effort to include placing ads in other newspapers and magazines about the problems of The New York Times.”
Specifics were lacking in the CAMERA announcement, but the organization tucked the proposal into its 1995 Highlights Report that included four pages listing financial supporters, including 14 individuals and two foundations that gave more than $10,000 each.
In all, CAMERA is soliciting $335,000 in additional funding this year, $125,000 of it for research and publications and $50,000 for a campus project. Total spending in 1995 was reportedly over half a million dollars. But, CAMERA drily notes, “where other nonprofits seem to have trouble raising funds, we raise more each year.”
Targeting the Times may leave some people breathless, but it is perfectly consonant with the organization’s acrimonious “enemies list,” published in the July/August 1993 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. That list included predictable targets like Noam Chomsky and Edward Said, but it also took on Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, former U.S. senators, correspondents, well-known academics, and CAMERA’s perennial target, the Public Broadcasting Service, National Public Radio officials and several NPR correspondents.
In its annual report, CAMERA has been criticizing objective coverage of Middle East issues and especially attacking public broadcasting. “We are far from satisfied,” writes Executive Director Andrea Levin, who also allows herself to boast about convincing Congress to slice NPR and Pacifica Radio’s funding over perceived anti-Israel bias.
If anything is clear about CAMERA,it is that its definition of bias covers every scintilla of criticism of Israel. Its goal may be summed up as: “If you write or report about Israel, it cannot be negative, or you will pay a high price—perhaps your continued existence.” CAMERA, in this writer’s opinion, is a ruthless and dangerous organization, representing a clear and present threat to the First Amendment.