A group of pro-Palestinian sympathizers fanned out across New York City earlier on Tuesday and distributed thousands of parodied copies of The New York Times bearing headlines and stories that contradict what they claim to be the newspaper's pro-Israel bias in its coverage of the Middle East conflict.
Commuters in the Big Apple could be forgiven for thinking that the "supplement" they were handed was an actual copy of the Grey Lady, since it uses the Times' famous masthead as well as the same headline fonts, page design, and layout.
The "supplement" – which is titled "Rethinking our 2015 coverage on Israel-Palestine" - was also posted online. It was even given a Twitter account.
The Jerusalem Post
was unable to determine the identity of the individuals behind the initiative. The only response given was that the fake newspaper was the brainchild of followers of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement – an ad hoc alliance of pro-Palestinian activists seeking to punish Israel financially over its policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"The most important thing about this is that, as one of the leading sources for news in the United States and in the world, The New York Times
has a duty to its readers to provide fair, balanced, and fact-based coverage," said an activist associated with the project. "This paper reflects that."
"The paper includes the context and facts too often missing from The New York Times
both in their reporting of facts on the ground in Israel and Palestine, and with regards to the growing solidarity movement with Palestine here in the United States," the activist said.
When contacted by the Post
, the activist repeatedly refused to specify which group financed the project.
"Any acts of violence by Palestinians against Israeli Jews always makes headlines in the Times
," the activist said. "However, the paper fails to include the context of everyday state violence committed by Israel against Palestinians and the ongoing nonviolent Palestinian resistance to the occupation."
A representative of the Times
said the newspaper was aware of the campaign and voiced its objections.
"We're extremely protective of our brand and other intellectual property and object to this group (or any group's) attempt to cloak their political views under the banner of The New York Times
," a spokesperson for the newspaper told the Post
. "We believe strongly that those advocating for political positions are best served by speaking openly, in their own voice."
' coverage of Israel-Palestine has long been a contentious subject, as observers sympathetic to both the Israeli and the Arab narratives have accused the newspaper of biased coverage
Most recently, the Times
retroactively appended an "editor's note" to an article about the eviction of Palestinians from homes in east Jerusalem
. The piece was written by one of its Israel-based reporters, Diaa Hadid.
The newspaper acknowledged that the story gave "an incomplete description of the legal disputes in several cases" described in the report.
Another Hadid article from earlier this month garnered criticism from both sides of the divide as well. The piece - which described how Israel's Arab youth has turned Haifa into a trendy, cultural hub
– was lamented by pro-Israel observers
in that it did not acknowledge the freedom afforded to these young people by dint of their living in the Jewish state, a privilege that is supposedly denied to other Arabs in the Middle East.
One of the Israeli Arabs interviewed in the article, however, objected to the "Westernized" portrayal of his community
. While the author sought to pay homage to the burgeoning cosmopolitan scene in Haifa, pro-Palestinians feel that the article glosses over the the more visceral aspects of Arab disenfranchisement in Israel.