New York Times finds $32 billion in Israel hi-tech investment ‘not fit to print’ – opinion

The Times imposed a blackout on June’s news that chipmaker Intel will invest $25 billion in Israel, among other positive news.

By Ira Stoll, The Algemeiner

If there’s a single consistently emphasized theme of the New York Times coverage of judicial reform in Israel, it’s been that the effort may devastate the Israeli high-technology economy.

“Netanyahu’s Judicial Coup Could Destroy His Start-Up Nation,” was the headline over a February 14, 2023, Thomas Friedman column. “As a general rule, investors don’t like investing in countries roiled with protests and chaos. And that is why some have started pressing the pause button,” Friedman wrote.

In case any Times readers missed the point, the Times followed up with a February 23, 2023, news article, headlined “Tech Leaders in Israel Wonder if It’s Time to Leave.” The article itself pressed the claim beyond just wondering, declaring, “The luminaries of Start-Up Nation, as Israel has been known for decades, are eyeing the exits. Several have already announced that they are relocating or moving money out of the country…” The Times reported that people “are reappraising what it means to operate here and deciding that if the government retools the judiciary, it is time to leave.”

Catastrophe-predicting context about this is a consistent staple of Times incremental ongoing coverage of protests and parliamentary action related to the judicial reform. The proposal “prompted… business leaders to scale back their investments,” the Times reported June 14. “Hundreds of high-tech industry leaders said they’re considering moving their businesses abroad,” the Times reported in a July 26 update from Jerusalem.

Read  Netanyahu aides propose demilitarized Palestinian state, Saudi normalization

Doubtless plenty of Tel Aviv venture capitalists (and plenty of other people, too) indeed do find noxious elements of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition, its judicial reform proposals, and the way Netanyahu has advanced the plans. Honest journalism, though, involves leveling with readers about facts that don’t neatly match a narrative. By that standard, on this topic, the Times has flunked, by failing to inform readers of some significant developments.

The Times imposed a blackout on June’s news that chipmaker Intel will invest $25 billion in Israel. To find out about the Intel investment, Times readers would have to read the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, or Bloomberg, all of which reported the news. The Times found it not fit to print.

The Times also deprived its readers of the news of Amazon Web Services’ August announcement of a $7.2 billion investment in Israel. Reuters covered that news. The Times, again, found it not fit to print.

That’s more than $32 billion in total high-tech investment in Israel at a moment when the Times is falsely warning readers that the startup nation is on the brink of destruction. Maybe there’s some explanation—multinational giants like Amazon and Intel are less flighty than early stage companies, or something. But rather than venturing some sort of explanation that reconciles the reality with the predictions of doom, the Times just suppresses the good news. Maybe they think their readers won’t find out about it if they don’t tell them?

Read  Netanyahu shows Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' found in Gazan civilian's home

It’s especially noteworthy because when a big-tech employee whines about Israel, the Times gives it prominent play. When a Google employee complained about a $1.2 billon Google-Amazon deal with Israel, the New York Times devoted a whole article on the front of its business section to the situation, complete with a subheadline about supposed “anti-Palestinian bias.”

Luckily, the days of the Times having a monopoly as the information supplier to influential Americans, if they ever existed, are now long over.

The front page still features the words “All the News That’s Fit to Print” on the top left corner. The claim increasingly seems like a relic of some bygone era. When it comes to the effect of judicial reform on Israel’s high-tech economy, the Times had fallen well short of its front-page promise. It’s more like “All the News that Supports Tom Friedman’s Dire Predictions, and None of the News That Shows the Warnings Actually Were Phony.”

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.