All The Nukes That’s Fit To Print

NYT mideast nuke map

The unsigned New York Times infographic (“Pushing Ahead,” p. A10, May 3, 2010) accompanying William Broad and David Sanger’s story on U.S. attempts to head off a Middle Eastern nuclear race is missing a shade of darkness over the state of Israel.

Take a look:

While Iran and Syria have been blackened out completely — denoting that “construction [has] begun” on their nuclear programs — Israel curiously lacks this dark hue. Israel is well-known to have begun construction in its program and, indeed, brought this process to fruition in a nuclear weapons arsenal.

It makes little sense to place Israel in the same dark gray category as many of her neighbors, implying that Israel has nuclear “plans developed” but has not built anything.

In their story, Broad and Sanger refer to Israel’s “atomic arsenal” as a matter of fact. The graphic alongside their piece should reflect this reality.

The glaring omission must have come up at some point. If and once the question arose, how did it not go all the way up the editorial chain of command?

It’s even more troubling to think that the question was never asked — denoting, perhaps, gross incompetence or, worse yet, a culture of fear on the issue at the Times. Let’s hope the that the Times, at the very least, has the courage to issue a correction.

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Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.

2 Comments

  1. I’m not holding my breath on that correction. Kudos to you for catching the Times’ error. Was it intentional, do you think?

  2. This map, and its misleading key, also make it appear that the West Bank is part of Lebanon.

    The (badly written) NYT article itself states: “Every country in the region except Lebanon is planning to build nuclear reactors or has declared an interest in doing so.” It also states that Israel, Iran and Iraq have nuclear reactors, contradicting the previous statement, not to mention the graphic. The title/caption/key to the graphic all give the impression that nuclear program means nuclear weapons program, which is not what the article is saying.

    As evidence of poor writing in the article, I offer “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warning that if Tehran gets the bomb, the rest of the Middle East will soon follow”. No mention, at this point, that Israel is widely believed to have a stockpile of nuclear warheads, one of the worst kept secrets of modern times. It’s no good trying to balance half your assertions and letting the other half lie.

    Speaking as an experienced editor, I wouln’t have allowed either the article or the graphic to appear in anything that had my name against it, without a lot more work!

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