Hit-and-run Journalism -- The Way to Tar Israel

Leo Rennert
On New Year's Eve, there was a Palestinian-instigated protest at a West Bank village against Israel's security barrier.  There's one every week at this particular location -- it's well-rehearsed political theater to stoke anti-Israel propaganda.   Except this time, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was on hand to gin up the turnout. Instead of a couple of hundred protesters, there were about a thousand.  Predictably, the protest turned violent.  The security fence was breached and stones were thrown at IDF troops, who responded with tear-gas to disperse the rioters.

The following day, the Palestinians announced that a woman who had participated in the protest had died after choking on tear gas.  She was immediately pronounced a "martyr" and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, issued a statement condemning "this new crime against our helpless nation."

Predictably, Western media followed suit, relying only on Palestinian "witnesses."

"Palestinian Woman Dies After Tear-Gassing" read the Washington Post article by Joel Greenberg.  "Tear Gas Kills a Palestinian Protester" read the New York Times dispatch by Isabel Kershner.

Except, the stories were fishy from the start.  Palestinian medical officials rejected an Israeli request for a joint investigation (a refusal not mentioned by the Times and the Post).  Then, as it turned out, there had been no post-mortem and the burial process was accelerated -- all signs of a hurried cover-up.

Finally, Israel was able to obtain the woman's medical records, which turned out to be inconsistent with simple tear-gas inhalation.  She had been treated a week earlier and given a prescription for a drug (a fact initially hidden by the Palestinian side).  From other indications, there also was reason to question whether she may even have been at the protest rally.

The clear, unambiguous version peddled by the Times and the Post began to lose its validity.  From a journalistic point of view, this became, at a minimum, a murky affair requiring further investigation.

The Times and the Post, however, were clearly satisfied with their original anti-Israel "hit" piece and, as of Jan. 4, saw no reason to revisit this affair.  Putting the event in a more objective context might not comport with their avid appetite for anti-Israel news pegs -- whether justified or not by actual facts.

Call it hit-and-run journalism to tar Israel -- "Run" with the "hit," and don't look back on whether it stands up.

Update - Lauri Regan adds:

Honest Reporting is on top of this and at the bottom of their blog, they include contact info for the various news sources suggesting that the public file complaints in order to have a follow-up story printed.

Here is the link and the contact info:

So far, only AFP has seen fit to file a report on the IDF's findings. Please write to those media outlets mentioned above and demand that their journalists who have yet to do so, follow up on this story and present the latest information. Some contact details are provided below:

On New Year's Eve, there was a Palestinian-instigated protest at a West Bank village against Israel's security barrier.  There's one every week at this particular location -- it's well-rehearsed political theater to stoke anti-Israel propaganda.   Except this time, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was on hand to gin up the turnout. Instead of a couple of hundred protesters, there were about a thousand.  Predictably, the protest turned violent.  The security fence was breached and stones were thrown at IDF troops, who responded with tear-gas to disperse the rioters.

The following day, the Palestinians announced that a woman who had participated in the protest had died after choking on tear gas.  She was immediately pronounced a "martyr" and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, issued a statement condemning "this new crime against our helpless nation."

Predictably, Western media followed suit, relying only on Palestinian "witnesses."

"Palestinian Woman Dies After Tear-Gassing" read the Washington Post article by Joel Greenberg.  "Tear Gas Kills a Palestinian Protester" read the New York Times dispatch by Isabel Kershner.

Except, the stories were fishy from the start.  Palestinian medical officials rejected an Israeli request for a joint investigation (a refusal not mentioned by the Times and the Post).  Then, as it turned out, there had been no post-mortem and the burial process was accelerated -- all signs of a hurried cover-up.

Finally, Israel was able to obtain the woman's medical records, which turned out to be inconsistent with simple tear-gas inhalation.  She had been treated a week earlier and given a prescription for a drug (a fact initially hidden by the Palestinian side).  From other indications, there also was reason to question whether she may even have been at the protest rally.

The clear, unambiguous version peddled by the Times and the Post began to lose its validity.  From a journalistic point of view, this became, at a minimum, a murky affair requiring further investigation.

The Times and the Post, however, were clearly satisfied with their original anti-Israel "hit" piece and, as of Jan. 4, saw no reason to revisit this affair.  Putting the event in a more objective context might not comport with their avid appetite for anti-Israel news pegs -- whether justified or not by actual facts.

Call it hit-and-run journalism to tar Israel -- "Run" with the "hit," and don't look back on whether it stands up.

Update - Lauri Regan adds:

Honest Reporting is on top of this and at the bottom of their blog, they include contact info for the various news sources suggesting that the public file complaints in order to have a follow-up story printed.

Here is the link and the contact info:

So far, only AFP has seen fit to file a report on the IDF's findings. Please write to those media outlets mentioned above and demand that their journalists who have yet to do so, follow up on this story and present the latest information. Some contact details are provided below: