NY Times disregards facts in piling on Israel, hyping Egyptian-Israeli tensions
The killing of three Egyptian border policemen set off a mini-crisis between Israel and Egypt. At this writing, there are two plausible scenarios for what exactly happened. Did Palestinian terrorists fleeing into Egypt after a killing spree in Israel continue to fire at random against possible Israeli pursuers and instead hit the Egyptian cops? Or did an Israeli airstrike targeting the terrorists accidentally hit the three policemen?
Israel promptly expressed regret over the deaths of the Egyptian policemen, the IDF launched its investigation, and Israel invited Cairo to follow up and conduct a joint investigation with Israel. While Egyptian ministers went into PR overdrive to castigate Israel and Cairo mobs protested at the Israeli Embassy, behind the scenes Egypt and Israel maintained diplomatic contacts, the Egyptian cabinet is reported to have rescinded a plan to recall its ambassador, Egyptian diplomats began efforts to negotiate a Gaza cease-fire, and Egypt welcomed Israel's idea of a joint investigation.
But this is not the way the New York Times reported tensions between Cairo and Jerusalem after the killing of the three Egyptian policemen. In an all-consuming effort to portray Israel as the butt of Egyptian fury, the Times threw factual reporting out the window.
In both a front-page teaser and in the lead paragraph of an article about Israeli-Egyptian tensions, the Times falsely reported that Israel, in expressing regret over the killing of the Egyptian policemen, admitted that it was the culprit ("Nations Race to Defuse Diplomatic Crisis Between Egypt and Israel" by David Kirkpatrick and Isabel Kershner" Aug. 21, page 6).
On the front page, the Times erroneously told readers that the Egyptian-Israeli crisis stemmed from "the killing of three Egyptian officers by an Israeli warplane." With the facts still in doubt, the Times rushed to accuse Israel.
The Kirkpatrick-Kershner article is just as lacking in truth, with its flat allegation in the first paragraph that "the Israeli government issued a rare statement of regret for the killing of three Egyptian security officers by an Israeli warplane."
The Israeli statement of regret made no such admission. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, speaking on behalf of the Israeli government, instead said that "we regret the deaths of the Egyptian security forces during the terror attack on the Israel-Egyptian border." Barak left open the question of who actually killed the Egyptian policemen. The Times did not..
The Times instead maintains that Barak's expression of regret was accompanied by an admission that Israel was the culpable party in the deaths of the Egyptian policemen. Barak never said such a thing. And for good reason: If Israel were to jump to a conclusion that its forces killed the Egyptians, why the need for an investigation? And why invite Egypt to join in such an investigation?
Israel and Egypt now are on record as ready to conduct a joint investigation to find out what really happened. The Times, however, is too impatient to await all the facts. It already made up its mind: Israel's done it.
No surprise. After all, the Times reporting of Mideast affairs usually starts with this predicate.