NY Times, Wash. Post care more about rights of terrorists than safety of Jewish pilgrims
Here are a couple of newsworthy developments which editors of the Washington Post and the New York Times did not see fit to print in their Feb. 22 editions:
1. On Feb. 21, Arab rioters stoned Israeli police accompanying Jewish pilgrims on Jerusalem's Temple Mount - Judaism's holiest site, where once stood the two Jewish Temples and where Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac. The violent episode followed similar Arab attacks on Jews in the same area in recent days. None of this was reported by the Post and the Times. Just imagine -- had it been Jews stoning Muslims on their way to Al-Aqsa Mosque, would there have been a similar news blackout in the Post and the Times? No way.
2. On Feb. 21, Arabs stoned Jews praying at Rachel's Tomb, the third holiest site in Judaism. Rachel is revered by Jews as the Matriarch who prayed from her grave for the return of Jews exiled to Babylon. Her tears are presumed to have moved God to bring Jews back to their Land. Despite the tomb's revered place in the hearts of Jews, Palestinians are now claiming it as a mosque that is part their own heritage -- a move endorsed by UNESCO over Israel's vociferous objections. Would the Times and the Post remain silent if Jews were to desecrate an important Christian or Muslim shrine? No way.
But here's a Feb. 21 development that did make it into the pages of the Post and the Times on Feb. 22: a Palestinian leader of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad, held in administrative detention by Israel, ended a two-month hunger strike when Israel agreed to free him after he completes his term in mid-April. Both newspapers were quick to espouse his protest, while playing down his terrorist credentials. Islamic Jihad has killed dozens of Israelis and is on the terrorist rosters of the U.S., the EU, Australia, Canada, Japan and Israel - a part of his resume missing from the Times and Post accounts.
Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner, who wrote the Times version, identified the hunger striker, Khader Adnan, merely as a "Palestinian" in her lead and was quick to cite a Palestinian organization calling him "a hero, a champion." She also noted that he is the father of two young girls and a baker. Only after throwing all these bouquets at Adnan does she tell readers far down in her 11th paragraph that he's a leader in Islamic Jihad, an "extremist organization that has carried out suicide bombings and fired rockets from Gaza into southern Israel." Israeli fatalities go unmentioned. And grudgingly, Kershner avers that Adnan has also been detained by the Palestinian Authority.
Both Kershner and Joel Greenberg, the Post's Jerusalem correspondent, made much of Israel holding Adnan in administrative detention without specific charges, although such procedures are reviewable by Israeli courts and meet the same, and perhaps greater, due process standards in similar instances in the U.S. and the UK -- another point missing from both articles. The reason Washington and London resort to administrative detentions of some terrorists is that bringing them to trial would disclose critical intelligence and identification of sources that lead to the apprehension of such dangerous individuals.
Still, there's no question that the end of Adnan's hunger strike was a newsworthy development and merited coverage. But so did, in spades, the violent eruptions against Jews on Temple Mount and at Rachel's Tomb.
Thus do the Times and the Post care more about the rights of terrorists than about the safety of Jewish pilgrims.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers