New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren spent some time in Gaza during the eight-day Hamas-Israel war - an experience that left her smitten with the family of Ahmed al-Jabari, Hamas's top military commander who was killed in an Israeli airstrike.
In a dispatch, headlined "Life in Gaza's Courtyards: Displays of Pride and Sacrifice" (Nov. 23, page A11), Rudoren points to graffiti on the walls of Jabari's neighborhood that testify to his great popularity. "The colorful Arabic script reads 'Welcome haiji, Abu Muhammad,' a reference to Mr. Jabari's return from a pilgrimage to Mecca," she writes.
Rudoren goes on to report how portraits of Jabari were held high in "jubilant celebrations" after the cease-fire took effect, while his widow, mother and sister sat in the family courtyard surrounded by relatives, "praising God." And readers are told how one of Jabari's two wives remarked that "Allah gives him a big honor because he is going to go to paradise, thanks for God for all this."
In a similar vein, Rudoren waxes lyrical in painting a picture of women in the neighborhood sitting in plastic chairs in a rectangle, "wearing brown or black abayas and plain white or gray head scarves," while children "scurried in and out, and Jabari's mother held a tiny one in her arms."
So touching and compelling is this scene in Rudoren's effusive ode to Jabari and his family that she somehow forgets to mention that Jabari, as head of Hamas's terrorist wing, directed numerous lethal attacks on Israelis, including suicide bombings, during the second intifada. Not a word about his role in the deaths of hundreds of Israeli civilians.
Instead, Rudoren transforms this mass killer into a peaceful pilgrim to Mecca adored by his wives and other relatives. Her affectionate portrayal of Jabari and his family recall similarly nauseating pictures of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun in innocent family settings.
As for the Washington Post, which also hasn't lacked for cheerleading of Hamas, there appears in the Nov. 23 edition a lengthy speculative article by its Jerusalem bureau chief, Karyn Brulliard, about the pluses and minuses for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of the eight-day war, ("Cease-fire has benefits and risks for Netanyahu" front page).
Much of the speculation is just that - the political fallout in Israel, the implications for Iran's looming development of nuclear weapons, the effect on the peace process, etc. Generally harmless conjectures, except when Brulliard sums up her piece with a nasty shot at Bibi: "Although Netanyahu says he supports a two-state solution, he has shown scant enthusiasm for peace talks that would lead to one."
"Scant enthusiasm for peace talks" on Bibi's part? This is the same prime minister who for many months repeatedly has begged Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table, only to be rebuffed time and again by the Palestinians leader, who runs away from negotiations like the plague.
But for Brulliard, the temptation apparently was too great to finish with a zinger of an anti-Israel poison pill.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers