NY Times: Palestinian prisoner tortured. Don't ask questions.
On Sunday, Feb. 24, the Israeli Health Ministry issued the following statement:
This afternoon (Sunday, 24 February, 2013), at the National Center for Forensic Medicine, an autopsy was performed on the body of Arafat Jaradat by Prof. Yehuda Hiss, in the presence of Prof. Arnon Afek, director of the Heath Administration at the Ministry of Health, and Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber Aloul.
During the autopsy, no signs of external trauma were found apart from those pertaining to resuscitation attempts and a small graze on the right side of his chest.
No evidence of disease was found during the autopsy.
Two internal hemorrhages were detected, one on the shoulder and one on the right side of the chest.
Two ribs were broken, which may indicate resuscitation attempts.
The initial findings cannot determine the cause of death.
At this stage, until microscopic and toxicology reports are in, the cause of death cannot be tied to the autopsy findings.
The New York Times, which provided extensive coverage of Jaradat's death in an Israeli prison, did not use a single word of the Israeli Health Ministry's statement. Not a word about the impact of resuscitation attempts.
Instead, the Jerusalem bureau chief relies on Palestinian versions, which accuse Israel of having tortured Jaradat to death ("Palestinians Dispute Israel's Findings on a Prisoner's death," five-column spread, with two pictures, at top of page 4).
The Times headline is, prima facie, misleading, since Rudoren ignores Israel's actual findings. Here is her lead paragraph:
The Israeli Health Ministry said Sunday night that preliminary autopsy finding could not determine the cause of death of a 30-year-old Palestinian prisoner, which Israeli officials had at first attributed to a heart attack, but Palestinian officials said the lack of heart damage couple with bruising on the man's chest, back and neck suggested that he was tortured during interrogation.
Once past the lead paragraph, Rudoren's dispatch relies entirely on Palestinian suppositions. Not a word about Israeli findings that the broken ribs "may indicate resuscitation attempts." No indication that microscopic and toxicology reports are still pending, thus there should be no rush to judgment.
Rudoren, however, is if anything supremely judgmental as she accepts, hook, line, and sinker, inventive Palestinian scenarios. In sum, Israel was engaged in a scientific autopsy, while the Palestinian propaganda machine was spewing out a political autopsy, designed to inflame passions against Israel -- with a major assist from the New York Times.
Starting with the second paragraph, Rudoren relies on Issa Qaraka, the Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, who calls a news conference in Ramallah and unqualifiedly indicts Israel -- "the Israeli story was forged and full of lies." And how does he know that?
Well, he purports to have been briefed by the Palestinian pathologist whom Israel graciously invited to attend the autopsy. Not a word, of course, about the still pending toxicology and microscopic tests before the autopsy can be completed.
Rudoren takes it from there and weaves a heart-tugging tale of Jaradat, "who worked at a gas station" and is "the father of a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy and came from a family in which all the men spent time in Israeli jails."
Readers also are told by an uncle of Jaradat that the Israeli interrogator told him, "Say goodbye to your kids."
And Rudoren, after totally ignoring the preliminary Israeli autopsy report, gives full coverage to the Palestinian version -- again by the Palestinian prisoner affairs minister, who claims that the autopsy showed "severe bruising in multiple areas, the right side of the chest, the upper right part of the back, upper left shoulder and along the spine near the bottom of the neck. The (Palestinian) pathologist reported no blood clotting or sign of heart damage, but did see two broken ribs, an injury inside the lower lip and blood around the nostrils."
Having given full vent to the Palestinian account, Rudoren reinforces it with her own sympathy for Palestinian prisoners. "Few issues," she writes, "resonate more deeply in Palestinian society than the plight of prisoners; about 800,000 have been detained in Israeli jails since 1967, according to Palestinian leaders; Mr. Jaradat was the 203rd to die in that time."
Did Rudoren bother to check with Israeli officials about these statistics? No. Could some of the deaths be attributable to old age of Palestinian imprisoned lifers? She doesn't bother to check.
Nor does Rudoren mention that many of these prisoners were engaged in terrorist attacks that, during the second intifada alone, claimed more than 1,000 Israeli lives. In Rudoren's world, only Palestinian prisoners deserve sympathetic coverage, while their victims are completely ignored.
Basically, Arab lives count for more than Jewish lives in the New York Times.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.