NY Times uses Prisoner X affair to smear Israel

Leo Rennert
Israeli media are consumed these days by a spy mystery about a presumed ex-Mossad agent who allegedly was ready to spill the beans about sundry secrets just as he was arrested by Israel and later found hanged in his jail cell.

Western media, including the New York Times, also have jumped on the story with its ample supply of twists and turns.

The Times, however, goes a few steps too far with its own version by turning the mystery of Prisoner X into an all-out slanderous indictment of Israel itself.

Here, for example, is how Jodi Rudoren, the Times' Jerusalem bureau chief, puts it in the Feb. 15 edition:

"'The Prisoner X affair is a classic story of Israel failure,' read the headline over a column by Amir Oren in the left-leaning daily newspaper Haaretz.  'The most sensitive agencies aren't functioning,' Mr. Oren wrote:  'In its 65th year, the State of Israel still doesn't control the basics.'"

Haaretz a "left-leaning" paper?  Hardly.  "Far left" would be more to the point.  "Far, far-left" would be even more accurate.   Reliance on Haaretz can be deemed on a par with trusting the objectivity of the Daily Worker during the Cold War.

Rudoren fails to alert Times readers to the real ideological agenda of Haaretz -- its discredited campaign to move Israel so far to the left that, were Israeli governments prepared to follow its lead, Israel would make ever more and more concessions to the Palestinians to the point of total surrender.  Instead, Rudoren and the Times happily and readily pass on to readers the anti-Israel poison in Haaretz's columns.

Rudoren also seizes the Prisoner X affair to tar Mossad's overall record.  Prisoner X, she writes, "may have been involved in the assassination of a Hamas leader, an episode that was among the most embarrassing in the history of Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad."

"Most embarrassing"?   Well, yes and no.  The assassination in Dubai of one of the top Palestinian terrorist kingpins ruffled the feathers of Australia and other countries whose passports were used by the Mossad crew to get into Dubai.  And Dubai itself expressed outrage.  But what Rudoren fails to tell Times readers until the end of her article is that the Mossad target was a founder of Hamas' terrorist wing who was implicated in the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers and who helped supply Hamas with a bounteous supply of weapons from Iran.

Also, it now turns out, that there may be no link at all between Prisoner X and the killing in Dubai of the founder of Hamas terrorism.  The Reuters news agency commissioned a lab analysis comparing the facial features of Prisoner X with those of the presumed Mossad killers of the Hamas terrorist kingpin.  The analysts couldn't find evidence connecting the former with the latter.

Thus, Rudoren's piece may not even have a 24-hour shelf life.  The Times may want to change its motto to "All the rumors fit to print," especially when it comes to denigrating Israel.

When all is said and done, Mossad with or without Prisoner X did its job, despite the diplomatic brouhaha over misuse of passports.  And its success in killing a major terrorist figure at war against Israel hardly was among "the most embarrassing" episodes in Mossad's history.

The real problem with this kind of shoddy journalism is that Rudoren and the Times still don't get it - that Israel lives in a very dangerous neighborhood and, as an existential necessity, must use pre-emptive measures against enemies sworn to its destruction.  Israel's security is not something Rudoren and the Times care very much about.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

Israeli media are consumed these days by a spy mystery about a presumed ex-Mossad agent who allegedly was ready to spill the beans about sundry secrets just as he was arrested by Israel and later found hanged in his jail cell.

Western media, including the New York Times, also have jumped on the story with its ample supply of twists and turns.

The Times, however, goes a few steps too far with its own version by turning the mystery of Prisoner X into an all-out slanderous indictment of Israel itself.

Here, for example, is how Jodi Rudoren, the Times' Jerusalem bureau chief, puts it in the Feb. 15 edition:

"'The Prisoner X affair is a classic story of Israel failure,' read the headline over a column by Amir Oren in the left-leaning daily newspaper Haaretz.  'The most sensitive agencies aren't functioning,' Mr. Oren wrote:  'In its 65th year, the State of Israel still doesn't control the basics.'"

Haaretz a "left-leaning" paper?  Hardly.  "Far left" would be more to the point.  "Far, far-left" would be even more accurate.   Reliance on Haaretz can be deemed on a par with trusting the objectivity of the Daily Worker during the Cold War.

Rudoren fails to alert Times readers to the real ideological agenda of Haaretz -- its discredited campaign to move Israel so far to the left that, were Israeli governments prepared to follow its lead, Israel would make ever more and more concessions to the Palestinians to the point of total surrender.  Instead, Rudoren and the Times happily and readily pass on to readers the anti-Israel poison in Haaretz's columns.

Rudoren also seizes the Prisoner X affair to tar Mossad's overall record.  Prisoner X, she writes, "may have been involved in the assassination of a Hamas leader, an episode that was among the most embarrassing in the history of Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad."

"Most embarrassing"?   Well, yes and no.  The assassination in Dubai of one of the top Palestinian terrorist kingpins ruffled the feathers of Australia and other countries whose passports were used by the Mossad crew to get into Dubai.  And Dubai itself expressed outrage.  But what Rudoren fails to tell Times readers until the end of her article is that the Mossad target was a founder of Hamas' terrorist wing who was implicated in the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers and who helped supply Hamas with a bounteous supply of weapons from Iran.

Also, it now turns out, that there may be no link at all between Prisoner X and the killing in Dubai of the founder of Hamas terrorism.  The Reuters news agency commissioned a lab analysis comparing the facial features of Prisoner X with those of the presumed Mossad killers of the Hamas terrorist kingpin.  The analysts couldn't find evidence connecting the former with the latter.

Thus, Rudoren's piece may not even have a 24-hour shelf life.  The Times may want to change its motto to "All the rumors fit to print," especially when it comes to denigrating Israel.

When all is said and done, Mossad with or without Prisoner X did its job, despite the diplomatic brouhaha over misuse of passports.  And its success in killing a major terrorist figure at war against Israel hardly was among "the most embarrassing" episodes in Mossad's history.

The real problem with this kind of shoddy journalism is that Rudoren and the Times still don't get it - that Israel lives in a very dangerous neighborhood and, as an existential necessity, must use pre-emptive measures against enemies sworn to its destruction.  Israel's security is not something Rudoren and the Times care very much about.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers