NYT puts Kidnapping Victims on par with 'Martyrdom' of Violent Palestinians

The New York Times runs a front-page article in its June 23 edition about the aftermath of the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. The article is highly critical of Israel’s all-out search to find them. When Palestinians resort to stone-throwing and other violent tactics in clashes with Israeli military forces on the lookout for the abducted Israelis, and some get killed by  Israeli return fire, the Times is quick to depict them as also meriting a badge of innocence...  (“Fate of 3 Israelis Raises Tensions On Many Fronts” by Jodi Rudoren)

The lead paragraph of Jerusalem bureau chief Rudoren’s report is a perfect example of this kind of misplaced equivalence.  Here is the paragraph in its entirety:

“Three Israeli teenagers kidnapped from the West Bank have been missing for more than 10 days now, their names – Naftali, Gilad, Eyal – becoming staples of synagogue prayers and café chatter across this tiny country.  Four Palestinians, one of them 15, have been killed by Israeli troops, their photos hoisted at mass funerals as martyrs in the liberation struggle.”

Palestinians using lethal tactics rate the same moral standing as peaceful Yeshiva students at the Times.

To accomplish this feat, Rudoren does her best to camouflage the extent of provocative violence in Palestinian clashes with Israeli security forces. While quick to quote Palestinian officials, Rudoren never bothers to check with the Israeli military about life-threatening attacks on IDF troops that may have led to the “martyrdom” of the four Palestinians.

As for example in the ninth paragraph when Rudoren writes that “Palestinian health officials said that Muhammad Mahmoud Atta Ismail, 31, was slain on a Ramallah rooftop by an Israeli sniper, and that, in a separate shooting, Ahmad Said Saoud Khaled, 27, bled to death after he was wounded in the abdomen, back and thigh by Israeli troops he encountered en route to a mosque in Nablus for the dawn prayer.”

For starters, Palestinian health officials are notoriously unreliable when reporting Palestinian casualties. It would have greatly enlightened Times readers if Rudoren had requested from the Israeli military the circumstances of Atta Ismail’s death. Or find out what exactly happened to lead to Saoud Khaled’s demise when he “encountered” Israeli troops en route to a Nablus mosque. Was this “encounter” an entirely one-sided affair of Israeli troops just killing him, as Rudoren suggests?  Or had he perchance instigated the clash with violent, life-threatening means?

Rudoren won’t say. For some reason, she is singularly uninterested in getting and transmitting a rounded picture of these incidents. What matters to her is to put the death of Palestinians on the same scale as the abduction of four Israeli teens -- drawing a highly artificial and misleading equivalence between innocence and guilt.

Only once among Rudoren’s 25 paragraphs is there a hint that the four killed Palestinians may not have been on peaceful, Gandhiesque, nonviolent paths.  Hidden in the 16th paragraph is a fleeting mention that Mohammed Jihad Dudeen “was killed hours earlier while throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.”

Fifteen paragraphs after Rudoren, in her lead paragraph, chose instead to celebrate him by gushing over how his photo was hoisted at his funeral as a “martyr in the liberation struggle.”

Which happens when a reporter twists her copy to fit an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian agenda.

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

The New York Times runs a front-page article in its June 23 edition about the aftermath of the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. The article is highly critical of Israel’s all-out search to find them. When Palestinians resort to stone-throwing and other violent tactics in clashes with Israeli military forces on the lookout for the abducted Israelis, and some get killed by  Israeli return fire, the Times is quick to depict them as also meriting a badge of innocence...  (“Fate of 3 Israelis Raises Tensions On Many Fronts” by Jodi Rudoren)

The lead paragraph of Jerusalem bureau chief Rudoren’s report is a perfect example of this kind of misplaced equivalence.  Here is the paragraph in its entirety:

“Three Israeli teenagers kidnapped from the West Bank have been missing for more than 10 days now, their names – Naftali, Gilad, Eyal – becoming staples of synagogue prayers and café chatter across this tiny country.  Four Palestinians, one of them 15, have been killed by Israeli troops, their photos hoisted at mass funerals as martyrs in the liberation struggle.”

Palestinians using lethal tactics rate the same moral standing as peaceful Yeshiva students at the Times.

To accomplish this feat, Rudoren does her best to camouflage the extent of provocative violence in Palestinian clashes with Israeli security forces. While quick to quote Palestinian officials, Rudoren never bothers to check with the Israeli military about life-threatening attacks on IDF troops that may have led to the “martyrdom” of the four Palestinians.

As for example in the ninth paragraph when Rudoren writes that “Palestinian health officials said that Muhammad Mahmoud Atta Ismail, 31, was slain on a Ramallah rooftop by an Israeli sniper, and that, in a separate shooting, Ahmad Said Saoud Khaled, 27, bled to death after he was wounded in the abdomen, back and thigh by Israeli troops he encountered en route to a mosque in Nablus for the dawn prayer.”

For starters, Palestinian health officials are notoriously unreliable when reporting Palestinian casualties. It would have greatly enlightened Times readers if Rudoren had requested from the Israeli military the circumstances of Atta Ismail’s death. Or find out what exactly happened to lead to Saoud Khaled’s demise when he “encountered” Israeli troops en route to a Nablus mosque. Was this “encounter” an entirely one-sided affair of Israeli troops just killing him, as Rudoren suggests?  Or had he perchance instigated the clash with violent, life-threatening means?

Rudoren won’t say. For some reason, she is singularly uninterested in getting and transmitting a rounded picture of these incidents. What matters to her is to put the death of Palestinians on the same scale as the abduction of four Israeli teens -- drawing a highly artificial and misleading equivalence between innocence and guilt.

Only once among Rudoren’s 25 paragraphs is there a hint that the four killed Palestinians may not have been on peaceful, Gandhiesque, nonviolent paths.  Hidden in the 16th paragraph is a fleeting mention that Mohammed Jihad Dudeen “was killed hours earlier while throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.”

Fifteen paragraphs after Rudoren, in her lead paragraph, chose instead to celebrate him by gushing over how his photo was hoisted at his funeral as a “martyr in the liberation struggle.”

Which happens when a reporter twists her copy to fit an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian agenda.

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

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