NY Times fronts for Palestinian terrorists in Israeli detention

The New York Times has discovered a new breed of Palestinian heroes:  "gaunt adults, wrists in chains, starving themselves inside Israeli prisons."

In a lengthy, 26-paragraph article spread across two pages in the front section of the May 4 edition, the Times describes hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners and their outside supporters as a critical new tactic for the Palestinian national movement -- "non-violent resistance as a potential catalyst to bring an Arab Spring-style uprising to the West Bank"  ("Palestinians Go Hungry To Make Their Voices Heard -- Nonviolent Tactic Spreads in Prisons" by Jodi Rudoren, pages A4 and A12)

But what exactly are the prisoners and their backers complaining about?  Are they being tortured?  No.  Are they subject to enhanced interrogation tactics?  No.  Their demands are for "improved prison conditions."  The more detailed answer, hidden in the 17th paragraph on the jump page, is that they are protesting "isolation, limits on family visits and denial of access to university classes."  Hardly excruciating conditions for members of  terrorist organizations with non-Gandhiesque pasts.

Prisoner complaints, Rudoren writes, also are aimed at Israel's use of renewable periods of administrative detention without actual trial.  But this is a tactic not unknown in the West, including the United States, when resort to full trials would jeopardize valuable intelligence sources inside terrorist camps.  In the meantime, the prisoners in Israeli jails have access to their own lawyers and to reviews by Israeli courts.  In fact, as Rudoren eventually acknowledges, two hunger strikers just appeared before the Israeli Supreme Court to challenge their detentions.

So much for how Israel treats prison inmates.  And what about all those non-violent tactics embraced by the Palestinians?  Again, readers have to wait until they get to the jump page to find that 300 women marched in Ramallah, chanting "Down with the olive branch, long live the rifle."  Not exactly a call to non-violence.  But Palestinian sins are regularly forgiven in the pages of the New York Times.

And what about the extent of this new, supposedly "non-violent" movement spawned by the hunger strikers?  Again, readers have to slog through lots of hype and puffery before Rudoren admits that "so far, the solidarity demonstrations have been small."

And who exactly are these hunger strikers and why are they in prison?  Rudoren is conspicuously quiet about their bona fides as wanted terrorists.  In the 15th paragraph, there is a brief mention that the two detainees who appeared before the Israeli Supreme Court are members of "Islamic Jihad, a radical and militant Palestinian faction."  The fact that Islamic Jihad is a major terrorist outfit that has killed many Israeli civilians and is dedicated to the destruction of Israel remains a secret.

Finally, Rudoren's article violates a basic precept of professional journalism:  to give the other side, in this instance Israeli prison authorities, a commensurate say about the treatment of these hunger strikers, about the reasons for administrative detention without trial, and how the behavior of Israel under terrorist threats and assaults differs -- or does not differ -- from  the detention policies of other democracies.

Rudoren instead delivers an ode to Islamic Jihad detainees and their suffering families, while totally ignoring Israel's basic security needs.

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