NYT Absolves Stone-throwing Palestinian Youth

If you pick up the Aug. 5 edition of the New York Times, you will be greeted by a front-page spread above the fold plus nearly an entire inside page about Palestinians youths hurling stones at Israeli soldiers and civilians. ("'My Hobby Is Throwing Stones' -- In a West Bank Culture of Conflict, Boys Wield the Weapon at Hand').

Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren offers a lengthy list of plaudits received by stone-throwing boys, but you'd be hard put to find any explanatory note by Rudoren that these are lethal weapons that maim or kill their targets. Basically, Rudoren views stone-throwing as simply an interesting cultural phenomenon. She clearly shies away from condemning such tactics.

"Youths hurling stones has long been the indelible icon -- some call it a caricature -- of Palestinian pushback against Israel," she writes. "Rock throwing is a rite of passage and an honored act of defiance."

Readers are told that when a 17-year-old recently was released from Israeli detention, "he was welcomed like a war hero with flags and fireworks, women in wedding finery lining the streets to cheer his motorcade."

Ever caring about such youths, Rudoren worries that when stone hurlers serve prison time, they miss class and a few are forced to repeat a grade.

Further along, she expands her sympathetic understanding -- and apparent justification -- of such behavior by quoting some of these boys as saying "they are provoked by the situation: soldiers stationed at the village entrance, settlers stationed at the village entrance, settlers tending trees." Anything but holding them responsible for their dangerous behavior.

It is only far down in her piece, in the jump page in the 13th paragraph, that Rudoren presents a brief quote by an Israeli settler who tells her about "a man and his 1-year-old son who died when their car flipped in 2011 after being pelted with stones. It's a game that can kill."

But that's just the view of a settler. In Rudoren's book, it's far more important to emphasize their heroism.

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