WaPo weeps for Palestinian terrorist, but not for his victims

The Washington Post features a front-page color picture of a cuddly baby in its May 3 edition next to a headline that reads: “Fatherhood stages a jailbreak – With smuggled sperm, Palestinians defy Israeli control."

 To get the full flavor of the piece, here are in toto the first four paragraphs, filed by Post correspondents Ruth Eglash and Sufian Taha:

ASKAR REFUGEE CAMP, WEST BANK—Suad Abu Fayed and her husband have no physical contact for more than 11 years.  That is how long he has been in an Israeli prison.

And yet on a recent day, Abu Fayed cradled the couple’s 9-day-old baby, Hurriyah – a daughter whose birth earned her a place in an unusual but growing group:  infants conceived over the past two years by in vitro fertilization, using sperm from Palestinian prisoners that has been smuggled out of Israeli jails.

The aim of the clandestine process, those involved say, is two-pronged:  to help prisoners’ wives have children while their husbands are behind bars and to chip away at one facet of Israel’s control over Palestinian life.

Hurriyah’s father, Samir Abu Fayed, 37, is serving an 18-year sentence for involvement in a shooting against Israel soldiers and other similar incidents.  He is a member of the Al-Aqsa  Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian political movement Fatah, according to his brother.  Israel does not allow conjugal visits to Palestinian security prisoners, and carefully screened relatives can meet with them only through glass dividers.

Even so, young children are allowed brief phyaical interaction with their father, and that is how Hurriyah, whose name means freedom in Arabic, came to be Abu Fayed’s sperm. An older child smuggled Abu Fayed’s spermit out of the prison.

On its face, this is an interesting, newsworthy development and merits news coverage – if (and it’s a big if) done with even-handed, objective reporting.  Which is not the case in this Post article.

For starters, Eglash and Tahad glide over and minimize reasons for why this terrorist father got an 18-year sentence.  They further camouflage his terrorist credentials when they identify his affiliation with “the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing” of Fatah.  Not exactly.  The Martyrs Brigades aren’t just the “armed wing” of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’s political party.  They don’t just carry arms; they actually use them to kill civilians.  In truth, the Martyrs Brigades are the “terrorist wing” of Fatah.  But however horrific their bloody crimes, the Post refuses to use the quite proper and accurate T-word.  At the Post, it remains a closely guarded secret.

See also the semantic metamorphosis from “terrorist killers” who are barred from conjugal visits to euphemistic “security prisoners.”  Here is an object lesson in how to forgive or attenuate Palestinian crimes.

Still, there is an even bigger journalistic flaw in the Eglash-Taha piece.  Having pulled out at great length all the heart-tugging stops and deep sympathy for these Palestinian parents who are deprived of physical contact, the Post should at least pay similar attention to the far greater tragedy of cuddly Israeli babies orphaned by the murder of their parents by Palestinian terrorists.  Isn’t that a far greater loss?

To be sure, the tenth paragraph of the Post article briefly reports a comment by Israel’s terror-victims association decrying the “great injustice” meted out to Israeli parents: “Those who were murdered by these terrorists with never get to marry, they will never live their lives, while those who commit the murders are in a situation where they can always start a new life.”

And that brief mentions suffices, according to the Post.  Not so; it’s actually the exact reason for the Post’s utterly biased coverage. 

Where, oh where, is a color front-page Post photo of an orphaned Israeli baby whose father has been murdered by Palestinian terrorists?  Where does the spotlight shine on such tragedies in Israeli families? Are only the lives of Palestinian families painfully disrupted?  Is Palestinian blood more precious than Israeli blood?

In sum, where can be found fair, even-handed journalism?  Not at the Washington Post, to be sure. 

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