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Journalists





NYT Veers From Downplaying Palestinian Terrorism — But Only Online


Amidst mounting Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians, New York Times editors appear to be confronted by a dilemma: how best to report breaking events in which Israelis are manifestly innocent victims of Palestinian violence and cruelty – a topic they regularly obscure, downplay or conceal entirely. Often the publication seems to be actively engaged in damage control for the Palestinians, keeping a lid on information that conveys the full reality and deceptively portraying Palestinian terrorism as an unexceptional element in a cycle of violence equally instigated and equally brutal on both sides.

An article in today's print edition by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, “New Violence Reminds Many of an Intifada” (Web headline: “Fears of New Intifada Accompany Surge in Mideast Violence”) again reiterates the same false equivalence in the lede paragraph:

As the bodies have piled up over the past week — four Israelis killed in two Palestinian attacks, four Palestinians slain by Israeli troops — people here have been nervously debating whether they are witnessing the onset of a third intifada.

According to this characterization, the score is even — four vs. four — with each side inflicting equal damage on the other. That those killed and targeted by Palestinian terrorists were Israeli civilians: men, women and babies minding their own business and bothering no one, while three of the four Palestinians killed were in the process of murdering Israelis, is completely missing from this New York Times version of events. (The fourth Palestinian was among a group of people engaged in violent rioting when an IDF bullet aimed at the foot of the riot leader ricocheted off the ground and hit the victim in the chest.) In Rudoren's discussion about whether the increasing violence represents a third intifada, the only dead individual identified by name is Abdulrahman Obeidallah, the Palestinian who was accidentally killed by the ricocheted bullet. The Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian terrorists are not similarly humanized with a name.

Given The New York Times' tendency to conceal or downplay Palestinian terrorism, as well as its Israeli victims, it was surprising to find a revealing first-hand account of a recent Palestinian terror attack, as described by one of the victims. In the article by Isabel Kershner, entitled “Survivor of Jerusalem Stabbing Recounts Attack on Her Family,” Odel (Adele) Benita-Bennett recounts her traumatic ordeal as her husband lay dying after being stabbed repeatedly in an alley of Jerusalem's Old City while she ran down an alley “with a knife stuck in the base of her neck, desperately seeking help.” Bennett is quoted describing the “cruel and mocking” reactions of passersby:

“I screamed, I begged for aid,” Mrs. Bennett, 22, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish mother of two, said in an interview on Tuesday from her hospital bed, where she was recovering from multiple stab wounds.

“They stood chatting and laughing — they spat at me,” she said of the Palestinians in the alley. One man continued drinking cola out of a can, she said; others shook her off when she tried to hold onto them to lift herself off the ground. “I was looking for one glimmer of mercy in their eyes,” she said in a weak voice.

According to the account, Mrs. Bennett, her husband and their two babies were returning from the Western Wall on Saturday night through the narrow roads of the Muslim quarter when she was accosted by someone who “came out of a doorway” and stabbed her in the back. Her husband tried to fight off the attacker while she screamed for help, but was stabbed repeatedly.

When a Jewish resident of the area, Nehemiah Lavi, heard the shouts and came to help, Bennett “ran off to search for security forces, and when she found them, she collapsed. The knife fell out of her neck and onto the ground, and she struggled to stay conscious until ambulances arrived.” Mrs.Bennett suffered 11 stab wounds to her her chest, her abdomen, back, neck, and limbs and arrived at the hospital “in severe hemorrhagic shock."  Her husband and Lavi died from multiple stab wounds, her 2-year-old son was wounded in the leg when the terrorist grabbed Mr. Lavi's gun and started shooting, and her infant daughter escaped injury.

It is remarkably unusual for such detailed coverage of a Palestinian terrorist attack or the perspective of an Israeli victim to appear in The New York Times. It is an example of the type of thorough and comprehensive reporting readers might expect from a newspaper of record, as The New York Times considers itself. But, unfortunately, Times editors chose not to include the article in the newspaper's print edition. Unlike the first article mentioned, which equates the deaths of Palestinian terrorists with their Israeli victims, Ms. Kershner's informative article is limited only to the web.


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