Israel Law Center and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner Attacked by the New York Times

The New York Times has long been known to have a Jewish problem, perhaps best illustrated by its abject failure during World War II to cover the Holocaust. Writing on the paper’s 150th anniversary in 2001, former Executive Editor Max Frankel concluded that among the paper’s most serious errors, none was:

… greater than the staggering, staining failure of The New York Times to depict Hitler’s methodical extermination of the Jews of Europe as a horror beyond all other horrors in World War II — a Nazi war within the war crying out for illumination.

Frankel pointed out that there were reports in the Times, but they were “mostly buried inside its gray and stolid pages, never featured, analyzed or rendered truly comprehensible,” rendering the Times’ coverage of the Holocaust the “century’s bitterest journalistic failure.”

Frankel attributed this failure to the views and desires of the publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger (grandfather to the present Times publisher):

He believed strongly and publicly that Judaism was a religion, not a race or nationality — that Jews should be separate only in the way they worshiped. He thought they needed no state or political and social institutions of their own. He went to great lengths to avoid having The Times branded a ”Jewish newspaper.” He resented other publications for emphasizing the Jewishness of people in the news.

While Frankel concludes that regarding Israel things have changed at the Times, many independent observers would conclude that any change has been incremental, and that in some ways things have gotten worse.

In particular, besides its Jewish problem the paper has also developed a related malady, a terrorism problem, especially when the terrorists target Israeli Jews.

Consider, for example, the terrorist attack a few days ago in Tel Aviv, in which a Palestinian assailant stabbed 12 Israelis, at least three of whom were critically wounded. The terrorist would have stabbed and possibly killed even more innocent people, but he was shot and wounded by an armed Israeli corrections officer who, by chance, happened to be in the vicinity.

Did the New York Times do a story humanizing the victims, speaking with their families, or even giving their names and ages?

No, that’s not what the Times did. Instead, the Times reserved that humanization for the terrorist – Opening His Mother’s Clothing Shop, and Then Heading to Tel Aviv for a Rampage (Jan. 23, 2015).

Readers of Isabel Kershner’s story learned all about the terrorist, Hama Matrouk – about his electrical studies in which he had just received a diploma, that he’s quiet and introspective, pious but not an extremist, that his mother is named Howla Kaabeh and that she is divorced, that after the divorce Ms. Kaabeh and her four children moved from Amari to Al Jib, that Ms. Kaabeh owns an Islamic clothing store in Ramallah, and that the family apartment is sparsely furnished.

And what of the victims of Hama Matrouk? How are their apartments furnished, what did they study in school, how are they and their families and friends reacting to this vicious and bloody terrorist attack? Were any of them “pious?”

Apparently the Times feels such details would be of little interest to its readers, or perhaps, just as in the past, it’s just that such details are of little interest to the powers that be at the “paper of record.”

The Times is even against those in Israel who fight against terrorism via legal means, by suing terrorists and their funders, leaders and enablers. Witness the “Saturday Profile” Crusading for Israel in a Way Some Say Is Misguided (Jan. 24, 2015), largely a hit piece on the Israel Law Center, and its founder and leader, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.

According to Jodi Rudoren’s dyspeptic profile, Ms. Darshan-Leitner engages in:

a relentless — and relentlessly publicized — but often fruitless campaign … [waged] for more than a decade to empty the pocketbooks of people who harm Israelis. Her arguments are regularly rejected by courts. About 90 percent of the $1.6 billion in default judgments against no-show defendants including Iran, Syria, North Korea and the militant Palestinian group Hamas have not been paid. Attacks continue, and she continues to file complaints (and news bulletins).

While two supporters are quoted, it is strongly implied that they are not objective – one a terror victim, the other a lawyer “whose law school roommate is the brother of Ms. Darshan-Leitner’s husband.”

Instead readers are pushed to believe the carping of her critics, including one Jonathan Arnon, an Israeli attorney for one of her targets, the PLO, who labels her “definitely a nuisance” (now there’s a disinterested observer). Also quoted – anonymously – are American attorneys said to be working with her, who supposedly bewail her penchant for publicity, describe clashes over costs, and who term her “tangential” to the lawsuits against terror.

While there is brief mention in the piece of a lawsuit initiated by Darshan-Leitner that just opened in Federal Court in New York, pitting victims of terror against the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, it’s restricted to a single paragraph, with no indication whatsoever of its great importance.

For that, one would have to turn to other sources, such as the AP, whose stories are typically picked up by hundreds of newspapers, even including – in this case – Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, where one could learn that this case might well turn out to be Darshan-Leitner’s most significant victory:
The civil case in Manhattan and another in Brooklyn have emerged as the most notable attempts by American victims of Palestinian-Israeli conflict to use U.S. federal courts to seek damages that could reach into the billions of dollars.
The lawsuits against the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority and the other against the Jordon-based Arab Bank had languished for years as the defendants challenged the American courts’ jurisdiction. But recent rulings found that they should go forward under the Anti-Terrorism Act, a more tha
n 2-decade-old law that allows victims of U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations to seek compensation.
Quoted in the AP story was Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, who called the cases “a new chapter in how the courts address terrorism.”

“I’m paying attention because these cases in a way are highly symbolic and breaking new ground in terms of sharing responsibility for alleged acts of terrorism and sometimes acts of terrorism,” she said.

Greenberg said the lawsuits are calling into question established institutions such as banks and “starting to go at some of the structural facilitators in terrorism.”

In addition, according to the AP report, last year a Brooklyn jury held the Arab Bank (mentioned above) responsible for numerous:

Hamas-orchestrated suicide bombings that left Americans dead or wounded based on claims the financial institutions knowingly did business with the terror group. It was the first time a terror-financing claim against a big bank had gone to trial.

These are extremely important and impressive achievements in the war on terror – too bad the Times kept all the key details from its readers.

Finally, it is notable that Rudoren quotes unidentified critics denigrating the Israel Law Center’s efforts as “lawfare,” which she defines as “abusing the courts to score political points.”

But contrary to the Times, lawfare is exactly what Israel has been subject to for years, at the UN, at the World Court, and perhaps now at the ICC – see for example, NGO-Monitor’s extensive analysis of the phenomena, which began at the Durban Conference in 2001.

However, according to a Nexis search the Times has never used the word “lawfare” to describe this very well-funded effort to demonize and delegitimize Israel. Instead, Rudoren applies it to an Israeli attorney using the courts for the very purpose that they were created – to achieve justice by holding people accountable for their actions.

Apparently, for the Times, that is a problem when the justice-seekers are Israelis. Such are the depths to which the New York Times has sunk.

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