Los Angeles Times Corrects: Nahariya Not a Settlement

CAMERA staff elicited a correction from the Los Angeles Times today that Nahariya, the northern Israeli town where Samir Kuntar carried out a terrorist attack in 1979, is not a Jewish settlement. The error and correction follow:

Error (Los Angeles Times, Rone Tempest, 8/2/06): Family members in Beirut are hopeful that Israel will release [Samir] Kuntar, who is serving multiple life sentences for murder and terrorism in Hadarim Prison for his role in the 1979 raid on a Jewish settlement that left four people dead, including a 4-year-old girl.

Correction (8/11/06): Prisoners in Israel: An Aug. 2 article in Section A about Arabs in Israeli custody identified Nahariya as a Jewish settlement. It is a town in northern Israel.

Beyond the factual error, Tempest’s article was extremely one-sided, drawing a sympathetic, emotive picture of the “plight” of Samir Kuntar and his family, while completely ignoring that of his victims. Thus, readers learn details about Kuntar’s life in prison, including his dissertation title. We also read: “‘I feel that it was finally time for him,’ said Bassam Kuntar, a Beirut newspaper editor who was an infant when his brother, then 16, went off of a mission inside Israel for the Palestine Liberation Front.”

Tempest reports on the Kuntar family’s struggle for Samir’s release, noting that they still “harbor hope” that he will released.

Unfortunately, the families of Kuntar’s murdered victims harbor no hopes of ever seeing their loved ones again. Tempest, however, did not provide any information about the misfortunes of Kuntar’s victims other than that they numbered four, and included a 4-year-old. Her name was Einat (also spelled Anat). Kuntar broke into the Nahariya apartment of her parents, Smadar and Danny Haran. The Jerusalem Post reported:

They marched Danny and four-year-old Anat to the beach where they smashed the child’s head against the rocks and then shot the horrified father. Smadar hid in a loft with the couple’s two-year-old daughter clamping her child’s mouth to muffle her cries lest they be detected by Kuntar’s band only to discover she had smothered Yael to death. The same gang also killed policeman Eliyahu Shahar. (Jan. 22, 2006)

Will the Los Angeles Timesnow follow up with a story about Smadar Haran’s reaction to Hezbollah’s demand that Kuntar be released? Smadar has written a moving essay about her murdered family members, and about Kuntar, aptly named “Portrait of a Monster.” It is a very different portrait than the sympathetic one presented last week by Rone Tempest.

Finally, Tempest’s identification of the Palestine Liberation Front as “a militant offshoot of the Palestine Liberation Organization . . . associated with several notorious operations” is highly objectionable. The PLF is on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terror groups. Surely, a group which bashes in the brains of a 4-year-old and dumps a wheelchair bound man overboard (Leon Klinghoffer, a passenger on the Achille Lauro) is more accurately described as “terrorist,” rather than “militant.”

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