‘What is Islamic Jihad’? NY Times Again Puts on the Soft Gloves

May 17 Update:

In correspondence with CAMERA, the New York Times defended Abdulrahim's glaringly false claim that Islamic Jihad was founded "to fight the Israeli occupation," arguing the statement isn't incorrect.

Islamic Jihad has from its inception been sworn to Israel’s destruction, and it has never wavered on that founding goal. As the group’s founder Fathi Shikaki explained in 2011, “Our aim is to liberate Palestine from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea.” Or as Ramadan Shallah, who later took over as PIJ leader, stated in a 1999 interview: “Peace in this struggle requires the removal of Israel and the return of Palestine, with all its soil, to the map…. [T]he dream of every Arab and Muslim is the destruction of Israel…. The liberation of the land from the usurping enemy is our great aim and sacred mission, which nothing can precede or supersede.”

The newspaper didn't comment when asked why its article, ostensibly about why Israel was targeting Islamic Jihad, ignored the terror group's rocket barrages a week earlier.

Islamic Jihad is an antisemitic terrorist group whose attacks on civilians have caused unfathomable suffering and destruction.

Consider the case of Oran Almog. When Oran was just 10 years old, an Islamic Jihad operative entered the restaurant where he was eating with his family. When the terrorist, disguised as a pregnant woman, blew herself up, young Oran lost his father; his brother; two of his grandparents; and a cousin. He was maimed and blinded. His mother and younger sister were also injured.

Oran is just one victim of Islamic Jihad’s bombing of the Maxim restaurant — 21 Israelis were killed in total, including a one-year-old, a four-year old, a 9-year-old, and an 11-year-old. And this was just one of the group’s many attacks targeting Israeli civilians.

Islamic Jihad is responsible for countless incidents of unimaginable evil. Or as the New York Times has previously put it, it is a “nettlesome, unruly” little armed group. In other words, the murderers of Oran Almog’s family are, in the newspaper’s account, little more than annoying and naughty.

And today, the paper continues with its delicate descriptions of the terrorists.

After Israel targeted three senior Islamic Jihad leaders, the Times turned to reporter Raja Abdulrahim for an overview of the group: “What is Islamic Jihad and Why is Israel Targeting It?”

As a college student, Abdulrahim defended Hamas and Hezbollah and denigrated their Jewish victims. And while her latest piece wasn’t quite so brazen, it still fell short of candidly covering Islamic Jihad.

Abdulrahim tells readers that Islamic Jihad is an “armed group” that is “focused primarily on military confrontations”; that it is proscribed by “Israel and the United States”; that it was founded “to fight the Israeli occupation”; that the “Israeli military… said” the targeted leaders were responsible for rocket attacks; and that in a round of hostilities between Israel and Islamic Jihad last summer, “at least 44 Palestinians were killed in the fighting, 15 of them children.”

Each of these statements are half-truths, and each serves to downplay or conceal Islamic Jihad’s extremism and responsibility for the conflict.

The article’s repeated references to Islamic Jihad as an “armed group” that “fights…occupation,” deals in “military activity,” and focuses on “military confrontations” belies an ugly truth: Islamic Jihad is a terrorist group.

The newspaper doesn’t refrain from using such terminology. Just this month, for example, Times reporters in their own words mentioned a “terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya,” cited the “September 2001 terrorist attacks,” referred to “the terrorist leader responsible for the Abbey Gate attack,” spoke of “months of increased terrorist attacks” in Pakistan,” and described a “Qaeda terrorist cell.” Surely, they can say the same when discussing the Islamic Jihad terror group and its violence? Perhaps not. They’ve previously scrubbed the T-word from an article about the group.

And while Abdulrahim does report on how countries designate Islamic Jihad and Hamas — “Israel and the United States list both as terrorist organizations” — here, too, she pulls the punch. It is not only Israel and the United States, but also the European Union, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and others who proscribe the groups as terror entities.

Abdulrahim’s claim that Islamic Jihad was founded “to fight the Israeli occupation,” meanwhile, is a brazen dishonesty. Islamic Jihad is sworn to Israel’s destruction, and has always dedicated itself to violently fighting Israel within any borders.

And though she explains, with repeated attribution to Israel, that “The Israeli military said on Tuesday that it had targeted and killed three Islamic Jihad leaders that it said had been responsible for rocket attacks against Israel and other attacks against Israeli citizens in the occupied West Bank,” Abdulrahim incredibly neglects to tell readers that this attack on Islamic Jihad leaders comes just a week after Islamic Jihad fired barrages of rockets at Israel — and openly took credit for the attacks.

At the same time, Abdulrahim leaves readers to believe that Israel killed “at least 44 Palestinians…15 of them children” in last summer’s bout of fighting, although much of that number, and most of the children, were killed by Islamic Jihad's own misfired rockets, which landed inside the Gaza Strip by the hundreds.

There is no hint in Abdulrahim’s “What is Islamic Jihad” article that the group is responsible for many murderous suicide bombings. There is no hint that it rejects peace between the Palestinians and Israel. There is no hint that its indiscriminate rocket attacks and other terrorist attacks are flagrant violations of international law. There is no hint of its brazen antisemitism.

This isn’t Abdulrahim’s college paper, and two decades have passed since she came to the defense of anti-Israel terror groups. But not a day has passed since she downplayed one.

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