There once was a journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on terrorism. Thirteen years later, it would appear that he cannot find terrorism at all. Or worse. His paper endorses the terrorism itself.
Steven Erlanger has been a reporter for The New York Times for several decades. In 2002, he shared a Pulitzer Prize for his work reporting on the terrorist group al Qaeda. On February 28, 2016, he wrote an article that made a reader question whether he continued to have the faculties to recognize the nature of terror anymore.
In his article called “Talk Grows About Who Will Succeed Palestinians’ Fading Mahmoud Abbas,” Erlanger listed several potential candidates to succeed the inept current acting-President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. In addition to some leading candidates, Erlanger wrote:
“The other inescapable figure is Marwan Barghouti, 56, sometimes called the Palestinian Mandela for his long period in Israeli prison and his efforts to bring Hamas and Fatah together.”
No reasonable person calls Barghouti a Palestinian Mandela other than anti-Israel outfits like The Guardian in the United Kingdom. Will the Times also begin to refer to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a “modern day Winston Churchill” like the National Review? I doubt it.
Using a referral to a secondary source (“sometimes called”) made Erlanger appear as an unbiased reporter rather than inserting his own editorial into the story. But sourcing such a narrow and biased paper for a quote, rather than broadly used terminology, is an editorial itself, not news.
Barghouti versus Mandela
Part of the reason the reference to Mandela is so absurd is the nature of the two individuals’ imprisonments. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned because he tried to fight the racist apartheid system in South Africa. Marwan Barghouti was not imprisoned for fighting for rights for Palestinians, nor for “his efforts to bring Hamas and Fatah together.” Barghouti was jailed for his direct involvement in murdering several civilians.
Between January and June 2002, Barghouti was directly involved with killing of: Yula Hen at a gas station (January 2002); Yosef Havi, Eliyahu Dahan and Selim Barachat in a restaurant (March 2002); and Gur Pzipokatsatakis, a Greek Orthodox monk (June 2002). For those crimes, he received five life sentences.
In addition to those direct murders, Barghouti was also held responsible for a failed suicide bombing at a major shopping mall in Jerusalem. For that crime, he received another 40 year sentence.
His involvement in the murder of scores of other civilians was beyond dispute, however, the Israeli courts deemed it was beyond its authority to convict him.
Barghouti is credited with launching the Second Intifada at the end of 2000. Tanzim, the terror arm of Fatah, targeted Israeli civilians around the country, such as on buses and at bat mitzvah celebrations. The Tanzim attacks went on continuously in 2001 and early 2002 until his arrest, and sporadically afterwards.
This background is in sharp contrast to Nelson Mandela, who also headed a terrorist group. UmKhonto we Sizwe, the terrorist arm of the ANC and South African Communist Party, carried out several attacks against South Africans in the 1980s.
But the similarity ends there. Mandela fought against the racism of apartheid, while Barghouti fought against the existence of Israel.
Mandela started the group after the South African government killed 69 people. Barghouti launched the Second Intifada after Yasser Arafat rejected the terms of the peace agreement with Israel.
Mandela was never directly involved in any murders. Barghouti was involved in several.
Today, Erlanger refers to Barghouti’s call for a unity government between Hamas and Fatah. He ignores Barghouti’s incitement for a Third Intifada.
The Evolving Palestinian Narrative of the New York Times
For several years, the New York Times has written about the Israeli – Palestinian Arab conflict from a Palestinian point of view. The biases included portraying Israelis as aggressors and Palestinians as victims. It softened the image of Palestinian fighters by not calling on Hamas as a terrorist organization, even while it is so designated by many countries including the United States.
Most recently, the Times has extended that Palestinian narrative to a new level: Palestinian terrorists are freedom fighters. Their fight against Israel is noble and just and should be welcomed by progressives:
- On February 27, the Times called the terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine as a “leftist group,” embracing the murderers of Israeli civilians as part of the progressive global movement.
- On February 28, the Times awarded a convicted murderer a Nobel Prize-in waiting, by calling Marwan Barghouti a “Palestinian Mandela.”
These are new and problematic lows.
Feeling sympathy for people who suffer is natural (ignoring for a moment the debate about the cause for such suffering). But labeling terrorist groups and murderers in glowing terms is a hairs-breadth from endorsing murder and terrorism.
Will that be next? Is the Times preparing to endorse a Third Intifada?
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