‘NYT’ never mentions military occupation in piece calling Palestinian stonethrowing a cultural practice

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In a long front-page piece on Palestinian youths who throw stones at Israeli soldiers, The New York Times characterizes stone-throwing as a “rite of passage” handed down from fathers to sons.

“In a West Bank Culture of Conflict, Boys Wield the Weapon at Hand” the piece is headlined, on-line. The headline in the print edition is shocking: ‘My Hobby Is Throwing Stones’. 

The word occupation never appears in the piece. But under international law, people have a right to resist a military occupation.

The word occupy does appear, but only in the quoted claim of a young stone-thrower. “They occupy us.”

Authored by Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, the piece says that stone-throwing is a form of “pushback against Israel”–as if no military occupation and colonization program exists. And it’s a “rite of passage,” ala Claude Levi-Strauss:

They do it because their brothers and fathers did.

Rudoren quotes a young stone-thrower expressing a belief about settlement land: “land he sees as stolen from his people.” 

He sees as?” writes Nancy Kanwisher, who alerted me to this piece. “What is the real story? Are you serving up hearsay or are you a journalist, Rudoren? Who took the land from whom?” 

The piece seeks to obliterate the undestanding established by Ben Ehrenreich’s landmark cover story in the Times earlier this year on Nabi Saleh, that stones were aimed at occupation:

The stones were … symbols of defiance, of a refusal to submit to occupation, regardless of the odds. The army’s weapons bore messages of their own: of economic and technological power, of international support.

The piece also elides the brilliance of Amira Hass in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance. Persecution of stone-throwers, including 8-year-old children, is an inseparable part − though it’s not always spelled out − of the job requirements of the foreign ruler, no less than shooting, torture, land theft, restrictions on movement, and the unequal distribution of water sources.

Excerpts of the Times piece:

Youths hurling stones has long been the indelible icon — some call it a caricature — of Palestinian pushback against Israel: a recent United Nations report said 7,000 minors, some as young as 9, had been detained between 2002 and 2012. Here in Beit Ommar, a village of 17,000 between Bethlehem and Hebron that is surrounded by Jewish settlements, rock throwing is a rite of passage and an honored act of defiance. The futility of stones bouncing off armored vehicles matters little: confrontation is what counts….

Now 10, Abdullah [Sabarnah] uses binoculars a relative bought him for bird watching to monitor military movement. “I feel happy when I throw stones on the soldiers,” he said. “They occupy us.”

Mr. Awad, like many here, views the stone throwers with a mixture of pride at confronting Israel and fear for their safety. “Nobody dares to criticize them and say, ‘Why are you doing this?”

The youths, and their parents, say they are provoked by the situation: soldiers stationed at the village entrance, settlers tending trees beyond. They throw because there is little else to do in Beit Ommar — no pool or cinema, no music lessons after school, no part-time jobs other than peddling produce along the road. They do it because their brothers and fathers did.

He recently sneaked into a settlement before dawn to steal apricots he finds especially delicious because they grow on land he sees as stolen from his people.

Reporter Jodi Rudoren did better on August 4 in this reference to the occupation:

The cabinet decision added a number of Jewish settlements in the West Bank territory that Israel seized in the 1967 war to a “national priority list” of communities eligible for extra subsidies…  The United States, along with most of the world, considers these settlements illegal, and some of them sit in the heart of the area imagined as a future Palestinian state.

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She buried the lead at the very end of the piece– “an advocacy group that last year documented 360 cases of arrested Palestinian youths, found that many were blindfolded, beaten and threatened during interrogations. Most confessed, and 90 percent received jail sentences in Israel’s military system, according to the report,… Read more »

I might not judge Ms. Rudoren quite so harshly. She seems to be serving up a sandwich – an outer layer which could be interpreted as cultural contempt around an inner layer which could be interpreted as a plea for understanding. We read that the young Palestinians have almost nothing… Read more »

But under international law, people have a right to resist a military occupation.

Really? Where do you discover the right to violent resistance? In the same place under International Law where the occupiers have an obligation to ensure public order?

“Really? Where do you discover the right to violent resistance? In the same place under International Law where the occupiers have an obligation to ensure public order?mondonut.

If you care so much about public disorder get your dam murdering terrorist soldiers out of Palestine.

QED blockhead.

Maybe the New York Times assumes that after 45 years of news coverage, their readers are aware of the military occupation.