B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, made an unusual appearance in Jodi Rudoren’s New York Times article the other day about the killings of two Palestinian teenagers. The organization conducted its own investigation, which it said raised “grave suspicion that the killing was willful.”
B’Tselem’s surprise mention in the NYT prompted a quick search through the paper’s online archives. In the past two years, it has been mentioned only 20 times — and 9 of those appearances were in “The Lede,” a blog by Robert Mackey that is not part of the printed newspaper.
The Times‘s actual correspondents in Israel have only quoted B’Tselem five times over the past two years — even though human rights in occupied Palestine is nearly a daily story, and the organization publishes regular reports.
The absence of B’Tselem from the American newspaper of record is a serious omission. It is an Israeli group, not connected to any political movement, and its accuracy has never been successfully challenged over the more than two decades since it was founded. It relies on hundreds of supporters and volunteers to monitor human rights violations in occupied Palestine.
What’s more, Times readers might well be interested in profiles of the Israelis and Palestinians who work together in this remarkable organization.
Here, from the group’s website, is the explanation for its name:
B’Tselem in Hebrew literally means “in the image of,” and is also used as a synonym for human dignity. The word is taken from Genesis 1:27 “And God created humans in his image. In the image of God did He create him.” It is in this spirit that the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights.”