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‘NYT’ runs fair story on horrendous killings

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Today the New York Times covered the horrifying video from the West Bank protest on May 15 that appears to show two defenseless young Palestinians being killed by Israeli gunfire. The Times story is titled “Video Renews Questions on Death of Young Palestinians,” and as veteran Times-watchers, we’re pleased, with some objections.

Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren takes the killings of these two young men seriously. Her story is mostly balanced, provides charges and counter-charges as well as solid evidence of an atrocity, quotes Palestinians as honest observers, and also allows the Israeli Defense Forces to put forward its version of the terrible events. We’ve never said the Times should leave out Lt. Col. Peter Lerner– just not give him a special platform.

One objection: In the second paragraph, Rudoren uses the phrase “edited and promoted” to describe the video:

The video, taken from a security camera belonging to a business in Beitunia, a West Bank town outside Ramallah, was edited and promoted by Defense for Children International-Palestine Section 

We are concerned that this could eventually be a boobytrap, for suggestions that the video is fake, which Noam Sheizaf has already pointed out seems to be the line in the Israeli press and is also the line pushed by visitors from Hasbara Central in an avalanche of comments at our site. The model would seem to be the Israeli effort to discredit Palestinian accounts of the killing of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura in Gaza during the Second Intifada.

A second doubt involves the fact that B’Tselem, the distinguished Israeli human rights group, is not quoted until the end of the story.

B’Tselem… said in a statement on Tuesday that it had reviewed video from four security cameras and consulted medical experts who said the entry and exit wounds on the victims were “completely consistent with injuries caused by live fire and could not have been caused by rubber-coated metal bullets.” The statement said B’Tselem’s investigation raised “grave suspicion that the killing was willful.”

We’re happy they’re there, but why are they all the way at the end? B’Tselem conducted its own investigation, and has a sterling track record in such cases. Its reports have never been successfully challenged, and it surely has a lot more credibility than Lt. Col. Lerner.

We wonder why B’Tselem doesn’t appear more often in mainstream reporting from Israel and Palestine; and hope to read more of its point of view in the New York Times on a regular basis.

Update: We left out another criticism. The story refers to the Nakba in this manner:

The deaths occurred on Nakba Day, in which Palestinians commemorate the destruction of scores of Arab villages around the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.

Yes well who destroyed those villages, and what were the consequences? And since when is hundreds scores?

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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15 Responses

  1. justicewillprevail on May 21, 2014, 3:59 pm

    Keep the pressure up, people. I am sure that, though they will never admit it, your constant parsing of their pathetically cowardly and craven general attitude towards the deluge of disneyland ‘facts’ stovepiped by israel into the NYT is paying dividends. Real journalism might stand a chance, you never know. But scrutiny of their feeble fears of the lobby is waking them up from their narcosis.

  2. Woody Tanaka on May 21, 2014, 4:22 pm

    Interesting. Jill Abrahmson out and suddenly there is something akin to a decent report. Coincidence?? You be the judge.

    • pabelmont on May 21, 2014, 9:27 pm

      Why did NYT do so (fairly) well on this one?

      For one thing, this one stinks to high heaven!

      Woody suggests: Jill out, or maybe the new guy not on his feet yet? But they both take orders (Jill perhaps without sufficient servility) from the same Oligarch.

      Other possibilities: Things are a-changing, and it’s time for a change, in I/P. Kerry’s pointing the finger of blame at Israel. The UN’s H/R committee [including much of EU] being unanimous (except for USA) condemning Israel for numerous H/R violations. German submarine blip. BDS. Open Hillels.

      About that UNHRC vote:

      Even before the vote, Italy’s representative Maurizio Enrico Serra told the council that the EU supports the motions and member states would be voting accordingly. This united stance by European members of the Council was lamented by Israeli officials, and well they might – for it undermines a key part of the propaganda campaign against the UNHRC.

      If I had to pick one of these, I’d pick “stinks to high heaven”.

  3. Ellen on May 21, 2014, 4:24 pm

    Of course “Edited and promoted” is intended to cast the video as a fake. This is the word craft of a propagandist. The video we see are the minutes around the shooting. Whatever had been going on was over. What went on earlier may explain why the IDF was there, but is not relevant to the actual killings. It was quiet and three persons were shot, two killed.

    One promotes a movie, a story, not evidence of a crime.

    If this were a fair report and not propaganda, a reporter would have written something like, the “released surveillance video of the time of shooting….” But no, instead it was loaded, supporting the “Pallywood ” line and support to the IDF statement,

    “So what caused the deaths,” he said, “is a question mark that needs to be answered.”

    Rudoren’s report is decorated with quotes from Palestinian’s but the essence is little different than what is coming out of Hasbara Central: it must be Pallywood, the IDF had no live fire, so it was Palestinians shooting, something else caused the deaths….”

    • Nevada Ned on May 21, 2014, 5:41 pm

      Actually, Ellen, I have a different interpretation. I think Jodi Rudoren is prepared to give the IDF the benefit of the doubt, even on occasions when most people in the world don’t have much doubt, but not in this case. It’s just too outrageous. She may be concerned with destroying her own credibility if she supports the IDF gunning down two children.

      • Ellen on May 21, 2014, 5:56 pm

        Ned, it is correct that she gives the IDF a voice in this, but clear as a bell that she is infected with the condition Noam Scheizaf describes:

        Faced with the most striking evidence, the Israeli media continues to treat the Palestinian version of the killings as a fabrication, demanding more and more evidence of wrongdoing; that is how the public is taught, day by day, that the reality of occupation isn’t worthy of its attention

        I read his article after I posted above, but concluded her doubts of the validity of the evidence of the murders just by reading her piece.

        I opened her article expecting a fair story as Phil describes it, but found the language of propaganda and veiled support of the dismissal and doubt theory.

        Of course she does not support the murders, but she like most Israelis it seems, also doubts the whole thing. That comes through.

      • just on May 21, 2014, 6:06 pm

        yep.

        Thanks, Ellen. It’s marginally ‘better’ by Rudoren, but there does remain an unsuccessfully disguised stink.

        Thanks to Phil and James for their careful monitoring of the NYT, and for this post.

      • Kay24 on May 21, 2014, 6:37 pm

        I think it is a strong case of denial, and it is always easier to justify any crimes by Israel, by calling the victims “terrorists”, and that their deaths were the result of their armed forces defending themselves. So living in their little bubble, they continue to enjoy life, at the expense, and suffering, of poor Palestinians.

      • pabelmont on May 21, 2014, 9:42 pm

        I suspect that the soldiers have orders, “rules of engagement”, that [1] allow shoot-to-kill when a soldier is threatened with sufficient harm and [2] decide in advance that ANY throwing of stones, for instance, threatens soldiers sufficiently, even when the stones do not reach them and probably couldn’t reach them, and even when the stone throwing has already stopped.

        The convenient thing about such a treatment of stone throwing as a killable offence would be that Israeli soldiers could always claim that the person they killed was throwing stones (some time earlier). Videos can show what happens but often will not show all that happened.

  4. annie on May 21, 2014, 5:39 pm

    i read noam’s report earlier today. it was excellent. i urge everyone to open the link. i think we are dealing with a programmed society is serious denial. i also read lots of the comments at jpost covering the killings. it’s just disgusting. will read nyt now. thanks james and phil.

  5. Kay24 on May 21, 2014, 6:58 pm

    Well, we should not be surprised, but Haaretz says, the IDF claims the video is a forgery. They sound desperate now.

    “IDF says forgery likely in video showing Palestinian teens’ deaths
    Eyewitness says boys shot by live bullets; Lieberman brushes off calls for international investigation.”

  6. Denis on May 21, 2014, 7:45 pm

    “One objection: In the second paragraph, Rudoren uses the phrase “edited and promoted” to describe the video:”

    I ‘m no NYT maven but I don’t see Rudoren’s comment as unfair. Below are the two original CCTV videos, there is one with respect to each incident and both of them show a view from opposite directions, which the DCI video does not. Surely what DCI presented was an edited version of what was avaiable.

    I don’t see Rudoren’s truthfully pointing out that the video DCI shows is edited as an accusation by NYT that DCI did anything bad or dishonest. If Rudoren hadn’t said that, then surely someone would beat up on her for not pointing out that the DCI version was only a slice of the whole potato. DIYD,DIYD.

    First video:

    Second video:

    I also note that there is a lot of confusion as to the names of the young men. At least NYT tries to sort some of that out in their erratum.

  7. John Salisbury on May 22, 2014, 8:41 am

    Thank you Phil and James and Annie for all your sterling work.

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