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?