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Memo to ‘NYTimes:’ Go to Ahed Tamimi’s village in Palestine and report the truth

Media Analysis
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TO: David Halbfinger, New York Times Bureau Chief, Jerusalem

FROM: Mondoweiss

RE: A Follow-up to the Ahed Tamimi story

Ahed Tamimi, only 17 years old, is already one of the most well-known Palestinians ever, but your New York Times readers are still in the dark. You’ve only written two articles about her; the first, relatively long piece back in December, was a “dueling narratives” account of how Palestinians and Israelis interpret her resistance to occupation differently. (Your second article, today, is just a summary of how an Israeli military court sentenced her to 8 months in jail. Today’s report didn’t even make it into the Times‘s print edition.)

Enough of the “dueling narratives.” Go to her village in Occupied Palestine, Nabi Saleh, and report some facts. So far, all you had to say in your first article was that the Tamimis live in “a tiny village” that has “long-running disputes with a nearby Israeli settlement, Halamish, that Nabi Saleh residents say has stolen their land and water.”

David Halbfinger (Photo: New York Times)

Hold on. Time for the facts. Find out if the Nabi Saleh residents are right. Ben Ehrenreich, who published a long piece in your magazine in 2013 about the village, has already provided some history. In the late 1970s, Israel seized 150 acres of Nabi Saleh’s land, supposedly for “military purposes,” but then handed it to Jewish settler/colonists. In the following years, Israel stole more Palestinian land in the area, as Ehrenreich recounts in his excellent book, The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. The land expropriations are illegal under international law, as every nation in the world — aside from Israel — agrees. Next, the Jewish settler/colonists seized a Palestinian water source, called Bow Spring, and built a fish pond next to it. Palestinians protested again. Years later, Ehrenreich explains, “the settlers retroactively applied for a building permit, which Israeli authorities refused to issue, ruling that ‘the applicants did not prove their rights to the relevant land.’” So now the settlers are defying not just international law, but their own authorities. Yet somehow they still control the spring. Find out why.

You should also report by interviewing both Israeli settler/colonists and Palestinians in the area. We at Mondoweiss have found that Jewish settlers are quite willing to speak openly and aggressively, so don’t censor their extremism. Jewish settlers make very good copy and we can guarantee that their colorful quotes will draw readers in to your report.

Next, start investigating the level of violence in the area, and who is responsible for it. By all means report that some Palestinian youths throw stones at the Israeli army, (although you should point out that not a single Israeli soldier anywhere has ever been killed by stone-throwing). But you should also find out how many Palestinians in Nabi Saleh have been killed and seriously wounded over the years of what are mainly nonviolent demonstrations. Ahed Tamimi’s maternal uncle, Rushdie, was killed by live ammunition, and her mother, Nariman, was shot in the leg and had to use a cane for a year.

You won’t find it hard to conduct interviews with Palestinians in Nabi Saleh. Ben Ehrenreich apparently had no trouble getting the residents to talk to him. Mondoweiss’s founder, Phil Weiss, has also visited the village, and he found that Bassem Tamimi, Ahed’s dad, is fluent in English and welcoming.

You should also talk to the Israeli soldiers on duty there. Like the settler/colonists, they might also give you some unvarnished quotes. But then contact Breaking the Silence, the courageous organization of Israeli veterans against the occupation. Maybe some of them were stationed at Nabi Saleh, and can give you the story behind the story? And don’t forget to check in with B’Tselem, the distinguished Israeli human rights organization. Some of your New York Times predecessors apparently had trouble finding them. (Here they are.)

Finally, you should try to interview Ahed Tamimi herself. She is going to be in prison apparently until July, and Israel will of course try and keep her quiet. But the New York Times is a powerful institution, and you should at least ask.

You will certainly be able to talk to those members of her family who are not jailed. Let us remind you that you have not quoted a single Tamimi in either of your articles. You might start by giving them to chance to respond to that statement you stuck in your first report back in December: “That her family appears to encourage the children’s risky confrontations with soldiers offends some Palestinians and enrages many Israelis.”

James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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24 Responses

  1. inbound39 on March 22, 2018, 10:48 am

    For whom the bell tolls…….Zionism, it tolls for thee.

  2. Dutch on March 22, 2018, 11:47 am

    As a Dutch reader of the NYTimes I fully support this call. Reporting on Israel/Palestine by the Times is sub standard and I often get the feeling that this is done on purpose. Facts that are widely available are not being reported. Opinion pieces are one sided in the extreme. That must be known to the editorial staff. So please inform your readers about the policy that is behind this. Why are you distorting reality? Is it money? Is it ideology?

  3. Jackdaw on March 23, 2018, 3:32 am

    Nebi Saleh has become a pissing contest over a piss poor stream, which will soon dry up on account of global warming. Israel should relent and give the stream back to the Nebi Saleh townsfolk.

    Israel would be better off putting it’s time a resources to building catch basins and desalination plants. The Palestinians should do the same.
    *the Palestinians won’t because they are too shortsighted, shortsighted like Mondoweiss *

    • tony greenstein on March 23, 2018, 9:06 am

      Jackdaw entirely misses the point. The fact that the village spring was stolen and the settlers are still in possession of it is what matters. That fact alone proves that contrary to what they assert, Israel is not a state of law but a robber state with a thin veneer of law

      • eljay on March 23, 2018, 9:47 am

        || Tony Greenstein: Jackdaw entirely misses the point. … ||

        Jackdaw frequently misses the point. He seems intent on making a fool of Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz.

      • Jackdaw on March 23, 2018, 11:04 am

        No Tony.
        Jackdaw has nailed it.

        Anyone obsessed with the I/P conflict is missing the point, that greater, existential issues exist.
        Clowns like you and Phil are rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic and distracting other people from the greater harm that is befalling our planet.

        Assuming arguendo, Israel is ‘robber state’, she is still provides better governance for her people than either Fatah or Hamas provides their people.

        When the big wind comes, we will see which pig’s house is left standing.

      • annie on March 23, 2018, 12:20 pm

        jackdaw, there’s a whole slew of psychological explanations as to why people speak of themselves in the 3rd person (narcissistic, self-obsessed, detached from reality). i could cite more of them if you think it might be helpful.

      • Jackdaw on March 23, 2018, 11:05 am

        I said ‘obsessive’, and eljay chimes in , as if on cue.

      • Mooser on March 23, 2018, 12:39 pm

        “Israel would be better off putting it’s time a resources to building catch basins and desalination plants.”

        “Jackdaw”, does it really take only a few years after making aliyah-oops to become so disgusted with Israelis you’d rather argue about Israeli civic projects at Mondoweiss? Don’t want your Hebrew to get rusty.

      • Jackdaw on March 23, 2018, 1:52 pm


        ” (narcissistic, self-obsessed, detached from reality).

        And some Mondoweiss Editors show signs of all three.

      • eljay on March 23, 2018, 2:10 pm

        || Jackdaw: I said ‘obsessive’, and eljay chimes in , as if on cue. ||

        As if on cue, you boldly go from dumb to dumber: Not only did you say “obsessed” instead of “obsessive”, but you said it after I “chimed in” with my reply to Tony Greenstein’s comment.

    • Elizabeth Block on March 23, 2018, 9:14 am

      The settlers didn’t steal the spring because they needed the water. They stole it to take it away from the Palestinians, to make their lives harder and (they hope) to get them to leave or just curl up and die.

      • ritzl on March 23, 2018, 2:05 pm


        The numbers (iirc) are something like 600K Palestinians in “Area C” in 1970, and 50K now. Ghettoizing Palestinians is top-level occupation policy. Any maniacal imposition to that end is useful and encouraged.

      • Misterioso on March 23, 2018, 2:37 pm

        @Elizabeth Block & ritzl


        Classic Nazi tactics.

  4. genesto on March 23, 2018, 12:01 pm

    Jackdaw reminds me of the racists of the 60’s, mostly in the south, who maintained that black people were treated far better in the US historically than they ever have been in Africa – and that they should be GRATEFUL for this!

    All that’s lacking from you, Jack, is your calling Palestinians Uppity Arabs!

    • Mooser on March 23, 2018, 12:41 pm

      Gets hard to tell the crackers from the matzoh, donnit?

      • on March 23, 2018, 3:47 pm


  5. ritzl on March 23, 2018, 2:14 pm

    Excellent article James North.

  6. on March 23, 2018, 4:05 pm

    Thanks Mr. North

    The NYT has no journalistic integrity whatsoever. What’s next from this rag – stories of how Jackdaw is a shape shifting blood sucking alien lizard that intends on ruling over our planet? The paper is a joke and now widely ridiculed for its blatant biases.

  7. lonely rico on March 24, 2018, 12:08 am

    > Jackdaw

    Israel … provides better governance for her people …

    So that’s why Israel brutalizes, maims, and murders Palestinian children.

    It’s just Israel’s preparations for the apocalypse (When the big wind comes)
    Thank you Jackdaw. Now it all starts to make sense.

  8. Abu Yusef on March 24, 2018, 12:52 am

    My first visit to Nabi Saleh was when I was a young child in 1978. My uncle had told my father that he needed to come back home because the Israelis were trying to take our land to build a settlement. When we got there I spent the best summer of my young life with my family. I was not aware of the politics surrounding our village and the effect this seizure of land would have on my relatives and the amount of land that would be taken!

    As I got older back in the USA people would ask me what kind of name Tamimi was and I would state Palestinian. This would usually be followed by where is that? Or is that near Israel? No matter who I spoke to it felt like no one knew we existed! It felt like maybe we were like the people of Atlantis, a mythical place and people, that had sunk into the ocean millennium ago! But, I knew this couldn’t be. I was there and my father birth place was Nabi Saleh Palestine! I drank from the spring in the summer. I watched my family walk peacefully through the Zeitun without harrassment or concern and I rode eevry donkey there was to ride!

    These memories only made me more driven to find referrence or anything that said Palestine or Palestinian anywhere I could. I would see the name Palestine in old bibles and it would have the whole picture of what I was taught was Palestine by my father in a Holy book. I started wondering how this worked. How is it that a bible from 1940 had the word Palestine printed over its map of the Holy Land yet, whenever I told someone what my background was they seemed puzzled and confused as if they never heard of it? Then came the intifada!

    I was fifteen years old when it started! Now when I said I was Palestinian I would get an immeadiate response of “oh aren’t they all terrorist” and “why don’t you people leave those Israeli’s alone” or that war has been going on for thousands of years! But, now people actually knew who Palestinians were and that there once was a place called Palestine.
    However, things never seemed to get any better for Palestinians and we were always the bad guy and trouble maker of the story.

    Going back to Nabi Saleh in my teens years after my first trip was a SHOCK! The land that was confiscated from my father and Uncle was now a full town, on our land! Halamish is what it was called and they now said it was in Israel! In Israel! How? I asked my father why they were allowed to build on what was not theirs and I was told that the Israeli Government did not recognize my father and Uncle as the rightful owners of the land. They said because the documents were controlled by the Ottoman Empire that showed ownership they would have to get those documents to prove it was their land.

    I was outraged! How could this be! How come there is no one speaking up for us! Where were the singers and song writers who helped topple aparthied in South Africa! Why weren’t they singing for us and against the Occupation that my family had to endure? Why weren’t these things being reported? It was then I became a cynic and started not believing the things I read in the News! I knew what was being done to Palestinians and it was never reported that the Palestinian was the victim in the narrative.

    Many times over I thought to myself in anger and sadness there is no fair or impartial reporting in the Palestinian/Israeli narrative when dealing with the MSM. I remember thinking to myself how can the Jewish people, the ones who went through so much pain throughout the world, inflict so much punishment on Palestinians! I would think why are Jewish people so liberal here in America and when reporting about the American military, yet such war hawks when talking about Palestine and Israel? All you ever heard was the Michael Orens and Neftali Bennets very right wing hard lined narrative of killing Palestinians is what we need to do to keep Israel secure and if you are Jewish you should never criticize that notion! I can tell you as a person who’s father lives there under occupation it is a very frightening thing to hear!

    Then I started seeing great things like Mondoweiss and JVP! Great people like Miko Peled and Gideon Levy calling out the hypocrisy of the media and Politicians both in America and abroad! These corageous people are not walking in formation and are questioning the Orens and Bennets of Israel calling them out on their savagery!

    I have always felt that when it came to the Jewish people that they were the most amazing thinkers and debaters in the world. And because they questioned everything, we as a world have benefitted from their inventions and ideas. I just hope that this stream of conscience that we are seeing from places like Mondoweiss can be the beacon of light for good Jewish people to find their way back to questioning and debating what is being done in Palestine by the Israeli’s.

    • duglarri on March 25, 2018, 3:20 pm

      Thank you for your post. We need more from the people who are displaced. It’s a horrifying situation and I wish more people knew it.

  9. JimMichie on March 24, 2018, 11:20 am

    Thank you, Abu Yusef, a million times over for stating what the Mondoweiss’ and JVPs should be shouting every single day, until those practicing true Judaism worldwide cease their evil-begetting silence, rise up, and demand FREEDOM, JUSTICE and EQUALITY for the Palestinians who, for the past six decades, have suffered brutality, racism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, land theft, fascism and terrorism at the hands of the accursed Zionist regime ruling both Palestine and Israel! So, Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz, let’s hear that SHOUT OUT every day about the abject failure of main stream media, especially the New York Times, to accurately report on the daily, incessant Zionist atrocities in Palestine!

  10. Waterbuoy on March 27, 2018, 12:21 am

    The same advice could apply to CBC’s Jerusalem correspondent, Derek Stoffel. Too comfy in his bias.

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