By Ricki Hollander
A day before Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, when the country mourns its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, The New York Times featured a prominent article about Islamic Jihad, the notorious Palestinian terrorist organization responsible for dozens of deadly attacks on Israeli civilians.
Islamic Jihad’s claim to fame is its introduction and continued use of suicide attacks against Israelis, including gruesome attacks at Jerusalem’s Sbarro pizzeria, Haifa’s Maxim restaurant, the central bus stations in Hadera and Tel Aviv, and numerous other bombings in shopping malls, open-air markets, restaurants, buses and train stations – attacks responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis and for wounding more than 1000 others. The group’s primary targets are Israeli men, women and children going about their daily lives in public areas. It therefore seemed timely to profile Islamic Jihad, responsible for so many of Israel’s terror victims, just before Yom Hazikaron.
There was just one problem. The article by The New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief included no mention whatsoever of Islamic Jihad’s terror attacks or anything at all about its victims.
Rather, the reporter euphemistically described the group’s “focus on military resistance to the Israeli occupation” – a description that adopts the terrorist group’s narrative justifying attacks against Israeli civilians, with the aim of eliminating all of Israel, as legitimate.
The reporter’s own use of such unattributed language sharply contrasts with the way the newspaper distances itself from language used by Israel, for example when it employs quotation marks when referring to “what [Israelis] call ‘incitement’ [by Palestinians].” And in contrast to the newspaper’s frequent invoking of “much of the world” viewing Israeli settlements as illegal, the article concealed the global view that Islamic Jihad is a terrorist group, noting only that “the U.S. designated Islamic Jihad” as such “in 1997,” and burying even this partial information in the 15th paragraph of the story. The fact that the European Union, the United Kingdom, and other Western countries have also listed Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization is ignored entirely.
Instead, the reporter sanitized the group by presenting it as a “political” and “militant” “faction” in Gaza, and discussing its “civic activities” – plans to build medical facilities and running of kindergartens where children alternate “between chanting Quranic verses and singing the ABC’s.” The group’s “armed wing,” which the reporter acknowledged was its priority, was described in heroic terms as “the main military expression of Palestinian nationalism.”
Islamic Jihad is neither “militant” nor is it a “faction.” It is a terrorist group. Indeed, the group is so proud of its terrorism that it openly revels in its successes – that is, the murder of innocent civilians – every chance it gets.
But while Islamic Jihad does not make any attempt to obscure its terrorism, The New York Times does. Why would the so-called “newspaper of record” hide from its readers the most salient fact about the subject of an article?
When challenged about the article’s omissions, an editor suggested that all the context deemed relevant to the organization, its background and aims had been included in the story, with the obvious implication that there was no need to share the unpleasant facts about Islamic Jihad’s terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians- its raison d’etre.
Even though we have made the point before, it bears repeating again. News consumers beware: The New York Times deliberately deceives its readers about the facts with its advocacy journalism.
Ricki Hollander is a senior analyst at CAMERA, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.