Saturday, April 20, 2013

20-Apr-13: The NY Times and the worship of terrorists

The 'peaceful little village' of Nabi Saleh, October 16, 2011.
The posters honor the town's celebrated mass killer.
The editors at the NYTimes somehow forgot to mention
that aspect. [Image Source: AFP/Getty/Abbas Momani]
The op ed below appears in yesterday's edition of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin (April 19, 2013) and is reprinted with the author’s permission.

Let those who worship terrorists live in the obscurity they deserve

Barbara Crook

She was pretty and smart – a university student with a part-time job as a Palestinian TV journalist. But in the summer of 2001, Ahlam Tamimi had a more important mission: killing Israeli civilians.

In the weeks before the August 2001 suicide bombing at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, Tamimi made several scouting missions to find a target that would be full of women and children.

She packed the bomb – enhanced with nails and bolts for maximum destruction – in a guitar case, and crossed into Israel with the suicide bomber.

At the entrance to Sbarro, she briefed “the Martyrdom-seeker” on where and when to detonate the bomb, and told him to wait 15 minutes so she could get away safely.

The bomber blew himself up and killed 15 people, including three members of one family. Eight of the victims were children, including 15-year-old Malki Roth, a volunteer counsellor at a youth camp for the disabled and the devoted older sibling of her special-needs sister.

Tamimi, who received 15 life sentences but was one of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners released in 2011 in exchange for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, remains unrepentant. You can watch her in a chilling video interview on YouTube [here], beaming with pleasure when she learns she killed more kids than she’d originally thought.

But you’d never know any of this by reading the cover story of the March 16th New York Times magazine, a romanticized tale of the oppressed but perennially plucky inhabitants of Tamimi’s native West Bank village, Nabi Saleh.

In “Is this where the third Intifada will start?” writer Ben Ehrenreich devotes thousands of words to the plight of the village’s residents at the hands of the cruel Israeli “occupiers.”

Honored daughter of 'peace-loving' Nabi Saleh,
the little village so beloved of the NY Times' editors.
This image is from a notorious video interview in which Ahlam
Tamimi glowingly recounts the joysof murdering
Jewish children
, our daughter among them. 
But he glosses over the crimes of the village’s most famous native. And the Times chose not to publish an articulate and impassioned letter to the editor by Malki’s mother, Frimet.

“For a mother to bury her loving, gentle child is torture,” she wrote. “To watch the murderer walk triumphantly free and enjoy life rubs salt into that wound every day.

“But to see the Times gloss over this travesty of justice with a cover story that showcases this woman’s many admirers in Nabi Saleh – that is journalism of the most amoral sort.”

You can read more of the Roths’ reaction at this link.

Ehrenreich spent weeks living in the village, and became particularly attached to the charismatic Bassem Tamimi (a cousin of Ahlam Tamimi’s) who has been imprisoned by the Israelis on more than one occasion for incitement, organizing unauthorized demonstrations and soliciting village youth to throw stones at Israeli soldiers.

Checkpoints, harassment by Israeli soldiers and gun-toting settlers, regular arrests, and stone-throwing children injured by Israeli soldiers – these are just some of the many indignities and hardships suffered by the inhabitants of Nabi Saleh, who profess to be devoted to “unarmed resistance.”

These are not new issues, and it’s absolutely true that Palestinians have been arrested and injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers in Nabi Saleh and dozens of villages like it. But Ehrenreich is particularly skilled at weaving a compelling tale full of heart-tugging anecdotes.

Like the best Palestinian apologists, Ehrenreich compiles a dossier of allegations and anecdotes from his Palestinian hosts, decides what the story is (Steps One and Two are often interchangeable), then presents these accusations to a few Israeli sources for comment -- a perfect way to ensure that Israel comes across as the villain.

But the real issue with Ehrenreich and other journalists of his ilk isn’t whether their collection of information is technically accurate. It’s what they choose to leave out – and perhaps worse, what they don’t even think to ask.

The village’s inhabitants profess their commitment to non-violent resistance. But they make it clear that this is not because they consider murder and terrorism morally wrong. It’s because violence is ultimately ineffective and damages their international image.

And if the villagers are so devoted to non-violence, why does Ahlam Tamimi, the Sbarro mastermind, remain “much-loved” in Nabi Saleh?

Ehrenreich writes that “the checkpoints, the raids, the permit system, add up to more daily humiliation than Palestinians have ever faced.”

It does not seem to enter his mind that the actions of the village heroine and her fellow terrorists, who killed more than 1,000 Israeli civilians in the terror war between 2000 and 2005, are the main reason that Palestinians no longer enjoy unrestricted passage to visit and work in Israel.

While he virtually ignores the Sbarro child victims, Ehrenreich deplores the number of village children hurt during confrontations with Israeli soldiers. But neither he nor the villagers seems willing to acknowledge that these injuries occur because the villagers choose to use their children as human shields in a conflict zone.

In Ehrenreich’s world of Palestinian victimhood, Israeli rockets are “launched into Gaza.” He conveniently neglects to mention that these rockets were a response to the thousands of rockets Hamas has fired on Israel since it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

Ahlam Tamimi married another terrorist and lives in Jordan. She has her own weekly show on a Hamas-affiliated TV station, and makes the rounds of the Arab world, basking in the glory of her terrorist actions.

Malki Roth’s parents, meanwhile, have channeled their grief into helping others. They established a charity in her memory, the Malki Foundation/Keren Malki, which provides specialized equipment and therapeutic services so that young disabled kids can live at home rather than in institutions. A third of the fund’s beneficiaries are Israeli Arabs.

Perhaps the next time the Times wants to write a human interest story about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they’ll focus on real heroes like the Roths, and let those who worship terrorists live in the obscurity they deserve.

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Note from Frimet and Arnold Roth: Readers are welcome to see our response to the major NY Times article about Nabi Saleh, posted on this blog site last month: "17-Mar-13: A little village in the hills, and the monsters it spawns"

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