Friday, October 24, 2014

24-Oct-14: Imagine if the NYTimes knew how to sincerely apologize

The infant Chaya Zissel Braun
of blessed memory
Jodi Rudoren
New York Times Jerusalem Bureau
Jerusalem, Israel

Dear Mrs Rudoren

We are writing to you for the first time. It's about something quite shocking you published on your Twitter account this morning.

You Tweeted a link to an article penned by one of your NYT Jerusalem colleagues. It relates to a sickening attack - one that epitomizes what most people think about when they call an act 'cowardly' - by a violent Palestinian Arab man, Abdel Rahman Al-Shaludi, with a demonstrated commitment to terror and violence, driving a car.

But someone in your newspaper tacked the words "police say" onto the headline. So reasonable people are going to know that there's no compelling reason to believe it was what the police say at all.

But what we do know is Al-Shaludi very deliberately, and at devastatingly high speed, veered off Jerusalem's Route 1 on which he was traveling on Wednesday evening and drove directly into a cluster of ordinary Israelis standing on the platform of a Jerusalem Light Rail stop. As you may know, that's the public transport system that makes it so simple - finally - for Arab Jerusalemites to head into the center of town comfortably, cheaply and often, which they now do in strikingly large numbers.

The unsuspecting Israelis were mowed down like skittles. All, that is, apart from one, a tiny, pretty girl baby of three months old. She was flung violently into the air, we heard, but what was done to her tiny body is irrelevant to us at this point. Her grieving parents buried her last night.

Was there any room, at any point in the past 24 hours, for doubt about the malevolence of the driver's intent? And if you say yes, then we will humor you by saying it's par for the course that the ideological zealots of a minor Arab news channel will quote "witnesses... [who] stressed that the incident appeared to be an accident", and the killer's family will insist the former security prisoner didn't have a political bone in his body.

You will surely agree that smart reporters for big metropolitan newspapers know how to look right through those tissues of self-serving narrative, right? But since that did not happen in this case - at least not at the NYTimes - can we point you to what the security cameras at the location picked up?:

If this fails to clarify matters, then perhaps one of these reports can help put the killing of an infant into a somewhat sharper perspective:
  • The Fatah organization which is the largest component of the Palestinian Authority and is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, glorified the killer today by posting a flowery obituary on its Facebook page: "The Palestinian National Liberation Movement [Fatah] Silwan branch accompanies to his wedding [a euphemism for funeral] the heroic Martyr Abd Al-Rahman Al-Shaloudi who carried out the Jerusalem operation, in which settlers in the occupied city of Jerusalem were run over. Rest in peace, we are loyal to you..." [PMW, today].
  • An official Hamas statement that borders on self-parody (but is tragically consistent with many previous such Islamist grotesqueries) calls Chaya Zissel Braun, the baby killed in the attack, a "female settler". Here's the context: "The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas praises its son, the hero martyr Abd al Rahman Idris al-Shaludi (23 years) implementer of the operation of running over the settlers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem, which led to the death of a female settler and the injury of 8 others..." [Source: Investigative Project, today] 
But to be honest, what prompted us to write now is not to quote Arab reports to you but rather a fierce desire to hear you say something contrite. Like this for instance:
"Yes, friends, for a moment my colleagues and I here in Israel's capital and in our company's editorial suites in Manhattan, did indeed lose our moral compasses again last night. But we're better now. We realize we should not have resorted to those cheap and nasty weasel words "police say" when that headline was composed. We ought to have made it clear that something breathtakingly ugly and dangerous was done last night, and anyone with eyes could and can see it for what it is. The cruel attack in north Jerusalem fits a pattern, it stems from ongoing incitement, it does no good for anyone and it cripples and damages Arab society at least as much as it does the Israeli side - and probably more so. At the Times, we like to pretend that we don't judge, so we "adopt" what the police or a judge or some official source said and then say it in their name when it suits us. That way, we make it look like it was not us reaching conclusions. But actually, we know you have noticed that we have no difficulty at all in engaging in moral judgement of horrible human behaviour. It's part of what made us journalists in the first place. The trouble is, we just don't feel we can do it when the horrible human behaviour is done by the jihadist side. Why not? Too hard to explain just now. But since the video showing the Palestinian Arab mowing down the poor Israeli victims on the light-rail platform was published today, there's no reason for us to continue the silliness. So for the record - of course this was terror, and of course it's appalling - but not at all surprising - that both parts of the failed Palestinian Arab state rushed to glorify his sickening deed in their time-honored, customary fashion. And unless and until something really fundamental changes on the Arab side, we despair of where their addiction to terror is taking them. And yes, we do feel much better now that is off our chests.
It will be perfectly alright for you to change the words to suit your own style, Jodi. And we don't need you to do it publicly. Being bereaved parents ourselves, we know how uncomfortable some people can become in our presence. And we have learned how very hard it can be for people in the news reporting industry to face up to unpalatable realities that clash with the spirit of the times (and The Times) or the policies of their employer. So it's enough if you just say it in a private email sent to We will be happy to respect your privacy.

The bloggers at This Ongoing War

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