The New York Times and Amoral journalism (aka The NYT and EVIL, Corrupt Use of Journalism)
I’m re-posting here a response to a mendacious article published in the New York Times magazine several weeks ago — a response the editors of the magazine refused to publish. If you’ve friends who still hold the New York Times in high regard (yes, there are still a few people out there who do), please pass this along to them.
March 20, 2013
Ben Ehrenreich’s article [“Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?”] is a brazen quest for confirmation of his preconceptions about the Palestinian Israeli conflict: politics blended with fantasy and embellished with every tear-jerking cliche in the book. Smiling, frolicking children; poetic “activists”; generous hostesses plying their delicacies at every turn. It is a bucolic scene that is frequently painted in anti-Israel publications. But how does the NY Times publish a piece that plays so fast and loose with fact and history?
Sadly, I am well-equipped to offer some corrections and details omitted by Ehrenreich.
Ahlam Tamimi, the villager whom Ehrenreich described as a woman who “escorted a suicide bomber”, is in fact the self-confessed engineer and planner of a bloody terrorist attack. By her own account and after several scouting forays, Tamimi selected a target: the Sbarro restaurant in the heart of Jerusalem, on a hot August afternoon in 2001.
Tamimi has said she chose it because she knew it would be teeming at the appointed hour with women and children. She transported the bomb, enhanced with nails and bolts to maximize the carnage, from Ramallah across the Qalandia security checkpoint and into Israel’s capital. Israeli soldiers still waived females through without inspection in those days.
Tamimi and her weapon, the bomber, both dressed in Western garb and chatting in English to appear as tourists, strolled through the city center. At the entrance to Sbarro, she briefed him on where and when to detonate, instructing that he wait 15 minutes to allow her a safe getaway. Fifteen men, women and children were murdered that afternoon. My teenage daughter Malki was among them. Ehrenreich, who writes warmly about Nabi Saleh’s children, displays a cold detachment when relating to the bombing’s victims, the youngest of whom was two years old: “Fifteen people were killed, eight of them minors.”
Tamimi, on the other hand, has focused hard on the children. Filmed in an Israeli prison, she smiled broadly when an interviewer informed her that 8 children were murdered, and not merely the 3 she had known about. Since her release in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal, Tamimi has repeatedly and publicly boasted of her deed, adding: “I have no regrets. I would do it again.”
Tamimi has always lived in Amman, other than two years in Nabi Saleh while attending university. Israel ‘exiled’ (to adopt Ehrenreich’s term) her to Jordan where her father and brothers reside. Since her release she married another Tamimi, also a convicted murderer freed in the Shalit deal. He too is a home-town hero in Nabi Saleh. The host of her own weekly show on Hamas TV, she travels freely throughout the Arab world to address her many fans, accepting accolades and trophies while urging others to follow in her footsteps.
For a mother to bury her loving, gentle child is torture. To watch the murderer walk triumphantly free and enjoy life rubs salt into that wound every day. But to see the NY 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 ought to be ashamed of it.
Frimet Roth – Jerusalem