Monday, February 06, 2006

Payments to Terrorists? What Payments?

Critics have complained for years that the New York Times is systematically biased against Israel in its editorials and news coverage. We saw that again today, in a Greg Myre story that coldly equated the targeted killing of terrorists with the murder of an Israeli civilian, dismissing both as morally equivalent "episodes of violence."

The depths of this bias, as well as the downright ignorance at work here, was revealed in a recent exchange of correspondence between a reader and the deputy foreign editor of the Times, Ethan Bronner. In an earlier exchange, Bronner revealed that Hamas is not described as a terror group because it does good stuff. In his more recent email, Bronner displays an abysmal ignorance of elementary facts.

In a query two weeks ago, the reader asked Bronner why the Times, in a story on the "moderate" Palestinian Authority, had failed to note that the PA "is still making martyr payments to the families of suicide bombers."

"Thus," the reader noted, "[PA Chairman] Abbas' complaints about about forces trying to ruin the process could be taken with a grain of salt, since the PA, which he heads, still contributes to the problem of suicide bombing by making payments to families. Why wasn't this in the reporting?"

Bronner's response -- well, I think this needs to be duplicated in full:

"From: Ethan Bronner (bronnere@nytimes.com)
To:
Subject: Re: The Latest Suicide Bombing
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2006 11:40:33 -0500

The PA says it stopped making such payments 18 months ago. Can you tell me the source of your information? "

The source was not some mimeographed newsletter or even a humble blog like this, but rather the Wall Street Journal. According to a Dec. 22 op-ed article by Tom Gross, citing the official Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the payments were continuing under Mohammed Abbas.

I delayed this item at the reader's request to give Bronner a chance to respond further on that point. No further emails came, however.

Obviously it's not reasonable to expect for a newspaper editor to read every single piece in every single newspaper. But the Gross piece, which had direct bearing on the Times's coverage of the PA, was in a direct competitor of the Times. Guess he missed it. Not important. After all, those suicide bombers merely cause "episodes of violence," in which victims and murders are morally equivalent -- in the eyes of the Times.

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