Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mideast Media Sampler 7/21/13: Kerry Talks About Progress On Peace, While Abbas Honors "Pure Soul" Of Palestinian Mass Murderer of Jews

by David Gerstman, contributing blogger at Legal Insurrection

1) No peace, No justice

A decade ago Ahmed Jubarah walked out of jail a free man. Twenty eight years after he killed 13 people and wounded dozens more, detonating an explosive laden refrigerator on a crowded Jerusalem street, Israel released Jubarah and others in order to restart peace talks with the Palestinians in 2003. The New York Times reported, Palestinian Bomber, Freed After 28 Years, Talks of Peace:
"We are not murderers. We are not criminals. We are people who seek peace and freedom," Mr. Jubarah, 68, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner, said. He was freed as an Israeli good-will gesture on the eve of a summit meeting in neighboring Jordan that will include Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as President Bush. ...
Israel freed nearly 100 prisoners today and has been slightly easing punitive measures imposed on the Palestinians. The other detainees released today were arrested in the period since the fighting began in September 2000, and most had been held without charges, according to Israeli officials.
Notice the way this is framed. Israeli efforts to defend its citizens is termed "punitive" not "defensive." Worse than that Jubarah's first mention of peace is included with a lie about his causing death and destruction nearly thirty years earlier. Of course he was a criminal and murderer. Denying it doesn't make him any less culpable. But to have his use of the "peace" in this context characterized as "[t]alk[ing] of peace" denudes the word "peace" of any meaning.

(A few weeks later, the New York Times profiled Jubarah again, with a nearly identically titled,Arab Bomber, Freed After 27 Years, Longs for Peace but Has No Regrets. One theme that's common in both articles is a sense that the reporters consider it more significant that Jubarah was a "prisoner," than that he was a mass murderer.) If reporters showed an implicit, grudging respect to Jubarah, after he died early last week, others, notably Mahmoud Abbas, were quite explicit in their praise for the deceased terrorist.
The presidential eulogy stated: 'His pure soul passed on to the kingdom of Heaven during these blessed days in this honored month [Ramadan] after a journey of struggle full of exceptional giving and devoted activity for Palestine and for the freedom and honor of our people.' The President said in the eulogy: 'With the death of this fighter, Palestine and its people have lost a righteous son and loyal fighter, devoted wholeheartedly to protecting our people's rights. He dedicated most of his life to this people's independence and paid with many years of his life in the occupation's prisons so that the dawn of freedom will break over the pure land of Palestine.'
Abbas (left) with Ahmed Jubarah
Abbas (left) with Ahmed Jubarah, the Palestinian terrorist
with a pure heart. Credit: Terra

Even as Secretary of State John Kerry has been working furiously to restart the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians - in part by calling for a prisoner release - the honor accorded Ahmed Jubarah shows that prisoner releases do more to excuse terror than they do to promote peace. 

2) Helen Thomas

A New York Times recalled with an obituary titled, 50 Years of Tough Questions and ‘Thank You, Mr. President’. The obituary begins with:
Helen Thomas, whose keen curiosity, unquenchable drive and celebrated constancy made her a trailblazing White House correspondent in a press corps dominated by men and who was later regarded as the dean of the White House briefing room, died on Saturday at her home in Washington. She was 92.
The end of the obituary, however, observes:
Ms. Thomas bitterly opposed the war in Iraq and made no effort to appear neutral at White House news conferences, where some of her questions bordered on the prosecutorial. In “Watchdogs of Democracy?,” she wrote that most White House and Pentagon reporters had been too willing to accept the Bush administration’s rationale for going to war.
If Ms. Thomas harbored such strong opinions and didn't hide them, how did she become the "dean" of White House reporters? Aren't reporters supposed to be objective? In nearly any other milieu Helen Thomas would have been considered an eccentric or, as James Taranto often put it, "American journalism's crazy old aunt in the attic."

That she was regarded as "dean" by many of her colleagues reflects poorly on the state of American journalism today. As Israel Matzav points out, though, the New York Times obituary of Helen Thomas, softpedals her downfall.
But 16 months later, Ms. Thomas abruptly announced her retirement from Hearst amid an uproar over her assertion that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back where they belonged, perhaps Germany or Poland. Her remarks, made almost offhandedly days earlier at a White House event, set off a storm when a videotape was posted. In her retirement announcement, Ms. Thomas, whose parents immigrated to the United States from what is now Lebanon, said that she deeply regretted her remarks and that they did not reflect her “heartfelt belief” that peace would come to the Middle East only when all parties embraced “mutual respect and tolerance.” “May that day come soon,” she said.
Actually there's a difference between offhand and unguarded comments. Helen Thomas's statements were unguarded. When she was exposed for telling Jews to get out of "Palestine" and go back to "Poland" or "Germany." The very fact that she used the term "Palestine" instead of "Israel" shows that this wasn't simply a careless slip of the tongue, but the declaration of a deeply held belief.

Furthermore, as The Lid recounts, she wasn't the least bit apologetic about her comments. Later, when she spoke at a dinner of the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Thomas said:
"I paid the price for that," said Thomas, a longtime White House correspondent. "But it was worth it, to speak the truth. The Zionists have to understand that's their country, too. Palestinians were there long before any European Zionists." ... "You can not say anything (critical) about Israel in this country.
If she were really a well informed journalist who regularly perused the opinion pages of the New York Times, she'd know that wasn't true. But Thomas was agenda driven; not the least concerned with facts. Not everyone put up with her shenanigans.

The late Tony Snow, who for too short a time was President George W. Bush's press secretary, once chided her for "... providing Hezbollah's view." No doubt the media will continue to lionize Helen Thomas, but her record is one of shameful bias not one of journalistic courage or integrity.

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