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November 28, 2000
One word obituaries for Palestinians
By Ahmed Amr.

In the very last paragraph of a recent article in the New York Times (Troops Kill 4 in Gaza; 2 Die in Car Bombing in Israel 11/23/2000, page A3), Deborah Sontag found enough room to bury a bit of news that was apparently deemed unfavorable for Israel.

The last paragraph states that "Secretary of State Madeline K Albright said the four Gazans had been killed by the Israelis in circumstances that remain unclear". Albright went on to say "Israelis were not the only victims today".

Sontag's headline also failed to mention five other Palestinians who were killed by the IDF that day. That fact is only revealed later in the article. Using a grand total of five words, Sontag writes of 'five more Palestinians in clashes'. One Palestinian dead, one word in the New York times. Lest she be accused of withholding information, Sontag uses the usual one word obituary reserved for Palestinians.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak is quoted in the very first paragraph promising to "get even" for the "barbaric" death of two Israelis. Nachman Shai, the Israeli government spokesman was allocated the whole fifth paragraph of the article to vent. Unnamed 'senior Israeli officials' beat Shai in staking a claim to Sontag's fourth Paragraph.

The article also has quotes from five other Israelis, one of them unidentified. In order of appearance they were Naftali Wecheter, Michael Azaria, Yitzhak Levy and Itzik Baum. The fifth was another unnamed 'Israeli official' who spun an unlikely tale of how four unarmed Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers. The unnamed official is quoted as saying "we didn't mean to kill him in this case, neither him nor the others .".

The cover picture and the map and the hospital room clip that accompany Sontag's article are all about the Hadera bus bombing that killed two Israelis. On the Palestinian side there was a quote from Muhammad Dahlia, one unnamed Palestinian source, Arafat and Dr Jawed Tibia who stated that he had "rushed to the hospital and found their (the four Palestinian) bodies riddled with bullets and their faces unrecognizable". Consider that in a day when 2 Israelis and 9 Palestinians were killed, The New York Times concentrated on telling the story of the two Israelis and barely mentions the 9 Palestinians. No pictures, no eyewitness testimony and certainly no hint of concern for Palestinian casualties.

The callous disregard for Palestinian lives glares from almost every article and editorial printed by the New York Times on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. This is cause for concern. The Times is an influential ethnic newspaper that caters to New York's large Jewish community. Combine the unbalanced coverage of this paper with the influence of AIPAC and other prominent American Jewish organizations on Congress. The net result is an American foreign policy that is tailored to Israel's requirements. A political force that represents a small fraction of Americans has become the first and last word in the molding of American foreign policy in the volatile Middle East.

After thirty years of reading the New York Times, I have come to the conclusion that the New York Times and AIPAC need to be invited to the next round of peace negotiations as parties to the conflict. Palestinian-Americans should also be invited. This would restore a desperately needed level of transparency to the making of American foreign policy. It would also give credibility to the negotiations.

Having the New York Times recognized as a party to the conflict would also allow Americans of Palestinian and Arab origin to openly discuss their grievances against the American Jewish community for the blatant attempts to strip us of the right to fully participate in the American political process. A case in point is the vile pandering to Jewish voters by both Hillary Clinton and Lazio. In that disgraceful New York Senate race, Arab Americans and Muslim Americans were officially shunned by both the Democrats and the GOP. The record clearly shows that the New York Times was an unabashed cheerleader for the first overtly racist First Lady in the modern history of our Republic.

Rewarding the New York Times with a seat at the Peace Conference might also tempt it to rise up to the occasion by taming down its anti-Palestinian rhetoric. This alone would lead to creating a more favorable environment for the peace process to succeed. Perhaps the greatest contribution would be for the New York Times to review its archives and recant the thousands of deceptive and inflammatory articles and editorials that have been written in service to the Israeli State.



  January 3, 2001