It would be as if the Times had published a self-congratulatory piece written by Charles Manson, complaining about his “persecution.”

The editors of the New York Times are useful idiots.

Wikipedia defines a useful idiot as “a person perceived as a propagandist for a cause …… of which they are not fully aware, and who is used cynically by leaders of the cause.”1

The Time’s useful idiocy was in full evidence last year when it published an op-ed by Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti.2 In the op-ed, Barghouti explained his reason for calling for a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails: to protest “Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners.”

An Accomplished Killer      

Who is Marwan Barghouti?

According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Palestinian terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti was head of the Fatah supreme committee in the West Bank and leader of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, which between September 2000 and April 2002 carried out thousands of terror attacks against Israel.”These attacks resulted in the deaths of over a thousand innocents. For many years he was the man who oversaw the entire West Bank terrorist operation against Jews. He personally authorized and helped to finance a large number of attacks. He has spent the last 15 years in Israeli prisons after being convicted for multiple murders.

Here is a sampling of a few of the attacks organized by Barghouti:

  • June 12, 2001 – The murder of a Greek Orthodox monk on the road to Ma’ale Adumim.
  • January 17, 2002 – The shooting attack during a bat mitzva celebration at a banquet hall in Hadera. Six Israelis were killed in this attack, 26 were injured.
  • January 22, 2002 – The shooting spree on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem. Two Israelis were killed, 37 wounded.
  • February 25, 2002 – The shooting attack in the Jerusalem residential neighborhood of Neve Ya’acov. One Israeli policewoman was killed, 9 Israelis were wounded.
  • February 27, 2002 – The murder of an Israeli at a coffee factory in the Atarot industrial zone of Jerusalem.
  • February 27, 2002 – The suicide attack perpetrated by Daryan Abu Aysha at the Maccabim checkpoint in which two policeman were injured.
  • March 5, 2002 – The shooting spree at the Tel Aviv Seafood restaurant. Three Israelis were killed, 31 wounded.3

Barghouti’s Accusations

By agreeing to publish Barghouti’s op-ed, the New York Times joined forces with an Islamic movement to kill Jews and destroy the Jewish state.

In almost every paragraph of his op-ed, Barghouti levels outrageous claims against Israel. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised: It is the usual anti-Israel Arab fare. It is consistent with the Koranic teaching that subterfuge and misrepresentation are legitimate tools in jihad, the fight to destroy the infidel.

Barghouti’s op-ed charges are too numerous to detail all of them here. A sample will give the flavor of his modus operandi. For example, Barghouti starts off by condemning “Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners.”     This is not a convincing argument because all these prisoners were convicted of violence against or murder of Jews. All civilized nations arrest such people. No arrest carried out by the Israelis was in any way “arbitrary.” And there is no evidence of mistreatment of prisoners. Because family members, lawyers and others are generally given free access to prisoners, it would be hard to hide any such mistreatment.

Barghouti refers in his op-ed to prisoners’ “dark cells”. But a visitor to Barghouti’s prison reported that his cell was well-lit.4

In his op-ed, Barghouti goes on to complain, “After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike.” But far from exhausting his options to redress his grievances, in fact, he has followed a pattern of turning to the press, rather than appealing to prison authorities.

Why a Hunger Strike Now?

Over his fifteen years of confinement in Israeli jails, Barghouti said little about prison conditions and he never before organized an action to redress these conditions. He refused to participate in an earlier hunger strike by other prisoners.

So why has he decided to organize a hunger strike now?

The answer is that Barghouti, a well-known figure in Palestinian politics, hopes to enhance his support among the Palestinian population. The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) current leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is elderly and soon a successor will have to be chosen. Barghouti aspires to be that successor. But he has been stymied by Abbas and the current Fatah leadership, who see Barghouti as a rival. (Fatah is the political party that currently runs the PA.) Abbas has worked to block Barghouti’s influence in the top echelon of Fatah. Abbas has ensured that Barghouti’s supporters are excluded from leadership positions. Thus, Barghouti’s only path to leadership is to bypass the PA and appeal to the masses. This is the true motive for Barghouti’s hunger strike.5

The Rest of the Story

Did the Times editors realize that Barghouti cared little about the condition of his fellow prisoners? That he cynically used the paper to disseminate a web of lies designed to garner favorable Palestinian public opinion? That he did this in order to advance his goal to gain political leadership of the PA?

Throughout the op-ed, Barghouti presents himself as a fighter for justice. He refers repeatedly to his “struggle for freedom.” Barghouti knows that the Palestinians could have had their “freedom” long ago—at least their freedom from Israeli control, if not freedom from their own corrupt leaders. That is because the Palestinians have been offered statehood several times, from the Peel Commission recommendations in 1937 to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008 to withdraw from almost all the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. What the Palestinians most want is not a state. They want a Middle East free of Jews. That is Mr. Barghouti’s goal as well.

The rest of the op-ed is a long list of alleged Israeli abuses, including torture, inhumane and degrading treatment and medical negligence. The New York Times published this without any fact-checking and without allowing the Israeli Prison Service the opportunity to respond. How can we take the word of a mass-murderer at face value? If there have been Israeli abuses they should be corrected.  But the sum total of the picture that Barghouti paints is absurd.

As a sample, the list of demands included:

1) more family visitation hours. (By comparison, innocent Jewish hostages in Gaza’s jails are shut off from the outside world and their families do not know if they are alive or dead.)

2) renewal of academic studies. (But, while in Israeli prison, Barghouti himself completed a doctorate in political science. Israel prison authorities provided him with all the books he needed), and

3) access to more television channels.

Some additional demands are more substantive, such as cancellation of administrative detention. But nowhere is there recognition that none of these measures would be necessary without the Jew-killing machine that Barghouti and his ilk have operated.

To add insult to injury, at the head of  Barghouti’s op-ed, the Times included a heart-rending photo of prisoners’ family members, taken during a demonstration demanding release of the prisoners. The protestors are arranged in the style of a high school graduation picture, and each one carries a large poster with a photograph of a beloved prisoner.

Why didn’t the Times publish a photo of some of Mr. Barghouti’s victims…or of their bereaved family members?

Most appalling, neither Barghouti’s op-ed, nor the author blurb provided by the Times, mentioned the crimes—-that is, the grisly murders—-for which Barghouti was convicted. Rather, the Times described him as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.”

The Times’ “Correction”

The day following publication of Barghouti’s op-ed, Times editor Liz Spayd published an op-ed acknowledging the Times’ failure to mention the crimes for which Barghouti had been convicted.6 Apparently, as a result of Ms. Spayd’s efforts, a note was subsequently appended to Mr. Barghouti’s op-ed, citing two of the charges for which he was convicted: “five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization.” That hardly captures the extent of Barghouti’s years-long leadership in terrorist campaigns, nor the hundreds of his victims.

I doubt that Ms. Spayd’s correction was seen by many of those who read Mr. Barghouti’s op-ed. Mr. Barghouti’s op-ed was entitled, “Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons.” In contrast, the link to Ms. Spayd’s correction said simply, “An Op-Ed Author Omits His Crimes, and the Times Does Too.” From the title, how in heavens would a reader know that Spayd’s piece had anything to do with Barghouti’s op-ed? I wonder if this was a deliberate attempt on the part of the Times to weasel out of a full-throated correction.

I don’t expect any partisan author to present a balanced view. And I don’t fault the Times for publishing the editorial of a terrorist and mass murderer. After all, the op-ed section of a newspaper is for partisan and controversial opinion.

I do fault the Times for failing to identify the author as a mass-killer. This deprived Times readers of the opportunity to judge the author’s claims in light of his background and motives. The half-hearted and partly buried “correction” that supplied a sanitized version of Barghouti’s gruesome history, was a disappointment. I can only conclude that the Times’ behavior is evidence of its editorial bias against Israel. Anyone who has regularly read the pages of the Times knows there is ample evidence for this bias.7

More damning for the Times is its failure to publish a rebuttal from the Israeli side. It would be as if the Times had published a self-congratulatory piece written by Charles Manson, complaining about his “persecution,” without giving a prosecutor, judge, or public official the opportunity to respond to Manson’s inevitably one-sided claims or to identify his crimes.

No one at the Times would dream of giving Manson a platform for his distorted views without providing balance. But the Times did just that for another convicted mass-murderer.

One thing is certain: the Times’ editors are useful idiots.

Footnotes

  1. Useful Idiot, Wikipedia. Retrieved April 18, 2017 from:

https://en.wikipdeia.org/wiki/Useful_idiot

  1. Barghouti, M. Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons (Op-ed). New York Times, April 16, 2017. Retrieved April 18, 2017 from:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/16/opinion/palestinian-hunger-strike-prisoners-call-for-justice.html?ref=opinion

  1. Information on Marwan and Ahmed Barghouti, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 15, 2002. Retrieved April 18, 2017 from:

http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFA-Archive/2002/Pages/Information%20on%20Marwan%20and%20Ahmed%20Barghouti%20-%2015-Apr.aspx

  1. Ben-Shalom, R. No Nelson Mandela. Jerusalem Post, April 18, 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2017 from: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/No-Nelson-Mandela-488256
  2. Issacharoff, A. Marwan Barghouti’s Great Gamble. Times of Israel, April 18, 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2017 from: http://www.timesofisrael.com/marwan-barghoutis-great-gamble/

Also:

Harel, A. Analysis: With Palestinian Prisoner Strike, Barghouti Challenges Abbas’ Leadership. Will a Palestinian Hunger Strike Rain on Trump’s Peace Plans? Ha’aretz. Retrieved April 18, 2017 from: http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.783911

  1. Spayd, L. An Op-Ed Author Omits His Crimes, and The Times Does Too. New York Times, April 18, 2017. Retrieved April 18, 2017 from:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/public-editor/an-op-ed-author-omits-his-crimes-and-the-times-does-too.html

  1. Friedman, M. An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth. Tablet, August 26, 2014. Retrieved April 19, 2017 from:

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/183033/israel-insider-guide