The New York Times published on April 16, 2017 an op-ed by long-time terrorist and convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti. By doing so, this once respected publication has become an actor in the Israel-Arab conflict rather than an observer.
One could argue that the NYT is simply attempting to present a range of views; however, if that were the case, why is it not possible to find op-eds in the NYT by moderate Palestinians or Israeli Arabs such as Khaled Abu Toameh, Bassem Eid, Bassam Tawil, or George Deek?
Must a Palestinian lead a terrorist organization, kill Jews, get arrested, and get convicted in order to attract the attention of the NYT? Are a long record of defending the human rights of Palestinians or a long record of journalistic courage and integrity not good enough?
The NYT’s willingness to give a voice to the most radical and heinous elements in Palestinian society sends the message that such Palestinians are representative of their people, and therefore it normalizes, if not encourages, their actions.
The NYT’s lack of interest in giving a voice to Palestinian moderates additionally sends the message that such voices do not exist or are not worth hearing.
One could also argue that despite his past, Barghouti is now engaged in peacemaking, but one would be wrong. Even if NYT editors had read nothing other than his op-ed which they presumably edited, they would know that.
Barghouti wrote that “Israel, the occupying power, has violated international law in multiple ways for nearly 70 years”, which means that he considers all of Israel occupied. Israel has occupied the West Bank for only 50 years. “Nearly 70 years” applies to the declaration of independence of Israel in 1948, 19 years before Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in a war of self-defense.
While Barghouti speaks of a “peaceful form of resistance”, it is clear based on his past that the only reason he is currently involved in such non-violent actions is because he is behind bars and has no other choice. If there were any doubts in this, such doubts would be dispelled by the same op-ed where he proudly speaks of his eldest son who followed on his footsteps of crime and terror.
Yet, despite Barghouti’s criminal past and despite his continued support of terrorism and opposition to the existence of Israel within any borders, the NYT published him. They published him without any caveats or disclaimers. If one expects to see something about the views of the author not representing the views of the NYT, one would be disappointed. Instead, the NYT ended the article with the glorifying title of “Palestinian leader and parliamentarian”.
In publishing Barghouti’s op-ed, the NYT is no longer in the business of objective journalism. It has clearly and openly made itself the mouthpiece of crime and terror.
Note on April 17, 2017: After publication of this op-ed, the NYT, probably due to an uproar by Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum, added a note recognizing that Barghouti has been convicted of “five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization”. While the note is better than nothing, it is not enough. There is no justification for publishing an op-ed by a convicted criminal and terrorist who has not changed his views. Would the NYT have published an op-ed by Osama Bin Laden when he was alive? Why the lower standard when the victims are Israeli and not American or European?
Note on April 18, 2017: If the NYT editors wish to show that they understand the outrage that they generated by publishing the op-ed of a criminal and terrorist, they should pull the op-ed off of their website and apologize to the Israeli people. Nothing less than that is satisfactory.