New York Times Publishes Uncorroborated Allegation from Son of Hamas Official

Unsubstantiated allegations and unreliable witness

Illustrative of the New York Times‘ continuing anti-Israel bias is a story that reads more like a propaganda piece than a piece of genuine journalism:

A Palestinian teenager says that Israeli soldiers detained him for five days last month, forcing him to sleep blindfolded and handcuffed in his underwear and to search and dig for tunnels in Khuza’a, his village near Gaza’s eastern border, which was all but destroyed in the fighting.

 

The teenager, Ahmed Jamal Abu Raida, said the soldiers assumed he was connected to Hamas, the militant Islamist group that dominates Gaza, insulted him and Allah and threatened to sic a dog on him.

 

“My life was in danger,” Ahmed, 17, said in one of two lengthy interviews on Thursday and Friday. As soldiers made him walk in front of them through the neighborhood and check houses for tunnels, he added, “In every second, I was going to the unknown.”

 

His assertions, of actions that would violate both international law and a 2005 Israeli Supreme Court ruling, could not be independently corroborated; Ahmed’s father, Jamal Abu Raida, who held a senior position in Gaza’s Tourism Ministry under the Hamas-controlled government, said the family forgot to take photographs documenting any abuse in its happiness over the youth’s return, and disposed of the clothing he was given upon his release.

By now, the alarm bells should be ringing.

  1. The story cannot be independently corroborated.
  2. The alleged victim’s father is a senior Hamas official.
  3. There is no physical evidence, either photographic or on the teen’s body, to show that he has been abused.

 

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But these are not the only warning signs that the New York Times should have picked up on. According to the article: “The case was publicized Thursday by Defense for Children International-Palestine, an organization whose reports on abuses of Palestinian youths in West Bank military jails have been challenged by the Israeli authorities.”

DCI-PSAccording to NGO Monitor, DCI-PS:

In addition, DCI-PS has, in previous conflicts in Gaza, falsely classified combatants as children.

But this is just another example of the symbiotic relationship between the media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), where these politicized NGOs are given a level of credibility purely by virtue of their claims to be supporting human rights, in what is known as the “halo effect.”

Given all of these issues, why then did the New York Times even consider this story to be worthy of its attention?

As David Bernstein writes in the Washington Post:

If the Times’s reporters could actually corroborate the story, more power to them in publishing it.  But at this point, they are just repeating unconfirmed allegations from a dubious source, in other words, passing along wartime propaganda as news.

 

Richard Behar recently noted that the co-author of the story, Gaza correspondent Fares Akram, is hardly an objective observer, happily also working for Al Jazeera and taking its pro-Hamas line. But why would Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren put her name on this dreck, and how did it get past the Times’s editors?


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