PA vs. James Bennet

NY Times reporter James Bennet makes his living presenting Israeli vs. Palestinian claims on the truth. Now everyone will have to weigh Bennet’s vs. the Palestinians’ account of what happened to him outside a Gaza hospital on Thursday:

Palestinian Authority officials and journalists denied over the weekend that Palestinians in Rafah had tried to kidnap New York Times correspondent James Bennet.

Bennet said he was talking on a cell phone at about 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday night when a stranger approached him, smiled, offered a handshake and said, “Welcome.” The stranger then grabbed Bennet’s hand, while another man tried to force him into a Mercedes Benz that appeared at the curb. The men did not appear to be armed, he said.

Bennet said he tried to fight off the assailants and screamed for help. PA policemen stationed at the hospital arrived almost immediately and attempted to pull him away from the abductors. “It turned into a big scrum,” he said. The assailants got into the car and fled. Bennet said his shirt was ripped, but that he was not hurt…

Zakariya Talmas, a senior member of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate in the Gaza Strip, described Bennet’s claim as “baseless.” He said that the syndicate looked into the case and discovered that there had been no attempt to kidnap the journalist. The gunmen only wanted to check his identity, Talmas added.

As you always insisted, Mr. Bennet, there are two sides to every story. ‘One man’s kidnapper is another man’s ID-checker’?

This episode should serve as an object lesson to foreign correspondents, who routinely quote dubious Palestinian sources to ‘balance out’ their reports. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Bennet, in future stories, grants legitimacy to the very PA figures who are now telling him his own harrowing ordeal was ‘baseless.’

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