Spin at The Times

Dear HonestReporting Member,

The popular Passover song says, “Dayenu” — It would have been enough.

Dayenu — It would have been bad enough for The New York Times to publish Yasir Arafat’s op-ed piece, “The Palestinian Vision of Peace,” on February 3. It dripped with crocodile tears for Israeli victims of terror. Arafat lied with impunity when he “condemned the attacks carried out by terrorist groups against Israeli civilians.” Yet Fatah and Tanzim are terror groups led by Arafat himself!

Arafat tried to deny the historical record when he wrote of Ariel Sharon’s “opposition to every peace treaty.” But Knesset voting records show that Sharon supported Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai. Sharon supported the treaty with Jordan, too. And Sharon negotiated the deal with Arafat at Wye. So why does the Times allow the publication of Arafat’s lies?

We also question The Times’ daily e-mail update sent to subscribers, “Today’s Headlines from NYTimes.com.” On Feb. 3, the lead article in the International section was Arafat’s op-ed. The Times has a specific Op-Ed section in the daily digest, but this is first time that HonestReporting editors can recall seeing an editorial presented in a “news” section (“International”).

And even if it could be argued that an Arafat Op-Ed is a news item, The Times’ e-mail update did nothing to identify it as opinion, or even to identify the author as Arafat — just the following unqualified statement of fact: “Palestinians want to live as equals alongside Israel in an independent and viable state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”

Read the Arafat op-ed at:
http://nytimes.com/2002/02/03/opinion/03ARAF.html

Send letters to the editor:
letters@nytimes.com (include: full name, full address, daytime phone number)

* * *

Yes, it would have been bad enough. But then The New York Times Sunday magazine ran a 7700-word paean to the Palestinians, entitled “The Palestinian Conversation,” by Deborah Sontag, the Times’ former correspondent in Israel. Sontag quoted nine different Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, a cross-section of rich and poor, Christian and Moslem — presenting her thesis that a “vibrant communal conversation” was taking place within the Palestinian society with a “startling, defiant optimism about the future.”

Sontag’s portrait of her Hamas and Fatah interlocutors, however, is prettified to fit her thesis.

Take Abed al-Raouf Barbakh, the Fatah representative with a handgun in his vest, whose incitement for violence led to even Arafat seeking his arrest. “He [Barbakh] presented himself as a kind of youth counselor,” Sontag wrote. “He talked of planning a garden among the weeds… [W]hether or not he was sincere, he sensed that it would be politic to ask me to send the world a message that even he, a fighter, really wanted quiet…”

Or read about Sayeed Siyam, the Hamas representative who Sontag described as looking “like the Mr. Rogers of Hamas, and it turned out that he was an elementary school teacher… Siyam spoke as softly as if he were in a library explaining the Dewey Decimal System…”

Hamas and Fatah are the primary terrorist organizations perpetrating attacks on Israeli civilians. Yet Sontag makes them sound like, well, Mr. Rogers.

Sontag presents outrageous Palestinian accusations, without qualification or rebuttal. She quotes one woman as saying: “Do I look like a warrior? But if I go down to my fields, they [Israelis] will shoot me, a little old lady, and they will say that I was on my way to plant a bomb.”

Spokesmen for two U.S. Administrations blame Arafat for the failure of the Camp David Accords and for the current bloodshed. Sontag, instead, writes of a characterless “failure” at the Camp David negotiations and clings to the charge that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount led to the “explosion” on the Palestinian street. The Times itself described how 25,000 Palestinian teens were training for war in the summer of 2000.

Read Sontag’s article at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/03/magazine/03PALESTINE.html?pagewanted=print

Once you read Sontag’s article, you can respond to the editor of The New York Times Magazine:
magazine@nytimes.com

The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words, using some of these points as a basis.

Interestingly, The New York Times own editors responded forcefully to Arafat’s op-ed when they pointed to the “wide gap between the assurances he offered — to end terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, to help build two secure states side by side — and the policies he has pursued… Mr. Arafat failed to engage a far-reaching Israeli offer in 2000… We would be delighted to see Mr. Arafat live up to his newly restated commitments, but we harbor few illusions…”

The New York Times editorial can be found at:
http://nytimes.com/2002/02/04/opinion/_04MON1.html

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

HonestReporting.com

====== TERRORISM IN AMERICA ======

Investigative reporter Steve Emerson has been warning of the dangers of Islamic terrorist attacks in the United States for over a decade. Some media outlets, such as National Public Radio, boycotted Emerson because they did not consider his message “politically correct.”

After Osama Bin Laden’s attacks on America on 9/11, Emerson’s research and warnings are more important than ever. His new book, “American Jihad,” hit the bookstores this week.

Last week, CBS Television’s “48 Hours” show took a hard look at Emerson’s warnings and the countercharges from Arab spokesman. 48 Hours found that Emerson’s warnings were based on actual taped footage.

Both CBS and Emerson are now under attack by several Moslem and Arab groups because of the show.

HonestReporting.com encourages its members to contact CBS and 48 Hours to commend their coverage of the issue and Emerson’s work. Write to:
48hours@cbsnews.com

Mail:
Susan Zirinksy, Executive Producer 48 Hours
524 West 57th St.
New York, New York 10019
Fax: 212-975-5000

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