Case Study of Lethal Journalism: NYT and Marwan Barghouti

Possibly the single most disorienting aspect of news coverage in the 21st century, was the way the mainstream news media – the main papers and news agencies and TV news studios – presented the “Second Intifada.” For them, the dominant, indeed, the hegemonic, narrative was the Israeli Goliath trying to crush the Palestinian David. Aside from the deep misunderstanding of all the cultural issues in this region that make Arab and Muslim “secular nationalism” and “freedom fighting” inappropriate terms (as was later so spectacularly illustrated by the “Arab Spring”), it completely missed the other narrative, that of global Jihad.

As a result, Western observers were repeatedly exposed by their journalists to a “lethal journalism” that ran Palestinian Jihadi propaganda as news, and portrayed Israel as the murderous, rogue, colonialists running roughshod on Palestinian “civil society.” So when the IDF went after Palestinian mass-murderers, using global Jihad’s most potent new weapon, suicide mass murder of infidels, not only did the press jump all over false reports of an IDF massacre at Jenin, but European “progressives” actually cheered on the monstrous weapon, soon to be aimed at them. In the 21st century, it turns out, lethal journalism against Israel is actually own-goal lethal journalism: running your enemy’s propaganda as news.

If anyone thinks that the long list of scandalous and damaging errors our journalists have made over the last two decades, is in decline, consider the latest. The New York Times, famous for its scrupulous “back and forth” with authors in its op-ed pages, ran the propaganda of a convicted Palestinian terrorist on its op-ed pages, with no fact-checking, and disguising the nature of his crimes. As a result, readers of the Times were treated to a long anti-Israel diatribe by Marwan Barghouti, described by the editors as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” One could excuse Westerners so informed for thinking that a) the Palestinian Parliament is an operative democratic institution, and b) a Palestinian leader struggles for his people’s freedom, not their sacrifice in the goal of destroying another people’s freedom.

This time, however, the Times felt the blowback. Vigorous criticism got them a rebuke from the paper’s public editor, prompting a “correction.”

I asked Jim Dao, editor of the Op-Ed pages, about the decision not to include Barghouti’s crimes. Dao noted that the piece does say the author received multiple life sentences but he acknowledged that it doesn’t state the crimes for which he was convicted. “We are drafting an editors’ note that will provide that information,” he said.

Here’s the note, attached after our exchange:

This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.


This isn’t a new issue for the Opinion section. I have written before on the need to more fully identify the biography and credentials of authors, especially details that help people make judgments about the opinions they’re reading. Do the authors of the pieces have any conflicts of interest that could challenge their credibility? Are they who they say they are, and can editors vouch for their fidelity?

I see no reason to skimp on this, while failing to do so risks the credibility of the author and the Op-Ed pages.

In this case, I’m pleased to see the editors responding to the complaints, and moving to correct the issue rather than resist it. Hopefully, it’s a sign that fuller disclosure will become regular practice.

I guess beggars can’t be choosy, but this is half-hearted at the most; and the brave Liz Spayd is too easily mollified.

five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization?

Barghouti was not a member of a terrorist organization, he was its leader, and it was not a terrorist organization in which one could keep one’s own hands personally clean of the blood the larger organization might deniably spill. Barghouti’s Tanzim was Fatah’s “secular” response to Islamic radicals, and competed with them at the grass-roots level for support. At least to fellow Palestinians, they were the one-staters, River-to-the-sea. When the Palestinian Jihadis came out of the Oslo Horse and started what would proved to be the first round of the global Jihad of the 21st/15th century, and Hamas led the pack with their terrifying new weapon of suicidal attacks on civilians, it was the Tanzim that formed the “Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade” that competed with Hamas for leadership by pioneering new forms of suicide terror, such as the use of women.

In other words, Barghouti directed Fatah’s contribution to that prophesied massacre that Hamas invoked in their charter, where Muslims will kill every last Jew, and even the rocks and the trees will call out to help them in their murderous task. Indeed, two weeks after he penned an editorial for the Washington Post claiming to oppose targeting Israeli civilians

Holy Own-Goal Journalism, Batman! Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi at the Sheikh ‘Ijlin Mosque in Gaza City, broadcast live on April 12, 2002, PA TV.

We believe in this Hadith. We are convinced also that this Hadith heralds the spread of Islam and its rule over all the lands… Oh Allah, annihilate the Jews and their supporters… Oh Allah, raise the flag of Jihad across the earth… Oh beloved, look to the East of the earth, find Japan and the ocean; look to the West of the earth, find the country and the ocean. Be assured that these will be owned by the Muslim nation, as the Hadith says, ‘from the ocean to the ocean.’

The five counts of murder were only the ones a scrupulous Israeli court chose to decide upon. The evidence for the other 21 counts of murder in 33 other attacks [he planned], was deemed insufficient to meet the extremely high standards of Israeli courts’ insistence on probative evidence. But only a fool would take the court’s acquittals as “proof” he wasn’t guilty for those, and many more murders of civilians. It’s hard to get more vicious. 

It’s not just that the op-ed editors correction says as little as possible to damage the credibility of their oped writer, it’s that they cannot in any way vouch for his fidelity. But it gets worse, much worse. The editors absolutely cannot vouch for his fidelity. On the contrary, what they did was allow him to string together patently false accusations against Israel.

Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons


April 16, 2017

Op-Ed Contributor

Photos of prisoners during a demonstration demanding the release of the Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, in Ramallah, West Bank, this month.

Issam Rimawi / Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

HADARIM PRISON, Israel — Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike.

Some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have decided to take part in this hunger strike, which begins today, the day we observe here as Prisoners’ Day. Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells.

Decades of experience have proved that Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong, by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their families and communities, using humiliating measures to compel subjugation. In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it.

For those who don’t have the time to watch, here’s a brief review of highlights, provided by terror victim Kay Wilson:

3’15 – TV with 10 channels in their cell

4’40 – Monthly pocket money from the Palestinian Authority. In addition to an average monthly murder stipend of about 4,000 Shekels that goes to their families.

4’50 – Table Tennis.

5’54 – Private storeroom of food always on hand.

6’30 – Prison official says that they eat this food when on “hunger strike,” and that hunger-strike only means refusing the 3 daily prison meals.

9’15 – Free dental clinic (no such thing for Israelis).

9’20 – Immediate appointments in hospitals should the need arise. (Something that many Israelis can only dream of).

9’50 – Community Islamic prayers.

10’50 – Visits with families and lawyers.

13’01 – Murderers gathering in their cell to tuck into humus and snacks that are always available should the need to hunger strike arise.

15’15 – Library. Terrorists get a free education and study for degrees in jail.

15’45 – Games, BackGammon etc…

15’27 – More food stash, should the need to go on hunger strike arise.

19’17 – One of the most notorious terrorists refuses to be interviewed because “he doesn’t want to be seen as shaved, looked-after and respectable in appearance.” These are his exact words. They have to keep up the public image of Israel supposedly treating them badly.

21’40 – Smaller cell with TV, audio headset, coca-cola, kettle, 2 nice pillows… & despite it all, the terrorist promises that the violence must continue.

Having presented a systematically dishonest account which he counts on Westerners, trained by lethal journalists, to swallow, he continues with the pseudo-post-colonial narrative.

Israel, the occupying power, has violated international law in multiple ways for nearly 70 years, and yet has been granted impunity for its actions. It has committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions against the Palestinian people; the prisoners, including men, women and children, are no exception.

Note the language, which mirrors closely the language of UN Resolution 2334, Kerry and Obama’s last contribution – in the name of peace – to the Palestinian cause. Also note the characteristic Palestinian emendation. When Kerry and Obama denounce settlements, they think they’re referring to beyond the “green line,” that they’re promoting a compromise peace of the “two-state solution.” But Palestinians don’t mean that. For them the Occupation that must be ended goes from the River to the sea, the grievance, and the irreducible goal, is the shore line, in other words the territory Israel has been occupying since 1948. (How could the NYT editors have missed that? Would they give their pages over sympathetically to an Israeli calling for transfer?)

Barghouti is a one-stater of the most irredendist kind. His prison sentence was applied only to five people,

I was only 15 when I was first imprisoned. I was barely 18 when an Israeli interrogator forced me to spread my legs while I stood naked in the interrogation room, before hitting my genitals. I passed out from the pain, and the resulting fall left an everlasting scar on my forehead. The interrogator mocked me afterward, saying that I would never procreate because people like me give birth only to terrorists and murderers.

A few years later, I was again in an Israeli prison, leading a hunger strike, when my first son was born. Instead of the sweets we usually distribute to celebrate such news, I handed out salt to the other prisoners. When he was barely 18, he in turn was arrested and spent four years in Israeli prisons.

The eldest of my four children is now a man of 31. Yet here I still am, pursuing this struggle for freedom along with thousands of prisoners, millions of Palestinians and the support of so many around the world. What is it with the arrogance of the occupier and the oppressor and their backers that makes them deaf to this simple truth: Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost.

Israel has built nearly all of its prisons inside Israel rather than in the occupied territory. In doing so, it has unlawfully and forcibly transferred Palestinian civilians into captivity, and has used this situation to restrict family visits and to inflict suffering on prisoners through long transports under cruel conditions. It turned basic rights that should be guaranteed under international law — including some painfully secured through previous hunger strikes — into privileges its prison service decides to grant us or deprive us of.

Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence. Some have been killed while in detention. According to the latest count from the Palestinian Prisoners Club, about 200 Palestinian prisoners have died since 1967 because of such actions. Palestinian prisoners and their families also remain a primary target of Israel’s policy of imposing collective punishments.

Through our hunger strike, we seek an end to these abuses.

Over the past five decades, according to the human rights group Addameer, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned or detained by Israel — equivalent to about 40 percent of the Palestinian territory’s male population. Today, about 6,500 are still imprisoned, among them some who have the dismal distinction of holding world records for the longest periods in detention of political prisoners. There is hardly a single family in Palestine that has not endured the suffering caused by the imprisonment of one or several of its members.

How to account for this unbelievable state of affairs?

Ummm… you “Palestinians have been waging a war of extermination against us, and we fight back. If we were Syrians, those numbers would be multiplied by a factor of 20, and indicate deaths, not imprisonment.

Israel has established a dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid, that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalizing Palestinian presence and resistance. Israel’s courts are a charade of justice, clearly instruments of colonial, military occupation. According to the State Department, the conviction rate for Palestinians in the military courts is nearly 90 percent.

Among the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians whom Israel has taken captive are children, women, parliamentarians, activists, journalists, human rights defenders, academics, political figures, militants, bystanders, family members of prisoners. And all with one aim: to bury the legitimate aspirations of an entire nation.

Instead, though, Israel’s prisons have become the cradle of a lasting movement for Palestinian self-determination. This new hunger strike will demonstrate once more that the prisoners’ movement is the compass that guides our struggle, the struggle for Freedom and Dignity, the name we have chosen for this new step in our long walk to freedom.

Israel has tried to brand us all as terrorists to legitimize its violations, including mass arbitrary arrests, torture, punitive measures and severe restrictions. As part of Israel’s effort to undermine the Palestinian struggle for freedom, an Israeli court sentenced me to five life sentences and 40 years in prison in a political show trial that was denounced by international observers.

Israel is not the first occupying or colonial power to resort to such expedients. Every national liberation movement in history can recall similar practices. This is why so many people who have fought against oppression, colonialism and apartheid stand with us. The International Campaign to Free Marwan Barghouti and All Palestinian Prisoners that the anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada and my wife, Fadwa, inaugurated in 2013 from Nelson Mandela’s former cell on Robben Island has enjoyed the support of eight Nobel Peace Prize laureates, 120 governments and hundreds of leaders, parliamentarians, artists and academics around the world.

Their solidarity exposes Israel’s moral and political failure. Rights are not bestowed by an oppressor. Freedom and dignity are universal rights that are inherent in humanity, to be enjoyed by every nation and all human beings. Palestinians will not be an exception. Only ending occupation will end this injustice and mark the birth of peace.

Palestinians, alas, like other Arab “peoples” have terrible leaders. They are indeed no exception. The sad fear that everyone in the Arab world dreads, is to publicly undertake an enterprise, and fail. They did that when they tried to wipe out Israel, telling the new, post-war global community: “We will massacre them and drive them into the sea.” And instead they lost precious territory. Naqba: global humiliation. And the chances of the Palestinians forming a society/state which honors the values of

Freedom and dignity are universal rights that are inherent in humanity, to be enjoyed by every nation and all human beings…

are low. And part of the reason they’re low, is that the “progressive West” likes Marwan, and promotes him and his lethal narratives, while in Palestinian society, precisely the voice that every Western leftist longs to believe is true of the “vast majority” of peace-loving Palestinians, appears at the edge of the conversation, far from the pages of the NYT, or other WMSNM:

Finally, I call on our leader Marwan Al-Barghouti to consider carefully how he can be released from prison and return to his wife and children before he turns old, if at all, and spend some time with his family, without which life has no meaning. [I say to him:] Leave us, our children, our young people and our mothers alone, for all we want is to enjoy life and not spend it with you in a dark prison. If you and thousands of others have chosen this [life in prison], then may you enjoy your choice. But if you want to leave [prison], think carefully and send another, different message. Let me remind you that your message will coincide with the Jewish festival of Passover and the Christian festival of Easter. You should know that [these] holidays are associated with light, salvation and liberty, and these are things that I wish for you and for all of us.”

2 Responses to Case Study of Lethal Journalism: NYT and Marwan Barghouti

  1. Daniel Livni says:

    Great article about Palestinian terrorist apologists the NY Times

  2. […] Is this not precisely what the left does with Palestinian “resisters” like Marwan Barghouti? […]

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