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June 15, 2005

New York Times Relies on Unreliable Source

In Interrogating Ourselves , Joseph Lelyveld (New York Times magazine, June 12, page 36) relied on the Israeli organization, B’Tselem, for information about prisoner interrogation methods used by Israel:

The combination of all these methods over prolonged periods produced a regime sometimes known as shabeh. The respected Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem contended that the combination was nothing less than torture. In 1998, in a relatively quiet period, more than two years before the start of the second intifada, B'Tselem estimated that at least 850 Palestinians and possibly more than 1,200 were being tortured annually. According to its figures, this was about 85 percent of all Palestinians in interrogation.

Later in the article, Lelyveld seemed to admit that the Israelis weren’t quite so bad:

Bassem Eid of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, which focuses on abuses in the territories under the Palestinian Authority, agreed. He said in an interview in Jericho that no one in his right mind would prefer a Palestinian jail to an Israeli one. During the first intifada, he noted, 20 Palestinians died in Israeli prisons; during the second, none did. Over the whole period, there were more deaths in detention in the jails of the Palestinian Authority than in Israeli jails.

The Times might be well advised to be wary of an organization, B’Tselem, that is so unreliable that it routinely classifies terrorists as civilians. To cite just one example - classified as a "Palestinian civilian killed by Israeli security forces" is Abd a-Salam Sadeq Hasouna from Nablus in the West Bank (see B’Tselem’s Web site). This so-called "civilian" was killed as he tried to flee Israeli forces after he used an assault rifle to murder six Israelis and wound thirty attending a wedding in Hadera, Israel (Jan. 17, 2002).

CAMERA has frequently challenged the reliability of B’Tselem’s information. Two articles are of particular interest - B'Tselem, Los Angeles Times Redefine "Civilian" (July 7, 2003) and UPDATED: “Terrorism�? as Defined by the New York Times (Sept. 15, 2003).

Posted by MK at June 15, 2005 01:45 PM