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March 18, 2013

The LA Times' Crime of Omission

What the LA Times won't tell you about Sharawna: Imprisoned for his role in a Beer Sheva bombing and an attempted kidnapping (Photo from Ma'an)

In its online and print articles, the Los Angeles Times carefully omits the crimes of Ayman Sharawna, a hunger-striking Palestinian just released from an Israeli jail. The print article, a truncated Associated Press article, reads:

A freed Palestinian prisoner received a hero's welcome in the Gaza Strip on Sunday evening after ending his hunger strike in an Israeli jail and agreeing to a plea bargain that will confine him to the Hamas-run territory for 10 years.

Ayman Sharawneh arrived at the Erez Crossing in an ambulance with siren blaring and red lights flashing. Dozens of TV cameramen and photographers gathered around the vehicle as it crossed into Gaza. Palestinians waved national flags and chanted slogans calling for freedom.

Sharawneh, 53, appeared weak, shaky and shrunken. He was taken to a hospital in Gaza City.

A resident of the West Bank, Sharawneh had been refusing food since July to protest his incarceration. His lawyer, Jawad Bulous, said Sharawneh accepted the offer of confinement to Gaza, fearing he would be sent to prison for decades in a military court hearing set for Monday.

"The occupation committed two crimes," Sharawneh said, referring to Israel: "arresting me, and then keeping me away from my family. But in Gaza, I am also with my family."

While the Times finds space to quote Sharawneh about Israel's alleged "two crimes" of arresting him and keeping him from his family, it does not find the space to note why in fact Sharawneh was arrested. Indeed, if an innocent man was arrested, there is justification for calling it a crime.

But the full Associated Press story, from which Times editors lifted the first five paragraphs about Sharawneh's weak condition, his noisy release, the waving flags, freedom, and alleged Israeli crimes, actually does continue on to detail why Sharawneh was in jail in the first place. The Times' didn't see fit to include the following AP paragraphs:

Sharawneh, who was serving a 38-year prison sentence for participating in militant attacks, was among about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners freed in 2011 in exchange for an Israeli soldier held for five years by Hamas militants in Gaza.

In one attack, he detonated an explosives-filled handbag in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, wounding more than a dozen people. He was also involved in a kidnapping attempt, according to Israel's Shin Bet security service.

He was arrested again in January 2012 after being accused of violating the terms of his release by making contact with members of the militant Islamic group Hamas. The military court could have ordered him to serve out the remainder of his original sentence.

Perhaps, one might argue, the Times simply had no space to include in print the released prisoners' crime (albeit room was available for the other aforementioned details). Well, then, what about the online article, which does not face the same kind of space constraints?

The Times' online article, by Maher Abukhater, also does not mention Sharawneh's involvement in the Beer Sheva bombing, in which more than a dozen were wounded.
The nine-paragraph also does not mention his alleged kidnapping attempt. Carefully avoiding the reason for his incarceration, Abukhater reports:

The court could have ordered him to serve the 28 years remaining in his sentence at the time of his release from prison in the October 2011 prisoners exchange deal between Hamas and Israel.

Thus, the online edition is just as guilty as its print counterpart.

Posted by TS at March 18, 2013 07:32 AM


This is shocking.
Maybe the LA times thinks Jews dont have any human rights and thats why they didn't mention Sharawna crimes targeting Israeli civilians.

Posted by: Lisa Epstein at March 18, 2013 04:18 PM

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