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November 11, 2015

New York Times: 'Violent Loop' Responsible for Palestinian Attacks

"Strengthen the coverage of Palestinians. They are more than just victims," advised New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan in her critical column about the paper's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict almost exactly one year ago today ("The Conflict and the Coverage," Nov. 22).

But, The Times'coverage today is yet another indication that Sullivan's message has yet to penetrate. Today's article depicts young Palestinians who carried out stabbing attacks last month and yesterday not as perpetrators but as themselves victims of "a looplike dynamic of Israeli-Palestinian violence."

The headline says it all: "Violent Loop Engulfs Youths in Jerusalem."

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In other words, Palestinian youths who attempt to murder are passive objects of the active agent in the story, the "violent loop." Casting the Palestinian assailants as passive victims is a journalistic phenomenon detailed last year by Matti Friedman, a former correspondent at the Associated Press: "Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. . . . Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters."

The Times article defines the culpable violent loop as follows:

The attack on Tuesday [in which a 12-year-old and his 14-year-old cousin stabbed a guard on the Jerusalem light rail yesterday] appeared to reflect a looplike dynamic of Israeli-Palestinian violence: stabbings of Israelis followed by swift, often deadly responses by Israeli security forces and graphic video footage inspiring replica Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

Thus, Israeli efforts to protect innocent individuals from life-threatening attacks and Palestinian efforts to maim and murder are equally culpable for the ongoing violence.

Further chipping away at the agency of the young Palestinians who plunged knives' into other's flesh, Times journalists Isabel Kershner and Rami Nazzal euphemistically refer to "the attacks involving children," as opposed to the attacks perpetrated by children.

In addition, The Times writers enable the distorted Palestinian-assailants-as-victims model by not treating false Palestinian conspiracy claims about police planting knives as just that. Thus, the article states:

In several cases with no video corroboration, Palestinians have insisted that no stabbings took place and have accused the Israeli authorities of planting knives at the scene.

Kershner and Nazzal, however, outrageously fail to note here that also in Palestinian attacks documented by video footage, Palestinians have falsely charged that police planted knives.

To their credit, the writers do point out in one instance that the assailants' relatives doubts about the stabbings are contradicted by video footage:

In the Shuafat refugee camp, where relatives of the Alqam cousins gathered Tuesday evening, many expressed similar doubts about the Israeli reports of the stabbing, although later on Tuesday more video emerged that appeared to show the boys attacking the guard on a train.

It is precisely the unfounded claims of Palestinian perpetrators' innocence and false charges of "extrajudicial killings" which fuel additional Palestinian attacks. When youths like Ali Alqam, 12, and Muawiya Alqam, 14, yesterday's stabbers, watched videos of the 13-year-old assailant Ahmad Manasra being interrogated (as The Times reported they did the night before the attack), believing all the while that Manasra is totally innocent, they are plausibly inspired to attack. Now there's "a violent loop" worthy of Times coverage.

Nov. 15 Update: Shin Bet Report: 'Internal Dynamic Feeding Itself'

The day after we wrote here about the "loop" in which Palestinian media depict youths who carry out attacks and are subsequently killed or wounded, imprisoned and interrogated as "innocent" victims of Israeli abuse or even "extradjudicial killings," fueling yet more attacks, Haaretz reported about a Shin Bet report which identified the same cycle. Haaretz reported:

The report observed that the youths "live on the Web, and are nourished by information sent on the Internet, which glorifies the Palestinian claim that the attackers are victims of 'Israeli aggression,' and that they were in fact 'executed.'" It added, "Likewise, there is an internal dynamic feeding itself (of attack, death of the attacker and then avenging his death)."

Posted by TS at November 11, 2015 04:25 AM

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