Netanyahu slams New York Times over Barghouti op-ed byline
ABBAS MOMANI (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed The New York Times on Tuesday for publishing an opinion editorial by jailed Fatah military leader Marwan Barghouti that referred to him as a "Palestinian leader and parliamentarian" while failing to note his five convictions for murder and history as a commander of Palestinian terrorist organizations.
Netanyahu said that the paper's omission was akin to labeling embattled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad "a pediatrician."
"I read, on Sunday, the article in The New York Times that presents arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti as a ‘parliamentarian and leader,'" Netanyahu said during a visit to the southern city of Dimona. "The paper recanted after we pointed it out to them."
"Calling Barghouti a leader and parliamentarian is like calling [Syrian President Bashar] Assad a pediatrician. They are murderers and terrorists," the premier added.
The paper's public editor Liz Spayd on Tuesday also criticized the New York Times' op-ed department for 'skimping' on contributors' biographical information, saying that it is a repeated fault which risks discrediting the publication.
In her own piece titled "An Op-Ed Author Omits His Crimes, and The Times Does Too," Spayd wrote that she had spoken personally with the Times' Op-Ed pages editor Jim Dao about the omission of Barghouti's convictions.
"I see no reason to skimp on this, while failing to do so risks the credibility of the author and the Op-Ed pages," she wrote.
"This isn’t a new issue for the Opinion section," Spayd wrote. "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?"
The Times on Monday issued a clarification to the article, saying that it "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," the paper wrote.
Barghouti accused Israel of "inhumane" treatment of prisoners and "judicial apartheid" in the New York Times op-ed, which provided reasoning for the mass hunger strike of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Barghouti's byline drew immediate ire from the Israeli Foreign Ministry and senior Israeli politicians, including Israel's Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren who called on the government to consider punitive action against the paper—including possibly closing its Israel bureau.
Speaking to Army Radio on Monday, Oren described the publication as a "journalistic terror attack", and railed the Times for publishing "fake news" that was "full of lies."
"As for the New York Times, if someone in the paper helped him [smuggle the op-ed out of prison], the New York Times should be held accountable," Oren told Army Radio.
Acknowledging that such a move might "sound extreme", he explained that there was precedent: "At the start of the Second Intifada, when CNN… helped terrorists," he said, "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did not hesitate to close its bureau here."
It was not immediately clear to what incident Oren was referring.
Other Israeli officials echoed Oren's statements.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, of the ruling Likud party, said the "very disappointing decision" to publish Barghouti's piece "legitimizes terrorism" and "seriously undermines the credibility" the paper.
Oren, until recently Israel's ambassador to Washington, further accused the editors of the New York Times of running the piece deliberately on the last day of Passover in order to make it difficult for the Israeli government to respond.
The New York Times declined i24NEWS request for comment on Oren's remarks, and referred to its published clarification.
(Staff with agencies)
Eylon A. Levy, i24NEWS anchor and correspondent, contributed to this report.
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Here goes the US Pravda Times again!
Trump will get the message soon or later.
people still read that rag?
Doesn't everyone know that Israel invents crimes which can justify their oppression and imprisonment (if not murder) of Palestinians? Bibi Netanyahu, like the U.S. president, spouts lies every time he speaks publicly. Whether he believes his own lies, who know. And Bashar al-Assad a pediatrician? Since when? Bashar is an opthalmologist. I guess when you're in lying mode, those sorts of details are irrelevant.