By Stephen M. Flatow/JNS.org
Anybody who thought the new Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times would be any less pro-Palestinian than his predecessor was sadly mistaken.
Ian Fisher replaced Peter Baker as head of The Times’s Jerusalem bureau in January. Many of Fisher’s articles in recent months have been slanted against Israel, but his coverage of the lynching attempt in the Palestinian Arab village of Hawara May 18 was the worst so far.
The facts of the Hawara episode are well-documented in a graphic video that can be seen on YouTube. Arabs waving PLO flags and anti-Israel placards gather in the center of the town and begin shouting slogans. An Israeli civilian automobile—easily distinguished by the color of its license plate—happens to drive by. The sight of a Jew fills the mob with bloodlust. They surround the car and begin hurling large rocks at it.
In the video, you can see a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance blocking the Israeli car from advancing. The driver of the ambulance later claimed he was trying to navigate around the mob. That’s an obvious lie. You can see the ambulance has stopped in front of the Israeli car, and is not moving at all as the rock-throwers try to murder the Israeli driver.
If the Israeli motorist had not defended himself, he would surely have ended up like Amnon Pomerantz, who took a wrong turn into the Gaza town of El-Bureij in September 1990. Palestinian rock-throwers attacked. Pomerantz didn’t (or wasn’t able to) shoot quickly enough. The mob stoned him until he was unconscious, and then set his car on fire, burning him to death.
The driver in Hawara May 18 shot back at the Arabs who were trying to murder him. One of the rock-throwers was killed, and a Palestinian photographer who works for The Associated Press was lightly wounded in his hand.
In Ian Fisher’s version in The New York Times, however, everything is upside down.
Here’s how Fisher’s article began: “An Israeli settler whose car was caught up in a pro-Palestinian street demonstration in the West Bank on Thursday opened fire on the protesters, killing a 23-year-old Palestinian man and wounding a news photographer.”
So right from the start, the reader is misled into believing that the “protesters” were peaceful. No rocks are mentioned. No threat to the Israeli driver’s life is acknowledged. His car was “caught up” in a “demonstration,” and he “opened fire on the protesters.” Sounds almost like Tiananmen Square.
The reader moves on to the second paragraph—still no mention of the rocks. Fisher reports only that “the protest…was one of several marred by violence recently.” You would think that it was the Israelis who were the aggressors, “marring” innocent Palestinian rallies with their Jewish violence.
Deep in the third paragraph, Fisher refers in passing to Palestinians who were “throwing stones” at a different protest the day before.
Finally, in paragraph five, Fisher mentions the rocks that were thrown in Hawara—but only after dressing the rock-throwing in moral equivalency. It was “a battle of blame,” Fisher announces. Even though he is supposed to be a reporter investigating the circumstances, Fisher is somehow unable to determine which side is actually to blame.
On the one hand, according to Fisher, “Israelis pointed to video images showing the settler’s car…being pounded by rocks and surrounded by dozens of demonstrators.” But “for their part, Palestinians accused the settler of firing needlessly when the Israeli Army was already dispersing the crowd,” he writes.
It would have been easy for Fisher to have learned that, in fact, the army did not arrive until after the Israeli was nearly lynched and shot in self-defense—in other words, that the Palestinian version was a lie. But acknowledging this fact would have contradicted Fisher’s entire both-sides-are-to-blame narrative.
At least 14 Israelis (including two Israeli Arabs mistaken for Jews) have been stoned to death by Palestinians since the 1980s. It was only by a miracle that they did not claim a 15th victim in Hawara May 18. But you wouldn’t know that from reading Fisher’s fairy tale-account in The New York Times.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.