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NY Times Nonsense on Arrigoni Murder – OpEd


The NY Times’ Israel correspondents, always eager to get in a shot against Hamas when they can, fill their report on the murder of Vittorio Arrigoni with nonsense and near-nonsense.  Of course, they published a picture of a bloodied Vittorio shortly before his death.  Better to dramatize his graphic murder and score a few points against the terrorism supposedly running rampant in Gaza.

Next is the claim that the murder makes Hamas look bad which you can see in the headline, Gaza Killing of Italian Activist Deals a Blow to Hamas:

That [the murder] raised embarrassing questions for Hamas about the security it says it has restored in the Palestinian coastal enclave since it ousted its secular rival, Fatah, in a short, factional war.

The only thing Hamas did that made it look bad is saying today that Israel may be to blame, which was genuinely a stupid comment.  But unlike NY Times reporters, most of the rest of the thinking world understands that Hamas didn’t kill this man who was dedicated to the Palestinian cause.  And also unlike NY Times reporters, most people understand that with Gaza under Israeli siege and not subject to the normal conditions under which much of the rest of the world lives, it can be exceedingly difficult to rein in the nutcases, hot-heads and murderous thugs among them.

What NY Times reporters won’t tell you, is that Israel itself has a great deal of difficulty restraining its own settler types who espouse homicidal political views and perpetrate similar acts of mayhem on a regular basis.  What makes it worse when it happens in Israel is that the authorities have neither the will nor the competence to capture and punish these violent thugs.  One thing you can be sure is that Hamas will eventually capture Arrigoni’s killers and they will face justice.  Though I hope it is not the form of justice meted out sometimes by the IDF to Palestinian militants suspected of murdering Israelis–at the barrel of a gun.

Note the near glee with which Isabel Kershner raises the specter of the threat to other international peace activists in the Arrigoni murder:

It also raises the specter of a growing boldness on the part of more extreme, virulently anti-Western Islamic groups in Gaza, which would pose a challenge not only to Hamas but to foreign activists promoting the Palestinian cause.


The only specter here is one raised by Israeli intelligence and ampified by reporters like those of the NY Times.  The group which murdered the Italian peace activist has few members and even less support among the population.  It is a rogue entity with which Hamas has been at war for over a year.  This group poses no threat whatsoever to Hamas.  But it does provide a PR bonanza for the Bibis of the world who can now point to the blood-thirsty scum supposedly thriving in the cesspool that is Gaza.  Of course, there will no mention that the very conditions brought on by the Israeli siege offer the sectarianism represented by these Islamist radicals a fertile breeding ground: joblessness, poverty, illness, hopelessness, prison conditions.  These are the conditions in which extremism and violence thrives.  If the siege ended the radical crazies would no longer have any recruiting ground.

The article contains the questionable claim that Rachel Corrie’s death discouraged other activists from coming to Gaza:

Although her death galvanized public opinion worldwide, it discouraged other activists from living and working in Gaza.

Israel killed Rachel Corrie and her death certainly didn’t discourage others from coming though it may’ve made them more cautious in the risks they took in confronting Israeli forces.

The only true statement in the article is the question the death raises for the upcoming series of flotillas making their way to Gaza to continue the campaign of breaking Israel’s siege.  It is true that activists around the world will question their commitment to a Gaza that contains such murderous thugs.  But I doubt it will have much of a negative effect.  If anything, it will cause Hamas to take better care of such activists to ensure their safety.

What this article proves is that the NY Times hasn’t a clue what is going on in Gaza.  Partly this is because they don’t assign a correspondent there who has the authority to report there on a par with the authority and seniority of Ethan Bronner in Israel.  Partly, it’s because they wear ideological blinders.  They see what they want to see and disregard the rest.

This article first appeared at Tikun Olam

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Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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