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October 31, 2014 12:27 pm

New York Times Corrects Allegation Made by Extremist, Four Months Later

avatar by Ben Cohen

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The New York Times has corrected a story which approvingly relayed a false claim by Palestinian extremist Ali Abunimah. Photo: Twitter

The New York Times has corrected an article which approvingly relayed a claim by the U.S.-based anti-Zionist extremist, Ali Abunimah, four months after the piece first appeared.

Soon after the June kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar, who were hiking in the West Bank, Times blogger Robert Mackey, who regularly pens articles hostile to Israel, repeated Abunimah’s allegation that a popular Israeli Facebook page called for the arbitrary murder of Palestinians. The Facebook page’s tagline in fact states, in Hebrew rhyme, “Until the boys return — every hour we shoot a terrorist.”

The Times correction reads as follows:

An earlier version of this post referred imprecisely to an Israeli Facebook page demanding retribution for the abduction of the Israeli teenagers that was cited by Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian-American activist, in a Twitter post. The Facebook page urged Israelis to kill a Palestinian prisoner held on terrorism charges every hour; in his tweet, Mr. Abunimah referred to the proposed victims as simply “Palestinian.”

The Times correction appeared following a sustained effort led by CAMERA, the US-based Middle East reporting watchdog, which welcomed its publication. “It’s never too late to right a wrong,” CAMERA Senior Analyst Gilead Ini told The Algemeiner. “It should have been corrected right away, but when we pushed the paper for a correction, they finally agreed, so they deserve some credit.”

Ini remains concerned about Mackey’s journalism. “Just yesterday, he linked to another complete misquote – a tweet from [Jewish anti-Israel activist] MJ Rosenberg saying that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu had described the 9/11 atrocities as ‘very good,'” Ini said. “In fact, Netanyahu said that the consequence of the atrocities would be to boost American-Israeli relations. In this case, Mackey did provide some additional clarification, but it’s certainly not something he should link to in the first place, especially as he fancies himself to be a fact checker.”

Ini expressed the hope that the correction would persuade Times editors to subject Mackey’s writings to greater scrutiny. “If Mackey can’t practice ethical journalism when reporting the Middle East, he shouldn’t do it at all,” Ini said.

Abunimah, the source of Mackey’s misquote, is the founder and editor of The Electronic Intifada, a website widely viewed as antisemitic, which advocates for Israel’s elimination as a sovereign state and promotes the theory that American policy in the Middle East is controlled by a shadowy pro-Israel lobby. Abunimah has energetically promoted what he describes as the “one-state solution,” a formula regarded by many Jews and Israelis as a polite euphemism for the replacement of Israel with  single Palestinian state from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan.

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