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October 8, 2015 10:02 am

Time Magazine’s Problematic New Middle East Bureau Chief

avatar by Elder of Ziyon

Jared Malsin is Time magazine's new Middle East bureau chief. Photo: Elder of Ziyon.

Jared Malsin is Time magazine’s new Middle East bureau chief. Photo: Elder of Ziyon.

Jared Malsin has just been named Time magazine’s Middle East bureau chief.

Malsin used to be editor at Ma’an, and he was denied entry to Israel after a vacation in 2010. The reasons given were, according to Ma’an:

1) Refusal to cooperate
2) Lying to border officials
3) Reasons for arriving unclear
4) Violated visa terms
5) Entered Israel by means of lies

Journalist organizations all assumed that this was a cover for Israeli attempts to stifle free speech.

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Malsin is clearly biased against Israel. For example, this 2007 Ma’an article “Grief for the victims of September 11th, and all those that followed” equates Palestinians with 9/11 victims.

Although the Palestinian Authority condemned the September 11th attacks, with elderly Palestinian President Yasser Arafat donating blood to help the victims in New York and Washington, the years since the attacks have seen conditions in the Occupied Territories worsen significantly, in part due to the ideological thrust of the United States’ “war on terrorism,” which saw terrorism not as the product of historical and political forces, but rather some kind of cultural dysfunction, a racial defect most often described as “Islamic extremism.”

“Terrorism knows no geographical boundaries,” said former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in a speech on September 11th, 2002: “Bin Laden’s suicide terror, the terrorism of Hamas, Tanzim and Hizbullah, the terrorism engineered by the Palestinian Authority, Saddam Hussein’s involvement in and support for Palestinian terrorism, and the terrorist networks directed by Iran are all inseparable components of that same axis of evil which threatens peace and stability everywhere in the world.”

With the political cover provided by the doctrine of the “war on terrorism,” Palestinians have endured an intensification of Israel’s policies: raids and incursions, assassinations, house demolitions, the construction of settlements, and the erection of the illegal separation barrier.

Yes, according to Malsin, there was never a violent Palestinian intifada, no suicide bombings on pizza shops and discos and buses. Israel just used 9/11 as an excuse to attack Arabs for no reason.

After Ma’an, Malsin has written for The Guardian, VICE and Electronic Intifada with pieces in the NYT and Columbia Journalism Review. One EI piece praises terrorists:

Few other words shut down critical thought as completely as the word “terrorist.” Few other labels are so morally loaded, so totalizing, so antithetical to reasoned, measured debate. Almost no other term evokes such facile, muddled thinking.

Thus, when a local leader of Islamic Jihad and three other Palestinian “terrorists” were killed by Israeli special forces in Bethlehem on Wednesday night, 12 March, few outside of Palestine will mourn their deaths.

In the eyes of many in Israel, Europe and North America, another menace has been eliminated. Mohammad Shehadah, Issa Marzouq, Imad al-Kamel, and Ahmad Balboul will likely be remembered as murderous scum.

In Palestine, however, and in Bethlehem in particular, these men, and the event of their deaths, will be remembered differently.

The assassinations had resulted in a moment of terror, and then sadness. Shehadah and his comrades had visited my office hours before they were killed. Their cousins are my coworkers. After speaking to those who knew them, my impression is that they were decent people, activists who, their tactics aside, took extraordinary risks to fight for the ideal of freedom.

“Their tactics aside”? Malsin justified any and all terror attacks as long as they can be considered to be “fighting for the ideal of freedom.”

Besides, Shehadeh has hardly only a “local leader” of Islamic Jihad. He had been a top terrorist since the beginning of the second intifada, involved in several terror attacks that killed Israelis, and he seems to have been an important conduit between Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad – his body was covered in a Hezbollah flag for his funeral.

On the plus side, Malsin does not suffer from the obsession with Israel that so many journalists have. His articles show that he is aware of the wider Middle East and he has written pieces about Libya, Bahrain, ISIS and many from his more recent stint in Egypt.

He may be biased against Israel but I do not see in him the Israel-derangement syndrome that others have, including Time‘s Karl Vick. Even when at Ma’an he had stories that were critical of the PA, which most journalists avoid.

So while Malsin will certainly not be a fair reporter concerning Israel, he might actually improve Time‘s Middle East coverage.

Faint praise, I know.

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