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New York Times Travel Section Celebrates Convicted Terrorist

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avatar by Ira Stoll


Rasmea Odeh. Photo: Justice4Rasmea.

Of all the restaurants in the world possibly to deserve a feature article in the New York Times Sunday travel section, the newspaper has somehow chosen one whose interior features a big mural of a Jew-killing Arab terrorist.

The article appears under the headline, “An Arab Bakery in Oakland Full of California Love.”

The Times declaration that the bakery is “full of…love” is sure strange, because it will appear to a lot of people as if it is full of hate.

The Times handles the issue in two paragraphs.

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The third sentence of the article reports, “Reem’s is one of a handful of Arab bakeries in the Bay Area — but it is likely the only one where you’ll find the children’s book ‘A Is for Activist’ on the shelves and an enormous mural of the controversial Palestinian activist Rasmeah Odeh on the wall.”

“Controversial” is such shabby journalism that the New York Times’ own style manual has an entry about the word: “This completely acceptable word becomes an unfair shortcut when attached to the name of a person, program or institution without elaboration: it places the subject under a sinister cloud without stating any case. At a minimum the issue should be specified soon after the word appears. Once that is done, the need for the adjective will often — though not always — evaporate.”

In this case, the Times waits until the last paragraph of the article to specify or elaborate, and then only vaguely:

While Ms. Assil’s food has drawn plenty of praise, the bakery’s mural has invited criticism: in late June, an online op-ed charged that Ms. Odeh’s portrayal glorified terrorism, and the bakery’s Yelp page was besieged by a slew of one-star reviews. “It was really scary,” Ms. Assil said of the experience, but added that it won her new allies. “I’m feeling really blessed by the following we’ve built,” she said. “It’s really a testament to when you build community, your customers support you.”

As the Times itself reported earlier this year, but the article about the bakery mural conspicuously omits, Odeh “was convicted for her involvement in a 1969 bombing of a Jerusalem supermarket that killed two Hebrew University students and an attempted bombing of the British consulate.”

The Times report from earlier this year went on: “While the fairness of Ms. Odeh’s conviction is debated, the fact that she was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which was categorized as a terrorist organization by the State Department, is not. The Anti-Defamation League referred to Ms. Odeh as a terrorist and raised concern that in recent years, ‘activism has been a tool for the legitimization of Rasmea Odeh, despite her criminal record in Israel.’”

The Times travel section article basically sides with the terrorists here, describing the bakery as “full of … love” and somehow making the “scary” thing the one-star Yelp reviews, as opposed to the supermarket bombing that killed two university students.

This one is a three-time fail — the choice of topic, the headline, and the treatment in the article are all disappointing. If the Times editors can’t understand this or relate to it, imagine a similar story about a bakery opening with a big mural depicting the perpetrator of the recent truck attack that killed eight in a bike lane alongside the West Side Highway in Manhattan, or one depicting the shooter in the Las Vegas massacre. Full of “love”? Come on.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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