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April 30, 2018 3:01 pm

Israeli Diplomat Decries ‘Terrible’ New York Times Op-Ed by Gaza Protester

avatar by Ira Stoll

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The headquarters of The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Israel’s consul general in New York, Dani Dayan, is denouncing as “terrible” a New York Times op-ed piece that inaccurately portrays the Gaza protests.

In a tweet, Ambassador Dayan wrote, “The guy uses every single euphemism for the elimination of Israel from the map. Yearns for a future without a Jewish State. Well written perhaps but terrible content.”

The Times op-ed, headlined “Why I March in Gaza,” appeared under the byline of Fadi Abu Shammiah. The Times identified him as “executive director of the General Union of Cultural Centers in Gaza.”

The article falsely characterized kite-flying as part of the “nonviolent” protests:

The resistance in the encampments has been creative and beautiful. I danced the dabke, the Palestinian national dance, with other young men. I tasted samples of the traditional culinary specialties being prepared, such as msakhan (roasted chicken with onions, sumac and pine nuts) and maftool (a couscous dish). I sang traditional songs with fellow protesters and sat with elders who were sharing anecdotes about pre-1948 life in their native villages. Some Fridays, kites flew…

Yet a series of Times news articles have described the kites as airborne weapons. An article in the April 21 Times reported:

Palestinians protested for a fourth Friday along the security fence dividing Gaza from Israel, some of them burning tires, hurling rocks or flying kites with flaming tails in the hope of setting ablaze the fields of Israeli rural communities on the other side. The Israeli military distributed a photograph of one kite with a scrawled swastika….

On Friday, the Israeli military said in a statement that people participating in what it described as riots were “attempting to approach the security infrastructures,” burning tires and trying to fly kites over the border with burning items attached to them. Several crossed into Israel, the statement said, and “were extinguished when required.”

An April 28 Times news article referred to “the Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli soldiers and firebombs attached to kites that are routinely sailed over the fence, setting fires to Israeli farmland.”

And an April 30 front-page Times profile of a 22-year-old Gaza protester who “carries a few extra pounds from too many months without work” reports that the protester “assembled kites from sticks, clear plastic and paper — and talked about attaching soda cans to them stuffed with gasoline-soaked rags, to sail over the fence and maybe set something or someone on fire.”

The Times is on hair-trigger alert for swastikas and other fascist imagery on the pro-Trump American right. Yet here they are publishing an op-ed falsely depicting swastika- and fire-bomb bearing kites as “nonviolent,” as if they were a folkdance or a couscous dish. No wonder the Israeli diplomat calls it “terrible.”

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

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