Violent clashes broke out in a West Bank village on Jan. 1 when Palestinians started to pelt Israeli soldiers with barrages of stones. The soldiers, who aimed to arrest a terrorist member of Islamic Jihad, responded with rubber-coated bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
But that's not the way the New York Times reported this incident. The Times headline, in the Jan. 2 edition, squarely puts the blame on IDF troops -- not stone-throwing villagers -- for initiating the violence ("West Bank Clashes Follow Israeli Raid to Arrest Militant" by Isabel Kershner, page A7).
In Kershner's article, the target of the Israeli raid also is not a member of a terrorist group financed and armed by Iran to kill Israelis but merely a "wanted militant." Quoting an IDF spokeswoman, Kershner writes that the purpose of the raid was to arrest a "resident, Murad Bani Odeh, who she (the spokeswoman) said was suspected of being a terrorist." In Kershner's view, Odeh is only a terrorist in the eyes of the IDF, definitely not in the world of the New York Times.
Kershner similarly seeks to avoid the "T-for-terrorism" label in defining Islamic Jihad, which she describes as an "extremist organization." No hint that this outfit is committed to the destruction of Israel and has been a major player in pelting Israeli civilians with rocket barrages from Gaza or with suicide bombings during the second intifada.
As to the conduct of the IDF in incidents like the one on New Year's Day, Kershner reports in the very last paragraph that the "Israeli military says it has been trying to balance proactive counterterrorist measures -- like widespread arrests of militants belonging to Hamas and other armed groups -- with a policy of restraint when faced with rioters, to try to prevent Palestinian fatalities and a subsequent spiral of violence."
All very nice and commendable as regards IDF behavior, but with Palestinian terrorists again getting bathed in familiar exculpatory euphemisms -- "arrests of militants" belonging to "armed groups." No opprobrium attaches to them. The sanitizing of Palestinian terrorists by the New York Times knows no end.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers