Friday, July 18, 2014
Why Won’t The Times Answer These Questions About Official Israeli Censorship In The Immolation Murder Case of Palestinian Teen Abu Khdeir?
The case of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teenager who was abducted, then burned alive by Jewish extremists earlier in the month, is the subject of an official Israeli police gag order which has not yet been lifted. Although the Times has acknowledged the gag order’s existence, it will not say directly whether it is complying with it, whether it is trying to circumvent it, what the Israeli government is trying to keep shrouded and why it might be trying to do so.
Having noted another Israeli gag order that proved troubling for the Paper of Record back in April, also involving its Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Ruderon, I wanted to know more about this case, which is at the center of a new round of communal violence between restive Palestinians now nearing their 50th year of Israeli military occupation and Jewish extremists, whose historical tribal bloodymindedness and chauvinism, is on the ascent after a certain period of dormancy. It's all getting a bit ugly over there, with right wing Jewish mobs attacking Palestinians on the street and Israeli youth, including IDF soldiers, taking to twitter and Facebook, largely in Hebrew, to express hate and hopes for revenge.
I emailed Joe Kahn, the Times Foreign Editor, about the case.
Just wondering whether you cd give me some information for my blog, Coloring The News, as well as the book I am writing on the US-Israel "special relationship, on NYT compliance with the Israeli police gag order in the case of that Palestinian teen ager who was recently abducted and burned alive. The gag order has been alluded to in your Public Editor's blog, as well as by Robert Mackay in his blog, the Lede. But I'd like to know a bit more, so if you cd answer the following questions, I'd be appreciative.
1) What is the Times stated policy on observing or not observing these kinds of gag orders, and in the absence of any stated policy, what has been newsroom precedent? (btw, I wrote abt the similar case back in April.)
2) Have you had communication with the Israeli government over this issue? Has the Israeli government threatened in any way, or implied any threats, concerning the press credentials it has issued to your bureau reporters?
3) Cd Jodi Ruderon be kicked out of Israel if she were violate the police order? Wd Isabel Kershner, who is an Israeli citizen, be stripped of her credentials, or expose herself to criminal or civil prosecution if she were to violate the order?
4) Was Steven Erlanger brought in fr London to report on the case as a way of circumventing the order? Did you receive any complaints, formal or informal, about Erlanger's recent report on Israeli extremists and their connection to the case?
5) Was the identity of the suspect who is not a minor withheld from Erlanger's reporting out of deference to the order, or to minimize any official backlash or did Erlanger not know it?
6) Was the NYT aware of the reporting on the case on the Israeli website Ynet, which seems to have been able to reveal the names of the suspect who is not a minor, and also explore in much deeper journalistic detail, the connection between the suspect and the suspect's family---which includes two prominent right wing rabbis and extremist, ultra-nationalistic elements in the Israeli settler movement?
After a bit of delay, Kahn did respond.
Hi -- I'm not inclined to get into a detailed discussion about this. We have said many times that we respect the laws of the countries where we station reporters, and at the same time we report aggressively on subjects of interest to our readers. The recent case of the kidnapped and murdered Palestinian youth is not an exception.
Hardly answers to the questions I put to him, but at least it was a response. Attempts to get a response from Times VP/communications, Eileen Murphy, were not so fruitful.