NYT's Upgraded Gaza Reporter Featured PLO Terrorist Arafat on His Personal Facebook Page

As of Saturday, Fares Akram, the New York Times correspondent in Gaza usually relegated to second billing or "contributed additional reporting" on stories, is being credited with lead bylines. The timing for Akram's higher profile is inauspicious, given a recent Forbes investigation by Richard Behar on the media's slanted coverage of Israel, especially the Times, which he called "the most important media outlet in the world...widely regarded the most authoritative media outlet in the world for international coverage."

Behar dug up a photo on Akram's Facebook page of Palestinian Liberation Organization terrorist leader Yassir Arafat that Akram previously used as his profile photo. Arafat was responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics and has been lionized by the Times  for his "heroic history" as a "father figure of Palestinian nationalism."

Behar also dug up Akram's contributions to pan-Arab network Al-Jazeera, notorious for serving cake and fireworks to released Lebanese terrorist Samir Al-Quntar, who killed a four-year-old Israeli toddler and two others, upon his 2008 release.

On Monday, Akram and Jodi Rudoren reported from the Gaza Strip on an unsubstantiated horror story about the ordeal of a Palestinian youth: "Teenager Cites Ordeal as Captive of Israelis."

A Palestinian teenager says that Israeli soldiers detained him for five days last month, forcing him to sleep blindfolded and handcuffed in his underwear and to search and dig for tunnels in Khuza’a, his village near Gaza’s eastern border, which was all but destroyed in the fighting.

The teenager, Ahmed Jamal Abu Raida, said the soldiers assumed he was connected to Hamas, the militant Islamist group that dominates Gaza, insulted him and Allah and threatened to sic a dog on him.

The Times very mildly suggested the thinness of the story (but ran it anyway).

His assertions, of actions that would violate both international law and a 2005 Israeli Supreme Court ruling, could not be independently corroborated........

A military statement also challenged the credibility of D.C.I.-Palestine, which accused the Israeli military of using Ahmed as a human shield by coercing him to engage in military actions. Throughout the current conflict, Israel has argued that Hamas uses Gaza residents as human shields by conducting militant activity in crowded public places.

The Times made its usual moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas:

On a battlefield surrounded by intense propaganda on both sides, Ahmed’s case highlights the difficulty of determining what actually happened. The Israeli military has been reluctant to reveal details of many individual situations, given the threat of war-crimes investigations. There are also repercussions for any Palestinians in contact with Israeli troops, as was on stark display in last week’s summary executions of suspected collaborators.

David Bernstein in the Washington Post questioned why the Times would run the uncorroborated tale: "...Israeli soldiers are alleged to have beaten Abu Raida repeatedly, yet he can't he show the Times's reporters any evidence of his injuries, whether photographic or lingering scars/scabs/welts/wounds....they are just repeating unconfirmed allegations from a dubious source, in other words, passing along wartime propaganda as news."

A Monday story by Akram with Isabel Kershner, "Israel Says Missile Strike Killed Hamas Official Handling 'Terror Funds,'" provided some evidence of Hamas intimidation of Palestinian civilians, but what's with the quote marks around "terror funds"?






Clay Waters
Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.