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Michael Widlanski

Dr. Michael Widlanski is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat. He is a former reporter, correspondent, and editor respectively at the New York Times, Cox Newspapers, and the Jerusalem Post. He was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel's Ministry of Public Security, and now teaches at Bar Ilan University.
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Wednesday’s War, Monday’s Quarterbacks

Thursday, November 29th, 2012 - by Michael Widlanski

Middle East Wars kill people, but they add life to the careers of journalists who substitute their own prejudices  for fact-based analysis.

The Wednesday War (eight days from Wednesday to Wednesday) against Hamas terror is a good example. It spurred sloppy reporting and idiotic analysis masquerading as expertise.

Here are a few classic cases:

  • David Carr, media reporter of The New York Times, writing from New York, accused Israel of murdering journalists in The Wednesday War in Gaza. There are several problems with the story:

Carr was not on the scene. He never got any closer to Gaza than the Waldorf Astoria, where he was covering a conference of journalists. Second, Carr, never did any reporting close to the event or any serious research after the event. Carr relied on unsubstantiated charges which he said came from other journalistic sources.

“Journalists who dig into murky and dangerous corners of the world have become accustomed to being threatened and sometimes hunted by drug lords and gangsters, but now some governments have decided shooting the messenger is a viable option,” wrote Carr, citing Israel as an example of a regime  that regularly kills the messenger.

When pressed by critics, Carr insisted that news organizations had reported that Israel killed journalists. He did not mention that the reports came out of Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, a terror organization that, like Hizballah and the PLO, has frequently falsified “evidence” and frequently intimidated journalists deliberately.

 Arab terror groups often accuse Israel of killing “journalists” or “doctors,” but some of the “journalists”  and “doctors” work for Hamas-Hizballah-PLO, even using ambulances  to ferry terrorists. For example, Wafa Idris, the first Palestinian suicide bomber, snuck into Jerusalem in an ambulance.

Those familiar with the way The New York Times has covered the Middle East for many years will not be surprised by Carr’s story. John Kifner and Thomas. Friedman covered Beirut for The Times in the 1980′s the same way, as  defense attorneys for the PLO, often near-blind to Syrian atrocities, but always ready to  accuse Israel.

Kifner was among five reporters who were abducted by a Palestinian terror group which threatened and intimidated them. The terrorists even pretended to carry out phony executions. Kifner did not write the story, avoiding the truth until an Israeli official embarrassed the Times into writing an account.

When the somewhat trepidatious account was accidentally published in the International Herald Tribune—which was sold in Beirut—Kifner, who saw himself as an intrepid war reporter in a flak jacket, hopped the first plane out of town.

Kifner, the brave war correspondent, returned to Beirut  only after his colleague, NYT correspondent Henry Tanner, made a tour of several Arab countries and got promises from several governments and branches of the PLO that the NY Times brave correspondent could safely correspond.

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