Last weekend, the New York Times (NYT) was praised to the high heavens by activists who campaign tirelessly for a “world without Zionism.” The praise of those who dedicate all their energies to demonizing the world’s only Jewish state was well-deserved.
Mondoweiss – a site that, for good reason, has often been criticized for antisemitism – proclaimed ecstatically: “Landmark ‘NYT Magazine’ cover story ennobles resistance in Nabi Saleh.” The aspects highlighted by Mondoweiss illustrate perfectly why the NYT Magazine story was so popular in these circles:
“Iconic portraits of several of the heroic villagers [of Nabi Saleh] adorn the magazine’s cover, and the piece itself, by novelist Ben Ehrenreich, is told from the point of view of a community of 500 souls resisting monstrous forces that have taken their land and lives. […]
The great surprise of the piece is that it has appeared in the Times at all. For it contains an implicit argument for violent resistance and little of the usual hasbara fixin’s. Israeli spokespeople are not allowed to frame the resistance; the narrator doesn’t lecture us about two states and in fact refers to the territorial distinction between 1948 Israel and 1967 Israel as ‘the so-called 1967 Green Line.’ Regular readers of our site will find no new information here […] Ehrenreich represents our community, the next generation of enlightened Americans surveying this bitter conflict.”
At Mondoweiss, “enlightened” means of course subscribing to the fervent belief that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state and that it is in no way antisemitic to demand that the Jews give up their right to self-determination in a state of their own. And as Mondoweiss rightly notes, Ben Ehrenreich indeed “represents” the “community” that opposes the existence of Israel as a Jewish state: four years ago, he explained in the Los Angeles Times that “Zionism is the problem” because it keeps “Israelis and Palestinians from living in peace.”
One can’t get more simplistic than that, but Ehrenreich has since worked hard to spread this view and has won an award for his contribution to the popular “water libel”-genre of writings that accuse Israel of stealing and/or poisoning Palestinian water supplies.
While Mondoweiss was jubilant that the NYT was so willing to feature Ehrenreich’s “implicit argument for violent resistance,” mainstream sites harshly criticized that the “New York Times Magazine Cheerleads for Terror.”
The most powerful response to the NYT Magazine piece came from Frimet and Arnold Roth who lost their teenaged daughter in the 2001 terror attack on the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. Writing on their blog “This Ongoing War,” the Roths note that Ehrenreich just mentions in passing that “Ahlam Tamimi [who] escorted a bomber to a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem” remains “much-loved in Nabi Saleh.”
“That’s all he writes about Ahlam Tamimi but we can tell you more. She is a Jordanian who was 21 years old and the news-reader on official Palestinian Authority television when she signed on with Hamas to become a terrorist. She engineered, planned and helped execute a massacre in the center of Jerusalem on a hot summer afternoon in 2001. She chose the target, a restaurant filled with Jewish children. And she brought the bomb. The outcome (15 killed, a sixteenth still in a vegetative state today, 130 injured) was so uplifting to her that she has gone on camera again and again to say, smiling into the camera lens, how proud she is of what she did. She is entirely free of regret. A convicted felon and a mass-murderer convicted on multiple homicide charges, she has never denied the role she embraced and justifies it fully.”
So this is the “much-loved” heroine of the “heroic villagers” that NYT Magazine promoted on its cover and in a lengthy feature story.
What is truly remarkable about the cover is that NYT Magazine chose to include the images of at least two children among those who want to get the credit for starting a third Intifada.
This is actually remarkably honest, because – as I have recently documented in a post on “The child-soldiers of Palestine” – it is a longstanding Palestinian tradition to encourage and train children to participate in violent confrontations with Israel, and Palestinian children were also used in the last Intifada.
As Ehrenreich himself acknowledges, one of the children featured on the NYT Magazine cover – the girl in the bottom row of photos – is already well-known. Indeed, Ehrenreich’s efforts to present Nabi Saleh’s wannabe Intifada instigators as “people like you and me” requires him to treat their confrontations with Israeli soldiers as a “family affair” that naturally includes the children.
But not just Ehrenreich and NYT Magazine are willing to idolize a girl who is encouraged by her parents to try her best to provoke Israeli soldiers. The 11-year-old Ahed Tamimi – daughter of Bassem Tamimi, the leader of Nabi Saleh’s Intifada-hopefuls – had received an award and an iPhone from Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan in recognition of her photogenic efforts to wear out the patience of Israeli soldiers.
As it turns out, Ahed received the “Handala Courage Award” – which happens to be named after a cartoon character created by Palestinian cartoonist Naji Salim al-Ali (also spelled Nagi El-Ali) whom I quoted in my post on “The child-soldiers of Palestine,” where I wrote:
“consider this revealing testimony, first published in 1985 and reprinted 1998 for a special Al-Ahram series on “50 years of Arab dispossession”: in an interview, Nagi El-Ali, a prominent cartoonist, decries Israel’s 1982 campaign against Palestinian terror groups in Lebanon, but then he boasts:
‘I saw for myself how afraid the Israeli soldiers were of the children. A child of ten or eleven had sufficient training to carry and use an RBG rifle. The situation was simple enough. The Israeli tanks were in front of them and the weapon was in their hands. The Israelis were afraid to go into the camps, and if they did, they would only do so in daylight.’”
Ahed Tamimi is just an 11-year-old girl, but her parents must be so proud that they brought up their daughter in this tradition – which nowadays is recognized, rewarded and promoted not just by Turkey’s Islamist prime minister, but also by the NYT Magazine.
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Cross-posted from my JPost blog.