It’s a clear case of journalistic malpractice. It requires an immediate apology, as well as a retraction by the author and his editors.
By Stephen M. Flatow, JNS
When is a Palestinian terrorist not a Palestinian terrorist? When The New York Times covers up her past and hopes nobody will notice.
I’m referring to a deeply troubling allegation contained in a major article in the Times on March 6, authored by its new Jerusalem bureau chief, Patrick Kingsley.
The article focused on a Palestinian disc jockey, Sama Abdulhadi, who was recently arrested by the Palestinian Authority for performing a concert near a mosque. Incredibly, Kingsley quoted Abdulhadi and others blaming “the Israeli occupation” for the mistreatment of Palestinian dissidents by the PA. I’m going to leave that absurdity aside because of an even more disturbing part of the article.
In an apparent attempt to show the continuity of alleged Israeli misbehavior from generation to generation, Kingsley wrote that in 1969, “the Israeli authorities expelled her grandmother, Issam Abdulhadi, a leading women’s rights activist.”
That statement puzzled me. Could it be true? Since when is “women’s rights activism” a crime? Would Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir—herself the living embodiment of advocacy of women’s rights—have authorized the deportation of a Palestinian woman for being a women’s rights activist?
I don’t have the vast journalistic resources or investigative reporters that Patrick Kingsley and The New York Times have at their disposal. But I do have access to Google.
So, I Googled Sama’s grandmother, Issam Abdulhadi. I looked up several variant spellings of her last name, such as Abd el-Hadi, Abd al-Hadi, Abdul Hadi and the Times’ version, Abdulhadi. Even with all those variations, it took me about five minutes to discover the real reason that Sama’s grandmother was deported.
Here I’m only going to cite sources friendly to Issam Abdulhadi and her own words so that nobody can accuse me of being biased against her. (I’m going to refer to Issam by her first name so as not to confuse her with her disc jockey granddaughter.)
On a Facebook page called “The Uprising of Women in the Arab World,” I learned that “the Israeli authorities accused Issam of supporting and hiding the Palestinian guerrillas and their ammunition … .” Hmm. That sounds like considerably more than “women’s rights activism.”
The website “Palestinian Journeys” offered a little more detail: Issam and her daughter “were charged with supplying the resistance with material aid and hiding freedom fighters wanted by the occupation authorities.”
An interview with Issam, conducted by the Palestinian Women’s Research and Documentation Centre in 2006 (translated into English by the publication The Palestinian Revolution), is especially revealing. It shatters the Times’ claim that she was merely a “women’s rights activist.”
In the interview, Issam describes how in 1965, one year after the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization, she and some of her friends decided that “we would form the women’s wing.” They called it the General Union of Palestinian Women; Issam was chosen as president.
Note the year: 1965. At the time, there were no “occupied territories.” There were no “Israeli settlements.” The “Palestine” that the Palestine Liberation Organization was trying to “liberate” was all of pre-1967 Israel—in other words, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheva. The PLO didn’t even pretend that it was willing to live in peace with Israel. It was openly a terrorist organization and was unabashedly seeking the destruction of Israel. And Issam was in charge of its “women’s wing.”
‘We did what he [Arafat] wanted’
Issam boasts in the interview that she was “one of the first female participants in writing the Palestinian National Charter.” Yes, the infamous charter that called for “armed struggle” to wipe Israel off the map. She also mentions that she was visited in her home by Yasser Arafat: “It’s true I received him in our house, we spoke, and we did what he and his group wanted … .”
Here’s what Issam says in the interview about her arrest in 1969:
“They accused me of many things, some of which were real while other charges were out of my league. The most important charge was providing financial assistance to the armed resistance and harboring fida’een [terrorists]. Harboring fida’een was the most dangerous thing; they don’t allow it.”
She continues: “A person should never admit; the most important thing is not to admit. I managed to deny many of the charges. Unfortunately, however, one of the [PLO] leaders who was related to me in one of the charges against me was the one to confess. … Now they had confirmation on this topic, supporting and harboring fighters.”
As I see it, there are two possible explanations for what Kingsley of The New York Times did.
First, he didn’t do the basic research. Perhaps he simply assumed Golda Meir’s government was guilty of deporting Issam for being a “women’s rights activist” and rushed to print that smear without verifying its accuracy.
Or, second, perhaps Kingsley did take a few minutes to find out the truth about the reasons for the deportation but then chose to cover it up, leaving Meir and her government to look like evil oppressors of women’s rights activists.
Either way, this is a clear case of journalistic malpractice. It requires an immediate apology, as well as a retraction by Kingsley and his editors.
Stephen M. Flatow is a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”