Letter of the Day

Story Omitted Principal Facts

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Your article, “Three From Mideast Assail Hamas Chief’s Slaying,” basically transcribes the remarks of three visitors at face value. In return, the trio gets free publicity for its local lecture. This easy writing makes for easy reading, but at the expense of facts. For example:

The Jewish woman, an Israeli, “doesn’t see how” her country’s assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin contributes to peace. She isn’t pressed on the fact that since Israel intensified its campaign against terrorist leaders, the casualty rate from attacks has dropped. The Christian Palestinian Arab says Palestinian society views the killing of Yassin as “extrajudicial.” Your reporter lets that go without finding a source to point out that terrorist leaders such as Yassin have the status of wartime combatants.

She also claims that Israelis should have arrested Yassin instead of killing him. Michael Paul Williams seems unaware that Israel had arrested Yassin and held him for eight years, freeing him in exchange for captured Israeli agents and a promise not to engage in terrorism.

The Muslim woman laments the U.S. veto of a UN resolution that would have condemned Israel for killing Yassin but did not mention Palestinian terrorism. Williams fails to provide context: Of the approximately 2,500 Palestinians killed in the violence since September, 2000, 53 percent have been combatants, another 13 percent were Palestinians murdered by other Arabs; of the more than 900 Israeli dead, almost 79 percent have been non-combatants. Palestinians, not Israelis, are targeting innocents.

“Why would someone become a Sheik Yassin?” one visitor asks, and Williams lets her imply it’s a mystery. Why would someone become a bin Laden? Might religious fanaticism, a consuming hatred for the West, for Jews and Christians who refuse to acknowledge Islamic superiority, have something to do with it? Eric Rozenman, Washington Director, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. fairfax.

My comment: Hold bad journalist’s feet to the fire.

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