Last week, the warbloggers were all up in arms when the Aksa Martyrs Brigades — a Palestinian extremist group associated with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement — executed 35 year-old Ikhklas Khouli for collaborating with Israel.
Such extrajudicial murders are bad enough, but in this case Ms. Khouli’s son, Bakir, said that he was tortured into providing incriminating evidence against his mother. Photos posted on news sites such as at Yahoo! of Bakir Khouli showed his back covered in welts just as if he had been repeatedly hit with an electrical cable just as he claimed. Khouli said in interviews that by the time the Aksa Martyrs Brigades torturers were done with him, he would have said anything to stop the interrogation. And what he did say — falsely he claims — was that his mother was a collaborator.
And so, being the sort of upstanding movement concerned about human rights, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades gave her a show trial and then took Ms. Khoui outside and shot her dead.
What is interesting is how The New York Times chose to cover the story. Serge Schmemann has a 1,453 word article about Ms. Khouli’s execution and the execution of another female “collaborator.” But rather than a story about horrific torture of alleged suspects by Palestinian groups, the article largely offers the Aksa Martyrs Brigades the opportunity to defend its actions. The Aksa Martyrs Brigades don’t want to torture and murder people, but the Israelis force them into it, you see (a nutty Israeli peace group actually took this absurdity to its logical conclusion by saying Israel was to blame when Palestinians terrorists torture and murder suspected Palestinian collaborators).
In fact, it is not until the reader has trudged through more than 1,300 words of Schmemann’s dry prose that the possibility of torture is even introduced. Even then with three pitiful paragraphs at the end to cover a major part of the story, Schmemann can’t bring himself to actually use the word “torture”. Instead Schmemann frames the story by noting that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed that Bakri Khouli testified against his mother voluntarily, but that the details of Bakri’s own account “tell a different story.”
Can you imagine, even for a moment, what would happen if a photo of a prisoner at Guantanamo was released showing the prisoner’s back covered in welts? Do you think The New York Times would relegate that fact to the final three paragraphs of a long story dominated by comments from Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft about just how guilty they are certain the prisoner really was and that this was the only way to deal with such witnesses? Hell, if Bakri Khouli had been tortured by the Israeli’s rather than by fellow Palestinians, this would be front page news for weeks and by now the United Nations would be calling for at least three international investigative teams to be put together to examine the crime.
It is odd that the Times and the rest of the world seem to think that when the Israeli’s accidentally kill civilians while trying to eliminate terrorists who are illegally placing themselves in civilian populations, that this is worthy of front page news for days on end. When Palestinian terrorists close to the president of the Palestinian Authority decide to torture children and execute women,however, even The New York Times can’t use the “t” word and the story is apparently of little interest around the world since it doesn’t fit the dominant media paradigm of Israeli oppressors vs. Palestinian victims.
For Arab Informers, Death; For the Executioners, Justice. Serge Schmemann, The New York Times, September 1, 2002.