She is not Walter Duranty, the New York Times’ fancifully favorable correspondent in the Soviet Union during the darkest years of Stalin’s rule. And she also is not Herbert Matthews, the Times’ ritual denier of Castro’s crimes in Cuba. To both of these journalists but not them alone (after all, we had I.F. Stone to put lies in our eyes during both regimes) we can credit the infatuation of many liberals and radicals with two of the differently paradigmatic communist tyrannies of the twentieth century.
Believe me, Isabel Kershner, the Times reporter who mostly covers the Palestinians, has few illusions about them and their leaderships. But her war is in Israeli politics where a battle won for the Palestinians in the New York Times is a battle lost by the Netanyahu government in Washington. Now, in God’s world, everybody’s life is worth anyone else’s. But if you read the Times online, you will find that Kershner’s reports of one Palestinian woman killed is more important than scores of human beings elsewhere.
The particular tale I have in mind has been written up by Barry Rubin, a scholar of the Middle East and an essayist on the Palestinians. He and just about every other reliable journalist (some of them forced into retractions by the facts and only the facts) found Jawaher Abu Rahmah of Bilin died not from tear gas, which never kills, but from an overdose of medicine for cancer. Anyway, here’s the story.