Sunday, July 10, 2011

New York Times Fumbles Failed Flytilla Fracas Facts

Iran's Press TV website published this photo of the how the meanie Israelis
dealt with the peaceful pilgrims. A similar but more brutal scene
accompanied the NY Times article
Isabel Kershner's NY Times report on Friday's flytilla into Ben Gurion Airport made it sound as if the participants were brutally stopped from attending something on the order of a snoozy academic conference at the Hyatt Regency in LA. Or better still, as Christian pilgrims landing expectantly in the Holy Land.

Here is how she put it in the lead: “Israel prevented a gathering of foreigners here on Friday by blocking, deterring or deporting hundreds of air travelers who had been invited by Palestinian activists to fly into Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport and then travel to the West Bank for a week of “fellowship and actions.”"  

As Barry Rubin points out in his article, Kershner's lead seriously downplayed the activists' intentions. "Now if this was true, those foreigners–unless they had engaged in some violent or directly subversive action (abetting terrorists, smuggling in money)–would have arrived in the airport, walked through the terminal, and boarded buses to go to the West Bank without difficulty. Hundreds of anti-Israel activists have done so in the past. Remember, too, that this action arose directly out of the failed flotilla a few days previously, an operation backed by Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood."

Here is what Rubin thinks would be a more honest lead: "Israel blocked, deterred or deported hundreds of anti-Israel activists who planned a demonstration at Ben-Gurion International airport and then to travel to the West Bank for a week of demonstrations and support activities for the Palestinians there."

I'd go further, my lead would be this: "Israel blocked, deterred or deported hundreds of anti-Israel activists who planned a simultaneous fly-in of hundreds of activists to disrupt order at Ben-Gurion International airport and then to travel to the West Bank for a week of demonstrations and delegitimization support activities." 

One of the really important facts missed by Kershner is that the organizers made specific requests of Palestinians living abroad to fly in and claim their Right of Return thereby linking this event with earlier border-busting protests that took place on "Nakba" and "Naksa" days. Watch the linked video to see precisely how initial organizer Free Gaza's 'Dr.' Paul Larudee laid it all out. Note also how he refers to 'so-called' Ben-Gurion Airport by its Israel-denying, Palestinian name of 'Lyd Airport.'

Anyway, the point is that based on what happened on the Mavi Marmara last year, Israel had every right to anticipate a serious disturbance at the airport and we should all be grateful that the Flytilla flopped. The NY Times has, as usual, seriously misrepresented the context of the event and consequently lent another hand to the delegitimizers.

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