A little-noticed comment in a New York Times interview with Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni has critics arguing that it shows the media has a “double standard” when it comes to terrorism.
In an interview published Tuesday, Livni, the leader of Israel’s centrist Kadima party, boasted that her parents, both members of the Zionist militant group Irgun in the 1940s, were the first couple to be married in the newly-formed state of Israel.
“Both of them were in the Irgun,” Livni said. “They were freedom fighters, and they met while boarding a British train. When the British Mandate was here, they robbed a train to get the money in order to buy weapons.”
To which New York Times reporter Deborah Solomon responded: “It was a more romantic era.”
“I’ve met interviewer Deborah Solomon — smart lady,” writes Philip Weiss, who brought attention to the comment on his blog. “I wonder whether she was inoculated, as I was, by Zionism, and to what degree. This is typically one-sided.”
Weiss points out that Irgun, which was fighting for the creation of a Jewish state, was responsible for the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946. That attack killed 91 people, including US and British nationals, and is believed to remain to this day as the most deadly militant attack in the history of the conflict between Israel and its neighbors.
Irgun’s membership was absorbed into the Israeli Defence Force after the creation of Israel. Its political arm is a predecessor to today’s Likud party, whose leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is prime minister of Israel.
Matt Duss at ThinkProgress goes even further than Weiss in his criticism of the Times‘ portrayal of Irgun.
“WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s amazing here is not only does Solomon neglect to challenge LivniÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s characterization of her parentsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ membership in a terrorist group as ‘freedom fight[ing],’ Solomon herself volunteers further assistance in the whitewash,” he opines.
Duss points out that, at the time of Irgun’s attacks, the Times itself referred to the group’s activities as “terrorism.”
“Can you imagine any mainstream American journalist performing this service in regard to Hamas terrorism? I doubt it,” Duss writes.