In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 23, 2007 / 5 Iyar, 5767

Another Pulitzer Prize Disgrace

By Jonathan Tobin

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

Puff piece on mosque that inspired murder further tarnishes the 'Times'

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In 1932, one of the most prestigious honors in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize, was awarded to Walter Duranty, a New York Times reporter who was then serving as foreign correspondent in the Soviet Union.

Though many other Pulitzers — both deserved and undeserved — have been handed out over the years, Duranty's is remembered more than most.

In the online archive of the prizes (www.pulitzer.org), Duranty's award is noted in a bland, one-sentence explanation that reads simply: "For his series of dispatches on Russia especially the working out of the Five Year Plan."

The reference is to Duranty's reporting on Soviet leader Josef Stalin's economic plan. Duranty's dispatches helped build an image of Comrade Stalin's totalitarian state as an idealistic work in progress.

But there were a few things missing from Duranty's stories. These included the mass murder of Soviet peasants who resisted forced collectivization, and the deliberate attempt at starvation of the people of the Ukraine in what is now known as the "terror famine" that took up to 3 million lives. He also got the part about the disastrous five-year plan "working out" wrong.

In subsequent years, Duranty followed this up with further lies that whitewashed Stalin's infamous show trials and purges that resulted in the deaths of millions more victims of communism.

Duranty's work remains the gold standard of journalism malpractice primarily because of his political motives. The writer sympathized with the Soviet Union, and was willing to lie about it.

Sadly, efforts to get the Pulitzer Prize Board to revoke Duranty's honor have been resisted by both the board and the Times, even though the latter admits Duranty's reporting was, as current editor Bill Keller put it, "credulous" and "uncritical."

Unfortunately, that belated admission of fault might well apply to the latest member of the Times staff to win a Pulitzer. The 2007 Pulitzer for Feature Writing announced this week went to Andrea Elliot, the author of an 11,000-word, three-part story, "An Imam in America," about Sheik Reda Shata of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The series, which first appeared on March 5-7, 2006, is touted on the newspaper's Web site as the story of "the inner life of a mosque in Brooklyn, and the dynamic, creative, conflicted and fearful imam at its center: Sheik Reda Shata. Through study and conversation, persuasion and persistence, Elliott achieved an intimate, tough-minded exploration of the lives of immigrant Muslims after 9/11."

However, a few things were missing from these "tough-minded" pieces, which sympathetically portrayed the Egyptian-born Shata.

The most important was Elliot's failure to mention anything about the role of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in the murder of 16-year-old Ari Halberstam in a van filled with Jewish children on the Brooklyn Bridge. Not one of her 11,000 words refers to the fact that it was this same mosque that was the forum for the sermon that inspired one of its congregants, Rashid Baz, to go out and try to murder as many Jews as he could in March of 1994.

At Baz's trial, it was revealed that Mohammed Moussa — Shata's predecessor at the mosque — was quoted as saying the following in a sermon heard by the killer on the day of the rampage: "This takes the mask off of the Jews. It shows them to be racist and fascist as bad as the Nazis. Palestinians are suffering from the occupation and it's time to end it."

How, you may ask, could one write about any religious institution and ignore the most notorious aspect of its recent history?

In a subsequent article in The New York Sun, Halberstam's mother, Devorah, related that she called Elliot to ask why she had omitted the story of her son's murder from the feature on the mosque. Elliot replied that "she knew nothing about it."

This was, at the very least, an indictment of the reporter's research skills, which ought to have earned her the humiliation of an editor's note acknowledging the mistake, not journalism's greatest prize.

But there is more wrong here than just one missing fact. It is that the entire thesis of Elliot's work (which ironically concluded on the 12th anniversary of Ari's death) was to portray Shata and his mosque as a force for moderation.

Setting up her subject, Elliot insists that "imams like Shata — men who embrace American freedom and condemn the radicals they feel have tainted their faith — rarely make the news."

While Shata did not give the sermon that inspired Baz, he did praise the Hamas terror group, and spoke of its leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, as a "lion of Palestine [who] has been martyred." As even Elliot was constrained to note, Shata had also praised a Palestinian female suicide bomber, Reem Al-Reyashi, as a "martyr."

Absent from the feature is any attempt at a serious discussion of how a religious leader who praises terrorists can, at the same time, pretend to be fostering interfaith dialogue with Jews and Christians. Shata utters coded responses such as, "What I may see as terrorism, you may not see that way," without follow-up from his interviewer.

Though quite a bit of space in the piece was devoted to the imam's attempts at matchmaking, serious issues about the way Islamist practices intersect with American life were left out. Their views of sensitive subjects such as "honor" killings of women or polygamy remain largely absent.

Instead, what Elliot — and presumably, her editors — were interested in was the supposed plight of American Muslims in a hostile society.

This is in spite of the fact that attacks on Muslims in post-9/11 America have been notably rare, and that American leaders have gone out of their way to distinguish Islam from Islamist extremists.

While the newspaper describes her beat as "focusing on the impact of 9/11 on American Muslims," a better way to describe it might be to say its purpose is to divert us from the need to focus on Islamist extremism.

The Times had another use for their pages: making the rest of us feel guilty about the sensitivities of some Muslim-Americans whose views on terrorism are understandably unpopular. Facts that don't feed into these assumptions are slighted or completely ignored.

Like more recent Times coverage of the Council on American Islamic Relations, in which those apologists for terror have been allowed to rebrand themselves as a "civil-rights group," the reporting here leaves little doubt that this is a newspaper on a mission. The result is not only shoddy journalism; it is a politically inspired muddle that leaves us knowing only those elements of the life of Shata and his mosque that he wishes to present to us.

Both Elliot and Duranty crossed the same line when they allowed their agenda to dictate their coverage. While Duranty covered up genocide, dishonesty about Islamist extremism is no less egregious. What this proves is that those who imagined that Duranty was a relic of journalism's past were wrong. That a travesty such as Elliot's "imam" would bring a Pulitzer is a disgrace that again taints the reputation of both the prizes and the Times.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here.

Jonathan Tobin Archives

© 2007, Jonathan Tobin