What is Palestinian Islamic Jihad? New York Times won’t give you an honest answer

by Gilead Ini

(CAMERA) — Palestinian Islamic Jihad is an antisemitic terrorist group whose attacks on civilians have caused unfathomable suffering and destruction.

Consider the case of Oran Almog. When Oran was just 10 years old, a PIJ operative entered the restaurant where he was eating with his family. When the terrorist, disguised as a pregnant woman, blew herself up, young Oran lost his father, his brother, two of his grandparents and a cousin. He was maimed and blinded. His mother and younger sister were also injured.

Oran is just one victim of PIJ’s bombing of the Maxim restaurant — 21 Israelis were killed in total, including children ages 1, 4, 9 and 11. And this was just one of the group’s many attacks targeting Israeli civilians.

PIJ is responsible for countless incidents of unimaginable evil. Or, as The New York Times has previously put it, it is a “nettlesome, unruly” little armed group. In other words, the murderers of Oran Almog’s family are, in the newspaper’s account, little more than annoying and naughty.

And today, the paper continues with its delicate descriptions of the terrorists.

After Israel targeted three senior PIJ leaders on May 9, the Times turned to reporter Raja Abdulrahim for an overview of the group: “What is Islamic Jihad and Why is Israel Targeting It?”

As a college student, Abdulrahim defended Hamas and Hezbollah and denigrated their Jewish victims. And while her latest piece wasn’t quite so brazen, it still fell short of candidly covering PIJ.

Abdulrahim tells readers that PIJ is an “armed group” that is “focused primarily on military confrontations”; that it is proscribed by “Israel and the United States”; that it was founded “to fight the Israeli occupation”; that the “Israeli military… said” the targeted leaders were responsible for rocket attacks; and that in a round of hostilities between Israel and PIJ last summer, “at least 44 Palestinians were killed in the fighting, 15 of them children.”

Each of these statements is a half-truth, and each serves to downplay or conceal PIJ’s extremism and responsibility for the conflict.

The article’s repeated references to PIJ as an “armed group” that “fights… occupation,” deals in “military activity” and focuses on “military confrontations” belies an ugly truth: Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a terrorist group.

The newspaper doesn’t refrain from using such terminology as a general thing. Just this month, for example, Times reporters mentioned a “terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya,” cited the “September 2001 terrorist attacks,” referred to “the terrorist leader responsible for the Abbey Gate attack,” spoke of “months of increased terrorist attacks” in Pakistan,” and described an Al Qaeda “terrorist cell.” And yet, the word is not used to describe PIJ and its violence. They’ve even previously scrubbed the T-word from an article about the group.

And while Abdulrahim does report on how countries designate PIJ and Hamas — “Israel and the United States list both as terrorist organizations” — here, too, she pulls the punch. It is not only Israel and the United States but also the European Union, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and others who proscribe the groups as terror entities.

Abdulrahim’s claim that PIJ was founded “to fight the Israeli occupation,” meanwhile, is a brazen dishonesty. PIJ is sworn to Israel’s destruction and has always dedicated itself to violently fighting Israel within any borders.

And though she explains that “The Israeli military said on Tuesday that it had targeted and killed three Islamic Jihad leaders that it said had been responsible for rocket attacks against Israel and other attacks against Israeli citizens in the occupied West Bank,” Abdulrahim incredibly neglects to tell readers that this attack on PIJ leaders came just a week after PIJ fired barrages of rockets at Israel — and openly took credit for the attacks.

At the same time, Abdulrahim leaves readers to believe that Israel killed “at least 44 Palestinians… 15 of them children” in last summer’s bout of fighting, although much of that number, and most of the children, were killed by PIJ’s own misfired rockets, which landed inside the Gaza Strip by the hundreds.

There is no hint in Abdulrahim’s “What is Islamic Jihad” article that the group is responsible for many murderous suicide bombings. There is no hint that it rejects peace between the Palestinians and Israel. There is no hint that its indiscriminate rocket attacks and other terrorist attacks are flagrant violations of international law. There is no hint of its brazen antisemitism.

This isn’t Abdulrahim’s college paper, and two decades have passed since she came to the defense of anti-Israel terror groups. But not a day has passed since she downplayed one.

Gilead Ini is a senior research analyst at CAMERA. His commentary has appeared in numerous publications, including “The Jerusalem Post,” “The Christian Science Monitor,” “Columbia Journalism Review” and “National Review.” Originally published by CAMERA.