On second thought…
The New York Times added a lengthy and deeply embarrassing editor’s note to its November profile of Palestinian literature professor Refaat Alareer. The note, which is more than 250 words long, admits its initial reporting, which painted the scholar as an emissary of peace for his home country and its Jewish neighbors, failed somehow to notice his rampant antisemitism.
When I say “antisemitism,” I mean he tells his students Israeli literature is "a tool of colonialism and oppression.” He also tells them it’s "in part to blame for the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestine."
The New York Times originally characterized Alareer, who works at the Islamic University of Gaza, as a thoughtful scholar, one who "calmly teaches Israeli poetry.” The profile even described the moment the professor led a group discussion of a poem by the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai. Alareer is quoted as calling the poem "beautiful”; he’s quoted as praising its portrayal of Jerusalem as a place "where we all come together, regardless of religion and faith"; he is quoted as telling his students the poem underscores the “shared humanity” of Israelis and Palestinians.
The New York Times article also describes Alareer as a professor who "studiously analyzes the work of some of [Israel's] leading poets."
Though the profile concedes Alareer often “rages against Israel” on social media, it does so only to promote the narrative he is really a gracious and high-minded lover of peace.
As it turns out, however, there’s no difference between Alareer’s online and in-real-life personas.
Contra the New York Times’s initial reporting, Alareer genuinely despises the Israeli poem the paper claimed he found so life-affirming. A 2019 video from his classroom shows him calling the poem “horrible” and “dangerous.” In the same video, he claims the poem “brainwashes” readers by portraying Israelis “as innocent.”
In case there is any doubt regarding just how badly the New York Times botched the chore of researching the subject of its profile, Alareer told the paper in follow-up remarks he has always considered the poem indicative of a larger Jewish plot against the Palestinian people.
The New York Times profile now bears an editor’s note as long as it is embarrassing. You really must see it to believe it. It reads:
After publication of this article, Times editors reviewed additional information that is at odds with the article’s portrayal of Refaat Alareer, a literature professor at Islamic University in Gaza, who was described as presenting Israeli poems in a positive light to his Palestinian students.
In the class witnessed by a Times reporter, Mr. Alareer taught a poem by the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, which he called “beautiful,” saying it underscored the “shared humanity” of Israelis and Palestinians. He said he admired how it showed that Jerusalem is a place “where we all come together, regardless of religion and faith.”
However, in a video of a class from 2019, he called the same poem “horrible” and “dangerous,” saying that although it was aesthetically beautiful, it “brainwashes” readers by presenting the Israelis “as innocent.” He also discussed a second Israeli poem, by Tuvya Ruebner, which he called “dangerous,” adding “this kind of poetry is in part to blame for the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestine.”
When The Times asked Mr. Alareer about the discrepancy, he denied that there was a “substantial change” in his teaching and said that showing parallels between Palestinians and Jews was his “ultimate goal.” But he said that Israel used literature as “a tool of colonialism and oppression” and that this raised “legitimate questions” about Mr. Amichai’s poem.
But other than that, solid work by the New York Times.
Don’t you just hate it when you flat-out forget to research the subject of your profile?
MSNBC’s pile of corpses
There is no human tragedy so great that someone at MSNBC won’t seek to capitalize on it.
Tornadoes ripped through Kentucky last weekend, killing at least 100 people and injuring nearly as many. It’s a terrible tragedy, one with a high human cost. It deserves to be treated as such.
However, at MSNBC, where death is just another opportunity to score sociopolitical points, frequent guest and professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University Michael Mann saw the carnage last week as an opening to promote President Joe Biden’s climate agenda.
“Let's talk about this historic storm,” MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell began, “the context, just how severe these were, how surprising they were, and how warmer temperatures may or may not have contributed to it.”
Mann, who has just published a new book on climate change, responded, “What we can say is that we have a very warm planet right now. … If you look at the data, there is a trend towards these larger outbreaks, these larger tornado outbreaks.”
Mitchell, striking an affected tone of solemnity, moved the conversation along, shielding her interest in the political consequences of the tornadoes with a thin veneer of genuine concern for the people of Kentucky.
“The debris was thrown up, and you can only imagine what happens when it comes down again,” she said. “Let's talk about the climate change ingredient in here, and there have been reports that tornado alley is going to be moving east as climate change, global warming affects our country.”
Mann continued, noting the “jet stream is changing.”
“And we've learned by hard lessons how to change construction,” said Mitchell. “The Japanese have learned this as well, and other places around the world, to deal with earthquakes and to deal with hurricanes. Look at New Orleans coming back from death and destruction. What do we need to learn about how to build better in the southeast, let's say, and the Midwest?”
The answer, according to Mann, is for Congress to pass Biden’s multitrillion-dollar climate and social spending plan.
“You need to pass Build Back Better,” he said, “because that bill has climate provisions that will address this problem at its core, which is the warming of the planet due to carbon pollution, fossil fuel burning.”
Mann added, “So, that's most important. We can prevent this from getting worse if we act on climate now.”
I’ll give this to the climate change crowd: Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, stops them from staying on message, not even dead bodies.