Boston Globe alumnus Anne Barnard reports on Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero, in today’s New York Times. It’s an excellent piece of work, and provides further evidence that hatemongers like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich have it all wrong.
But an editor should have flagged one section near the end as needing a disclosure on the part of the Times. Barnard reports that Abdul Rauf has come under fire in some quarters for refusing to refer to Hamas as a “terrorist organization.”
Referring to a radio interview, Barnard writes that Adbul Rauf “clumsily tries to say that people around the globe define terrorism differently and labeling any group would sap his ability to build bridges. He also says: ‘Targeting civilians is wrong. It is a sin in our religion,’ and, ‘I am a supporter of the state of Israel.'”
It seems to me that someone should have inserted a parenthetical noting that the Times, too, declines to use the T-word when describing Hamas. Here’s what then-public editor Clark Hoyt wrote in 2008:
To the consternation of many, The Times does not call Hamas a terrorist organization, though it sponsors acts of terror against Israel. Hamas was elected to govern Gaza. It provides social services and operates charities, hospitals and clinics. Corbett said: “You get to the question: Somebody works in a Hamas clinic — is that person a terrorist? We don’t want to go there.” I think that is right.
Whether you think the Times’ policy is right or wrong, it would have been useful to point out that Abdul Rauf’s reluctance is shared by our leading newspaper.