To report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to invite criticism and controversy. In what is arguably the most well-covered story in the world (perhaps before the rise of Trump), any mistake is amplified, with both sides often accusing media outlets and journalists of bias. Yet The New York Times recently took this journalistic truth to another level with a severely unforced error. In a wholly unrelated profile on Facebook’s Campbell Brown, the Grey Lady was forced to issue a long correction due to a throwaway line touting “Palestinians Pay $400 million Pensions For Terrorist Families” as an example of “far-right conspiracy programming” peddled on the social network.
In fact, as the Times subsequently clarified, “Palestinian officials have acknowledged providing payments to the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis or convicted of terrorist acts and imprisoned in Israel; that is not a conspiracy theory.”
Such payments, in truth, have risen to the top of the policy agenda in Washington over the past year. The omnibus spending package passed in March by Congress included a bill called the Taylor Force Act, which cuts U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until the practice of paying imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists is ended. (Taylor Force was a U.S. army veteran who was killed in a Palestinian attack in Israel in 2016.) The Israeli government, as well, has long called for such a measure and has debated passing a comparable bill in the Knesset. As President Donald Trump said on his visit to the West Bank last May, “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded, and even rewarded.”