Hosam Salem, a Palestinian photographer who freelanced for the New York Times for four years in Gaza, reports today that the newspaper dismissed him after a pro-Israel organization alerted the paper to Facebook posts in which he had expressed support for Palestinian resistance.
Salem says that the Israel lobby organization Honest Reporting, which exists to attack the Palestinian narrative in the west, succeeded in discrediting him and two other Palestinian journalists who worked for the Times.
“What is taking place is a systematic effort to distort the image of Palestinian journalists as being incapable of trustworthiness and integrity, simply because we cover the human rights violations that the Palestinian people undergo on a daily basis at hands of the Israeli army,” Salem wrote today on Facebook and Twitter, in a thread that has been widely retweeted, 5000 times this morning.
The case stands in stark contrast to the three Jewish reporters, Ethan Bronner, Isabel Kershner, and David Brooks, who carried on writing about the issue for the New York Times even when their children were enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces. The Times executive editor in 2010 overruled the public editor’s recommendation that Bronner be removed from the post of Jerusalem bureau chief saying that those who questioned his bias should not “be allowed to deny the rest of our audience the highest quality of reporting.”
Hosam Salem’s full statement says that he began working with the Times during the great freedom march of 2018 in Gaza, including work on the paper’s investigation of the killing of paramedic Razan al-Najjar.
Salem describes the firing:
After years of covering the Gaza Strip as a freelance photojournalist for the New York Times, I was informed via an abrupt phone call from the US outlet that they will no longer work with me in the future.
As I understood later, the decision was made based on a report prepared by a Dutch editor – who obtained Israeli citizenship two years ago – for a website called Honest Reporting.
The article, which the New York Times had based its decision for dismissing me, gives examples of posts I wrote on my social media accounts, namely Facebook, where I had expressed support for the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation…
My aforementioned posts also spoke of the resilience of my people and those who were killed by the Israeli army – my cousin included – which Honest Reporting described as “Palestinian terrorists”.
Cleveland Jewish News detailed the Honest Reporting effort in August. The article mentions Fadi Hanona and Soliman Hijjy as Times contributors who were fired over Facebook posts that Honest Reporting characterized as antisemitic.
“Not only has Honest Reporting succeeded in terminating my contract with The New York Times, it has also actively discouraged other international news agencies from collaborating with me and my two colleagues,” Salem writes today.
The Cleveland Jewish News article said that Salem had expressed support for Hamas among other alleged misdemeanors:
According to HonestReporting, Salem expressed joy over the 2014 Har Nof massacre in Jerusalem, in which two Palestinian terrorists murdered four rabbis, including three Israeli-Americans, at a synagogue before killing a Druze police officer. Salem also praised Hamas’s capture of the body of IDF soldier Oron Shaul, who was killed in 2014’s “Operation Protective Edge.” Additionally, he applauded Hamas terrorism and “called for more violence” after an attack killed two IDF soldiers in Judea and Samaria [the Occupied West Bank].
I reached out to Salem on Facebook today but have not heard from him. This is an important case because it shows the impossibility of even representing the Palestinian voice in the western media. There is widespread support for armed resistance to Israeli occupation among Palestinians. Sorting out journalists who have not expressed such views at some time is something like looking for Palestinian reporters who support Zionism.
The case is also reminiscent of the Facebook posts of Jodi Rudoren, the former NYT bureau chief in Jerusalem. In 2012 she wrote on that site from a trip to Gaza after an Israeli attack that Palestinians seemed “ho hum” about the deaths of their children. Clearly a bigoted statement Rudoren was instructed to clear Facebook posts going forward, but she certainly didn’t lose her job. No, she just continued to cheerlead the Israeli narrative.
Salem writes on Facebook today that the newspaper responded with alacrity to the Honest Reporting attack on him. He said the Times announced “it will take appropriate action for us just two days after the report was published (24 August 2022).”
Thanks to Michael Arria, Tareq Hajjaj and Adam Horowitz.