Blaming Israel in Boston Globe Eulogy
Former Globe foreign editor James Smith shared his memories about the late New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid who died last week from an asthma attack while in Syria. Specifically, Smith recalled the time at the end of March 2002 when Shadid was hit by a bullet in Ramallah during the second Palestinian intifada:
Anthony was shot as he walked down the center of a deserted street, apparently hit by an Israeli bullet; he and Said were wearing flak vests with the letters "TV" taped on them to declare themselves journalists.
The implications were clear -- the perpetrators of the shooting were Israelis, and they deliberately targeted an identified journalist.
But, in fact, it was not at all obvious that Israel was responsible for the gunfire, and indeed, reports of the incident acknowledged that no one knew who was responsible for the fire. Globe reporter Charlie Radin, who spoke to Shadid in the hospital following the incident, was quite clear that Shadid had no idea who had fired the shot. According to Radin:
As [Shadid and Said Ghazali, a Palestinian journalist working with Globe reporters] walked toward a group of Israeli soldiers, they heard shots fired, and Shadid, a veteran foreign correspondent for the Associated Press who joined the Globe staff 15 months ago, was hit by a shot that threw him forward face down.
He was unable to say last night whether it was fired by Israeli or Palestinian forces.
Israeli sources attributed the fire to Palestinian snipers. But, unlike the first description recited in the immediate aftermath of the incident, Shadid's account written two weeks later showed less uncertainty that Israelis were responsible:
The only life in that patch of deserted Ramallah was the suspected Israeli soldier who I thought shot me. I thought he might be watching us as we fumbled around, scared and powerless.
The Israelis denied responsibility. An inquiry by the IDF found no evidence to support Shadid's suspicion that he was hit by Israeli fire. According to the IDF, there was no fire reported in that area at the time of the incident and while Israeli forces were stationed in the vicinity, Palestinian snipers had been shooting from nearby buildings overlooking the streets.
While the identity of the shooter was never established, it is only the passage of time that establishes Israel's guilt in the annals of journalism -- at the time of the incident Israel's guilt was uncertain; weeks later, Israel's guilt was suspected, and now, a decade later, Israel's guilt is apparent.