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NYT Editor’s Note Admits Reporter Got Duped By Palestinian Professor

Laurel Duggan 

The New York Times added a 260-word editor’s note to a recent article to clarify that the Palestinian professor who was initially portrayed as presenting Israelis in a positive light was actually tricking the NYT reporter and had a history of aggressively anti-Israel teaching.

The original story described Refaat Alareer, a professor at the Islamic University in Gaza City, teaching students to consider the humanity of Israelis by assigning an Israeli-written poem without revealing the author’s nationality.

“Only a Palestinian could have written with such warmth about Jerusalem,” one student said, a statement with which the rest of the class agreed, according to the NYT. Alareer then admired the poem’s ability to blur lines between Israelis and Palestinians, and he told the class “Jerusalem can be the place where we all come together, regardless of religion and faith,” the NYT reported.

The same professor called the very same poem “horrible” and “dangerous” in a 2019 video lecture, arguing that the poem “brainwashes” people into believing Israelis are innocent, according to the NYT editor’s note.

The NYT reporter did not include this context in the original article.

“The article did not accurately reflect Mr. Alareer’s views on Israeli poetry or how he teaches it,” the note said. “Had The Times done more extensive reporting on Mr. Alareer, the article would have presented a more complete picture.”

Alareer denied any “substantial change” in his teachings to the NYT, claiming both that showing the similarities between Jews and Palestinians was his “ultimate goal,” adding that Israel uses literature “as a tool of colonialism and oppression.”

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