Returning to the Copy Desk, Briefly

by Kevin D. Williamson

MEMO FROM: Copy desk

TO: New York Times Foreign desk

RE: Diaa Hadid for AM international; mark-up attached

HEAD: Jewish Man Dies as Rocks Pelt His Car in East Jerusalem [ED: “As rocks pelt his car”? How exactly did the rocks go about doing this? Are these special angry Palestinian rocks that get up off the ground and hurl themselves at Jews? Unless we’re talking about The Rock, in which case he’s going by “Dwayne Johnson” these days, I don’t think a rock is capable of committing an act of violence on its own.]

BYLINE: Diaa Hadid

DATELINE: Ramallah, West Bank, 14 September 2015

COPY:  A Jewish man died [ED: “was killed.”] early Monday morning after attackers pelted the road [ED: “pelted the road”? They were aiming at the pavement? Please clarify.] he was driving on with rocks as he was returning home from a dinner celebrating Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, the Israeli authorities said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting to discuss rock-throwing, mostly [ED: “mostly”? Which other rock-throwers were discussed at the emergency meeting?] by Palestinian youths.

The man was identified in local news reports as Alexander Levlovich, 64. His death was reported as the police and Palestinian youths clashed [ED: Is it the case that the police and the Palestinian youths “clashed,” or is it the case that the police tried to stop violent crimes from being committed? Do the police “clash” with bank-robbers or muggers?] for a second day at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, amid tensions [Who is tense about this? Are Jews experiencing “tension” over being allowed to move about freely for the purposes of having dinner?] over increased visits by Jews for Rosh Hashana. The two-day holiday began at sundown on Sunday.

A statement from the Israeli police said the assailants were throwing stones [ED: At . . . ?] on Sunday night on a road that runs between a Palestinian and Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The police said the stone-throwing “led to a self-inflicted accident,” [ED: This is a quote, sure, albeit one without specific sourcing, but are we really going to pretend this was “self-inflicted”?] as the man lost control of the car [ED: “was driven off the road”] and smashed into a pole.

Palestinians scuffled [ED: At what point does a “scuffle” with “riot police” become, you know, rioting?] with the Israeli riot police after security forces blocked a road leading to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday.

Luba Samri, a police spokeswoman, said the rock-throwing appeared to have caused the accident but that “nothing is 100 percent sure.” The police, with a court’s permission, said no more details about the case could be published while an investigation was continuing.

On Monday, Mr. Netanyahu said he would call a special meeting after Rosh Hashana ends Tuesday evening to discuss “harsher punishments and strict enforcement” and other means to combat rock-throwing.

The government had already said, on Sept. 2, that it was considering harsher measures against Palestinian stone-throwers [ED: “harsher measures against Palestinian stone-throwers,” or against, as above, mostly Palestinian stone-throwers?], including more use of live ammunition and tougher minimum sentences.

Israeli security forces have increasingly grappled with rock-throwing, particularly along a highway in the occupied West Bank that is mostly used by Jewish settlers and on roads leading to Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. [ED: Hmm: Jewish settlers, Jewish neighborhoods: Does a trend seem to suggest itself to you?]

[ED: Here at the end of the eighth paragraph in this story about a Jewish man being murdered for the crime of driving while Jewish, I’m wondering if we’re going to get a straightforward statement of the fact that this Jewish man was murdered for the crime of driving while Jewish.]

Last week, the Israeli police reported that stone-throwing episodes [Palestinian stone-throwing episodes, or mostly Palestinian stone-throwing episodes, or what?] had increased 53 percent in 2014 from the previous year.

Palestinians frequently argue that rocks and crude incendiary devices are among their only weapons to press for independence, and to defend themselves against Israeli forces during confrontations. [ED: Was there a confrontation with Israeli forces under way? Or was there a confrontation with a 64-year-old Jewish man driving home from dinner under way?] For some young Palestinians in areas where there are frequent tensions, their use has become a rite of passage. [ED: So, the Palestinian bar mitzvah, you’re saying?]

In East Jerusalem, Ms. Samri, the police spokeswoman, said protesters had thrown rocks [ED: A protester throwing rocks isn’t a protester; he’s an “assailant.”] at officers who had entered the contested holy site of the Al Aqsa Mosque — revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, one of the three holiest sites in Islam [ED: It's a holy site in Judaism, too, no? The holiest site, right?] — so they could allow non-Muslims, including Jews, to enter the area.

Three people were arrested, Ms. Samri said. Palestinians posted photographs on social media of a bloodied elderly man who they said had been hit in the eye with a rubber bullet. The violence began Sunday, when youths holed up in the mosque overnight, [ED: What’s mosque policy on this?] hoping to confront [ED: By “confront,” do you mean “pelt with rocks” or “murder,” by any chance?] the police and Jewish visitors.

Similar clashes [ED: By “clashes” you mean stonings of Jews driving home from dinner?] took place in July, as Jews held an annual fast day commemorating the destruction of two ancient temples believed to have once stood [ED: Is this seriously in dispute?] at the holy site.

The tensions that led to the fighting [ED: Was there “fighting” over the course of this episode? At what point was Mr. Levlovich “fighting”? Surely the word you are looking for is “assault” or “murder.”] are a product, at least in part, of growing Palestinian fears that Jews are visiting the Temple Mount as part of an Israeli plan to assert sovereignty over the site or to divide it.

Non-Muslim prayer is banned at the site, and Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly said he has no intention of changing that.

Many Palestinians do not believe his claims, noting that some nationalist Jewish activists have been agitating for increased access and prayer rights at the site, and that some members of Mr. Netanyahu’s government have supported the call for open Jewish prayer there.

After the clashes on Sunday, Uri Ariel, a right-wing minister [ED: Right-wing may be a fair characterization; strange that it is the only political characterization in the entire story.]  who has urged Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, visited the site in what was interpreted by some [ED: Whom?] as a provocation.

Israel recently outlawed an organization of Muslim women who chase and shout at Jewish visitors at the holy site, along with an affiliated, less-vocal [ED: But more stone-throwy?] group of men. The government accused both groups of inciting violence. [ED: Given the actual, you know, homicidal violence at the site, is this really an occasion for “the government accused”?]

Before the ban was imposed, Muslim women were barred from entering the Al Aqsa Mosque during the early morning, when foreign visitors and Jews are allowed to enter the site, said Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at Ir Amim [ED: Mr. Ariel is “right-wing,” so what is Ir Amim? “An Israeli left-wing activist non-profit organization founded in 2004,if Wikipedia is to be believed. Why the inconsistent use of political characterization?] an organization that advocates for Palestinians in Jerusalem.

This site is in the Old City of Jerusalem, in territory Israel seized from Jordan in the 1967 war and then annexed in a move that has not been internationally recognized.

The compound has a special status: It is administered by the [ED: right-wing? Left-wing? Islamist? What?] Islamic Waqf trust, under Jordanian custodianship, but Israel controls security. Tensions over the site have mounted over the past year and have often resulted in [ED: “resulted in”? Are we to believe that tensions perpetuate violence with no human agency involved?] violence [ED: On whose part?]

ED: We’re not seriously thinking about running this copy as is, are we?

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