Pulitzer-nominated Palestinian photojournalist, Wissam Nasser, has been an ongoing and frequent freelance contributor to the New York Times and other international media.

But last Friday, amid a particularly bloody streak of Israeli civilian and soldier murders by terrorists in the West Bank, Gaza-based Nasser seems to have lost his bearings.

On Sunday, December 9, three Hamas terrorists drove up to a hitchhiking spot just outside of Ofra settlement in the West Bank. It was early evening and, as is typical, young Israelis were clustered waiting for rides when they were sprayed with bullets. Seven were wounded, among them 21-year-old Shira Ish-Ran, who was 30 weeks pregnant with her first child. Her husband, Canadian-Israeli Amichai Ish-Ran, also wounded, was rushed with her to the Shaare Tzedek hospital trauma unit in Jerusalem. Shira was critical.

Physicians performed an emergency C-section on Shira and her premature son struggled to live for three days. He was laid to rest on Thursday evening, his parents unable to attend the gut-wrenching burial of their first born. His parents named him Amiad Yisrael, more or less translating to “my people endures,” hoping perhaps to imbue his tragically short life with a deeper meaning.

About two months ago, Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, a 28-year old soon-to-be graduate of law school and the mother of a one-year-old boy, was working as an administrative assistant in a factory in Barkan, an industrial zone in the West Bank. A co-worker, 23-year-old Palestinian Ashraf Na’alwa, forced another employee to bind her hands before he murdered her and another colleague. A third who was wounded in the attack was recently released from hospital.

Coincidentally, on the day that baby Amiad Ish-Ran was buried, the Barkan terrorist and one of the Ofra terrorists were tracked down by the IDF and killed while avoiding arrest.

Nasser took the opportunity to post photos of three terrorists—including the two killed in Thursday, on his Instagram account with the following comment: “A sad morning that carries with it pride with the martyrs, and honor in resistance. ‘If you lost the way, follow the martyrs.’”

Posted as a “story”, the photos and text automatically delete in 24 hours. However, Eylon Levy, an investigative reporter with i24 news in Israel, screen-grabbed the fleeting post inciting to murder Jewish civilians, which was replayed in his report.

Nasser’s post celebrated mass murder and, by direct association, Hamas, which is considered to be a terrorist organization in virtually all civilized nations. This is not nuanced stuff.

On Friday evening, I asked the Times for comment on this clear and extreme ethical breach, eliciting this prompt reply:

“This photographer is not a New York Times staff photographer (he has freelanced for us). His social media posts have no connection to the Times and do not adhere to our guidelines.”

This statement, however, directly contravenes the Timesethical guidelines.

The New York Times Handbook of Values and Practices for Editorial and News Departments sets out, very clearly, exactly what one would expect of a publication self-promoted as adhering to the highest ethical and reporting standards.

The preamble to this very thorough articulation of NYT standards stresses that integrity is the foundation of all that journalists do and will withstand no compromise.

The guidelines also clearly state that contracts with freelancers must adhere to the same standards as those applied to staff.

Times readers apply exacting standards to the entire paper. They do not distinguish between staff-written articles and those written by outsiders. Thus, as far as possible, freelance contributors to The Times, while not its employees, will be held to the same standards as staff members when they are on Times assignments, including those for the Times Magazine. If they violate these guidelines, they will be denied further assignments.”

The Handbook also quite prudently points out that not every circumstance can be contemplated proactively and, therefore, presents the guidelines as just that: broad principles to be applied professionally and reasonably.

If Nasser was a Times staff photographer, the proscriptions on public statements and conduct of a political nature would prevent him from posting incitement to murder on social media, particularly if it directly involved a conflict or issue in which the staff person was professionally engaged. There are so many big, fat red lines crossed in that and this scenario.

If I approach these circumstances in the manner proposed by the Times and regard Nasser’s Instagram post in the most charitable light, it is downright impossible to imagine a remedy other than immediate termination for cause.

Photographers, writers, and editors: all must be above the taint of bias and partiality. Nasser is not. He very openly supports Hamas. Most relevant, though, is that he incites the murder of civilians on his social media account. And he works on a regular basis in the region for the Times, Time Magazine, Xinhua, and others

His conduct is flagrantly out of bounds. Yet, strangely, the Times has gone silent. Two follow-up questions I sent in response to the Times’ dismissal of my initial concern went unanswered.

I doubt that ignoring a legitimate query of this nature is conduct that would be condoned by the Times’ patriarch, Adolph Ochs, who invoked in the trusty handbook to guard fearlessly the Old Grey Lady’s impartiality.

“For more than a century, men and women of The Times have jealously guarded the paper’s integrity,” Ochs wrote. “Whatever else we contribute, our first duty is to make sure the integrity of the Times is not blemished during our stewardship.”

I suggest that someone triage this blemish before it blossoms into full-blown acne.

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