The New York Times is a weird bird. Owned by a family whose heritage is Jewish, it has always done what-ever it can to work against the interests of the Jewish people. For example the progressive paper of record buried reports about the Holocaust while it was happening. Maybe the NY Times doesn’t believe that Jews can suffer, or maybe they just didn’t want to appear too Jewish.
Throughout the past 44 years, the Times has specialized in criticizing Israel never, as Newspapers are supposed to do, trying to be balanced. A prime example is the month we just finished, September 2011. Daniel Goldstein of the Gloria Center kept track of all of the Op-Eds run by the paper, 15 discussed Israel, only 1 was positive, that makes the NY Times 93.3% anti-Israel for the month.
Below is the fruit of Mr. Goldstein’s research:
1) Turkey, Israel and the Flotilla – Editorial – September 2, 2011
Israel accepted the findings by the United Nations and said that it hoped to mend ties with Turkey, but it reiterated that it would not apologize. Two weeks ago, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to apologize to Turkey. American officials are going to have to keep trying with both sides. We don’t blame Israel for wondering if Turkey is keeping this conflict going to burnish its standing in the Arab world. Turkey is risking a lot, including billions in trade with Israel and its reputation as a responsible international player. Israel certainly doesn’t need to be any more isolated than it is. Israel should apologize for the deaths. And Turkey should stop upping the ante.
I’m surprised here. Yes I’m a little put off by the need to tweak Israel on the apology. But overall I’d have to say that this editorial substantially takes the Israeli side. Running Total: Anti-Israel 0 / Pro-Israel 1
2) Israel Isolates Itself – Roger Cohen – September 6, 2011
Senior Turkish officials told me Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had raised Dogan’s fate with President Obama. But of course no U.S. president, and certainly no first-term U.S. president, would say what Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain said: “The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable.” Even if there’s an American citizen killed, raising such questions about Israel is a political no-no. So it goes in the taboo-littered cul-de-sac of U.S. foreign policy toward Israel, a foreign policy that is in large measure a domestic policy. The Palmer report, leaked to The New York Times last week, is a split-the-difference document, with the Israeli and Turkish members of the panel including notes of dissent. My rough translation of its conclusion would be this message to Israel: You had the right to do it but what you did was way over the top and just plain dumb.
Cohen doesn’t note the way Turkey “raised the ante” and makes a not so subtle suggestion of inordinate Jewish influence in the political process. Running total: Anti-Israel 1 / Pro-Israel 1
3) An Israeli Case for a Palestinian State – Yossi Alpher – September 11, 2011
No Israeli leader will acquiesce in these Palestinian positions, and no bridging formula has proven workable. These negotiating gaps are, as Abbas himself acknowledged in 2009, “too wide.”Thus Abbas has turned to the United Nations not only because the Palestinian state-building enterprise in the West Bank has proved successful, but also because it is clear that Oslo-based final-status negotiations, even if they reconvene, cannot succeed in ending all claims. In this sense, it is Abbas’ intransigence on a full final status package, no less than Netanyahu’s, that has brought us to the United Nations. Yet here the two part company: Abbas appears genuinely to want progress toward a viable two-state solution, while Netanyahu’s ideology and the composition of his coalition signal intransigence.
In the run up to the Palestinian gambit at the UN, the Times ran a number of op-eds and editorial criticizing Israel for forcing the Palestinians to turn to the UN or endorsing the Palestinian move or both. It is dishonest to claim that Abbas “genuinely” wants progress. Even the recent “speed dial” story, which portrayed Abbas sympathetically, noted that the expected President Obama to get results by pressuring Netanyahu. He wants progress as long as others do the work for him. Running Total: Anti-Israel 2 / Pro-Israel 1
4) About these proposals – David Makovsky – September 11, 2011
The settlers in these areas and others outlined in Maps 1-3 will most likely have to be evacuated completely, as the alternative of remaining under Palestinian rule is both problematic and unlikely. Theoretically, the parties could pursue an alternative scenario in which non-bloc settlers were not displaced at all, but rather remained where they were under Palestinian sovereignty. On paper, this approach has surface appeal because it would eliminate the need for coercive dislocation. However, there are several reasons to be skeptical. First, virtually all of the 300,000 settlers in the West Bank moved there intending to live under Israeli, not Palestinian, sovereignty. Second, for the small number who chose to remain in a Palestinian-run West Bank, it is unclear whether they could live there harmoniously. Specifically, once Israel withdraws its military forces from non-annexed portions of the West Bank, Hamas elements and other extremists may decide to take advantage of the emergence of the fledgling state to settle longstanding scores with remaining settlers. Some have even speculated that the most ideological settlers could initiate a confrontation, which could force the Israeli military to return in order to defend them. For these and other reasons, allowing non-bloc settlers to remain in the West Bank might complicate the implementation of any peace agreement.
This is mostly informational as Makovsky looks at 3 maps of possible final settlements. There are aspects of it that I don’t like. Most notably in this third paragraph he doesn’t even mention that the Palestinians wouldn’t allow Jews in their state. Did I ever mention that in 1984 I heard Makovsky speak in Kiryat Arba? Despite my misgivings I will grade this as neutral. Running Total: Anti-Israel – 2 / Pro-Israel – 1
5) Veto a state; lose an ally – Turki al-Faisal – September 11, 2011
The United States must support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations this month or risk losing the little credibility it has in the Arab world. If it does not, American influence will decline further, Israeli security will be undermined and Iran will be empowered, increasing the chances of another war in the region. Moreover, Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has. With most of the Arab world in upheaval, the “special relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, who demand justice for the Palestinian people.
Ten years after hijackers – 15 of 19 of them Saudi nationals – attacked America killing nearly 3000 innocents, a member of the Saudi royal family reminds of us of what good friends Saudis have been – by threatening to break with the United States over the issue of Palestinian statehood. Running Total: Anti-Israel – 3 / Pro-Israel – 1
6) Palestinian Statehood – Editorial – September 11, 2011
Last week, the United States made a listless effort to get Palestinians to forgo the vote in favor of new peace talks. The pitch was unpersuasive. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said the Americans made no concrete proposal. “To be frank with you, they came too late,” he said. His frustration is understandable. Since President Obama took office, the only direct negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Mr. Abbas lasted a mere two weeks in September 2010. Both sides share the blame with Mr. Obama and Arab leaders (we put the greater onus on Mr. Netanyahu, who has used any excuse to thwart peace efforts). But the best path to statehood remains negotiations.
Later I’ll deal with last week’s Thomas Friedman column. Friedman correctly notes that Netanyahu agreed to a freeze and Abbas barely agreed to talks before walking out. Then he blamed Netanyahu for not giving Abbas another chance. Friedman’s column, even if illogical, had the advantage of being accurate. This editorial can’t even claim to be accurate. Running Total: Anti-Israel – 4 / Pro-Israel – 1
7) After the UN vote on Palestine – Jimmy Carter – September 13, 2011
The U.S. has basically withdrawn from active participation in the peace process. The Palestinians and other Arabs have interpreted U.S. policy as acquiescing on the occupation and biased against them. Declaring that they are left with no alternative, Palestinians plan to request recognition of a Palestinian state later this month in the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly. In Egypt, militants have overrun the Israeli embassy and forced the evacuation of the ambassador. With the reasonable assumptions that Palestinian statehood is widely recognized despite a U.S. veto in the Security Council, what are the options for the future?
Thus Carter recommends an international effort – led by Europe – to fulfill all the conditions that “everyone knows” will bring peace but have been rejected by Yasser Arafat in 2000 and Mahmoud Abbas in 2008. Of course it doesn’t bother him in the slightest that “militants” attacked the Israeli embassy in Egypt violating international norms. So if the Palestinians don’t like the agreement he proposes they can attack Israel with impunity, until the terms change to their liking? Running Total: Anti-Israel – 6 / Pro-Israel – 1
9) Israel and New York’s Ninth District – Editorial – September
Some analysts — and eager Republican critics — are also claiming it was a repudiation of President Obama’s policies toward Israel. On Wednesday, an article on the Web site of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that “in politics it is the perception that counts,” and that the Democratic loss “will be portrayed, as the outspoken former Mayor Ed Koch put it, ‘as a message to President Obama that he cannot throw Israel under a bus with impunity.’ ” Mr. Obama has done nothing of the sort; his support for Israel has never wavered. But we fear that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, will read the election as yet another reason to ignore the president’s advice and refuse to make any compromises with the Palestinians, no matter how essential for Israel’s own security.
As noted above the editorial board of the New York Times doesn’t remember that Netanyahu imposed a construction freeze. Despite that freeze that didn’t serve to get meaningful negotiations started despite political risks, President Obama continued to treat Netanyahu as the main obstacle to peace. If Netanyahu learned anything from that incident it was that he had to look out for his country first, not for empty promises or assurances.Running Total: Anti-Israel – 7 / Pro-Israel – 1
10) Ten Reasons for a European ‘Yes’ by Martti Ahtisaari and Javier Solana – September 16, 2011
The second reason for a European “yes” is that the Europeans have already invested hugely in the two-state solution that is under scrutiny, including the annual €1 billion aid to help build a functioning Palestinian state. Again, a “yes” is a reaffirmation that the project is worthwhile and can succeed. The third reason for a “yes” is simply to respond positively to Mahmoud Abbas’ state-building achievements. Failing to vote “yes” would be to respond to demands for state-building by refusing to formally acknowledge where they have got to. The fourth reason is about the Arab Spring. Anything other than a “yes” would expose Europeans to charges of double standards from both post-revolutionary governments and conservative Arab regimes (for different reasons) for failing to support rights for Palestinians while advocating them elsewhere.
I won’t subject you to the other 7. Yes there has been state-building or at least institution-building on the part of the PA. Though it is usually, Salam Fayyad, not Abbas who is credited for it. But the PA still has little functioning economy outside of foreign aid. (The hated American and Israelis, according to Jonathan Schanzer, provide nearly three quarters of the PA’s budget.) Finally as it becomes clearer that Abbas is no different from Mubarak, except perhaps in the scale of his corruption, it’s false to claim that empowering Abbas is the same thing as empowering Palestinians generally. Running Total – Anti-Israel – 8 / Pro-Israel – 1
11) Israel: Adrift at Sea Alone – Thomas L. Friedman – September 17, 2011
On Turkey, the Obama team and Mr. Netanyahu’s lawyers worked tirelessly these last two months to resolve the crisis stemming from the killing by Israeli commandos of Turkish civilians in the May 2010 Turkish aid flotilla that recklessly tried to land in Gaza. Turkey was demanding an apology. According to an exhaustive article about the talks by the Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, the two sides agreed that Israel would apologize only for “operational mistakes” and the Turks would agree to not raise legal claims. Bibi then undercut his own lawyers and rejected the deal, out of national pride and fear that Mr. Lieberman would use it against him. So Turkey threw out the Israeli ambassador.
The Israeli official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Turks kept adding conditions for a reconciliation, raising uncertainty in Mr. Netanyahu’s government over whether they were sincere and whether they would consider the case closed even if a deal were reached.
Apparently if necessary for condemning Israel, Friedman won’t read his own newspaper. If the other party keeps adding conditions it isn’t “national pride” that would motivate Israel not to make a deal, but common sense.Running Total: Anti-Israel – 9 / Pro-Israel – 1
12) Peace Now or Never – Ehud Olmert – September 21, 2011
The Palestinian refugee problem would be addressed within the framework of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. The new Palestinian state would become the home of all the Palestinian refugees just as the state of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. Israel would, however, be prepared to absorb a small number of refugees on humanitarian grounds. Because ensuring Israel’s security is vital to the implementation of any agreement, the Palestinian state would be demilitarized and it would not form military alliances with other nations. Both states would cooperate to fight terrorism and violence. These parameters were never formally rejected by Mr. Abbas, and they should be put on the table again today. Both Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu must then make brave and difficult decisions.
This must be a first: calling on a disgraced leader to lecture his successor. The problem, as we’ll see with Thomas Friedman’s upcoming column is that Olmert claims that all Netanyahu needs to do is to offer Abbas what Abbas has already rejected. If Abbas knows that there’s no penalty for bad faith, why would he ever agree to terms with Israel? Running Total: Anti-Israel – 10 / Pro-Israel – 1
13) Ready for Statehood – Jonas Gahr Store – September 22, 2011
So the answer to my initial question — whether the Palestinians can actually run a state — is yes. By building robust and well-functioning institutions, the Palestinians and the donor community have taken a bottom-up approach to the peace process. The final status issues — borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem — can only be settled through negotiations, which is an example of a top-down approach. In an ideal world, these two approaches should have converged. Regretfully, they haven’t. This is the core of the Israeli-Palestinian impasse.
There is no acknowledgment that it is the Palestinians who refuse negotiations. I also believe that Store is overselling Palestinian accomplishments in state building. If I were feeling generous, I might have graded this one as neutral, but I’m not. Running Total: Anti-Israel – 11 / Pro-Israel 1
14) The Palestinians’ Bid – Editorial – September 22, 2011
There is plenty of blame to go around. The main responsibility right now belongs to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel who refuses to make any serious compromises for peace. He appears far more concerned about his own political survival than his country’s increasing isolation or the threat of renewed violence in the West Bank and all around Israel’s borders.
Likud currently is the most popular party in Israel. If elections were held today, he likely would return as head of government. In other words, his political survival is not a major concern right now. Israel’s increased isolation is a function of issues having nothing to do with the Palestinians. And, of course, it is Abbas who refuses to negotiate. Running Total: Anti-Israel – 12 / Pro-Israel 1
15) Tangled Relationship in Jerusalem – Arthur Brisbane – September 24, 2011
The article by Max Blumenthal on Sept. 14 set off a chain of follow-up pieces by others and by Mr. Blumenthal himself, hammering away at the allegation that Ethan Bronner, the Times bureau chief, was compromised by his relationship with a public relations firm that arranged paid speaking engagements for him. A close examination of the facts leads me to conclude that the case for an actual conflict of interest is slender. But the appearance of a conflict clearly exists, and that is a problem in and of itself. The Times’s “Ethical Journalism” guidelines state that staff members “may not accept anything that could be construed as a payment for favorable coverage or as an inducement to alter or forgo unfavorable coverage.” Mr. Bronner has now severed his ties to the public relations firm. “In my view, it is all about appearances,” he told me. “I am not denying they matter. There is nothing of an actual conflict.”
Given how little care Brisbane – the public editor of the New York Times – shows for getting facts from the Middle East correct, it’s outrageous that he’s making an issue out of “appearances.” His predecessor, Clark Hoyt, accepted the charges of Ali Abuminah against Bronner uncritically; and now Brisbane has showed the same courtesy to Blumenthal. Both Abuminah and Blumenthal are anti-Israel activists whose activism should compromise their credibility. Clay Waters observes, “If Bronner truly harbors Zionist sympathies, he keeps it out of his reporting quite effectively.” Israel Matzav debunks the notion that the speakers bureau with which Bronner was affiliated was “right wing” and shows that Blumenthals time line is false. Brisbane has followed up with letters about his column, Conflicts and Appearances. All but one are unsympathetic to Bronner. (Two cover the topic in the abstract, but it is clear that they support Blumenthal.) If the New York Times removes Bronner, it will show that the New York Times has no backbone when faced with extreme anti-Israel activists.Running Total: Anti-Israel – 13 / Pro-Israel 1 16) 2 for 2, or 2 for 1? – Thomas Friedman – September 27, 2011
Given these stakes, here is what a farsighted Israeli government would say to itself: “We have so much more to lose than the Palestinians if all this collapses. So let’s go the extra mile. Abbas says he will not come to peace talks without a freeze on settlement-building. We think that is bogus. We gave him a 10-month partial freeze and he did nothing with it. But you know what? There is so much at stake here, let’s test him again. Let’s offer him a six-month total freeze on settlement-building. What is six months in the history of 5,000-year-old people? We already have 300,000 settlers in place. It is a win-win strategy that in no way imperils our security. If the Palestinians still balk, they will be the ones isolated, not us. And, if they come, who knows? Maybe we cut a deal.”
Unlike the editorial cited above, at least Friedman has the honesty to acknowledge Netanyahu’s settlement freeze. Like Ehud Olmert, Friedman believes that if the Palestinians refuse, it’s Israel’s obligation to keep the offer on the table until they say, “yes.” This is not farsightedness, but a stupid negotiating tactic. Final monthly tally: Anti-Israel – 14 / Pro-Israel 1
Methodology: I searched the archives for the New York Times for op-eds and unsigned editorials from the New York Times from September 1 – 30, 2011. I did not include letters to the editor or articles that were not mainly about Israel or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Rep Keith Ellison’s Support the Palestinian State and Carlo Strenger’s Netanyahu’s allies, Democracy’s enemies were not returned in the search so they were not included. The impetus for doing this index was previous public editor, Clark Hoyt’s The Danger of the one sided debate. Hoyt defended the paper’s decision to publish an op-ed by a spokesman for Hamas by arguing:
Op-ed pages should be open especially to controversial ideas, because that’s the way a free society decides what’s right and what’s wrong for itself. Good ideas prosper in the sunshine of healthy debate, and the bad ones wither. Left hidden out of sight and unchallenged, the bad ones can grow like poisonous mushrooms.
This is specious. Giving space to a member of terrorist organization is arguably providing material support. But as these indexes demonstrate, there is no paucity of anti-Israel voices published on the opinion pages of the New York Times. Indeed it seems that criticism of Israel is the one side of the debate that the New York Times is dedicated to presenting.
Some may argue that maybe the NY Times only received submissions that were anti-Israel. That is doubtful, the Times receives hundreds of submissions every day and cherry-picks through the ones they want. Remember in 2008 when they ran an Op Ed by Barack Obama and refused to print the rebuttal by McCain? That is the NY Times, sometimes they editorialize not by what they run but by they refuse to run, and in this case for every 14 negative Op Eds they run about Israel, they run one positive one.