Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 7/11/2012 New York Times Reserves Condemnation For Israel

From DG:
1) An Unsettling New York Times editorial

In recent weeks:
  1. A court in Germany ruled circumcision illegal.No New York Times editorial condemned the ruling.
  2. Jewish student in Toulouse France was harassed. No New York Times editorial condemned the attack.
  3. An Iranian politician made vicious antisemitic statements. No New York Times editorial condemned the libel.
  4. A leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood called on all Muslims to liberate Jerusalem No New York Times editorial condemned the threat.
  5. Mahmoud Abbas refused to negotiate with Binyamin Netanyahu, because the latter wouldn't release enough murderers from jail.  No New York Times editorial condemned the intransigence.
  6. An Israeli committee concluded on the basis of historical fact, that Israel is not an occupying power. A New York Times editorial condemned the history. 
The editorial Wrong Time for New Settlements is remarkable for its combination of vitriol and ignorance.
Palestinian hopes for an independent state are growing dimmer all the time. Israel is pushing ahead with new settlements in the West Bank and asserting control over new sections of East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their capital. Meanwhile, peace talks — the best guarantee of a durable solution — are going nowhere.
As noted above, Netanyahu made an offer to get talks restarted. Abbas refused the offer. There is no such entity as "East Jerusalem." In any case whatever Israel is doing (and building "settlements" isn't one of them) it is the Palestinians who refuse to talk. But there is no criticism for that.
Now comes another, potentially disastrous, blow. An Israeli government-appointed commission on Monday issued a report asserting that Israel’s 45-year presence in the West Bank is not occupation. The commission endorsed the state’s legal right to settle there and recommended that the state approve scores of new Israeli settlements. It proposed stripping the military of its authority to force settlers off land claimed by Palestinians.
"Occupation" has a specific meaning. It does not apply here for a number of reasons. The most obvious reason is that there was no clear ownership of the land before 1967. Another is that the Six Day War was a defensive war (closing the Straits of Tiran was an act of war.) Those who resort to the term "occupation" (especially post-Oslo) are trying to erase that history.

But what the editorial fails to recognize is that the term "occupation" makes peace less, not more, likely. As long as Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria is recognized as illegitimate it gives the Palestinian Authority no incentive to compromise. As long as the PA claims that Israeli concessions are not enough, Israel is illegitimate in the eyes of much of the world (and all those years of engaging in terror to get recognized are forgotten.)

Israel Matzav has a fuller critique of the editorial.

In a post related to the Levi Commission, Daled Amos demonstrates why J-Street can't really call itself "pro-Israel."

Prof. Avi Bell wrote in an e-mail:
... it is correct to say that "The statement "Israeli settlements are illegal" is not a statement of international law; it is an opinion on applying international law to a specific circumstance." 
The "international consensus" about Israeli settlements cannot possibly be a rule of customary international law. Customary international law is the result of common international practice combined with "opinio juris" (the belief that the practice is required by international law). By the nature of things, there cannot be a common international "practice" concerning Israeli settlements. That is something that only Israel can have a "practice" concerning. There can be a customary law about allowing one's citizens to settle in territory one has captured, not one about the specific case at hand. 
As to whether there is an international customary law concerning practices of this type, more generally (i.e., allowing one's citizens to settle in territory captured in international conflict), there is not. Many states have allowed citizens to settle in such territory, and even encouraged them to do so. In some cases (e.g., Morocco and Western Sahara), the practices have been considered illegal, and in others (e.g., India and Goa), the practices have been considered obviously legal. There is no principled line on which to draw the bounds of a rule. In any event, in no case has the world reacted the way it does to Israel. For instance, the EU does not discriminate against products from Western Sahara "settlements" in its free trade agreement with Morocco. The international anti-Israel consensus certainly exists, but it is just as clearly not an expression of customary international law. It is not even a principled application of a rule of law. It is very clearly a singular standard applied to the Jewish state. 
(emphasis mine) 


2) Target: Adelson

A few weeks ago the New York Times ran a despicable editorial, What Sheldon Adelson wants.

In response Cliff May wrote New York Times vs. Sheldon Adelson:
The Times promotes its policy preferences — again, we’re really talking about Mr. Sulzberger’s policy preferences — every day, using ink it buys by the barrel. The Times sees that as part of its mission, correctly. But private citizens are entitled to the same free-speech rights as the media — unless, of course, one embraces as a serious principle what I’ve always assumed the great journalist A. J. Liebling intended as a quip: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” It should not go unobserved that the Times rarely allows opposing views to be aired on its op-ed pages. 
Much of the money that Mr. Adelson, Mr. Soros, and others give to political candidates is spent on communications — ads in newspapers (including the Times) and on television and radio. The ads run by the politicians Mr. Adelson is likely to support often rebut the opinions articulated by the Times and other mainstream media, as well as the “public media,” which are subsidized with taxpayer dollars. 
Mr. Adelson recently spent more than $20 million to support the presidential candidacy of Newt Gingrich. The Times calls that an attempt to “buy influence” but, more objectively, it was an attempt to persuade voters and, in my view, a net contribution to the national policy debate. Now Mr. Adelson is supporting Mitt Romney. That support, the Times fears, could help push the Republican candidate “over the top in a close race like this year’s.” The Times sees that as unfair. What the Times views as fairer: The Times supporting President Obama and pushing him over the top in a close race like this year’s.
More recently the NJDC blasted Adelson prompting a defense from Alan Dershowitz, National Jewish Democratic Council Doesn't Speak for Me on Adelson:
I know Sheldon Adelson and I have worked with him on several matters relating to Israel and the Jewish community. I have spoken on behalf of the wonderful school he has built in Las Vegas. And have had the pleasure of teaching one of the brilliant graduates of that school. Adelson was deeply involved in the creation of the Birthright Israel Program, which has had extraordinary success in exposing young Jews to Israel. It's hard to find anyone who has done as much for the Jewish community as Sheldon Adelson. Adelson grew up in Boston in near poverty and is a shining example of the American dream. He is a self-made multibillionaire who has contributed significantly to the world of modern technology and to the economic growth of Las Vegas and other areas. His generosity has helped repair the world. 
I am a Democrat and do not agree with many of Adelson's political views, but I think it's outrageous for the National Jewish Democratic Council to level unfounded allegations against Adelson. They do not speak for me, and for the many other Jews who admire Adelson's contributions to the world, to America, to Israel and to the Jewish community. I don't know who Harris purports to speak for as President of the National Jewish Democratic Council, but his partisan gamesmanship is an embarrassment to many Jewish Democrats. The attack comes with particular ill grace from a Jewish organization, considering all that Adelson has done for Jewish causes, and considering the fact that there is nothing uniquely "Jewish" about the questionable allegations against him.
It's interesting that he's been a supporter of Birthright.

David Bernstein has followed up on an earlier post in which he critiqued Peter Beinart's analysis of data to "prove" that younger Jews were growing alienated to Israel. That was the cue Beinart used to argue that it was "settlements" that were alienating younger Jews. This week Bernstein observed:
The data didn’t support him then, and I pointed out that the data were even less likely to do so in the future, given Birthright and the Internet. (Beinart parlayed the fame achieved from his essay into a book that from all indications has been a commercial flop despite much publicity.)
Editorially, the New York Times (despite a negative review of Beinart's book) has been supportive of Beinart's argument and similar ones.

Maybe the reason the editors of the New York Times loathe Adelson is because he supports a program that undermines one of their articles of faith.
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