Monday, July 02, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 7/2/2012: Review Of New York Times June Articles

From DG:
New York Times Op-Ed Index for June, 2012

A) A glimmer? - Editorial - June 5, 2012
Mr. Netanyahu should promptly implement the court decision on Ulpana. For the sake of peace, he should go a lot further and declare a cessation in all settlement activity and invite the Palestinians for serious talks. Mr. Netanyahu’s recent decision to bring the center Kadima Party into his coalition has given him space to act. He needs to use his clout to advance a peace agreement that is in the clear interest of Israelis and Palestinians.
The editorial praised Netanyahu for his decision not to fight the High Court's opinion ordering the destruction of five homes in the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El. I was tempted to consider this to be "pro-Israel" because it praised Israel for following the principles that were important to the editors of the New York Times.
However, despite a half hearted acknowledgment that there was "plenty of blame to be shared" for the lack of progress in negotiations, it only mentions Israeli actions or positions that prevented peace (in the eyes of the editors.)

Anti-Israel - 1 / Pro-Israel 0

B) At 50, the Cuban Missile Crisis as Guide by Graham Allison - June 15, 2012
Today, the threat of an Israeli air strike strengthens President Barack Obama’s hand in squeezing Iran to persuade it to make concessions. But the possibility that Israel might actually carry out a unilateral airstrike without U.S. approval must make Washington nervous, since it makes the crisis much harder to manage. Should the domestic situation in Israel reduce the likelihood of an independent Israeli attack, U.S. policy makers will not be unhappy.
Israel only appears in the last three paragraphs of this op-ed, but it seems that the focus on the essay is to make the point that Israel complicates President Obama's options regarding Iran. The significant difference between this portrayal of the Cuban missile crisis and the current situation with Iran is that President Kennedy conveyed that he was willing to use force, whereas Obama seems reluctant to do so. Israel's introduction into the equation seems gratuitous.

Anti-Israel - 2 / Pro-Israel 0

C) Leaning on Putin by John Vinocur - June 15, 2012
All the same, The New York Times has pointed to the possibility of an arrangement of this type. It quoted a U.S. official saying Russia had been assured, “Our interest is in stabilizing the situation, not eliminating Russian influence.” Such a deal would strengthen Russia’s place as go-to partner of neighboring Iran and embolden the mullahs. It would also demonstrate to both America’s friends in the Gulf region and in Israel that the Obama administration is willing to settle for lame solutions to their potential problems of war and peace.
The above paragraph is the only mention of Israel in the op-ed. This is, however, a sympathetic portrayal of Israel as an ally that could be ill-served by a bad administration policy, as opposed to an inconvenient ally that makes America's choices even tougher. This is unique for an editorial or op-ed in the New York Times and that makes it worth noting and crediting. Call it faint praise.

Anti-Israel - 2 / Pro-Israel - 1

D) How America Can Help Its Friends Make Nice by Michael Herzog and Soner Cagaptay - June 20, 2012
Turkey seems interested in intervention inside Syria only if America and NATO back such an endeavor. A Turkish-Israeli dialogue on Syria could bolster Israel’s interest in regime change and enlist Israel to generate American support. A normalized Turkish-Israeli relationship would also open opportunities for cooperation against the Assad government, with the Turks taking the political and regional lead and the Israelis providing intelligence and additional practical assets. The parties could also address shared concerns over the fate of the huge suspected chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria.
There is nothing in this article to suggest the usual cynicism that marks an opinion piece about Israel in the New York Times. It appears to have an overly optimistic view of Turkey's current leadership. It isn't overly critical of Israel and doesn't seem to be trying to undermine Israel's position.

Anti-Israel - 2 / Pro-Israel - 2

E) The Third Intifada is Inevitable by Nathan Thrall - June 22, 2012
For more militant Palestinian leaders, who never believed in the peace process, the lesson was clear: “Not an inch of Palestinian land will be liberated,” Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, told me, “while Israelis feel that controlling it exacts few costs.” Matti Steinberg, a former senior adviser to Israeli security chiefs, described Mr. Abbas as the most obliging, nonviolent Palestinian leader Israel has encountered and warned of taking him for granted. “The Israeli center is caught in a vicious cycle,” he said. “It argues that it cannot make peace while there is violence, and when there is no violence it sees little reason to make peace.”
The problem with this op-ed is that it isn't an academic exercise predicting violence but rather a partisan argument justifying or even encouraging the violence. They don't get much worse than this.

Anti-Israel - 3 / Pro-Israel - 2

F) What Sheldon Adelson wants - Editorial - June 23, 2012
The first answer is clearly his disgust for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, supported by President Obama and most Israelis. He considers a Palestinian state “a steppingstone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people,” and has called the Palestinian prime minister a terrorist. He is even further to the right than the main pro-Israeli lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which he broke with in 2007 when it supported economic aid to the Palestinians.
In short this editorial is arguing that a rich Jewish guy is trying to subvert American foreign policy on behalf of Israel. It's hard to imagine uglier sentiments expressed in publications that are not overtly antisemitic.

Final Tally: Anti-Israel - 4 / Pro-Israel - 2

Methodology: I searched the archives for the New York Times for op-eds and unsigned editorials from the New York Times from June 1 - 30, 2012. I did not include letters to the editor. With a few exceptions I did not include articles that were not mainly about Israel or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The impetus for these exercises was a 2007 column, The Danger of one sided debate, in which the previous public editor, Clark Hoyt, justified giving a column to a Hamas spokesman, lest the paper's opinion section be too pro-Israel. As I've regularly found, there hasn't been any danger that Israel's views would be overrepresented in the opinion pages of the New York Times in recent years.
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