Sunday, August 05, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 8/5/2012: August Review Of New York Times

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

A) What does Morsi mean for Israel - Thomas Friedman - July 3, 2012
So Morsi is going to be under enormous pressure to follow the path of Turkey, not the Taliban. Will he? I have no idea. He should understand, though, that he holds a powerful card — one Israelis would greatly value: real peace with a Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt, which could mean peace with the Muslim world and a true end to the conflict. Of course, that’s the longest of long shots. Would Morsi ever dangle that under certain terms? Again, I don’t know. I just know this: The Mubarak era is over — and with the conservative Muslim Brotherhood dominating Egypt and with conservative religious-nationalists dominating Israeli politics, both will either change their behaviors to make Camp David legitimate for both peoples or it will gradually become unsustainable.
This is the final paragraph and the most chilling.
Thirty years ago Israel sacrificed the strategic depth provided by the Sinai in return for peace with Egypt. Now Friedman's arguing that the deal (along with the substantial and concrete Israeli concession) will only be legitimate if Israel makes the concessions to the Palestinians demanded by the Muslim Brotherhood. So is there any peace deal that Israeli would make that Friedman would agree was not subject to revision at the request of Israel's partners? This is particularly pernicious coming from the same man who, ten years ago, promoted a "peace plan" endorsed by many Arab leaders now embattled, dead or deposed at the hands of their subjects. This is also no mistake, Friedman has made this argument a number of times over the past year and a half.

Anti-Israel - 1 / Pro-Israel - 0

B) Wrong Time for new Settlements - Editorial - July 10, 2012
Although nonbinding, the commission’s recommendations are bad law, bad policy and bad politics. Most of the world views the West Bank, which was taken by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war, as occupied territory and all Israeli construction there as a violation of international law. The world court ruled this way in 2004. The Fourth Geneva Convention bars occupying powers from settling their own populations in occupied lands. And United Nations Security Council resolution 242, a core of Middle East policy, calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
The commissions to which the editorial refers, is the Levy commission, which issued a report ruling that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are legal. Legal expert, Prof. Avi Bell wrote about report (.pdf):
Others have objected that the Levy report’s conclusions can be disputed by international jurists, including by a controversial and non-binding advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. It is true that like many legal controversies, the questions addressed by the Levy Commission are capable of being analyzed in a number of ways. The Levy Commission’s conclusions are logical applications of reasonable understandings of the rules in an area where no authoritative resolution of the dispute has yet been rendered.
In other words the New York Times was arguing against the report's conclusions because it doesn't like them, not because they were legally unsound.

Anti-Israel - 2 / Pro-Israel - 0

C) Israel, when the lights go down - Jodi Rudoren - July 21, 2012
These two films, each portraying one of two key conflicts vexing Israeli society, were among 26 Israeli movies screened this month at the 29th annual Jerusalem Film Festival. Recently arrived to cover Israel and the Palestinian territories, I inhaled nine of the films — six documentaries and three features — over a week in hopes of gleaning some insights into the people, places and production values of my new beat.
The new Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, Jodi Rudoren wrote about her impressions of the recent Jerusalem film festival. I reproduced the above paragraph because of the words "conflicts vexing." This is often how American correspondents in Israel seem to view themselves. They are not reporters, but observers of great moral dilemmas (dilemmas where the Israelis more often than not make the wrong decision). Given the number of Israel correspondents who have gone on to write books, no doubt this is a good professional decision. But by focusing on the literary possibilities rather than the news, reporters usually fail to report accurately. (Rudoren here seems to admire "Five Broken Cameras" a movie about anti-Israel protests in Bil'in. Omitted from her report is any acknowledgment that the government, responding to the ruling of Israel's High Court of Justice rerouted the fence. The rerouting, following the dictates of court despite the possible security consequences, shows a lot more of Israel than these movies.) In general Rudoren seems to prefer ugly visions of Israel in the movies she saw - though she calls it "complexity" - which is not a good sign.

Anti-Israel - 3 / Pro-Israel - 0

D) Israel's embattled democracy - Editorial - July 21, 2012
There are other worrisome developments. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has expressed concern over “intensifying infringements on democratic freedoms.” In the past two years, activists say, more than 25 bills have been proposed or passed by the Parliament to limit freedom of speech and of the press; penalize, defund or investigate nongovernmental groups; restrict judicial independence; and trample minority rights.
This editorial was written immediately after Kadima left the governing coalition and it lamented the party's "moderating force" on the "hard line" government. (It took two weeks for any opinion writer to acknowledge Kadima joining the government.) The truth is that Israel has a high court run largely by right thinking liberals (by New York Times standards) that has an outsize influence on government policy. Why should the editors trust the word of self-interested activists? Even the bills that passed were still subject to review. What ACRI considers limiting freedom, many others see as introducing greater transparency to groups who have operated with little or no oversight. This theme has been seen in a number of New York Times articles over the past year. It's interesting how many Israelis can write or talk openly about declining Israeli democracy and not fear being arrested. Democracy is a messy business, you don't always get the results you want. But that's not the same thing as having freedom limited.

Anti-Israel - 4 / Pro-Israel - 0 

E) Israel's Settlers are here to stay - Dani Dayan - July 25, 2012
Given the irreversibility of the huge Israeli civilian presence in Judea and Samaria and continuing Palestinian rejectionism, Western governments must reassess their approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They should acknowledge that no final-status solution is imminent. And consequently, instead of lamenting that the status quo is not sustainable, the international community should work together with the parties to improve it where possible and make it more viable.
The international community's view of how to improve the situation is likely to differ significantly from Dayan's. But his analysis in this paragraph is correct. It is rather remarkable that the New York Times actually allowed this op-ed into print.

Anti-Israel - 4 / Pro-Israel - 1 

F) Mitt Romney stumps in Israel - Editorial - July 30, 2012
The real audience for Mr. Romney’s tough talk was American Jews and evangelical Christians, some of whom accompanied him on his trip. He is courting votes and making an aggressive pitch to donors, including Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate with the hard-line pro-Israel views who is spending more money than any other American — $100 million — to defeat Mr. Obama.
There is real ugliness appearing in the opinion pages of the New York Times these days. So why hedge? Just say, "a rick American Jew is trying to buy the election to support Israel at America's expense." It didn't bother the New York Times when, four years ago, quite a few George Soros backed organizations worked hard to elect Barack Obama (and are still doing so.) Having too much influence is only a problem when it goes against the sensibilities of the editors of the New York Times.

Final Total: Anti-Israel - 5 / Pro-Israel - 1 

Methodology: The search index at the New York Times is going through some changes and makes it difficult to get a good search result. Instead I went through my local library and did a search in the Pro-Quest database for "Israel" in Editorial and Commentary documents for July, 2012 in the New York Times. (You will not be able to see the results unless you have a Pro-Quest account.) I only considered articles that were mostly about Israel. The impetus for this research was Clark Hoyt'sThe Danger of the One sided debate from 2007, in which he defended publishing an op-ed by a Hamas spokesman as necessary for balance.
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