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Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 10/4/2012: New York Times in September

From DG:

New York Times Op-Ed Index for September 2012 

A) When It Pays to Talk to Terrorists - Paul Thomas Chamberlin - September 3, 2012
Most scholars of the Palestine Liberation Organization now agree that attacks like the one in Munich were designed by Yasir Arafat’s rivals to shift power away from moderates and into the hands of more radical factions. The string of attacks attributed to the Palestinian Black September Organization between November 1971 and March 1973, of which Munich was the most dramatic, were actually an indication of the rifts within the P.L.O. While events like Munich seized headlines, a growing number of moderates within the P.L.O. — most notably Arafat — were putting out feelers about the prospect of a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
This pro-terror article argued that Arafat had abandoned terror and if only Nixon had ignored Israel and chosen to negotiate he might have helped the newly moderated Arafat to outmaneuver the extremists and seek peace. The problem is a much discussed tape from February 1973 of Arafat giving the order to kill Ambassador Cleo Noel and George Curtis Moore to Black September terrorists. Given that another ambassador would be killed the following week this op-ed gets credit not just for bad taste and bad history, but for bad timing too. The New York Times did publish a letter with a dissenting opinion.

Tally: Anti-Israel - 1 / Pro-Israel - 0


B) The Truth about Obama and Israel - Haim Saban - September 4, 2012
When I enter the voting booth, I’m going to ask myself, what do I prefer for Israel and its relationship with the United States: meaningful action or empty rhetoric? To me the answer is clear: I’ll take another four years of Mr. Obama’s steadfast support over Mr. Romney’s sweet nothings.
I reject the premise of Saban's argument. Barry Rubin refutes Saban's arguments here. However being wrong is not the same as being anti-Israel.


Tally: Anti-Israel - 1 / Pro-Israel - 1

C) The Migron Settlement Myth - Shmuel Rosner - September 6, 2012
Building houses on private Palestinian land is immoral and wrong. Even Jewish settlers realize that: most of them typically argue that the Palestinians’ ownership claims are invalid, not that building on their land would be just. Thus the necessary evacuation of Migron leaves just one question unanswered: why allow such settlements to be built at all? How does that serve Israel’s long-term interests?
Yedidya Atlas argues in the Algemeiner Journal that there was a strategic reason for creating the Migron outpost and that the Palestinian claims were specious. Rosner's article seems more a criticism of internal Israel politics than a condemnation of Israel. It's clearly not pro-Israel but I'm not convinced that it's anti-Israel either.

Tally: Anti-Israel - 1 / Pro-Israel - 1

D) New Jerusalem - Carol Giacomo - September 6, 2012
Mitt Romney and the Republicans have been working overtime to make fealty to Israel a wedge issue in the campaign and to grossly misrepresent President Obama as insufficiently loyal to the Jewish state. So why did the Democrats give the Republicans an opening to pounce?
Describing the American alliance with Israel as "fealty to Israel" and using the term "insufficiently loyal" to describe Republican criticisms of President Obama's Middle East policy is offensive. The irony is that this article appears in the "Taking Note" blog usually authored by Andrew Rosenthal. If Patrick Buchanan had used such terminology, Rosenthal's father would have rightly condemned it as antisemitic. But in the brave new Times such crude charges are a matter of course.

Tally: Anti-Israel - 2 / Pro-Israel - 1

E) What happens when two Israelis meet - Shani Boianjiu - September 7, 2012
The tolerance of Israel’s leaders to the religious needs of some citizens at the expense of those who are forced to serve is deeply unfair. Yet if the impossible were to happen and all ultra-Orthodox Jews were made to serve in the army, the need to keep our country safe and unified could force us to confront the fact that we are strangers to ourselves. Perhaps that would bring about a greater understanding between religious and secular Israelis. On the other hand, we may find that we are not always striving to preserve the same type of life, or even the same nation.
Even as the author pleads for more understanding between religious and secular Jews in Israel, she's dismissive of  Chareidi concerns. This article is clearly anti-Chareidi but is it anti-Israel? I'd assume that an article celebrating cooperation between religious and secular Jews isn't likely to appear in the New York Times. Though I object to this article, I don't believe that it is anti-Israel.

Tally: Anti-Israel - 2 / Pro-Israel - 1

F) Nuclear Mullahs - Bill Keller - September 9, 2012 
Most worrisome, I think, is the danger that a crisis between Israel and Iran would escalate out of control. Given the history of mistrust and the absence of communication, some war planner on one side or the other might guess that a nuclear attack was imminent, and decide to go first.
By itself, Keller is uncomfortable with the idea of an Iranian nuclear weapon but is not scared by it. He's mostly scared about how Israel may act or overreact to an Iranian threat. This is the standard premise of the New York Times - the biggest problem of a nuclear Iran is that Israel may lead the world into war. Keller has a followup, Nuclear Mullahs, continued more fully explaining his position. The letters were generally supportive of Keller's position but Prof. Steven R. David wrote, "Maybe Mr. Keller is right that the prudent course for Israel (and the United States) is to allow Iran to acquire nuclear arms. But if Israel or the United States does strike to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, it will have ample justification to do so."

Tally: Anti-Israel - 3 / Pro-Israel - 1

G) Seven lean years of peacmaking - Daniel Levy - September 11, 2012
One thing is clear: The years from 2005 to 2012 have been seven decidedly lean ones for peacemaking and withdrawal and seven gluttonously fat ones for entrenching Israel’s occupation and settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In these areas, almost 94,000 new settlers have been added since 2005, some settler outposts have been legalized and thousands of Palestinians have been displaced. 
From the IDF blog:
Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, terrorists have fired more than 8,000 rockets into Israel. Over one million Israelis are currently living under threat of rocket attacks.
This danger was dismissed by Levy in a single sentence. That alone should tell you how unserious he is.


Tally: Anti-Israel - 4 / Pro-Israel - 1

H) Mitt and Bibi: Diplomacy as Demolition Derby - Bill Keller - September 12, 2012
Netanyahu has done his country no favor. Americans are strongly opposed to a preventive war against Iran, and are likely to resent a brazen attempt to push them into fighting one at Israel’s behest. A new survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, released Monday, finds that 70 percent of Americans oppose a unilateral military strike. Moreover, if Israel bombs Iran and ignites a war, 59 percent say the U.S. should not come to Israel’s aid.
Keller, of course, misconstrued Netanyahu's demand for a "red line." The point of the  "red line" is to prevent war, not start it. Letting Iran know when its nuclear development will have gone too far to be tolerated is preferable to never ending sanctions that make Iran uncomfortable but ultimately fail to dissuade it from developing a nuclear weapon.

Tally: Anti-Israel - 5 / Pro-Israel - 1

I) Play music, not politics - Shmuel Rosner - September 12, 2012 
The Red Hot Chili Peppers were pressured to skip the country, but they wouldn’t budge. This visit was something of a sentimental journey: their original guitar player, Hillel Slovak, who died from an overdose more than 20 years ago, was an Israeli. 
I'm not always a Shmuel Rosner fan, but he is pro-Israel. They New York Times has no problem publishing articles demanding boycotts of Israel. It's nice to see an article tweaking the boycotters.

Tally: Anti-Israel - 5 / Pro-Israel - 2 

J) Israeli Fallout - Eric Lewis - September 13, 2012
The threat to international security posed by the Iranian nuclear program should not be underestimated and the Obama administration takes the threat seriously. It continues to keep all options on the table, but believes that there is additional time for sanctions to work. Romney is apparently prepared to delegate to Netanyahu the decision to start a conflict that the United States military believes is, at best, premature, that is unlikely to be fully effective, that will send oil prices skyrocketing, that will further destabilize Lebanon and Syria (and possibly the shaky governments in Libya and Egypt), and that will be likely to consolidate domestic support for a deeply unpopular Iranian regime. But the question in the presidential campaign is not whether attacking Iran now or later is a good idea, but whether a decision with enormous geo-strategic consequences should be made by the American president or by the leader of an ally dependent upon American power. 
Eric Lewis, unlike Bill Keller, appears to fear an Iranian nuclear weapon. Like Keller he misconstrues Netanyahu's demand for a "red line" as an effort to drag America into war with Iran. Not so subtle subtext: Jews will get us involved in an unpopular war.

Tally: Anti-Israel - 6 / Pro-Israel - 2

K) No rush to war - Editorial - September 14, 2012
Yet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is trying to browbeat President Obama into a pre-emptive strike. On Tuesday, he demanded that the United States set a red line for military action and said those who refuse “don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.” Later, Mr. Obama telephoned him and rejected the appeal. On Friday, Mr. Netanyahu suggested in an interview that Israel cannot entirely rely on the United States to act against Iran’s program.  
Here's a third editorial deliberately misconstruing Netanyahu's "red lines" comment. I've previously critiqued this editorial as it relied on an analysis written by a number of well known critics of Israel.

Tally: Anti-Israel - 7 / Pro-Israel - 2

L) Neo-Cons slither back - Maureen Dowd - September 15, 2012 
Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor. The hawkish Romney adviser has been secunded to manage the running mate and graft a Manichaean worldview onto the foreign affairs neophyte.  
What's that? The fourth opinion article of the month asserting in one form or another that Jews are leading us into war.

Tally: Anti-Israel - 8 / Pro-Israel - 2

M) A preventable massacre - Seth Anziska - September 16, 2012
While Israel’s role in the massacre has been closely examined, America’s actions have never been fully understood. This summer, at the Israel State Archives, I found recently declassified documents that chronicle key conversations between American and Israeli officials before and during the 1982 massacre. The verbatim transcripts reveal that the Israelis misled American diplomats about events in Beirut and bullied them into accepting the spurious claim that thousands of “terrorists” were in the camps. Most troubling, when the United States was in a position to exert strong diplomatic pressure on Israel that could have ended the atrocities, it failed to do so. As a result, Phalange militiamen were able to murder Palestinian civilians, whom America had pledged to protect just weeks earlier. 
This article was presented along with the supporting documentation. In the Israel Archives blog, Yaacov Lozowick wrote: "Morally, this was one of Israel's darkest moments." While this definitely casts Israel in a bad light, it's hard to say that it's anti-Israel. Still Israel's state archives also recently released documents that showed Israel not responding adequately to the threats in 1973. The New York Time didn't feature an op-ed on the Yom Kippur war, the Times of Israel did. The New York Times saw fit to tell a thirty year old story that suggests that the United States understands Israel's security needs better than Israel does; but not one that shows that Israel must take threats seriously. Regardless, as critical this op-ed of Israel is, I'd judge it neutral. In a letter to the editor, an Israeli spokesman, Shahar Azani, asks, "However, one may wonder why The New York Times chose to focus such great attention on this massacre in Lebanon of 30 years ago, when before our very eyes such massacres take place — unfortunately — on an almost quotidian basis in Syria, and Christian communities and other minorities face troubles throughout the turbulent Middle East." Another letter writer criticized the op-ed for failing to account for the PLO's penchant for hiding among civilians as a contributing factor to the massacre.

Tally: Anti-Israel - 8 / Pro-Israel - 2

N) Netanyahu's Iran Blunder - Roger Cohen - September 24, 2012
(One achievement of Netanyahu’s Iran obsession has been to relegate the critical question before Israel — the millions of Palestinian people on its doorstep — to somewhere between the back burner and oblivion. The best primer for Netanyahu’s thinking is these words from his coached buddy Mitt Romney: “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say, ‘There’s just no way.”’)  
Ah, yes, once again, the Israeli is controlling the American politician. This caricature is crude. Why is it that the New York Times hasn't hired Patrick "Israel's Amen Corner" Buchanan as a columnist?

Tally: Anti-Israel - 9 / Pro-Israel - 2

O) Talking at Cross purposes - Editorial - September 27, 2012
In dueling speeches, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel focused on drawing a red line for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities while the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, cataloged his community’s many grievances against Israel and tried to revive the fading dream of a two-state solution. Mr. Netanyahu even had on hand a visual aid — a primitive cartoon drawing of a bomb, which quickly went viral on the Internet.
Abbas -> "grievances" | Netanyahu -> "cartoon" That summarizes the relative significance the New York Times attaches to each man's arguments. Of course the Times doesn't acknowledge that  it is Abbas's own refusal to negotiate in good faith that is currently biggest obstacle to a two state solution.

Tally: Anti-Israel - 10 / Pro-Israel - 2

P) How to help Iran build a bomb - William Broad - September 28, 2012
Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told his colleagues before they won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 that the bomb decision often turned on nothing more complex than a “sense of security or insecurity.”
Really, that's the gist of this article. Any effort to stop a country from attempting to acquire a military nuclear capacity - be it military, political or even rhetorical - will make that country even more determined to develop nuclear weapons. In other words, do nothing.


Final Tally: Anti-Israel - 11 / Pro-Israel - 2

Note on methodology: The New York Times has fixed its archive and once again it is possible to search the paper's website effectively. The bias remains the same. The opinion articles cited here were culled from a search for all opinion articles appearing in the New York Times from September 1 - 30, 2012 containing the word "Israel." Though Israel was cited in many more articles, I limited the survey to those articles that were substantially about Israel. (There were quite a few others with obnoxious references to Israel and Israel's interests that weren't included.) Last September there was an established theme in the op-eds promoting a Palestinian state. The dominant theme this year is Israel leading America into war with Iran. I judged articles C, E and M not to be either pro or anti Israel.

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