Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 5/1/2012: New York Times Op-Ed Index For April 2012

From DG:
New York Times Mideast op-ed Index for April, 2012

A) A Middle East Twofer - Thomas Friedman - April 3, 2012
One of the most hackneyed clichés about the Middle East today is that the Arab Awakening, because it was not focused on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, only proves that this conflict was not that important. Rather, it is argued, the focus should be on Iran 24/7. The fact is, the Arab Awakening has made an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement more urgent than ever for two reasons. First, it is now clear that Arab autocracies are being replaced with Islamist/populist parties. And, in Egypt, in particular, it is already clear that a key issue in the election will be the peace treaty with Israel. In this context, if Palestinian-Israeli violence erupts in the West Bank, there will be no firewall — the role played by former President Hosni Mubarak — to stop the flames from spreading directly to the Egyptian street.
This is the second opinion of the column, and it wasn't necessarily the most ridiculous opinion presented by Friedman.
The first, taken straight from Ha'aretz, was that the Palestinians needed to shake up Israel with non-violent protest and a final status offer. Friedman indicated that stone throwing would be part of that non-violence. Here he's wrong. The very idea that the new government in Egypt is looking to change the parameters of the peace treaty with Israel unilaterally, shows that until the political situation in the Middle East settles, Israel should not make any more agreements. What if Israel makes an agreement with Fatah and then Hamas takes over (or joins with Fatah)?

Anti-Israel - 1 / Pro-Israel - 0

B) On Iran, Reality Bites - John Vinocur - April 9, 2012
Indeed, France is opposed to an Israeli strike. But when it comes to exerting pressure, Mr. Longuet, seemingly addressing the administration, said, “The real problem in the Middle East is Iran not Israel.”
Did he fear a major international conflict — as administration officials warn — in the event of a strike? “International, no,” he answered.
This is a difficult op-ed to judge. Even though Israel does play a role, it still seems to be a secondary focus. Still  Vinocur acknowledges that Israel has interests that might differ from the United States, or France, and yet doesn't portray Israel's leadership as a bunch of out of control war mongers.

Anti-Israel - 1 / Pro-Israel - 1

C) Beware of faulty intelligence - Ronen Bergman - April 11, 2012
This year, an equally fateful decision may well rely on the quality of available intelligence. So, caution is in order: Relying on intelligence as the chief touchstone for decisions about whether and when to attack creates a wide opening for misunderstandings, divergent interpretations and vulnerabilities to parties with an interest in either attack or delay.
Both Israel and America should acknowledge that scraps of information cannot serve as the basis for action against Iran, and they should find new criteria for such a decision.
This article is more cautionary than judgmental. It advocates more talks, not just as a way of limiting Iran's actions, but as a way of learning more about its nuclear program.

Anti-Israel - 1 / Pro-Israel - 1

D) Don't Give Up on Mideast Peace - Jimmy Carter - April 12, 2012
However, the overall region is changing. Past efforts by Egypt, the Carter Center and others to bring about reconciliation among Palestinian factions, leading to another democratic election, have been frustrated by differences among them, exacerbated by opposition from Israel and the United States and acquiescence from former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The newly elected leaders in Egypt are determined to use their influence to reconcile Fatah and Hamas and press for a final status agreement including peace with Israel. With international support, such an agreement is entirely possible.
After falling back on the cliche that Israel needs to make peace in order to ensure its continued existence as a secular, democratic state, Carter advocates a peace agreement that includes the religious terrorist organization Hamas. Is he really that obtuse?

 Anti-Israel - 2 / Pro-Israel - 1

E) A Reset in Jewish Thinking - Stephen Robert - April 24, 2012
A problematic and unsustainable development threatens the existence of the Jewish State: a land of about 7 million people has occupied the territory of 4 million Palestinians for over 40 years. Virtually imprisoned, the Palestinians lack freedom of movement and civil or political rights. They are subject to imprisonment without charges. They often lack water and jobs and are citizens of nowhere. God help an infant born in Palestine today.
The occupation is over and has been since Israel withdrew from most of the West Bank in late 1995. The only question are the final borders. It is the Palestinian Authority that has refused to negotiate in good faith and has, at least twice, refused final status agreements with Israel. Ignorance, for Mr. Robert, is apparently okay because he's condemning Israel, but it doesn't make for a very convincing argument.

 Anti-Israel - 3 / Pro-Israel - 1

F) Peace without Partners -  Ami Ayalon  Orni Petruschka and Gilead Sher - April 23, 2012
...Israel could negotiate more easily with a state than with a nonstate entity like the Palestinian Authority. And statehood would undermine the Palestinians’ argument for implementing a right of return for Palestinian refugees, since the refugees would have a state of their own to return to...as Israel celebrates 64 years of independence later this week, it would let us take our destiny into our own hands and act in our long-term national interest, without blaming the Palestinians for what they do or don’t do. and could qualify as pro-Israel. 
In the first place, its publication highlights an unfortunate editorial decision of the NYTimes to welcome op-eds from pro-peace/left-wing Israelis, intellectuals, literary figures and others such as Amos Oz, AB Yehoshua, David Grossman, Yossi Beilin, Nimrod Novick, Uri Avneri among many others. Some mainstream, others on the fringes. However, despite attempts, the NYTimes has never published an op-ed from someone who is not an elected politician or government official, but rather an extra-parliamentarian who supports the viewpoint that Israel has a right and need to be in Judea and Samaria, and Gaza, and to contruct communities there. Last May, MK Danny Danon had his piece published. But to portray the idea of Eretz-Yisrael, of a historic right to national territory, of special security needs as an opinion of a person of culture, from the academy? That isn't permitted.

Secondly, the article, nevertheless, through the vehicle of unilateralism, places the burden solely on Israel.

(Thanks to Yisrael Medad for this analysis. His full response is here. Despite our misgivings, this article is not anti-Israel.)

Anti-Israel - 3 / 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 April 1 - 30, 2012. I did not include letters to the editor or 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 Brisbane's predecessor, 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. While he didn't write a regular column about Israel, op-ed columnistPaul Krugman wrote about Israel in his blog. Unsurprisingly Krugman wrote in support of Peter Beinart and his "bravery" in discussing Israel. So Krugman joins Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof and Roger Cohen among the op-ed regulars at the New York Times who are anti-Israel. The Times has no William Safire or A. M. Rosenthal who would defend Israel on a regular basis.
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