Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Middle East Media Sampler: New York Times Bias Index December 2012 (Part I)

New York Times Op-Ed Index for December 2012

A) Netanyahu's Strategic Mistake -Editorial - December 3, 2012

Some American lawmakers are also in a vengeful mood, threatening to close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington, deprive the Palestinians of American aid and withhold financing from United Nations affiliates that accept the Palestinians as members. These actions would only harm Israel and further undermine America’s ability to play a credible mediator in any peace effort.

Later on the editorial recommends that the Palestinians not to pursue legal action against Israel in UN bodies. There is no condemnation of the Palestinian effort to circumvent negotiations. Apparently, to the editors of the New York Times, there is nothing that the Palestinians do that is wrong. Only the responses, however mild, are presented as devastating to the peace process.

Current tally - Anti-Israel - 1 / Pro-Israel - 0

B) Mighty Morphin Hillary - Maureen Dowd - December 4, 2012

The bullying Israeli prime minister is fond of demanding that America set red lines on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But he blithely stuck a finger in the eye of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton Friday and went over a red line for successive American administrations: Israel gave the White House only a few hours’ notice that it was defying the U.S. and planning new settlements in the most sensitive territory east of Jerusalem, a move that Washington fears could obliterate any prospect of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And this is just the second paragraph. The point was to establish that despite all the provocations against Washington, Secretary of State Clinton didn't give Binyamin Netanyahu his deserved dressing down. Why not? Because she's trying to build her pro-Israel bona fides for 2016. Mixed in with the typical juvenile Dowdian snarkiness is the idea that Israel run American foreign policy.

Current tally - Anti-Israel - 2 / Pro-Israel - 0

C) No Roads lead to Jerusalem - Rajah Shehada - December 4, 2012

Kareem tried: “Now we can begin to bring legal cases against Israelis. Isn’t this something?This, and seeing how isolated Israel has become for me are cause enough for celebration.”

Shehada's friend, Kareem, is correct. Shehada still suggests that it's not enough.

Current tally - Anti-Israel - 3 / Pro-Israel - 0

D) Iron empires, Iron fists, Iron Domes - Thomas L. Friedman -December 5, 2012

I am stunned at what I see here politically. On the right, in the Likud Party, the old leadership that was at least connected with the world, spoke English and respected Israel’s Supreme Court, is being swept aside in the latest primary by a rising group of far-right settler-activists who are convinced —thanks, in part, to the wall and dome —that Palestinians are no threat anymore and that no one can roll back the 350,000 Jews living in the West Bank. The far-right group running Israel today is so arrogant, and so indifferent to U.S. concerns, that it announced plans to build a huge block of settlements in the heart of the West Bank —in retaliation for the U.N. vote giving Palestinians observer status —even though the U.S. did everything possible to block that vote and the settlements would sever any possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state.

Friedman, of course, held no such respect for Menachem Begin and Yitzchak Shamir. The Palestinians sought observer status, in violation of the peace process, but that didn't get Friedman exercised. Only Israel's response to it did. Of course if one assumes that Maaleh Adumim will be part of Israel in any likely peace deal, why is this even controversial?

Current tally - Anti-Israel - 4 / Pro-Israel - 0

E) If not two states, then one - Saree Makdisi - December 5, 2012

However heavy the blow to Palestinian aspirations, an equally heavy political price for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s E1 plan will be paid by Israelis. For by terminating the prospect of a two-state solution, Netanyahu will also be sealing the fate of an exclusively Jewish state.

Even after the New York Times was forced to admit that building in E1 wouldn't cut the West Bank in half,it still features that op-eds that exaggerate the effect of such building. This is a stronger misstatement of that than those made by either Friedman or Dowd. Makdisi gave the Jerusalem Fund's Edward Said Lecture in 2011. Other notables who were so honored were Stephen Walt, Chas Freeman and John Mearsheimer. Said was Makdisi's uncle.

Current tally - Anti-Israel - 5 / Pro-Israel - 0

F) Some Second Thoughts and Reader Feedback About the Middle East and Social Media - Margaret Sullivan -December 7, 2012

Those descriptions are accurate, to my knowledge, and at least some of that certainly would have been helpful for readers in evaluating his comments. I have also heard from the Palestinian-American journalist and activist Ali Abunimah, who was mentioned unfavorably in Mr. Goldberg’s quotation. He called Mr. Goldberg’s description of him as wanting the destruction of Israel “wildly inflammatory,” and also objected to the lack of context. Mr. Abunimah’s views on a one-state solution to the conflict are the subject of his 2006 book, “One Country,” and may also be found in this article on his Web site.

The point to which Sullivan is responding is that she should have referred to Jeffrey Goldberg as a "Zionist Jewish American," because she also referred to Philip Weiss as an "anti-Zionist Jewish American." She should have dismissed the complaint. She refers to an article on Ali Abuminah's website that explicitly equates Israel with apartheid era South Africa, with no comment. Is she arguing that Abuminah was characterized correctly by Goldberg, or is she endorsing Abuminah's repugnant equivalence?If she didn't mean the latter, she should have made clear that she rejected it.

Current tally - Anti-Israel - 6 / Pro-Israel - 0

G) The Full Israeli Experience -Thomas L. Friedman - December 8, 2012

There are two major schools of thought here. One, led by Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, comprises the “Ideological Hawks,” who, to the question, “Do you know what neighborhood I am living in?” tell Israelis and the world, “It is so much worse than you think!” Bibi goes out of his way to highlight every possible threat to Israel and essentially makes the case that nothing Israel does has ever or can ever alter the immutable Arab hatred of the Jewish state or the Hobbesian character of the neighborhood. Netanyahu is not without supporting evidence. Israel withdraws from both South Lebanon and Gaza and still gets hit with rockets. But this group is called the “ideological” hawks because most of them also advocate Israel’s retaining permanent control of the West Bank and Jerusalem for religious-nationalist reasons. So it’s impossible to know where their strategic logic for holding territory stops and their religious-nationalist dreams start —and that muddies their case with the world.

Again we're treated to more Friedman's sophomoric categorizing. He's quick to dismiss concerns that Israeli peacemaking is met with terror. (He doesn't even mention the so-called "Aqsa intifada" launched by Yasser Arafat after he refused to make peace with Ehud Barak in 2000.) Nor does he acknowledge that most of the West Bank is under Palestinian control. An inability to acknowledge facts contrary to one's belief's makes one ideological doesn't it?

Current tally - Anti-Israel - 7 / Pro-Israel - 0

H) The Anxiety of Group Survival -Michael J. A. Wohl - December 15, 2012

Take the case of Israelis and Palestinians —groups that have particularly acute anxiety for their respective survival. In a study colleagues and I conducted in Israel, we divided volunteers into two sets, giving each different assessments of their country’s defense capabilities. Notably, when we led subjects to believe that Israel faced a near-term existential threat (specifically, that the Israel Defense Forces did not have the ability to prevent an Iranian nuclear attack), they became less inclined to support negotiations with Hamas.Why?Because a people concerned for their survival are likely to take a protective posture. In the case of Israel and Hamas, this invariably translates to: “Show strength and don’t compromise.”

Is psychology a science? If so, Wohl, a professor of psychology, is demonstrating a shocking lack of knowledge of the scientific method. Are there any controls?"[I]nvariably translates to" is not the same thing as a proof. Why did he choose Hamas as a negotiating partner for Israel? Hamas, in its ideology, opposes Israel's existence. Is there any reason for Israel to compromise with Hamas?There is no compromise with someone who wishes you dead, except perhaps for the time and method. It isn't a matter of "show[ing] strength" but of survival. Is that too hard of a concept for a professor to grasp?

Current tally - Anti-Israel - 8 / Pro-Israel - 0

(Continued in Part II)

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