Shameful New York Times Editorial About Israel Arab Conflict

It has come to this. The NY Times reveals plainly what many of us have known for years now: the only way to defend the politically correct line that the Palestinians are not really to blame for the current stalemate in negotiations and their upcoming attempted unilateral action in the UN is to lie. To flat-out lie.

In today’s (August 7, 2011) editorial, the New York Times, arguably America’s most important print publication, does just that. The Times lies. Let’s take it apart:

In little more than a month, the Palestinians are expected to ask the United Nations to recognize their state. We have sympathy for their yearning and their frustration. For years, they have been promised a negotiated solution — President Obama called for a peace deal by September — and they are still empty-handed.

This reads as if the Palestinians are passive observers and dependent upon others for negotiations or their outcome. Nothing is less true. The Palestinians are empty-handed because they have chosen to stop negotiations every time Israel has put forth a serious offer for peace – if you can call “being empty handed” having autonomy and governmental control over the majority of their own population, a thriving and growing economy in their West Bank areas, benefactors such as UNRWA and multiple foreign powers contributing billions of dollars, a trained and armed military force, an international web of diplomatic relations that makes Israel weep with jealousy and the support of the US President in all but their most extreme demands.

They are empty-handed because their strategy has involved not budging on core demands that undermine the existence of Israel. They are empty-handed because they refuse to compromise. There is nothing passive about the Palestinians’ circumstances as described by the NY Times.

The two sides haven’t even been in the same room together since September 2010.

All share blame for the stalemate. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has used any excuse he can find (regional turmoil, the weakness of his coalition government) to avoid negotiations.

This is an outright lie. I don’t like Netanyahu much, and I’m not a fan of the Likud or the current coalition government in Israel. However, Netanyahu has offered to negotiate numerous times. His only pre-condition, and even that has been a condition he has been willing to ignore in order to launch negotiations, is that the Palestinian accept that Israel is the Jewish state.

In fact, Netanyahu even froze settlement activity for 10 months in order to meet US demands that were supposed to lead to negotiations. The Palestinians refused to come to the table until the 11th hour and then merely to be able to say that they attended.

He [Netanyahu] has blustered and balked at President Obama’s prodding.

He has reacted strongly to Obama’s humiliations of Netanyahu at the beginning of his term, to Obama’s attempts to pacify an Arab world by placing Israel on the side of the wrong and promising to fix those wrongs, to Obama’s pressure on Israel to offer goodies to recalcitrant Palestinians so they would come to negotiations, and worst of all, to Obama’s attempt to undermine Israel’s leverage in negotiations by proclaiming what Israel must give up before talks even begin.

Republican leaders in Washington — who seem mainly interested in embarrassing Mr. Obama — have encouraged his resistance.

To their credit, these leaders have maintained traditional US positions on Israel. For example, it is entirely correct to bring up the fact that Obama refuses to accept a commitment made by George Bush to Arik Sharon in a written document that Israel will be able to keep areas that it has built up outside 1949 Armistice Lines (so-called ’67 Borders). How can a current President evade a promise made officially by a previous President? If bringing up such wrongheaded policy (after all, America’s leadership is only as good as its word) is seeking to “embarrass Mr. Obama,” the NY Times might want to join Republicans and to begin doing so as well.

Arab leaders haven’t given the Israelis any incentive to compromise. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, seemed to give up on diplomacy when Mr. Obama could not deliver a promised settlement freeze.

Israel gave a 10 month settlement freeze to the Palestinians and to Obama. The above is an outright lie.

An Abbas assistant spoke to the Washington Post shortly after Obama was elected and promised the Palestinians would put any negotiations on hold with the assumption that Obama would place great pressure on Netanyahu and bring down his government within two years. The only conclusion is that the above is an outright lie.

We see no sign that he [Abbas] has thought even one step beyond the U.N. vote.

This is another outright lie. Abbas wrote in a NY Times op-ed in May that having the status of a state would enable the Palestinians to pursue Israel in international forums where they haven’t been able to challenge because they are not a high contracting party.

“Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one…It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human-rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice.”

Furthermore, one would assume the NY Times has seen the following Fatah press release:

Fatah spokesman, Fayez Abu Aitah, said in a press release that “going to the UN in September to seek full admission and recognition of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders is considered a real struggle and an important historical step, which will define the national strategy for the next phase.”

To suggest that Abbas hasn’t thought one step beyond the UN vote is ridiculous, but in this editorial it is either evidence of stupidity in the NY Times editorial room, or a desire to misrepresent easily verifiable and publicly available facts.

The White House is working with Israel and the Quartet (the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations) on a statement setting out parameters for negotiations. The core element: a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps and guarantees for Israel’s security.

In May, President Obama endorsed that idea, which is widely accepted as the basis of any deal.

The reason this idea is widely accepted is that Obama is pushing it. Before Obama pushed Israel into this impossible corner, the basis for all negotiations was that territory would be exchanged and 1949 Armistice Lines would be used as a flexible guideline but that the final lines would be closed only when all other items of conflict were resolved. Not before.

By the way, the NY Times is lying when it uses the term “1967 borders.” No such thing ever existed.

At the time, Mr. Netanyahu scored points with hard-liners in Israel — and Republican lawmakers played the same game here — denouncing those boundaries as “indefensible.” Now the Israeli leader seems willing to accept them. It’s a start but not enough.

Another lie. I’m not a hardliner and I agreed with Netanyahu. I believe in a two-state solution and would have accepted Barak’s offer at Taba or even Olmert’s offer of 2008. Also, American leaders and diplomats in 1967 and up to the current administration have all agreed that these lines are indefensible.

The fact is that 1949 lines ARE indefensible. That’s why Resolution 242 doesn’t demand that Israel withdraw back to those lines. That’s why the Fatah spokesman is speaking about the phase that will follow a statehood declaration at the UN in September.

If Netanyahu is now willing to accept these lines before negotiations begin, it is only because the US must have put inordinate pressure on him. Presumably, that pressure comes from the threat of accepting the Palestinian statehood bid at the Security Council in September. If that is the case, then this is the single most incredible betrayal of Israel by any administration, ever. It is a betrayal of an ally and a betrayal of the wishes of most Americans’ views on how Israel should be treated by the US. It is even more incredible considering that both in Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestinian leadership is dictatorial in nature, which means that even with all of the evidence the “Arab spring” has brought to bear about Arab dictatorships and the suffering of their citizens, the US administration has allied itself with an upcoming dictatorship and betrayed a democratic ally.

The NY Times might want, if this is the case, to join all those balking Republican lawmakers in asking how any US President can take such a step.

To have any chance of inducing the Palestinians to drop their statehood bid — and finally move the peace process forward — the United States and its partners should put a map and a deal on the table, with a timeline for concluding negotiations and a formal U.N. statehood vote.

The Palestinians will not drop their statehood bid since it costs them nothing. There are no consequences as far as they are concerned, which means to them that statehood is meaningless because it just provides tools to further pursue the destruction of Israel.

In other words, anybody who is not stating what has been made obvious by numerous Palestinian officials in recent months, that this declaration of statehood has nothing to do with building a Palestinian state in the land beyond 1949 Armistice Lines and everything to do with continuing to seek the destruction of the Jewish state within the 1949 Armistice Lines, is lying. They are making it clear that this is what they want.

Since this is what the Palestinians want, and since there is nothing that will stop them, what benefit will there be to pre-negotiate the borders and “deal” that Israel would offer? After all, Israel has already negotiated borders and a deal. Olmert made a generous offer and Abbas disappeared afterward. In fact, Israel, with the help of the US, has negotiated in good faith and has made serious, far-reaching proposals three times over the past decade. All of the offers were made in the spirit of “a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps and guarantees for Israel’s security” and all of the offers were rejected by the Palestinians.

Isn’t it time to stop coddling the Palestinians, to stop giving them the upper hand, to stop lying on their behalf by rewriting history, to stop Obama from undermining Israel’s future and very existence with his decision to destroy Israel’s leverage in negotiations, and especially to stop pretending the Palestinians have any plan other than to destroy Israel as a Jewish state?

Isn’t it time for some integrity? And shouldn’t we expect some from the New York Times editorial page?


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  2. froylein

    8/8/2011 at 11:44 am

    One of my brothers occasionally muses that journalists mostly are people incapable of learning anything proper (i.e. a profession). A job interview with an aspiring journalist should therefore include the question of what they would be doing if they got laid off.

  3. Michael

    8/8/2011 at 12:37 pm

    The Slimes has lost any thread of credibility it may have ever had. I don’t read the paper in any form. People who want so badly to believe in a possible “peace” have to buy-in to the lie that is an Arab Palestinian. There never was an Arab country named Palestine and liberals and ignorant Jews can’t seem to get a handle on that inconvenient truth.

  4. Independent Patriot

    8/9/2011 at 7:32 am

    Asking the New York Times to be objective on Israel is like asking a $20 whore to be a virgin.

  5. Tom Morrissey

    8/9/2011 at 3:17 pm

    The Times is struggling with the stark reality that the Obama administration’s approach to Middle East peacemaking is an abject disaster– one too great to be ignored. So blame has to be shifted to the Israeli government. (To blame the Palestinians would undermine the Times’ insistence on stubborn evenhandedness in addressing this subject.)

    Israel isn’t the only victim of the administration’s ineptitude. Obama has put the Palestinian leadership in a bind as well. After all, it can’t appear to be any less radical and anti-Israel in its approach to the issues than Obama himself.

  6. josh

    8/9/2011 at 6:14 pm

    Guys, how dare you bash Obama. Don’t you remember that he won the Nobel Peace Prize?

  7. themiddle

    8/9/2011 at 7:11 pm

    Speaking of ineptitude, I don’t know that this administration has done anything that it hasn’t screwed up. They’re lucky they can all speak well and are very presentable, or they’d be toast next election.

  8. Tom Morrissey

    8/11/2011 at 1:15 pm

    Foreign policy is a mess, but look on the bright side: Obama declined to accept Tim Geithner’s resignation.

  9. xisnotx

    8/12/2011 at 6:47 am

    tm, sorry for the o/t — have you weighed in on the tent protests? what do you think about them?

    • themiddle

      8/12/2011 at 12:10 pm

      Just some comments in the Jerusalem Disney post, not my own post. I think the problem right now is that so many groups and people are involved that it’s unclear what is supposed to change. I think in my comments I express some of my perspective. The burden on the middle class and even upper middle class of mainstream Israel is too great. From the high cost of living including housing, high cost of goods, relatively low salaries, high taxes and high regressive taxes and military service including miluim, things are extremely challenging for many Israelis. The burden of carrying the Ultra-Orthdox, Arab and Settlement sectors is getting to be too much, I believe, and these demonstrations are a form of outlet seeking to express this. As I write in the comments in the Disney post, I think there are things the government can do. Will they do them? I think the nature of the Israeli electoral system and the concentration of money in the hands of relatively few will prevent any real change.

      There’s no question that things are very tough for many people. Good friends of ours are participating in the demonstrations because life has become very challenging for them. The parents of good friends of ours are also demonstrating because things are so hard for their adult children and their families. Among these families are some extremely competent and highly educated people whose families are in love with Israel and the idea of Israel, not to mention that they possess strong Zionist ideals and the men have all contributed in elite army units, including some of Israel’s top combat units. They’re seriously evaluating the question of whether they should move abroad. Interestingly, one of the reasons they’re reluctant to move is that the quality of the childhood they can offer their kids in Israel is hard to replicate in the USA. But, objectively, life for them is very hard, almost unfairly so, and they’re struggling. Most of the time, they struggle quietly. These demonstrations have provided an outlet to inform a government that has no real mechanism for personal MK responsibility and that therefore tends to be deaf to the needs of the quiet majority, that the pressures falling on average Israelis have become so great that it’s very problematic.

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