NYT opposes urban beautification in one city

Leo Rennert
In its May 9 editions, the New York Times features an article by correspondents Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner sharply critical of Israel's green-friendly beautification and development of parks and other public amenities in the heart of ancient Jerusalem (see attachment).

The area, a shabby, long neglected stretch that straddles the Old City and its immediate environs, is being turned into a park with historic markers pointing to Jewish history and heritage, and highlighting significant Christian and Muslim sites as well.  Jerusalem municipal officials just unveiled long-term plans to spruce up this area, including greater availability of nearby housing for Arabs.

One would think that such development would be welcomed as a magnet for tourism and as an overdue move to permit better and more instructive access to some of Jerusalem's most important historic and religious sites.

But not at the New York Times, which approaches anything having to do with Jerusalem with its own pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel agenda of re-dividing Israel's capital the way it was before the 1967 war waged by Arabs to eliminate the Jewish state altogether.

With this premise in mind, Bronner and Kershner provide Times readers with a big, lengthy kvetch about how all these improvements actually may strengthen Israel's claim to its own capital.  What a dastardly sin!

Never mind that a reunified Jerusalem, for the first time, accords full access to worshippers of all three monotheistic religions.  Never mind that, before 1967, during Jordan's 19-year occupation of the Old City and the rest of East Jerusalem, Jews were totally cleansed from this part of the capital, while synaogues were destroyed and Jews were forbidden from praying at the Western Wall, as the article belatedly concedes far down among its oh so shocking, revelations of Jewish history again flowering in Jerusalem.

What animates the Times and its reporters is an overarching anti-Zionist viewpoint that deems Jews unwelcome intruders in their own historic capital.  Seen through this lens, the best intentions of Israeli and Jerusalem municipal officials to spruce up the city and make it more interesting and meaningful to all three faiths -- Jewish, Christian and Muslim -- don't count.  As far as the Times is concerned, Jews don't belong in Old Jerusalem in the first place.

What is deliciously ironic is that the Bronner-Kershner article appeared on the very same day that Pope Benedict declared from Mount Nebo -- the place where God allowed Moses to glimpse the Jews' Promised Land -- that the Catholic Church and Jews are linked by an "inseparable bond."  In the same speech, Benedict also stressed the unity of the Old and New Testaments in modern Catholic theology.

In sum, given the biblical significance of his venue, Benedict's remarks can be seen as his way of validating Israel's right to rule in its own land.  Why else would he make a pilgrimate to Mount Nebo?  But in the eyes of the New York Times, this undoubtedly qualifies Benedict as a "right-wing Zionist."
In its May 9 editions, the New York Times features an article by correspondents Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner sharply critical of Israel's green-friendly beautification and development of parks and other public amenities in the heart of ancient Jerusalem (see attachment).

The area, a shabby, long neglected stretch that straddles the Old City and its immediate environs, is being turned into a park with historic markers pointing to Jewish history and heritage, and highlighting significant Christian and Muslim sites as well.  Jerusalem municipal officials just unveiled long-term plans to spruce up this area, including greater availability of nearby housing for Arabs.

One would think that such development would be welcomed as a magnet for tourism and as an overdue move to permit better and more instructive access to some of Jerusalem's most important historic and religious sites.

But not at the New York Times, which approaches anything having to do with Jerusalem with its own pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel agenda of re-dividing Israel's capital the way it was before the 1967 war waged by Arabs to eliminate the Jewish state altogether.

With this premise in mind, Bronner and Kershner provide Times readers with a big, lengthy kvetch about how all these improvements actually may strengthen Israel's claim to its own capital.  What a dastardly sin!

Never mind that a reunified Jerusalem, for the first time, accords full access to worshippers of all three monotheistic religions.  Never mind that, before 1967, during Jordan's 19-year occupation of the Old City and the rest of East Jerusalem, Jews were totally cleansed from this part of the capital, while synaogues were destroyed and Jews were forbidden from praying at the Western Wall, as the article belatedly concedes far down among its oh so shocking, revelations of Jewish history again flowering in Jerusalem.

What animates the Times and its reporters is an overarching anti-Zionist viewpoint that deems Jews unwelcome intruders in their own historic capital.  Seen through this lens, the best intentions of Israeli and Jerusalem municipal officials to spruce up the city and make it more interesting and meaningful to all three faiths -- Jewish, Christian and Muslim -- don't count.  As far as the Times is concerned, Jews don't belong in Old Jerusalem in the first place.

What is deliciously ironic is that the Bronner-Kershner article appeared on the very same day that Pope Benedict declared from Mount Nebo -- the place where God allowed Moses to glimpse the Jews' Promised Land -- that the Catholic Church and Jews are linked by an "inseparable bond."  In the same speech, Benedict also stressed the unity of the Old and New Testaments in modern Catholic theology.

In sum, given the biblical significance of his venue, Benedict's remarks can be seen as his way of validating Israel's right to rule in its own land.  Why else would he make a pilgrimate to Mount Nebo?  But in the eyes of the New York Times, this undoubtedly qualifies Benedict as a "right-wing Zionist."