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December 16, 2009
The anti-Zoinist ethos of the New York Times
To grasp the underlying anti-Zionist viewpoint prevalent in New York Times coverage of Israel and the Palestinians, one need look no farther than Ethan Bronner's ruminations in the December 16 edition, ("Israelis and Palestinians Ponder Surprising Role for Netanyahu: Peacemaker," page A6.
Bronner starts by reporting that Aluf Benn, a senior columnist at the "left-leaning" Haaretz newspaper, recently wrote that he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seriously interested in making concessions to the Palestinians to achieve a two-state solution. Bronner then reports that Benn was attacked by many colleagues, politicians and friends who firmly disagreed that Netanyahu could be believed or trusted as a peace-seeker.
Bronner goes on to point to some signs that might support Netanyahu's credibility -- conversion to backer of Palestinian statehood, imposition of a temporary building freeze in West Bank settlements, removal of checkpoint in the West Bank and security barriers to facilitate Palestinian movements, and economic-growth policies for the West Bank.
But does Bronner agree with Benn that Netanyahu actually has become a genuine peacemaker? Not exactly. Bronner is quick to question Benn's thesis and Netanyahu's motives: "Skepticism would be a polite way of describing the reaction of the Palestinians and much of the world, who view his steps as either too little too late or a ruse aimed at buying time to pursue his real agenda."
Still, Bronner has to concede that Benn is not alone in his positive views about Bibi. There are folks in Israel and in Washington, who says that Netanyahu is going through the same shift as previous hawks who became more conciliatory as prime ministers -- Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, he writes.
And it's at this point that one begins to understand what Bronner is really up to.
For starters, he fails to point out exactly what happened when Begin, Sharon and Olmert turned into doves. The answer actually might be highly instructive, but it also is squarely at odds with Bronner's views. So let's fill in the blanks.
Begin earned a Nobel Peace Prize for reaching a peace agreement with Egypt. But this happened only because his co-laureate, Anwar Sadat, broke with the pan-Arab Nasserite agenda to eliminate Israel and helped lead the way to concessions and compromises necessary to seal a peace deal.
And what about Sharon, who turned dovish and decided to pull every Israeli -- civilian and military -- out of Gaza in a well-intentioned move to shake up the status-quo and get some movement toward a wider peace? We all know how Sharon was rewarded for his peacemaking efforts. Hamas took over Gaza as its launch base toward Israel's ultimate destruction and some 6,500 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza at Israel after Sharon's pullout from Gaza. Bronner again fails to mention this pertinent bit of history.
And Ehud Olmert as hawk-turned-dove? Bronner again fails to point out that Olmert as recently as last year offered Mahmoud Abbas a generous deal for a Palestinian state in all of Gaza, 95 percent of the West Bank, with land swaps, a land link between Gaza and the West Bank, all Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, plus a turnover of all the holy sites in Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and Temple Mount, to a consortium of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Palestinians, Israel and the U.S. Abbas turned him down flat.
Why would Bronner omit all this history? Because it obviously would demolish his thesis that it matters not whether there's a real Palestinian will and/or ability to cut a real peace deal, the ball nevertheless is always in Israel's court. With Bronner, it doesn't matter that there isn't any remote sign of an Anwar Sadat-like Palestinian leader. It's Netanyahu who's got to be put under the microscope.
Never mind that Hamas is in full control of Gaza and a weak, totally unreliable Abbas glorifies suicide bombers while refusing to make any compromises or concessions toward a peace deal, as far as Bronner and the New York Times are concerned, the focus for progress or lack thereof on the peace front remains aimed squarely on Israel.
It's Israel that has to justify its security, its existence, while the Palestinians get a pass. Has Bronner ever written a piece that puts the same onus on Mahmoud Abbas when it comes to peacemaking? Has the Times ever raised basic questions about contemporary Palestinian readiness for a peaceful solution, given the fierce anti-Semitic, anti-Israel incitement propagated by the Palestinian Authority and the one-state agenda of Hamas? Even though, under the U.S.-drafted "road map," Palestinians are obligated to end all anti-Israel incitement in concert with a freeze on settlement activity, the Times keeps focusing on the latter, while ignoring the former.
Under the ownership of the Sulzberger family, the Times has a long history of trending toward Jewish assimilation and opposing Jewish nationalism. It still hasn't completely digested the creation of the Jewish state. So it's quick to empathize with the Palestinians, brush aside their transgressions and failings, while insisting on super-dovish conduct by Israel.
Even when Netanyahu bends over backwards to move the peace process forward, Bronner is quick to tell Times readers that "much of the world" (presumably including the New York Times) doesn't believe him.
Deep down, in the eyes of the times, Zionism remains Israel's original sin. And, of course, it's a given that the sinner can never