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June 12, 2010
NY Times tries to hide another Abbas blemish
In its June 11 edition, the New York Times ran a news item by Jersualem correspondent Isabel Kershner that the Palestinian Authority has indefinitely postponed local elections in the West Bank that were scheduled for July 17.
"No official reason was given for the delay," Kershner writes.
Other media found no mystery in why these elections were canceled: i.e. that Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party remains so divided that it became evident that there would be multiple Fatah slates vying for votes, opening the way for unified Hamas slates to win these elections.
Here, for example, is how the Washington Post, in a Reuters dispatch , cleared up Kershner's big mystery: "West Bank -- Rifts lead to delay in local elections," reads the Post headline. And Reuters quotes Palestinian officials as explaining that the elections were postponed "because of divisions in the Fatah party over who would run. Fatah could not agree on a unified candidate list, in a sign of the problems faced by a party that once dominated Palestinian politics."
Does it matter that Abbas's governing party is riven by divisions and can't contemplate the thought of another set of elections? You bet it does. Remember what happened in parliamentary elections five years ago when multiple Fatah slates also opened the way for Hamas to beat Fatah at the polls. Those divisions were documented at the time by then-NY Times Jerusalem bureau chief Steven Erlanger.
Ever since, Hamas has used its parliamentary victory over a divided Fatah party to claim legitimacy as rightful ruler in Gaza. A unified Fatah party could have marginalized Hamas then and there.
So why would the New York Times shield readers from knowing the awful truth of Abbas as an emperor without clothes, a leader of a chaotic, dysfunctional party? Is the Times so invested in clinging to the illusion of Abbas as a political leader with sufficient strength to cut a two-state peace deal and abide by its terms?
One might think so, given the paper's reluctance to print anything unfavorable about Abbas, as again demonstrated earlier this week when its report about Abbas's meeting with President Obama omitted any mention of the Palestinian leader lying to the president of the United States that there is no anti-Israel incitement by the PA in the West Bank -- only a few minutes after Obama told Abbas that there indeed was such incitement and it had to be stopped.
Abbas's lack of political strength to hold elections in the West Bank is a blow to the peace process and to the pretense that he is a "moderate," reliable peace partner. It enables Hamas to deligitimize him and his party even further.
That's why it was important to report the reason why these elections have been put off indefinitely.
.Question: Would the Times be as gentle in its news treatement of Prime Minister Netanyahu?