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September 11, 2010
NY Times arrogantly severs Ariel from Israel
The Israeli city of Ariel (population 20,000) was founded in 1978 with active encouragement of then-Defense Minister Shimon Peres -- for decades Israel's most dovish political figure. Its location is a mere two dozen miles from the Mediterranean Sea. While it also lies in the West Bank a dozen miles east of the 1949 armistice line, there is a wide Israeli consensus that spans left, right and center on the political spectrum that Ariel must be retained in any final-status peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Ariel fits President George W. Bush's 2004 pledge to Ariel Sharon that Israel, "in light of new realities on the ground, including major existing Israeli population centers," the U.S. will support Israeli retention of these West Bank urban centers in a final peace deal. In other words, the U.S. will not insist on a complete Israeli pullback from the West Bank.
More recently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, while softening Bush's formula for territorial adjustments, also has recognized the need to modify the 1949 armistice line (usually referred to by the media as the pre-1967 line) so as to leave some major Israeli towns and cities in the West Bank on the Israel side of the border while still leaving more than 90 percent of the West Bank for a contiguous Palestinian state. Plus, all of Gaza, of course.
Reflecting Israel's strategic interests, Ariel is also protected by a counter-terrorism security barrier.
While Ariel was founded by mostly secular Jews, it resonates among many Israelis with its many biblical roots. Ariel lies in the hill country of Samaria which Abraham, the first Jew, traversed in his journey to the Promised Land. Joshua, who led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, is buried at the foot of Ariel.
Today, Ariel looks like any other Western city. It boasts a university, a hotel, an industrial park that employs thousands of Palestinians, a sports and recreation complex, a modern highway to the coast, and, due to open later this year, a major performing arts and cultural center.
The latter's prospective opening has upset the usual leftist suspects -- in Israel and the U.S. Some big-name artists and performers in Israel are promoting a boycott of Ariel's cultural center, declaring they will not perform there. Their boycott has drawn support from some in the misnamed U.S. "peace" camp.
Major Israeli music and theater companies, however, insist they will honor scheduled performing dates in Ariel. Several boycotters have recanted their endorsement of the boycott. Prime Minister Netanyahu has condemned the boycott as hypocritical in view of the fact that performing artists and their companies are generously bankrolled by the government. Except for the far-left fringe, opposition to the boycott spans the political spectrum.
Enter the New York Times, which in its Sept. 10 edition, carries an article by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner that purports to inform readers about the boycott, but instead uses it mainly as a springboard to advance her own "peace" agenda -- an agenda that resolutely expects Ariel to become incorporated into a Palestinian state ("An Enclave Of Israel Is On Edge -- Boycott Underlines Flux in West Bank" page A4).
Here's how Kershner -- and the New York Times in its institutional arrogance -- twist and distort the picture of Ariel to suit their own ideological proclivities:
--The lead paragraph identifies Ariel not as a thriving city, but as "this large Jewish settlement." And once the "settlement" label is pinned on Ariel, that, of course, rules out any dispassionate assessment of real facts on the ground.
--Kershner mentions President Peres' role in founding Ariel and his joining in celebrating its 30th anniversary, but she fails to explain how a peacenik like Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize winner for forging the 1993 Oslo accords, still has maintained through all these years his great fondness for Ariel.
--Although Kershner recognizes that Ariel was founded and is still inhabited by mostly secular Jews, she can't resist taking a nasty swipe at religious settlers whom she calls "messianic ideologues who believe in settling the biblical heartland." While the Times ceaselessly campaigns for due respect owed to Islam, it shows no such respect for Jewish biblical roots throughout the West Bank. Imagine the Times referring to Muslims as "messianic ideologues" -- that wouldn't do. Definitely wouldn't pass the Times' PC test. But when it comes to Jews, the Times drops the PC bar.
--Having demonized Ariel as a "settlement" out of place on the Middle East map, Kershner delivers the final -- and all important to her -- coup de grace. The real point, if you will, of her entire piece. She tellingly ends her article -- a time-worn journalistic way of driving home a reporter's main theme and intent -- thusly:
End of story. Direct peace negotiations to find common ground on, among other key issues, final borders have barely begun, but Kershner and the New York Times already feed readers what in their superior expertise is the proper and inevitable outcome -- Ariel "will have to go."