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April 3, 2011
NY Times: with tears for Goldstone, but none for Israel
Even on days that bring good news for Israel, the New York Times seems determined to find -- or concoct -- gloom-and-doom scenarios for the Jewish state.
Take the Sunday, April 3 edition, which treats readers to a front-page article by Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner about a push at the UN General Assembly for a resolution in support of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines -- meaning all of East Jerusalem, all of the West Bank, and all of Gaza.
Bronner pumps up this prospect as an utter disaster for Israel -- "a move that could place Israel into a diplomatic vise. Israel would be occupying land belonging to a fellow United Nations member." Gone would be Israel's need for long-term security needs because "those inevitably infringe the sovereignty of a Palestinian state." Bronner expects an ample General Assembly majority vote for a Palestinian state that would include Jerusalem's entire Old City with its holiest Jewish sites -- the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. And this time, "there are no vetoes in the General Assembly so the United States cannot save Israel as it often has in the Security Council."
Well, not so fast. By looking only for Israel's direst prospects at the UN, Bronner overlooks an important legal and diplomatic Israeli ace in the hole. The General Assembly may well pass a resolution endorsing the Palestinian Authority's maximalist demands.
But such a resolution would be trumped by a still-operative Security Council measure, Resolution 242 -- something Bronner conveniently overlooks. And when it comes to taking steps to resolve conflicts threatening regional or world peace, the Security Council still boasts more authority than the General Assembly.
Missing entirely from Bronenr's article is any reference to Resolution 242, adopted by the Security Council in 1967 after the Six-Day War and reaffirmed after the 1973 Yom KIppur War. Res. 242 calls on Israel to withdraw from some -- but not all -- captured land. It also declares that Israel must end up with "secure and recognized borders." A total withdrawal from all of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem would not comport with Israel's overriding right, sanctioned by the Security Council, to "secure" borders since it would pose an existential threat on Israel's eastern border.
Also -- and no small matter -- there's nothing in 242 that even envisages a Palestinian state.
But such an obstacle to what Bronner deems an unalloyed Palestinian triumph at the UN appears nowhere on his radar screen. If it doesn't fit his thesis of an imminent disaster for Israel, out it goes.
In a similar vein, Bronner is not about to hail South Africa Judge Richard Goldstone's retraction of his infamous UN inquiry report that Israel deliberately targeted civilians during its anti-terrorism offensive in Gaza to halt rocket barrages against its own civilians.
By belatedly acknowledging that Israel had no such military strategy -- "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document" -- Goldstone is left with his reputation in tatters and forever stained with a blood libel that, more than any other factor, is fueling a global campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state.
But that's not the way Bronner sees it. In reporting Goldstone's turnabout, Bronner nevertheless still calls him "an esteemed South African judge." Bronner also finds solace in the fact that Goldstone did not retract his findings that some Israeli soldiers mistreated Palestinians. But that, of course, is not what is or has been at issue. From the start, Israel has spared no effort to prosecute soldiers who may have mistreated civilians. The libel in the Goldstone report was that targeting civilians was part of Israeli "policy." The Goldstone Report accused both Israel and Hamas of potential crimes against humanity and potential war crimes. Now, Goldstone concedes that such accusations fit only Hamas.
Bronner, however, is more intent on soft-pedaling the anti-Israel animus of the UN Human Rights Council, which commissioned the Goldstone Report, and on taking pity on Goldstone.
All that Bronner can say about the Human Rights Council is that "Israel considers it to be deeply hostile to its interests." Bronner himself shies away from any criticism of the Council. No hint that the Council passes anti-Israel resolutions in record numbers, having just recently adopted half a dozen of them.
As for Bronner's gentle treatment of Goldstone, here's how he ends his article:
"After the report, Mr. Goldstone was ostracized by Jewish communities in South Africa and elsewhere, even though he had long expressed devotion to Israel. A year ago, there was an attempt to bar him from his grandson's bar mitzvah in Johannesburg, although he was able to go."
So, after all the pain and damage Goldstone inflicted on Israel, Bronner invites us to shed a couple of tears for him.
But make no mistake, no tears for Israel. None.