NY Times' obsession with settlements
The overriding focus of this week's New York Times coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the eviction of a Jewish family from a house they had purchased from a Palestinian seller in Hebron.
In back-to-back articles on April 4 and April 5, Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner has given this development top play. In her latest dispatch, she reports that coupled with the eviction of this settler family, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that the government will continue to strengthen Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria "according to the law." ("Israel Doesn't Let Eviction Slow Push for Settlement" April 5, page A9.)
Kershner jumps on Bibi's statement with her own comment that Bibi's support for settlements "complicates any prospect of renewed peace talks."
Never mind that Jewish settlements in the Sinai proved no obstacle to an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. When Israel found a real peace partner, uprooting settlements proved no problem.
Never mind that all Gaza settlements were evacuated by Ariel Sharon when he mistakenly figured this could advance the cause of peace.
And never mind that there were massive Arab pogroms that killed scores of Jews long before there was a single Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
Regardless of all this history, Kershner and the New York Times continue to insist that a two-state solution would be within grasp if only these pesky settlements didn't exist. No other obstacles matter -- or even exist in the coverage of the New York Times.
For example, It doesn't dawn on Kershner that settlements or no settlements, the ruling Hamas terror group in Gaza will continue to have but one single objective -- to eliminate Israel.
Nor does it dawn on her that Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority's unrelenting anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement campaign might also "complicate any prospect of renewed peace talks."
Also odd that, in reporting that Abbas insists on a construction freeze in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem as a pre-condition to talks, Kershner fails to see that this also is apt to "complicate" renewal of negotiations. Abbas gets a pass, while Bibi is portrayed as the only one blocking the peace process.
Nor does Kershner pay attention to Abbas teaching Palestinian kids that "Palestine" encompasses all of Israel, that there never were Jewish Temples on Temple Mount, that Jews have no historical ties to the land, and that Moses was a Muslim who led a Muslim exodus from Egypt. Not exactly the kind of stuff that's prone to make Israelis put much trust in Abbas.
The only thing that matters to Kershner and the Times is a presence of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria -- an issue that Bibi is perfectly willing to address once negotiations resume. In the meantime, the Times' settlements-only coverage ignores far more intractable obstacles, like a century-old Arab refusal to accept a Jewish state in the Middle East.
P.S. In her April 4 article, Kershner stated that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron -- the burial site of the Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and of the Jewish matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah -- is revered by both "Muslims and Jews." Putting Jews in second position was a gross downgrading of Jewish heritage in Hebron, as embodied by the burial place of Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs in Judaism's second holiest city. After this reader's protest, Kershner in her April 5 article, switched the line-up: - "the holy site," she now writes, is "revered by Jews and Muslims," this time putting Muslims in second place. Who said there are no miracles in our time?
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers