NY Times depicts Olmert as peace maker, Bibi as peace-wrecker; Abbas gets off scot free

Leo Rennert
In reporting the acquittal of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of serious corruption charges, the New York Times seizes an opportunity to serve up a big dose of historical revisionism in pursuit of its own agenda and bias.

Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner, in a July 11 article, proceeds to depicts Olmert as a dogged peace-maker, whose efforts were cast aside by his successor, Prime Minister Netanyahu, after Olmert was forced to resign.  Yet, while sketching these Olmert-good-guy, Bibi bad-guy characterizations, Kershner remains mum about any and all of the peace-obstruction tactics of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.  In her view, Abbas -- let alone Hamas rule in Gaza -- apparently bear no responsibility for why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no nearer a final settlement.  The blame always falls on Israel.

Here's how she puts it:

"Mr. Olmert's three-year tenure as prime minister was marked by high-wire peace talks...Intensive talks with the Palestinians were interrupted by a devastating three-week Israeli offensive in Gaza in the winter of 2008-9...Mr. Olmert's resignation brought Benjamin Netanyahu of the conservative Likud Party to power.  The peace process has largely stalled since then."

Notice the multiple spins and notable omissions:

  • 1. Nowhere does Kershner mention that the reason the "high-wire" peace talks under Olmert went nowhere is that Abbas rejected a most generous offer by the Israeli side -- a Palestinian state on 95 percent of the West Bank, with land swaps to make it 100 percent, all of Gaza, the bulk of East Jerusalem and an international trusteeship, with Palestinian involvement, to take control of Jerusalem's holy sites, including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, Judaism's most sacred places. Kershner sees no reason to demand accountability by Abbas for this lost opportunity.
  • 2. Nowhere does Kershner mention that Israel's "devastating" Gaza offensive in the winter of 2008-9 was, in reality, a counter-offensive prompted by thousands of rocket fired from Gaza against civilian Israeli targets. Again, to the extent that this operation put peace talks on ice, it was the fault of Palestinian terror groups harming and killing Israelis -- not an Israeli-generated obstacle as Kershner suggests.
  • 3. Kershner avers that Netanyahu "stalled" the peace process after taking over the premiership from Olmert. Again, Bibi has bent over backwards to get Abbas to the negotiating table -- offering a variety of inducements. All to no avail. For the latest evidence, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes this amply clear in her memoirs. The peace-wrecker wasn't Netanyahu; it was Abbas, who always gets total absolution from the New York Times.

In sum, a full serving of historical revisionism by Kershner  to advance a left-wing view that only liberals can make peace, while conservatives always wreck it and, in this instance, Palestinians always are to be treated as complete innocents.

And this passes for "news" at the New York Times.  No wonder public confidence in newspapers is at an all-time low.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

In reporting the acquittal of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of serious corruption charges, the New York Times seizes an opportunity to serve up a big dose of historical revisionism in pursuit of its own agenda and bias.

Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner, in a July 11 article, proceeds to depicts Olmert as a dogged peace-maker, whose efforts were cast aside by his successor, Prime Minister Netanyahu, after Olmert was forced to resign.  Yet, while sketching these Olmert-good-guy, Bibi bad-guy characterizations, Kershner remains mum about any and all of the peace-obstruction tactics of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.  In her view, Abbas -- let alone Hamas rule in Gaza -- apparently bear no responsibility for why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no nearer a final settlement.  The blame always falls on Israel.

Here's how she puts it:

"Mr. Olmert's three-year tenure as prime minister was marked by high-wire peace talks...Intensive talks with the Palestinians were interrupted by a devastating three-week Israeli offensive in Gaza in the winter of 2008-9...Mr. Olmert's resignation brought Benjamin Netanyahu of the conservative Likud Party to power.  The peace process has largely stalled since then."

Notice the multiple spins and notable omissions:

  • 1. Nowhere does Kershner mention that the reason the "high-wire" peace talks under Olmert went nowhere is that Abbas rejected a most generous offer by the Israeli side -- a Palestinian state on 95 percent of the West Bank, with land swaps to make it 100 percent, all of Gaza, the bulk of East Jerusalem and an international trusteeship, with Palestinian involvement, to take control of Jerusalem's holy sites, including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, Judaism's most sacred places. Kershner sees no reason to demand accountability by Abbas for this lost opportunity.
  • 2. Nowhere does Kershner mention that Israel's "devastating" Gaza offensive in the winter of 2008-9 was, in reality, a counter-offensive prompted by thousands of rocket fired from Gaza against civilian Israeli targets. Again, to the extent that this operation put peace talks on ice, it was the fault of Palestinian terror groups harming and killing Israelis -- not an Israeli-generated obstacle as Kershner suggests.
  • 3. Kershner avers that Netanyahu "stalled" the peace process after taking over the premiership from Olmert. Again, Bibi has bent over backwards to get Abbas to the negotiating table -- offering a variety of inducements. All to no avail. For the latest evidence, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes this amply clear in her memoirs. The peace-wrecker wasn't Netanyahu; it was Abbas, who always gets total absolution from the New York Times.

In sum, a full serving of historical revisionism by Kershner  to advance a left-wing view that only liberals can make peace, while conservatives always wreck it and, in this instance, Palestinians always are to be treated as complete innocents.

And this passes for "news" at the New York Times.  No wonder public confidence in newspapers is at an all-time low.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers