NY Times Embarasses Itself
By definition, an editorial is free to express a newspaper's opinions. However, it is not entitled to turn reality into pure fiction. An editorial based on a lie undermines a paper's credibility. Yet, this is exactly what the Times perpetrated in a Jan. 24 editorial about Israel's election returns. ("Israel's Election -- Could the outcome revive moribund peace talks" page A22)
In the editorial, the Times welcomes the victory of centrist candidates and expresses the hope that they will move the next Netanyahu government more to the center. So far, so good.
However, the Times then goes on to aver that the presence of more centrist leaders joining Netanyahu could result in "tampering his hard-right line" on resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians. Netanyahu supposedly following of a "hard-right" course on negotiations is a bald affront of the truth. This, after all, is an Israeli leader who for several years instead has practically begged Palestinian President Abbas to return to the negotiating table to settle all major final issues -- Jerusalem, borders, refugees -- "without pre-conditions."
This is exactly how serious negotiations should be conducted -- with both sides free to advance their agendas, while seeking mutual accommodations and compromises. Netanyahu has been more than willing; Abbas has refused. The Palestinian leader instead has launched an inciteful propaganda campaign to delegitimize Israel by denying historic Jewish links to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. It also is Abbas, who has turned his back on serious negotiations and instead sought symbolic statehood recognition at the UN -- a ploy to avoid negotiations.
When all is said and done, It is Abbas, not Netanyahu, who has followed a "hard-right" course on peace talks -- the very opposite of what the Times' fictitious editorial conveys. A retraction is in order. But doubtful that it will be forthcoming.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers