NY Times: The Jews are coming, the Jews are coming (gulp) in Jerusalem!
In its Sunday, March 17, edition, the New York Times runs a front-page article that slams a few new Jewish homes in an Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem for "fundamentally undermining" any prospect that this area could become the capital of a Palestinian state ("NEW APARTMENTS WILL COMPLICATE JERUSALEM ISSUE - JEWS ENTER ARAB AREAS - Critics Say Construction Undermines Capital for Palestinians" by Jodi Rudoren)
Here's how Rudoren, the Times Jersualem bureau chief, sets the stage in the lead paragraph of her latest exercise in Israel bashing:
"The Muslim call to prayer resounds through the traffic circle in the Palestinian enclave of Ras al-Amud, through the taxi stand where waiting drivers sip sweet coffee and the vegetable market where boys help their father after school."
An Arab Eden in the heart of Jerusalem.
But that's only the first half of Rudoren's lead paragraph. Now comes the counter-point with Israel's intrusion in this Arab paradise:
"It (the Muslim call to prayer) can also be heard down the street in Maalot David, where a few Jewish families have quietly taken up residence with prime views of Jerusalem's Old City."
Ah, dear reader, those Jews are venturing where they don't belong.
Rudoren drives home her main point, if any further elaboration were needed:
"It is a new apartment block sandwiched into the very fabric of Arab East Jerusalem."
In the view of Rudoren and the Times, all of East Jerusalem rightfully belongs to the Palestinians. Ergo, Jews have no business living there.
And if that's a bit out of reach, Rudoren presents a fall-back option:
"While most experts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have long imagined Jerusalem as ultimately being divided, with Jewish neighborhoods remaining part of Israel and Arab ones joining Palestine, these new buildings make such a plan more complicated, if not impossible."
A bit of important history, however, seems to be missing from Rudoren's thesis that these new Jewish homes imperil a Palestinian capital in Arab neighborhoods. She seems to forget that Israel was fully prepared to divide Jerusalem and turn over to a Palestinian state all Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem -- first under then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000 and 2001, and later under then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. In each instance, first Yasser Arafat and then Mahmoud Abbas turned down this deal.
Rudoren hides from Times readers that a capital in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem was the Palestinians for the taking and that it was Palestinian leaders who twice muffed this objective. So if a few Jewish homes now intrude into Arab neighborhoods, this simply means that history, shaped by Palestinian rejectionism, has moved on. Why blame a few Jewish residents when a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem was twice within easy reach, and Arafat and Abbas dropped the ball?
Yet, Rudoren totally erases this history. Could it be that it's because real history might reveal that Palestinian leaders, far from supporting a two-state solution, are determined to settle for nothing less than a "Palestine" from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea?
Rudoren also fails to provide a wider context about Jerusalem's overall population growth. In most of the period since 1967 when Israel won a defensive war against a Nasserite attempt to wipe out the Jewish state and then unified its capital, Arab population growth greatly outpaced Jewish population growth. Jerusalem is less Jewish today than it was in 1967. A few Jewish homes among Arabs don't alter this demographic fact.
But since the Times is intent on always painting Israel as the culprit, it's not surprising that Rudoren doesn't balance her piece by also seeking comment from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator and de-facto propaganda minister, is prominently featured in Rudoren's article - "It is all part of the plan, part of the scheme, to undermine the two-state solution and East Jerusalem being the capital," he warns. But comments from Israeli or Jerusalem officials are conspicuously absent.
Rudoren, as usual, supplies Times readers with only half the story - the Palestinian version.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers