Anti-Israe​l Poison Pills in two NYT Articles

The Dec. 10 New York Times features two articles involving Israel that point to some positive developments, but also happen to be marred by gratuitous anti-Israel digs. No matter how much Israel does in pursuit of progress and peace, don't look to the Times to give it due credit.

The first article, by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner, carries a headline that reads: "A Rare Middle East Agreement, on Water -- Israel, Jordan and Palestinians to Build Red Sea-Dead Sea project." Kershner describes how the mammoth water conveyance system will channel water from the Red Sea into the Dead Sea. It also will provide badly needed new fresh water supplies through desalination.

"The water level in the Dead Sea, an ancient salt lake whose shores are the lowest dry places on the earth's surface, has been dropping by more than three feet a year, mainly because most of the water in the Jordan River, its main feeder, has been diverted by Israel, Jordan, or Syria for domestic use and irrigation," Kershner writes. "Very little now reaches the lake. Potash industries on either side of the lake have also had a detrimental impact."

So far, so good in diagnosing the problem the water project is supposed to remedy. But here comes the anti-Israel poison pill at the end of the same paragraph: "About 25 miles of the Dead Sea's shoreline lie in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and are claimed by the Palestinians as part of a future state."

It's a gratuitous slap at Israel with no relevance to the main point of the paragraph. Kershner's bias also shows when she refers to the "Israeli-occupied" West Bank. Israel doesn't "occupy" the West Bank, which would presume existence of a non-Israeli sovereign from which the West Bank has been taken. The last "sovereign" to rule over the West Bank was the Ottoman Empire and it's no longer around to claim sovereign ownership.

Therefore, the West Bank more accurately can and should be defined as "disputed" land -- "disputed" between Israel and the Palestinians. In fact, Israel and the Palestinians currently are engaged in trying to work out a peace deal that would establish a new sovereign over the West Bank. But the parties aren't there yet, notwithstanding Kershner's chutzpah in jumping the gun and intimating that Israel doesn't belong on those 25 miles of Dead Sea shoreline.

Now, let's turn to the second article in the Dec. 10 edition -- with a headline that reads "Israel to Allow Building Materials Into Gaza." The piece, by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, reports that Israel has agreed to restart transfer of building materials to Hamas-ruled Gaza after an eight-week hiatus. According to Rudoren, Israel took this step "under pressure from the United Nations amid a mounting economic and humanitarian crisis."

Rudoren's main interest is to spotlight the misery of Gaza residents faced by critical shortages of fuel. Despite Israel's resumption of building materials into Gaza, she's quick to complain that Israel isn't doing enough, quoting an Israeli outfit that promotes access to Gaza as asserting that "the international community is appropriately worried about Gaza's dependence on foreign aid and stems in large part from Israeli restrictions on economic development."

Thus, Israel again is put in the dock. But why where was there an eight-week period during which Israel barred transfer of construction materials? Well, you have to wait until the 10th paragraph for Rudoren to let the cat out of the bag that Israel's action was in response to "discovery of a... tunnel from Gaza into its territory that it feared would be used to kidnap or attack Israelis." Note that Rudoren and the New York Times have no fears for Israelis security. It's only Israel that harbor concerns that Israelis might have been attacked or kidnapped if the tunnel had not been discovered. Has the Times already forgotten the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit?

What stands out in Rudoren's piece is lack of any real context that would explain to readers the great danger from Hamas's occupation of Gaza and Hamas's own record of belligerence. Hamas, in Rudoren's eyes, is merely a "militant Islamic movement." And that's all. No mention that Hamas used Gaza as a launch pad to fire thousands of rockets at towns in southern Israel. No mention of the plight of hundreds of thousands of Israelis vulnerable to Hamas missiles. No mention that Hamas still holds an arsenal of more thousands of missiles and that its leaders continue to pledge that it remains committed to the total elimination of the Jewish state. Thus, no mention that Israeli security requires special care to prevent transfer into Gaza of dual-purpose materials that can be used to strengthen Hamas's military infrastructure.

Rudoren is quick to weep for Gazans, but blind to the real cause of their miserable conditions.

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

The Dec. 10 New York Times features two articles involving Israel that point to some positive developments, but also happen to be marred by gratuitous anti-Israel digs. No matter how much Israel does in pursuit of progress and peace, don't look to the Times to give it due credit.

The first article, by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner, carries a headline that reads: "A Rare Middle East Agreement, on Water -- Israel, Jordan and Palestinians to Build Red Sea-Dead Sea project." Kershner describes how the mammoth water conveyance system will channel water from the Red Sea into the Dead Sea. It also will provide badly needed new fresh water supplies through desalination.

"The water level in the Dead Sea, an ancient salt lake whose shores are the lowest dry places on the earth's surface, has been dropping by more than three feet a year, mainly because most of the water in the Jordan River, its main feeder, has been diverted by Israel, Jordan, or Syria for domestic use and irrigation," Kershner writes. "Very little now reaches the lake. Potash industries on either side of the lake have also had a detrimental impact."

So far, so good in diagnosing the problem the water project is supposed to remedy. But here comes the anti-Israel poison pill at the end of the same paragraph: "About 25 miles of the Dead Sea's shoreline lie in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and are claimed by the Palestinians as part of a future state."

It's a gratuitous slap at Israel with no relevance to the main point of the paragraph. Kershner's bias also shows when she refers to the "Israeli-occupied" West Bank. Israel doesn't "occupy" the West Bank, which would presume existence of a non-Israeli sovereign from which the West Bank has been taken. The last "sovereign" to rule over the West Bank was the Ottoman Empire and it's no longer around to claim sovereign ownership.

Therefore, the West Bank more accurately can and should be defined as "disputed" land -- "disputed" between Israel and the Palestinians. In fact, Israel and the Palestinians currently are engaged in trying to work out a peace deal that would establish a new sovereign over the West Bank. But the parties aren't there yet, notwithstanding Kershner's chutzpah in jumping the gun and intimating that Israel doesn't belong on those 25 miles of Dead Sea shoreline.

Now, let's turn to the second article in the Dec. 10 edition -- with a headline that reads "Israel to Allow Building Materials Into Gaza." The piece, by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, reports that Israel has agreed to restart transfer of building materials to Hamas-ruled Gaza after an eight-week hiatus. According to Rudoren, Israel took this step "under pressure from the United Nations amid a mounting economic and humanitarian crisis."

Rudoren's main interest is to spotlight the misery of Gaza residents faced by critical shortages of fuel. Despite Israel's resumption of building materials into Gaza, she's quick to complain that Israel isn't doing enough, quoting an Israeli outfit that promotes access to Gaza as asserting that "the international community is appropriately worried about Gaza's dependence on foreign aid and stems in large part from Israeli restrictions on economic development."

Thus, Israel again is put in the dock. But why where was there an eight-week period during which Israel barred transfer of construction materials? Well, you have to wait until the 10th paragraph for Rudoren to let the cat out of the bag that Israel's action was in response to "discovery of a... tunnel from Gaza into its territory that it feared would be used to kidnap or attack Israelis." Note that Rudoren and the New York Times have no fears for Israelis security. It's only Israel that harbor concerns that Israelis might have been attacked or kidnapped if the tunnel had not been discovered. Has the Times already forgotten the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit?

What stands out in Rudoren's piece is lack of any real context that would explain to readers the great danger from Hamas's occupation of Gaza and Hamas's own record of belligerence. Hamas, in Rudoren's eyes, is merely a "militant Islamic movement." And that's all. No mention that Hamas used Gaza as a launch pad to fire thousands of rockets at towns in southern Israel. No mention of the plight of hundreds of thousands of Israelis vulnerable to Hamas missiles. No mention that Hamas still holds an arsenal of more thousands of missiles and that its leaders continue to pledge that it remains committed to the total elimination of the Jewish state. Thus, no mention that Israeli security requires special care to prevent transfer into Gaza of dual-purpose materials that can be used to strengthen Hamas's military infrastructure.

Rudoren is quick to weep for Gazans, but blind to the real cause of their miserable conditions.

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

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