In its Feb. 4 edition, the Washington Post runs an article by Jerusalem correspondent Janine Zacharia about ripple effects in Israel from the turmoil in Egypt. ("For Israel, change could upend long-held security arrangements" page A14)
Here is how Zacharia leads off her dispatch:
"Israelis are looking fearfully beyond the end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's rule, expecting it will force them to stiffen security across an extensive southwestern border and perhaps reoccupy a strategic corridor between Egypt and the Gaza Strip."
Quite true that Israel is considering changes in its security strategy if it turns out that a successor regime in Egypt renounces the peace treaty between Cairo and Jerusalem.
But in doing so, are Israelis gripped by "fear," as Zachaira reports? According to my Webster's dictionary, "fearful" is defined as "terrifying," "afraid," "feeling fear."
Does Zacharia have any empirical evidence or pipeline into the psyche of millions of Israelis to substantiate her claim that Israelis, in contemplating a new Egypt, are terrified, afraid, feeling fear?
Au contraire. Israeli leader are simply engaged in realistic, hard-headed assessments of what a new Middle East would mean and what it would require to keep Israel's defenses attuned to new realities. But where does Zacharia get her notion that "Israelis are looking fearfully beyond the end of Mubarak's rule"?
Her "fearful" spin is just that -- editorializing in a supposed news article -- with no evidence to back up her claim.
In fact, Washington Post readers might have gotten a quite different impression if Zachara had included in her article a declaration of Omar Suleiman, Egypt's new vice president, that Egypt will continue to adhere to its peace treaty with Israel "firmly and will not violate it." Suleiman, a key figure during the current transition, may well head a transitional government. He is close to Egypt's military and intelligence apparatus and he has a long history of interaction with Israel. He gave an extensive interview to ABC News during which he pledged that Egypt will continue to adhere to its peace treaty with Israel
Why did Zacharia and the Post fail to report Suleiman's strong pledge to safeguard the treaty?
Zacharia rightly mentions that the peace treaty would be on shaky ground if the Muslim Brotherhood were to emerge as the new ruler of Egypt. But why hide from Post readers the opposite possibility of a Suleiman-led government? Is it because this would have knocked the props from under Zacharia's portrayal of Israelis as "fearful"?
With Post reporters injecting their own agendas and personal views in purported news stories, readers would be well advised in reading their newspaper "fearfully."