Wash. Post's copious supply of anti-Israel poison pills

Anne Gearan is a Washington Post correspondent with the State Department on her beat. Judging from her latest article in the Dec. 6 edition, she suffers from reportorial Stockholm Syndrome – swamping Post readers with a full dose of State Department antipathies against Israel.

Gearan starts off with a few fairly innocent paragraphs about former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton remarking that a two-state solution could still be within reach (“On Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Clinton sees hope,” page A5).

But that’s just a peg for Gearan to disgorge her own ample supply of anti-Israel poison pills.  Kicking off the blame game for lack of progress in the peace process, she quotes Clinton as remarking that “I’m well aware of everything that is going on.”  But instead of letting readers know exactly what Clinton’s take is on lack of progress toward Palestinian statehood, Gearan takes over on her own pulpit.

Clinton, she writes, must have been “referring to the expansion of Israeli settlements and Palestinian unrest.”  In a single sentence, Gearan manages both to spread a lie about Jewish settlements and to play down a resurgence of Palestinian terrorism.

Here is how Gearan manages this slanderous feat:

1. “Expansion” of settlements is a Gearan propaganda formula that affronts current reality.  Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several previous prime ministers, Israel has imposed a de facto freeze on “expansion” of settlements in the West Bank.  Residential construction has taken place almost entirely within existing settlement boundaries.  Settler leaders are fuming that they’re not allowed to “expand” their communities.  The same pattern prevails in East Jerusalem, where Jewish home construction generally is confined to existing Jewish neighborhoods.  And if there ever is a two-state solution, these neighborhoods will remain under Israeli control, according to every conceivable peace plan.  Plus all of Gaza, of course, is bound to remain under Palestinian rule.  So much for the kind of phony “expansion of Israeli settlements” that Gearan serves up with her anti-Israel propaganda.  As to the other half of the same sentence, to depict a dozen recent Palestinian terrorist killings, including a synagogue massacre in Jerusalem, as mere “unrest” boggles the mind.

2. Continuing with a slew of unattributed slaps at Israel, Gearan writes that “many Palestinians and international critics of Israel claim that Israel has made the two-state ideal almost unattainable.”  Who are these critics, and why does Gearan omit any opposite views that still might embrace the feasibility of a two-state solution?  And why no mention of Palestinian obstacles toward a peace deal – of which there are legions?  Only Israel is pilloried in Gearan’s piece.

3. Gearan is similarly on a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli binge when she gets to the history of Secretary of State John Kerry’s failure to negotiate a two-state deal.  “U.S. negotiators and the White House were furious with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the perceived undermining of that effort, although Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was also reluctant,” she writes.  If that isn’t rich!  Netanyahu is demonized, while Abbas gets a pass – all in the same sentence.  This is classic Washington Post coverage, which uses two entirely different lenses in covering this conflict – a super-harsh lens for Israel and a gentle one for Abbas.  In examining obstacles for a peace agreement, Gearan has the chutzpath of according Abbas super-soft treatment.  Abbas, in her benign mode, is just a “reluctant” player.  My eye!  The same Abbas who glorifies terrorists and teaches Palestinian children that there’s only a single-state outcome – “Palestine” from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

4. And exactly how strained, really, are relations between Jerusalem and Washington?  In her sixth paragraph, Gearan writes that White House and U.S. negotiators are “furious” with Netanyahu.  Yet, 10 paragraphs farther down, she reports that the Obama administration has just named Israel a U.S. “strategic partner” – a designation designed to strengthen U.S.-Israel security cooperation, including guaranteeing Israel a “qualitative military edge” over Arab neighbors and promoting stronger ties in water, energy, and other sources.  Plus there is an increase in the value of U.S. emergency weaponry kept in Israel by $200 million, to a total of $1.8 billion.

Not exactly the actions of a “furious” U.S. administration. But Gearan, perhaps sensing that she’s contradicting her own copy, buries the positive news about Israeli-U.S. relations way down in the 16th paragraph, because she doubtless knows that most readers never get that far.

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