The NYT fails to follow its own advice

The New York Times' notoriously anti-Israel columnist Nicholas Kristof recently enlightened us with a highly hopeful piece titled "How Can You Hate Me When You Don't Even Know Me?" that shows how calm, emphatic reasoning can change minds — even of the members of the KKK.

If it is possible for "Daryl Davis, a Black musician" to "hang out with Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis and chip away at their racism," persuading "some 200 white supremacists to leave the Klan and other extremist groups," then ideology can be indeed defeated by reason, it gives one hope that the Times' own version of the KKK, the one focused on bashing Israel, can also be reformed.  The key question is whether Mr. Kristof, who kicks Israel with a delirious abandon at every opportunity, is as amenable to Mr. Davis's calm reasoning.

Let's apply Davis's methods Kristof  himself.  Here is the key: "One of Davis's methods ... is not to confront antagonists and denounce their bigotry but rather to start in listening mode.  Once people feel they are being listened to, he says, it is easier to plant a seed of doubt."

According to the NYT's brand of anti-Israelism, the cornerstone of anti-Israelism is the notion that Israel is a "settler-colonial" entity, that Zionist Jews invaded Arab Palestine from Europe and "settler-colonized" it.  This being the original sin of the birth of Israel, everything else is derivative, Palestinian terrorism being merely the fight of the indigenous population against foreign colonialism.

Having listened to this, we follow Davis's approach: but where did the Arabs who populated Palestine come from?  They descended from Arab "settler-colonizers," who, in two centuries after the death of Mohammed, burst out of the Arabian peninsula and invaded, conquered, and "settler-colonized" half of the then-known world, from Spain in the West to the border of India in the East.  So if you are an Arab living outside the present-day Saudi Arabia, or a White, Black, Asian, or Latino living in America — congratulations: you are a "settler-colonizer."  The staff of the New York Times, Kristof included, are "settler-colonizers," or descendants thereof, as are the overwhelming majority of academics who lament "settler-colonialism."

"Settler-colonialism" out of the way, let's turn the ear to complaints about "occupation."  There were offers to partition the land going as far back as 1937 — but Palestinian Arabs invariably refused to consider them, the last such attempt having been made, by Ehud Olmert, in 2009.  Agreeing to the partition requires a huge psychological shift on the part of Palestinians — an acknowledgment of the most basic implication of the Arab conquests that the land belonged to someone else before Arabs were on the scene — like the Jews, who had a state there for some 1,500 years before Arabs conquered Palestine.  For some reason, Palestinians simply can't bring themselves to  acknowledge this very basic fact. President Clinton, desperately trying to clinch the peace deal during Oslo negotiations, was exasperated when Arafat adamantly refused to admit that Jerusalem once belonged to the Jews.  Contrary to Davis's conciliatory approach, Clinton decided to meet the challenge head-on and requested the corresponding volume of Encyclopedia Britannica as a proof, but Arafat was unmoved.  Facts or no facts, in their minds Palestinians remain innocent victims of Jewish perfidy, not the unfortunate heirs of Arab conquerors.

Will this application of Davis's principles of discourse change minds at  New York Times?  Will the NYT turn its sights on what should be the real target of its indignation — Palestinian intransigence, not Israel's defense against Palestinian terrorism?  If Davis could convince 200 Ku Klux Klan members to quit, why can't some two dozen members of the Times abandon their hate of Israel?  Or is it too much of a miracle to hope for, some hatreds being too deeply ingrained, deeper than the Klan's hate for the Blacks?  Will it be too hard for Kristof to follow his own advice and listen to the voice of reason, not to that of his inward, irrational hate of Israel?

Image: N.Y. Times.

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