Fit for the New York Times

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Two important statements this week shed a light on the nature of the Palestinian conflict with Israel. Both were barely noted by the media.

 

 On Saturday the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas gave US mediator George Mitchell a letter detailing a number of concessions that he would make towards Israel in a final peace treaty. These included a willingness to accept permanent Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City and over the Western Wall. The Al Hayat report received enthusiastic and expansive coverage in the Israeli media and in media outlets throughout the world.

 

What was barely noted was that just hours after the report hit the airwaves, Abbas’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat categorically denied the story. In an interview with Israel Radio, Saeb Erekat said the story was untrue.

 

Abbas has been the recipient of adulatory press coverage in Israel over the past several days. Last week he thrilled the Hebrew-language media when he invited Israeli reporters to a sumptuous feast at his Ramallah headquarters. And then the Al Hayat story came out. Lost in the excitement was Abbas’s eulogy for arch terrorist Muhammad Daoud Oudeh who died over the weekend. Oudeh was the mastermind of the PLO’s massacre of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics. Abbas himself served the operation’s paymaster.

 

As Palestinian Media Watch reported, in a condolence telegram quoted in the Abbas-controlled Al-Hayat al Jadida newspaper, Abbas touted Oudeh as, “a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter,” and described him as “one of the prominent leaders of the Fatah movement.” 

 

So while the local and international media pounced on the Al Hayat story as proof that the Palestinians are serious about peace, they failed to mention that their hope was based on a story that the Palestinians themselves deny. So too, in their rush to embrace Abbas, they failed to mention his glorification of an unrepentant mass murderer who commanded the terror squad that massacred Israel’s Olympic athletes. 

 

These statements by Palestinian officials the media routinely characterize as moderates, demonstrate how deeply distorted and largely irrelevant the discourse on the Middle East has become. As the “moderate” Palestinians insist they are uninterested in peaceful coexistence and territorial compromise with Israel, news coverage in Israel and throughout the Western world is dominated by other issues. Specifically, discussion of prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians is dominated by an endless discussion of Israel’s Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and Jewish neighborhoods in eastern, southern and northern Jerusalem.

 

The most egregious recent example of this distortion was a 5,000 word article in Tuesday’s New York Times regarding US charitable contributions to these Jewish communities. Titled, “Tax Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in the West Bank,” the report was co-authored by five Times reporters. It was the product of weeks of research. And notably, the Times chose to publish it on its front page above the fold on the very day that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited the White House.

 

The Times article is a textbook case of the media’s ideologically motivated aggression against Middle East reality. Any way you look at it, it is a premeditated affront to the very notion that the role of a newspaper is to report facts rather manufacture news aimed at shaping perceptions and skewing debate.

 

The article goes to great lengths to discredit the American citizens who make charitable, tax deductible donations to organizations that provide lawful support to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and Jewish neighborhoods in southern, northern and eastern Jerusalem. It paints a sinister picture of such contributions and contributors and accuses them of actively undermining US foreign policy. 

 

The contributors, we are told in the opening lines of the report are the Left’s bogeyman -Evangelical Christians and religious Jews. They are unacceptable actors in the Middle East because they both believe that Jewish control of Judea and Samaria is a precursor to the coming of the messiah.

 

Reacting to the Times’ report, on Wednesday Honest Reporting noted that the article appears to be the product of active collusion between the Times and the radical, anti-Zionist, tax exempt Gush Shalom organization. As Honest Reporting relays, in July 2009, Gush Shalom sent out a communiqué to its supporters calling for the initiation of a campaign that, “includes a combination of legal action and public advocacy aimed at denying federal tax exempt (501c3) status to US charities supporting settlement activity.” 

 

The Times’ article bears all the markings of a political campaign. First, despite the valiant efforts of five Times reporters, the article exposes no illegal activity. At best, its investigation of more than forty organizations that contribute funds to the hated Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria indicated that less than a handful of them are guilty of poor accounting practices. 

 

Assuming that Honest Reporting’s eminently reasonable conclusion that the Times report is the product of collaboration between the newspaper and radical anti-Zionist groups is accurate, the report is shockingly hypocritical. By publishing it, the Times is engaging in the precise behavior it argues the organizations it investigated should be punished for purportedly engaging in. To wit, in the service of radical, tax-deductible organizations, the Times seeks to undermine US foreign policy. 

 

For the past four decades, it has been the foreign policy of the United States to maintain a strategic alliance with Israel. The goal of Times’-aligned groups like Gush Shalom is to undermine that alliance by discrediting and criminalizing those who wish to strengthen and maintain it.

 

The Times’ article uses dark language and innuendo to create the impression that there is something treacherous and evil about contributions to Jewish communities and neighborhoods in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. For instance, the article argues, “The donations to the settler movement stand out [from other charitable contributions that promote US foreign policy goals] because of the centrality of the settlement issue in the current talks and the fact that Washington has consistently refused to allow Israel to spend American government aid in the settlements. Tax breaks for the donations remain largely unchallenged, and unexamined by the American government.”

 

What the Times’ fails to acknowledge is that the reason these donations are “largely unchallenged, and unexamined,” is because it is the constitutional right of American citizens to contribute to charities that promote policy goals even when those goals – like those of Gush Shalom – are antithetical to US policy as determined by the US government. 

 

The Times’ alleges that these communities are illegal. Its authority for this allegation is none other than Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. Erekat opined to the paper, “Settlements violate international law.”

 

The truth is that Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines are legal. But even if one were to accept the argument that they are unla
wful, one would be accepting an argument based on the language of the 4th Geneva Convention from 1949 which prevents occupying powers from transferring their population to the areas under occupation. 

 

There is no possible reading of the convention that would prohibit the voluntary movement of Israelis to Judea, Samaria and post-1967 neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Likewise, there is no possible reading of the convention that would prohibit the provision of financial support to Israelis who voluntarily move to the areas in question. 

 

Yet it is precisely this indisputably lawful, voluntary movement of Jews to these areas – which the Times acknowledges is often done against the wishes of Israel’s governments – that the Times’ article attacks. 

 

In short, the Times’ contention that there is something legally problematic about these donations is preposterous both as it relates to US law and as it relates to international law. 

 

From a journalistic perspective, worse than the Times’ decision to engage in precisely the behavior it seeks to criminalize when carried out by its political nemeses on the Christian and Jewish Right, and worse even than the article’s false characterization of law, is the article’s clear attempt to obfuscate the main problem with land issues in Judea and Samaria. This it does in the interest of manufacturing a false but ideologically sympathetic picture of the situation on the ground.

 

The Times only gets around to alluding to – and obfuscating — the real problem with land issues in the 58th paragraph of the article. The Times reports, “Islamic judicial panels have threatened death to Palestinians who sell property in the occupied territories to Jews.”

 

Actually, while this may be true, it is not the problem. The problem is that the second law promulgated by the PA — just weeks after it was established in 1994 – criminalized all Arab land sales to Jews as a capital crime. Since 1994 scores of Arabs have been killed in both judicial and extrajudicial executions for selling land to Jews. 

 

This open move to hide the fact that since 1994 the PA has dispatched death squads to murder both Palestinians and Israeli Arabs suspected of selling land to Jews is a shocking miscarriage of journalistic standards. Whereas the Times required five reporters to work for weeks to come up with exactly nothing illegal in the operations of US charitable groups that support Jewish communities the Times wishes to destroy, the Times would have needed to invest no resources whatsoever to discover that the PA kills any Arab who sells land to Jews. The PA has made no effort to hide this policy. It is in the public sphere for anyone willing to look at reality.

 

And that is of course the real issue here. The entire Times’ “investigation” of American charitable groups that support Jewish communities and neighborhoods in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem is a blatant attempt by a major newspaper to hide the real issues prolonging the Palestinian conflict with Israel. Those issues – exposed by Abbas’s praise for a terrorist mass murderer, Erekat’s denial that Abbas has any interest in compromising with Israel, as well as by the PA’s policy of killing all Arabs who sell land to Jews – do not serve the Times’ purpose of blaming the absence of peace on Israel generally and on the Israeli Right and its supporters in the US in particular. 

 

And so it is that 17 years after the start of the so-called peace process between Israel and the PLO, and ten years after the PLO destroyed that process by launching a terror war against Israel, and four and a half years after the Palestinians elected Hamas to lead them, we are still stuck in a distorted, irrelevant discourse about the Middle East. We are stuck in a rut because politically and ideologically motivated media organs operate hand in glove with radical groups seeking to undermine Israel’s national sovereignty and end its alliance with the US. 

 

Together they manufacture news that bear no relation with reality or the true challenges facing those who seek peace in the Middle East. But obviously for the New York Times, that is what makes it fit to print.  

 

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post. 

 

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15 Comments

  • SHmuel 07/09/2010 at 8:51

    Excellent article.
    The deleterious actions of those so called “peace” aggregates have not only undermined the US National Security as well as ours but intentionally caused loss of life.
    We must cease to do our work on behalf of our people regardless of what those elements do.
    Shabbat Shalom

    Reply
  • Marcel 07/09/2010 at 9:49

    ‘we are still stuck in a distorted, irrelevant discourse about the Middle East. We are stuck in a rut’ …
    ‘Together they manufacture news that bear no relation’ with reality.’
    Israel is stuck in lies because the people would rather believe them than believe the Tanakh.
    How else could this Road Map lie still have any life or breath in Israel ?
    Israel has made Washington’s lies her refuge because she wants a pimp of lies and not the God of truth.
    Because you did not have the faith and failed to annex your ancient homeland Judea and Samaria you suffer from much evil.
    The ones you failed to drive out in obedience to Torah(Exodus 23:27-33) now burn your forrests and damage Israel’s infrasructure and survival.
    Why else would Israel continue to preform with goodwill gestures,retreat and abuse of fellow Jews to reward the next door jihadist’s ?
    ‘Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scornful men,
    Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,
    Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
    And with Sheol we are in agreement.
    When the overflowing scourge passes through,
    It will not come to us,
    For we have made lies our refuge,
    And under falsehood we have hidden ourselves…..
    The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,

    And the waters will overflow the hiding place.
    Your covenant with death will be annulled,
    And your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
    When the overflowing scourge passes through,
    Then you will be trampled down by it.
    Isaiah 28:14-18
    A trampling and end to the Road Map lie is on the way to exorcise the lie from the midst of Israel .

    Reply
  • Terry, Eilat - Israel 07/09/2010 at 10:35

    Ms Glick, why waste your considerable talents writing about The New York Times? Their bias is longstanding & well known. Also well known is their financial difficulty as they lose more & more readers & advertising revenue.
    The same goes for The Washington Post & almost the totality of mainstream media, exception made for The Wall Street Journal & Fox News.
    Despite the best efforts of the biased mainstream media, support for Israel has never been higher among the general American public.
    The anti-Israel Left does not need a report in The New York Times to hate us. Their hate is not based on any facts, on our actions, on any normal morality. Their hate, like that of their Islamic friends, is purely ideological.
    Nothing can influence these beliefs since they are essentially irrational.
    Of greater importance & a subject worthy of your talents are the actions of our own gov’t.
    Just what is Netanyahu doing?
    Our PM’s performance with Obama was nothing short of bizarre. Such mutual admiration!
    Of course, sane & rational people realized the incredible display of hypocrisy – it was really nauseating. Obama looked positively constipated at being obliged to appear friendly with our PM.
    Obama is a con man, a liar. Whatever he says can be dismissed as BS.
    But what about Netanyahu?
    Are we to take his statements at face value?
    You would be doing many of us a great service if you would offer an analysis of Netanyahu’s strategy.

    Reply
  • Larry Snider 07/09/2010 at 10:46

    Dear Caroline,
    There are times when I recognize the truth in much of what you say. It doesn’t matter whether on the left or the right. There is a history and actors choose to take actions that are clear and have consequences. The timing of the NY Times investigative article is not surprising. The information in it however will be to many American readers who are a little less focused on the inside game than you. Is it legal? Yes! Does it promote a peace that you don’t believe is possible? No! Do you have way more than a dozen good reasons for believing what you do? Yes! But I am a hopeful man and I not only heard Abbas and Erekat but Netanyahu and Lieberman………
    Shalom-Salaam-Peace,
    Larry Snider

    Reply
  • Lawrence Applebaum 07/09/2010 at 14:23

    Dear Caroline,
    I read your articles in the Jewish World Review Today. I commend you for your insightful, well-researched and balanced commentaries.
    The New York Times is a disgusting rag of a newspaper that is run by a group of people who follow no code of ethics. I don’t waste my time reading the slop they post on their web site.
    Keep up the good work that you do.
    Shalom!
    Sincerely,
    Lawrence Applebaum
    Heidelberg, Germany

    Reply
  • Arius 07/09/2010 at 19:10

    The New York Times leads the media pack in agitprop and disinformation. I don’t envy your having to read and report on it.
    Stand strong, Israel.

    Reply
  • naomir 07/09/2010 at 19:22

    Caroline, again I thank you for a concise, no holds barred article which has raised some questions for me. Incidentally I did read the Times article as well as the others you refer to in your blog. Are we Jews living in a fantasy world. Sometimes I believe we are our own worst enemies. Is there any rational Jew in or out of Israel who still believes in “change.” This man is so full of himself with little or no respect for anyone or anything else that just listening to him makes me ill. Is Netanyahu in awe of the great Obama or just putting on an act? I’d like to think the latter, but I’m really not sure anymore. Most of us here in the US love Israel, but especially now we so worry about her future and by extension that of the Jewish people. Shabbat shalom.

    Reply
  • Phil S 07/09/2010 at 19:55

    Caroline is there any way to get a list of these charitable organizations? We could turn the tables on the Times by making donations to these organizations.

    Reply
  • usabruce 07/09/2010 at 20:37

    Dear Caroline,
    Pardon me, I am a simple man, and I see things simply.
    The ancient evil that is rearing up on its hind legs again, in our own time, has it’s pet jackels and hyenas gleefully doing it’s work amongst us. The New York Times is one of those.
    It pains me to see an honest person of good will attempt to counter their howling. No matter what truth you present, they will, with malice, twist that truth and stab you and Israel with it.
    With the ascension of Obama to his narcissistic throne, the enemies of Israel are emboldened by his wink of tacit approval for their stance and desires.
    Though it feels like it, because of the worldwide Leftist howling, the whole world is not against Israel.
    Use your considerable talents to help convince your countrymen to do what they feel is best for Israel, and to Hell with the hyenas. They will never be pleased until Israel and the worlds good men are gone, anyway.
    Let’s deny them that pleasure.
    Long Live Israel !!

    Reply
  • Marc Handelsman, USA 07/09/2010 at 20:47

    The “New York Times” article, “Tax Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in the West Bank,” inspired this nebulous question, “Are American citizens’ contributions to West Bank settlements helping or hurting the peace process?” The question was a non sequitur, as there is no so-called peace process due to Arab intransigence with recognizing Israel as a Jewish nation. The US Government recently donated $400 million to Hamas, which will help the “war process” quite nicely. Finally, it must be a deliriously hot summer at the “NY Times” for articles like this one to get top billing.

    Reply
  • Geoffrey Britain 07/10/2010 at 0:14

    “Obama is a con man, a liar. Whatever he says can be dismissed as BS. But what about Netanyahu? Are we to take his statements at face value? You would be doing many of us a great service if you would offer an analysis of Netanyahu’s strategy.”
    Ms Glick already has and just two articles ago, in “Netanyahu must play for time”.
    “Netanyahu’s desire to avoid a confrontation with the Obama administration is understandable. Given the nature of the Israeli media, Netanyahu would certainly pay a political price if he were to be blamed for making the administration turn against Israel. But the truth is that today more than ever, Obama shares Netanyahu’s desire to avoid an open clash.
    The midterm Congressional elections are just four months away and Obama’s Democratic colleagues are running scared…
    Going into such a problematic electoral season, the last thing Obama needs is an open confrontation with Israel. A new row with Netanyahu will not only harm Democrats in key states like Florida, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Pennsylvania. It will harm the Democrats’ fundraising efforts among Jewish American donors. Over the past several months there have been repeated reports that Jewish Americans are drastically cutting back their donations to Democrats. The current trend will likely escalate if Obama forces Netanyahu into a corner next week.
    What this means is that Netanyahu is well placed to stand up to Obama’s pressure.
    Even more importantly, it will buy Israel time. And buying time should be Israel’s chief goal with respect to Washington today. Since taking office, Obama has repeatedly demonstrated that he will not reconsider his fundamentally hostile view of Israel…
    Israel has little hope of seeing a change for the better in US policy in the near future and its best bet today is to play for time. Next week at the Oval Office Netanyahu should capitalize on his advantage four months ahead of the Congressional elections and put the burden on Obama and Abbas to show their good intentions.”

    Reply
  • Walter 07/11/2010 at 1:08

    Excellent article Caroline.
    Showing how a media entity, which should be dedicated to revealing and presenting, unbiased facts to its public [on whatever topic], is instead choosing to present an ‘investigation’, motivated by unbalanced bias, with an intent to promote, and to ‘prosecute’, an irrational [and unjustified] hatred of Israel, and the Jewish people.
    Pure wickedness.
    That NYT piece is an example of just how unethical the mainstream media can be today.

    Reply
  • Phil Lipofsky 07/11/2010 at 8:10

    One solution to the mainstream media problem is the site Media-Quest.com.
    There is a problem when good people attempt to use their intellect, western values, and resulting rational to extrapolate to a conclusion rather than to utilize the discipline of study to understand this enemy Islam that we face. Avoiding hard study is a form of intellectual laziness. Yes, a part of the foundation of the problem begins with the mainstream media which is the only source of information that most of the population is exposed to.
    There is a flier on the site that can be freely printed and distributed. The site itself is a handy reference for timeless articles, news, and commentary. Although the site provides no content of its own, it does provide reference to timeless articles, news sources, and commentary regarding this enemy Islam that we face. This makes the site a handy reference for passing on to others. http://www.media-quest.com
    Catch also “Fitzgerald: How the Failure to Understand Jihad is Costing Americans Trillions” at the site http://www.jihadwatch.org.

    Reply
  • Akiva Weiss 07/14/2010 at 15:56

    As usual, another winner article from Caroline Glick exposing the hypocrisy and insane spin the media are doing in subverting Israel and ignoring Palestinian self-placed obstacles to peace.
    I would eagerly like to see Ms. Glick expose JStreet in the same way she has so eloquently exposed The Times as “ideologically motivated aggression against Middle East reality.”
    “the Times’ decision [was] to engage in precisely the behavior it seeks to criminalize when carried out by its political nemeses on the Christian and Jewish Right”.
    This is JStreet in a nutshell, seeking to manipulate foreign dignitaries in order to pressure and persuade the Israeli government from afar to adopt policies that it agrees with politically.
    I do wish Ms. Glick would (if she has not done so already) expose JStreet for what it is and get the word out fast that JStreet is not a “left wing version of AIPAC” as they like to be perceived, but nothing other than a left wing Israeli think-tank that tries to put pressure on the Israeli government from outside the country in order to jam through their own left-wing political agenda.
    The Times at least is unrelated to Israel. JStreet unfortunately, is the Jewish seal of approval to slam and pressure Israel into doing what is wrong for it.

    Reply
  • Miles 07/24/2010 at 17:10

    My sense is the Palestinians do not really want peace.
    If they did, they would get on with the negotiations and their lives, instead of whining all the time to a media who do not care anymore.

    Reply

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