July 23, 2014

Middle East Media Sampler for March 1, 2012


New York Times Mideast Op Ed Index for February 2012

A) Envisioning a Deal With Iran – By William H Luers and Thomas R. Pickering

- February 2, 2012

It would be important to make arrangements for Israel’s security; the exact shape of those measures would have to be worked out in the negotiations. An agreement in which there would be full access to Iran’s nuclear program, with a monitored limitation of 5 percent enrichment, would offer Israel additional reasons for confidence in the deal.

No, this op-ed isn't mostly about Israel and I don't imagine there will ever be a deal with Iran. However, here Israel is treated as an ally whose concerns must be addressed, not as a complicating factor.

Running Total: Anti-Israel 0 / Pro-Israel 1

B) Trading threats with Iran – Editorial – February 3, 2012

The costs of an Israeli military strike — with or without American support — would be huge. It would likely only set Iran’s nuclear program back for a few years. It would unite Iranians around their government at a time when it is fast losing popular support. It would also shatter the international coalition for sanctions and direct more anger against Israel and the United States.

However, this editorial does treat Israel as a complicating factor, with the underlying assumption that Israel is reckless. For some reason the editorial treats statements made by Israeli politicians about the possible dangers Israel faces as threats against Iran.

Running Total: Anti-Israel 1 / Pro-Israel 1

C) In Syria, We Need to Bargain With the Devil by Nicholas Noe

Although there appears to be little political will for such an approach in Israel at the moment — the government sees no need to make concessions to Mr. Assad’s weak, teetering government — expending American political capital on a more promising peace process makes sense. Unlike the now defunct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, talks with Syria could actually succeed (they broke down over a few hundred meters of land in 2000). Achieving an Israeli-Syrian deal could truly isolate the intransigent Iran-Hezbollah axis at a critical moment in the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Again, this op-ed isn't mostly about Israel, however it assigns an importance to Israel. The flawed premise of the editorial is that the world must appease Assad in order to bring peace to Syria. One of the conditions for this to happen, is for Israel to give up the Golan. This op-ed argues for strengthening Assad and putting Israel on the spot.

Running Total: Anti-Israel 2 / Pro-Israel 1

D) Iran's Achilles Heel – by Ephraim Halevy – February 7, 2012

At this stage, there is no turning back; Mr. Assad must step down. For Israel, the crucial question is not whether he falls but whether the Iranian presence in Syria will outlive his government. Getting Iran booted out of Syria is essential for Israel’s security. And if Mr. Assad goes, Iranian hegemony over Syria must go with him. Anything less would rob Mr. Assad’s departure of any significance.

Although the former intelligence chief takes a gratuitous swipe at Israel's leaders, and his scenario of ending Russian support for Syria seems unlikely, still the op-ed is presented as what's best for Israel.

Running Total: Anti-Israel 2 / Pro-Israel 2

E) Reconciliation Between Fatah and Hamas – by Patrick Chappatte – February 8, 2012


This isn't an op-ed, but a truly offensive cartoon. It portrays Mahmoud Abbas and a representative of Hamas talking inside a prison; with Netanyahu looking in over the wall warning them not to talk.

Running Total: Anti-Israel 3 / Pro-Israel 2

F) Another Trial for Shylock – by Stephen Marche – February 10, 2012

Israel, uniquely among nations, suffers from being turned into a synecdoche — of the part being taken for the whole. The other theater companies involved in the Globe’s program — whether from China, Zimbabwe or the United States — are simply not subject to the same scrutiny of their nation’s politics. No one would think of boycotting the English theater because Britain had been involved in the bloody occupation of two countries in recent memory. That would be absurd. Yet it is not absurd when it comes to Israel.

I don't agree with all of the authors premises, but this is a strong argument against the BDS campaign targeting Israel.

Running Total: Anti-Israel 3 / Pro-Israel 3

G) The dilemmas of Jewish power – by Roger Cohen – February 13, 2012

Yet, as Beinart chronicles, major American Jewish organizations, their agendas often swayed by a few wealthy donors (like the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson), have in general made uncritical defense of Israel — rather than constructive criticism — the cornerstone of their policies and viewed deviation from the ever-refreshed victimhood narrative as unacceptable dissent. He quotes Abraham Foxman, the director of the Anti-Defamation League: “Israeli democracy should decide; American Jews should support.”

This is one of the more offensive efforts made by Cohen. It seems that in certain precincts one proves his sophistication by how much he criticizes Israel. Israel does have real enemies, some who hope for its destruction. Cohen has a history of downplaying these threats and writing in hyperbole about the faults he sees in Israel and its supporters. This is really nasty mixture of arrogance and ignorance.

Running Total: Anti-Israel 4 / Pro-Israel 3

H) Pressure builds on Iran – Patrick Chappatte – February 21, 2012

Two policeman – Obama and Netanyahu – arrive at a building labelled "Iran." The dialogue reads "Good cop and bad cop are here." The bad cop is a clear reference to Netanyahu. Gratuitous and insulting.

Running Total: Anti-Israel 5 / Pro-Israel 3

I) Peaceful protest can free Palestine by Mustafa Barghouti – February 21, 2012

Khader Adnan, a Palestinian held in an Israeli prison, pursued a different path. Despite his alleged affiliation with the militant group Islamic Jihad, he waged a peaceful hunger strike to shake loose the consciences of people in Israel and around the world. Mr. Adnan chose to go unfed for more than nine weeks and came close to death. He endured for 66 days before ending his hunger strike on Tuesday in exchange for an Israeli agreement to release him as early as April 17.

As if Adnan didn't get enough attention without an op-ed in the New York Times. However, David Keyes wrote a necessary corrective Palestinian Hunger Striker Khader Adnan Is No Hero:

Though always couched in the rhetoric of liberation, there can be no mistaking the essence of Islamic Jihad. To this day the organization actively works to impose dictatorship and destroy a member state of the United Nations. It has no problem targeting civilians in the process—one of the most flagrant violations of the principles of international humanitarian law, not to mention basic morality.

Does this video make Adnan a "peaceful" protester?

Running Total: Anti-Israel 6 / Pro-Israel 3

J) What Two Enemies Share – by Roya Hakakian – February 25, 2012

Would the two nations allow their rulers to begin a war if they were aware of their depth of indebtedness to each other? By bombing Iran, Israel would be bombing a portion of Jewish history. If that happens, which side I would choose will not be a question. I will be twice destroyed by the two imperfect yet beloved cultures that each make up half of the woman I am.

It's hard to call this anti-Israel as Hakakian seems to be pro-Israel. Yet there's this intimation that if Israel attacks Iran it will somehow be unwarranted. I'll call this a wash.

Running Total: Anti-Israel 6 / Pro-Israel 3

K) A Roundabout Named Dajani – by Raja Shehada – February 29, 2012

The ceremony began. Speeches were made promoting unity between Jaffa and Tel Aviv and cooperation between Arabs and Jews. The local head of the Islamic movement said that Jaffa, once a center of culture and medicine, was now being reborn. An Arab from the municipal council told the story of a 93-year-old Jewish woman who had worked as a nurse at the Dajani Hospital in the 1930s. When she applied for the job, Dajani had told her, “In this hospital, we speak Arabic.” Here was a moment of civility between Jews and Arabs living together in Palestine. It belied Israel’s insistence that the war of 1948 was inevitable.

A "moment of civility" is when an Arab tells a Jew that she ought to know her place? Plus that last sentence is a lie. The new state of Israel was attacked by neighboring countries. Does anyone fact check op-eds to make sure that egregious lies are kept out?

Running Total: Anti-Israel 7 / Pro-Israel 3

L) Iran Spinning Out of Control – by Martin Indyk – February 29, 2012

As Iran presses on with its nuclear program it comes closer and closer to Israel’s red line of a threshold weapons capability. That makes the Israelis ever more nervous and determined to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities before it is too late for them. That in turn leads the Obama administration to ratchet up the sanctions to persuade the Israelis that there is a viable alternative to a preventive strike. And as those sanctions become ever more crippling, the Iranians conclude that they have no choice but to press ahead in acquiring the ultimate means of assuring the regime’s survival. That alarms the Israelis, and the vicious circle spins again. At a certain point, miscalculation or desperation could lead one side to strike.

So if not for Israel's "nervousness," the Obama administration might be able to persuade Iran not to go nuclear. Plus Indyk adds later that campaigning for that pro-Israel Jewish vote will make American politics more belligerent towards Iran. This guy used to be ambassador to Israel.

Running Total: Anti-Israel 8 / Pro-Israel 3

M) Israel’s Last Chance to Strike Iran – by Amos Yadlin – February 29, 2012

Today, Israel sees the prospect of a nuclear Iran that calls for our annihilation as an existential threat. An Israeli strike against Iran would be a last resort, if all else failed to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. That moment of decision will occur when Iran is on the verge of shielding its nuclear facilities from a successful attack — what Israel’s leaders have called the “zone of immunity.”

More than most people, Yadlin seems to know what he's talking about. Israel has calculations and unlike many of the contributors to the New York Times, Israel isn't itching to strike at Iran. As Yadlin reminds us at the beginning he was one of the eight pilots who destroyed the Iraqi reactor in 1981. Note, he doesn't write about Israel being "nervous," but that Iran "calls for our annihilation." Words do matter.

Final Total: Anti-Israel 8 / Pro-Israel 4

Methodology: I searched the archives for the New York Times for op-eds and unsigned editorials from the New York Times from February 1 – 29, 2012. I did not include letters to the editor or articles that were not mainly about Israel or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. There was an op-ed by Dennis Ross about Iran, but Israel seemed to be on the periphery of his argument.

About Daniel Goldstein

Daniel Goldstein is a media critic and recovering blogger. He has been critiquing media bias against Israel since his first letter to the editor in 1987.