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October 24, 2013 - Image 30

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-10-24

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Guest Column


N.Y. Times Gets It
Wrong Again


hen it was announced that
Israel's Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu would
address the United Nations General
Assembly, one can easily imagine the New
York Times editorial writers sharpening
their pencils in anticipation.
It could surely have been
predicted that the paper would
skewer the prime minister since
the Times has had nary a good
word for Israel in decades. And,
as always, the Times did not
disappoint, even though the
paper was wrong on an almost
identical issue — development
of a nuclear weapon by a rogue
nation — only a few years ear-
Here is the scenario of the
Netanyahu- Times most recent
In his address to the U.N. General
Assembly on Oct. 1, Netanyahu warned the
world not to be fooled by Iran's President
Hassan Rouhani's moderate talk. Stating
that Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, was a "wolf in wolf's cloth-
ing?' Rouhani was a "wolf in sheep's cloth-
(Incidentally, not one journalist from
the West, in all their interviews, asked
Rouhani if he shared his predecessor's goal
to wipe Israel off the map.)
Opposing the easing of sanctions on
Iran, Netanyahu, indeed, called for increas-
ing sanctions until there was indisputable
evidence that Iran had dismantled its capa-
bilities to build a nuclear bomb.
The next day, the Times wrote that "Mr.
Netanyahu has legitimate reasons to be
wary of any Iranian overtures, as do the
United States and the four other major
powers involved in negotiations over Iran's
nuclear program?'
So far so good but, of course, the
Times did not leave it there. It had to take
Netanyahu to task.
Stating that Netanyahu seems "eager for
a fight," the paper wrote, "... it could be
disastrous if Mr. Netanyahu and his sup-
porters in Congress were so blinded by
distrust of Iran that they exaggerate the
threat, block President Obama from tak-
ing advantage of new diplomatic openings
and sabotage the best chance to establish
a new relationship since the 1979 Iranian
Revolution sent American-Iranian relations
into a deep freeze?'
On the face of it, one might not want
to quarrel with the Times except for its
historic animus against Israel and, most


October 24 • 2013


Palestinians Must Say
Israel Is Jewish State

important, for what it wrote in 2005 when
the world worried about North Korea's
nuclear program. Here is what the paper
said at the time:
"For years now, foreign policy insid-
ers have pointed to North Korea as the
ultimate nightmare, a closed, hostile and
paranoid dictatorship with an
aggressive nuclear weapons pro-
gram. Very few could envision
a successful outcome, and yet
North Korea agreed in principle
this week to dismantle its nuclear
weapons program ... abide
by the treaty's safeguards and
admit international inspectors.
Diplomacy, it seems does work
after all:'
What happened? North Korea
exploded its first nuclear weapons
device a year later. It seems the
Times was blinded by trust.
But being wrong only a few years ago
about North Korea did not stop the Times
from taking its expected shot at Israel. In
the editorial, the paper also took issue with
Netanyahu's policy of reserving the right
to strike Iran if it was close to producing a
nuclear weapon.
"Against such a threat, Israel will have
no choice but to defend itself," Netanyahu
What world leader would not take that
very same position against an enemy who
has vowed unequivocally that is was com-
mitted to destroying his country?
Most interesting, it was Netanyahu who
quoted the Times on North Korea in his
U.N. speech, the day before the editorial
was published.
Did he cite it in hopes of stemming
expected criticism in the mistaken belief
that the Times' editorial writers might give
Israel a pass, recognizing they had been
wrong on the issue? Or was it just coinci-
The latter is more likely because
Netanyahu surely understands that he
and Israel will never get the benefit of the
doubt from the Times.
What's more, editorial writers are not
known for admitting mistakes; one of the
perks enjoyed by editorial writers is self-
appointed infallibility. Paraphrasing the
song, writing editorials means never hav-
ing to say you're sorry.
This is especially true at the Times when
the issues involve Israel.


rabs and Druze also live in Israel. But let there be
no doubt: Israel has been a Jewish state from its
1948 founding.
Against this backdrop, Israel has every right to ask its
sometime negotiating partner, the Palestinian Authority, to
recognize the Jewish state as the nation state of the Jewish
people – not just recognize the Israeli people. The P.A. also
must drop its destructive demand for a right of return of all
Palestinian refugees and their descendants since 1948 – a
number that totals 500,000 to 1 million, depending on the
source. Palestinian Arabs can seek immigration to Israel just
as others can. But they don't merit a free pass – a situation
that would instantly threaten Israel's Jewish majority.
Netanyahu described "nation state" rec-
ognition as "an essential condition." In real-
ity, it shouldn't be considered a condition
of negotiating, but rather a central starting
point. It's hard to imagine a successful con-
clusion to the seemingly hollow peace talks,
suddenly back on in earnest thanks to a July
deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of State
John Kerry, without such a baseline.
Israel certainly recognizes the P.A. as
the sole representative of the Palestinian
people. It also is prepared to recognize
Palestine as the nation state of the Palestinians upon
a mutually agreed-to pact. Israel already acknowledges
Palestinian control over much of the West Bank and all of the
Gaza Strip.
Addressing the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an Oct. 6 speech
at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan: "We are willing to rec-
ognize your nation state, and that is at great cost. It involves
territories, our ancestral lands, which is not insignificant."
Netanyahu declared that peace would never arise without
such Palestinian recognition. "Recognize our right to live
here in our own sovereign state, our nation state – only then
will peace be possible," he said.
He's right.
Even if Israeli-Palestinian talks somehow managed to find
common ground on a host of critical, final-status issues such
as security, borders, settlements, refugees, Jerusalem, water
rights and holy places, none of that would seem to matter if
the Palestinians couldn't bring themselves to forgo the idea
of a bi-national state flooded by Palestinian refugees.
The reason the Palestinians seem hell-bent against this
acknowledgment lies in their leadership's revisionist histori-
cal view among the hardcore. This view dates back at least
as far as the Nazi-sympathizing Mufti, the Palestinian leader
during the 1930s and 1940s. It basically holds that the
Palestinians, not the Jews, hold a historical right to Eretz
Yisrael, the biblical Land of Israel, which includes modern
Israel and all of the West Bank (Judea/Samaria).
Capturing the need for P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas to
speak up quickly and loudly, Netanyahu said: "In order for
the current process to be significant, in order for it to have
a real chance for success, it is essential that we finally hear
from the Palestinian leadership that it recognizes the right
of the Jewish people to their own country, on the land of
their ancestors, in the State of Israel."

A veteran West Bloomfield journalist and author,
Bed Falbaum teaches news writing and media
ethics at Wayne State University, Detroit.

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