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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Wednesday, November 7.
October 2012 New York Times op-ed Index

A) License to Care - Raja Shehada - October 2, 2012

Before the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, the Israeli military fully controlled all aspects of Palestinians’ lives. Then with the transfer of civilian functions to the Palestinian Authority, the situation changed. Today the Israeli authorities’ mode of control rests on a permit system under which they alone determine who can enter Israel, including East Jerusalem, for work or care. Not infrequently Israel withholds such permits, depriving Palestinians of badly needed medical treatment.
The numbers provided by the IDF (provided by one of the commenters) paint a much different picture from the one that Shehada paints, "Approximately 115 thousand Palestinian patients were treated, over 100 Palestinian doctors interned at Israeli hospitals, and five organ donations were performed." The number of patients marked a 13% increase over the previous year.

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

B) Our Jerusalem - Shmuel Rosner - October 3, 2012
The speech was a disappointment. It was angry and full of frustration. (Abbas has once again been threatening to quit — though this might be a gambit to force other Palestinian leaders into begging him to stay and then give him more leeway.) As for Jerusalem, Abbas supposedly made good on his pledge to show more sensitivity to Jewish history by saying that the “land of peace” was “the birthplace of Jesus (peace be upon him), and ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and the final resting place of Abraham (peace be upon him) — the land of the three monotheistic religions.”
Rosner criticized Mahmoud Abbas's U.N. speech for failing to acknowledge Jewish ties to Jerusalem explicitly.

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

C) Buying the election - Joseph Nocera - October 8, 2012
What feels different now is that the sums are so large, and that it has the potential to influence not just Congressional and Senate candidates but the presidential candidates as well. If Romney wins, will he really be willing to take a position on Israel that is different from Adelson’s? One suspects not.
In general, my rule for critiquing op-eds is that they be primarily about Israel. This one is about campaign finance. However, since Nocera's primary example of undue influence is Israel, I included this. It is anti-Israel and it is ugly, which is not atypical for the New York Times.

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

D) Occupation Tourism - Shmuel Rosner - October 11, 2012
As one-sided and ideological as this tour is, though, there’s something to be said for it. It’s interesting, friendly and well organized, and for the many Israelis who go on it — during the recent holiday of Sukkot thousands of them did — it’s a chance to finally see the places about which they have such strong opinions. Samaria (and Judea), as the settlers insist, is really the bedrock of Judaism — the land where its prophets made warnings, its battles were fought, its altars were erected. If they are ever to give up this territory for the sake of peace, Israelis should get to know it first.
Though I'm not happy with the title of this essay, it is still a positive view of Israel.  

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

E) Why Netanyahu backed down - Graham T. Allison Jr. and Shai Feldman - October 13, 2012
FOR three years Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, seemed to be united in urging an early military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. But last week that alliance collapsed, with Mr. Netanyahu accusing Mr. Barak of having conspired with the Obama administration, in talks behind his back.  
This is an unfair portrayal of Netanyahu. It isn't that Netanyahu pushed for an "early military attack" on Iran, but that he wanted the commitment that Iran would be prevented from developing nuclear weapons. Part of this article is devoted to making Netanyahu into an unhinged war monger and the other goal is to show that the Obama administration is really pro-Israel.

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

F) The Nakba, Then and Now - Raja Shehada - October 16, 2012
The Nakba refers to the expulsion of the Palestinians from the newly minted state of Israel. On no issue do Israelis and Palestinians differ more. Israelis celebrate May 15, 1948, as their day of independence; for Palestinians, it marks the “catastrophe.” That an Israeli group like Zochrot should organize a trip to a city where some of the Nakba’s worst atrocities occurred is an important and necessary attempt to bridge this nagging gap in perceptions.
As Barry Rubin demonstrated earlier this year, Nakba refers not to the "expulsion" of the Palestinians but to the failure of the Arab world to come to terms with their own failures and modernize. Shehada's ignores that the Arab world failed to compromise in 1948 and that the Palestinian loss was the result.

Running total: Anti-Israel - 4 / Pro-Israel - 2

G) Not enough daylight on Israel - Nathan Thrall - October 22, 2012
Kicking the ball down the field while professing an interest in an Israeli-Palestinian settlement is precisely what President Obama has been doing for the last several years. The policy of the next administration, whether Mr. Romney’s first or Mr. Obama’s second, will be to uphold this status quo: supporting an unelected Palestinian prime minister and a Palestinian president whose term long ago expired; continuing to prevent the exercise of power by the victors in the last Palestinian national election; negotiating with a set of unelected P.L.O. leaders who cannot credibly claim to represent most Palestinians; prioritizing the funding of Palestinian security forces who arrest their political opponents and prevent peaceful protests against Israeli settlements and military installations; and meekly criticizing Israel’s expanding settlement construction while exercising no leverage in order to thwart it.
There were a number of critiques of the third presidential debate. This is the only one which appeared to be primarily about Israel. True that Abbas and Fayyad have long ago overstayed their terms in office. But Hamas has also. Thrall can't even bring himself to criticize Hamas for its ongoing terror.  

Running total: Anti-Israel - 5 / Pro-Israel - 2

H) Who Threw Israel Under the Bus? - Efraim Halevy - October 23, 2012
In all of these instances, a Republican White House acted in a cold and determined manner, with no regard for Israel’s national pride, strategic interests or sensitivities. That’s food for thought in October 2012.
Halevy was criticized by Martin Kramer for his selective reading of history. However there is no doubt that this article is pro-Israel.

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

I) Debating Israel - Shmuel Rosner - October 26, 2012
But all this support has a down side as well: It can make Israel a target for all those wanting to hurt America without actually making war against the United States. And, more importantly, it has the potential of making Israel seem like a burden to some American voters — which of course wouldn’t serve Israel’s interests in the end. When I start to think of it this way, the spotlight on my country becomes unnerving.
In a sense this is the flip side of Nathan Thrall's argument. Rosner has no problem with support for Israel, but is uncomfortable with it for reasons of perception. I think Rosner is being too sensitive, but he's clearly pro-Israel.

Running total: Anti-Israel - 5 / Pro-Israel - 4

J) The European Left and Its Trouble With Jews - Colin Shindler - October 27, 2012
Such Israelophobia, enunciated by sections of the European left, dovetailed neatly with the rise of Islamism among Palestinians and throughout the Arab world. The Islamist obfuscation of “the Jew” mirrored the blindness of many a European Marxist. Despite the well-intentioned efforts of many Jews and Muslims to put aside their differing perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the offensive imagery of “the Jew” has persisted in many immigrant communities in Western Europe. Islamists were willing to share platforms with socialists and atheists, but not with Zionists.
I don't believe I share all of Colin Shindler's premises (Yisrael Medad offers a critique), still this is a pretty powerful indictment of those who would say that they are only criticizing Israeli policies not condemning Israel. It's exceedingly difficult to separate the two.

Running total: Anti-Israel - 5 / Pro-Israel - 5

K) The Jews of Cuyahoga County - Roger Cohen -  October 29, 2012
The case I heard in Ohio against Obama on Israel was the usual Republican hodgepodge of insinuations: The president went to Cairo but not Jerusalem, he snubbed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he reached out to Muslims but showed no love for Jews. They ignore all the defense and intelligence cooperation that led the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, to say Obama had done “more than anything that I can remember in the past” for Israeli security.
I would say that this screed is more antisemitic (at least in terms of Cohen's view of Jews who don't vote for Obama) than anti-Israel. This, of course, is a caricature of the critique of President Obama's record towards Israel. Barry Rubin presented the full case against Obama includng why his policies have hurt Israel. The ugliness expressed by Cohen is not unique to the opinion pages of the New York Times.

Running total: Anti-Israel - 6 / Pro-Israel - 5

Methodology: I searched the New York Times archive for all opinion articles during the month of October that mentioned Israel. I included articles (not letters) that were substantially about Israel. In the time I've been doing this, I don't believe I've ever had a month where the distribution was so even.
Yes, but.... David forgot to put in the final total (I added it). And three of the positive columns were all written by Shmuel Rosner, an Israeli who analyzes American politics for Haaretz and the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. Unless Rosner now has a gig with the Times, this is unlikely to be a new trend. 

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