Commentary Magazine


Topic: New York Times

With ObamaCare in Danger, Liberals Decide the Court’s Power Should Be Limited

For most of the last century, liberals have preached that the Constitution is a living document that needs to be interpreted and re-interpreted to fit the needs of the times. In the name of this legal faith they have championed a vast expansion of government power as well as the enumeration of various rights that are nowhere to be found in the actual text of the document. Generations of liberal activist judges have consistently thwarted the will of both the legislative and executive branches of government without a blush as they imposed their own ideas about every conceivable issue on the country. In doing so they changed the way we think about government and established its presence in our lives in ways that the founders would have thought unthinkable.

But now that there is a possibility that a conservative majority on the Supreme Court might rule ObamaCare unconstitutional, liberal thinkers are doing a 180-degree turn. In the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing on the case in which it was apparent that several justices were skeptical about the government’s argument that it could force citizens to engage in commerce which it could then regulate, the editorial writers at the New York Times were up in arms at the mere notion that the court would have the temerity to overturn a bill passed by Congress. As the Times put it, “the Supreme Court faces a central test: whether it will recognize limits on its own authority to overturn well-founded acts of Congress.” Now that the shoe is on the other foot, liberals are shocked at the notion of judges stepping in to teach the legislature a lesson.

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For most of the last century, liberals have preached that the Constitution is a living document that needs to be interpreted and re-interpreted to fit the needs of the times. In the name of this legal faith they have championed a vast expansion of government power as well as the enumeration of various rights that are nowhere to be found in the actual text of the document. Generations of liberal activist judges have consistently thwarted the will of both the legislative and executive branches of government without a blush as they imposed their own ideas about every conceivable issue on the country. In doing so they changed the way we think about government and established its presence in our lives in ways that the founders would have thought unthinkable.

But now that there is a possibility that a conservative majority on the Supreme Court might rule ObamaCare unconstitutional, liberal thinkers are doing a 180-degree turn. In the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing on the case in which it was apparent that several justices were skeptical about the government’s argument that it could force citizens to engage in commerce which it could then regulate, the editorial writers at the New York Times were up in arms at the mere notion that the court would have the temerity to overturn a bill passed by Congress. As the Times put it, “the Supreme Court faces a central test: whether it will recognize limits on its own authority to overturn well-founded acts of Congress.” Now that the shoe is on the other foot, liberals are shocked at the notion of judges stepping in to teach the legislature a lesson.

The irony of this outrage is clearly lost on the Times and the rest of President Obama’s cheering section in the mainstream press. The Times believes if the court overturns ObamaCare it will be a “willful rejection” of “established constitutional principles that have been upheld for generations.”

In a sense that’s true. For more than a century, liberal judges trashed the original meaning of the Commerce Clause and twisted it to allow the federal government the right to intervene in virtually any activity that struck its fancy. The individual mandate is an unprecedented expansion of the “principle” of untrammeled federal power. But it certainly is well within the scope of previous decisions that created the leviathan in Washington that is sinking the nation in debt.

But the idea that all precedents must be respected is not one that any serious legal theorist can support. The passage of ObamaCare is one such instance. The idea that the court must “hew to established law” would have prevented every famous liberal victory in which the expansion of government power was justified. Times change and the law sometimes must change with it. If the court was able to justify the expansion of the scope of Washington’s power in the 20th century in order to do what a majority of judges deemed to be good, the same principle can allow the courts to step in and say that the current situation demands that someone establish clear limits on federal power.

The genius of our constitutional system is that the checks and balances that the three braches of government can exercise serve to prevent the aggregation of too much power in one at the expense of the people. The truth is the court has always crafted the law to “argue the merits of the bill” as Justice Breyer said of those arguing against ObamaCare. In the past, this worked in favor of liberal goals. Today, it works against them.

We don’t know whether the panic on the left about the court’s inclinations on this case is justified. We certainly hope so. But the idea that the Supreme Court must forebear from striking down this unconstitutional power grab by Washington because to do so would transgress the limits of its power is not a serious argument. Especially when it comes from those who have long held that the court can exercise any authority it likes so long as it is promoting liberal objectives.

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Yelling at the NYT Won’t Help Santorum

At one time or another, it’s something most conservatives have wanted to do. While campaigning in Wisconsin, Santorum did: He blew up on a New York Times‘ reporter, questioning his journalistic integrity, his willingness to report on instead of create the news. Many conservatives cheered Santorum’s bravery, his willingness to take on the media bias at the New York Times and elsewhere. Will this be enough to fire up the conservative base in time for Santorum to have a shot at beating Romney for the nomination? In a word: no. Nothing short of a miracle could make that happen at this point, looking at the delegate math.

During the debates Newt Gingrich gained serious traction taking on the liberal establishment of all stripes, leading to the only standing ovation during a debate that I can remember. Has Santorum decided to take a page from his opponent’s book, deciding to go on the offensive to remind conservatives why he’s their only logical pick?

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At one time or another, it’s something most conservatives have wanted to do. While campaigning in Wisconsin, Santorum did: He blew up on a New York Times‘ reporter, questioning his journalistic integrity, his willingness to report on instead of create the news. Many conservatives cheered Santorum’s bravery, his willingness to take on the media bias at the New York Times and elsewhere. Will this be enough to fire up the conservative base in time for Santorum to have a shot at beating Romney for the nomination? In a word: no. Nothing short of a miracle could make that happen at this point, looking at the delegate math.

During the debates Newt Gingrich gained serious traction taking on the liberal establishment of all stripes, leading to the only standing ovation during a debate that I can remember. Has Santorum decided to take a page from his opponent’s book, deciding to go on the offensive to remind conservatives why he’s their only logical pick?

Since those debates, Gingrich’s support has plummeted and pundits are now on deathwatch, waiting for his campaign to finally announce its conclusion. Santorum’s appeal, meanwhile, has kept him in the final two contenders past Super Tuesday, something next to no one saw coming even a few months ago. Many a pundit has commented on what they believe Santorum’s appeal is to the base, why he has outlasted every other hype candidate to the final mile of the GOP nomination race. I think his ability to stay in the race this late in the game is thanks primarily to two factors: He stuck it out, kept his cool, and stayed on message long enough to become the Not-Romney at the right time. He also comes across as a pretty nice guy, if you don’t read into the liberal media narrative that he’s a General in the War on Women, that is.

Santorum appeals to the socially conservative that were faced with Gingrich, a serial philanderer and Cain, a man whose candidacy unraveled with new reports of shady behavior with women every day until he eventually succumbed and dropped out. He’s a family man who, at the apex of his run, took a few days off to spend time with his special needs daughter who had been hospitalized with serious complications. He wears a sweater vest unironically; he really does come across as the guy next door.

It’s best for Santorum to keep in mind what it is about his candidacy that appeals to voters. While videos of dust-ups with the New York Times may get a lot of spin, airtime and YouTube hits, the first thing I noticed was this: Twenty seconds after Santorum exclaims “It’s bullshit!” – a blonde head, half the height of everyone else around her, comes into view. Santorum lost his cool and cursed in front of what appears to be a young girl who was standing in line to get her campaign placard signed. This isn’t the candidate social conservatives have rallied around and it won’t get Santorum any closer to the nomination.

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The Anti-Semitism Double Standard

Yesterday, after erroneous reports that the Toulouse shooter was a neo-Nazi, the New York Times speculated that the attack was inspired by anti-immigrant rhetoric from right wing politicians. The paper hinted that the incident was a sign of larger societal problems in France, and would prompt public soul-searching:

But the political debate around the shootings, and whether the deaths of an instructor and three young children were somehow inspired by anti-immigrant political talk, is likely to continue — both as a weapon in the presidential campaign and as a more general soul-searching about the nature of France.

You would think the Times would come to a different conclusion yesterday, after the French authorities announced the suspect was a radicalized Muslim with possible al Qaeda ties. And yet its latest article still seems to blame the attack on right-wing, anti-immigrant rhetoric:

After the shootings on Monday, the main candidates in the French presidential campaign, including Mr. Sarkozy, suspended their campaigns as political debate swirled around whether the killings were somehow inspired by anti-immigrant rhetoric. The campaign has been long and heated, and Mr. Sarkozy has been trying to win back voters who drifted to the far-right National Front party.

It remained unclear what the effect of the killings would be on the election, which is only a few weeks away. Nor was it clear whether they would further stoke anti-Muslim rhetoric in the country. Muslims complain widely of feeling vilified by some political elements, on the right in particular, and the anti-immigration far right has been gaining unprecedented popularity in recent months. Some analysts have suggested that the deaths could cause a calming of the political discourse.

The Times has a double standard on Jew-hatred.

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Yesterday, after erroneous reports that the Toulouse shooter was a neo-Nazi, the New York Times speculated that the attack was inspired by anti-immigrant rhetoric from right wing politicians. The paper hinted that the incident was a sign of larger societal problems in France, and would prompt public soul-searching:

But the political debate around the shootings, and whether the deaths of an instructor and three young children were somehow inspired by anti-immigrant political talk, is likely to continue — both as a weapon in the presidential campaign and as a more general soul-searching about the nature of France.

You would think the Times would come to a different conclusion yesterday, after the French authorities announced the suspect was a radicalized Muslim with possible al Qaeda ties. And yet its latest article still seems to blame the attack on right-wing, anti-immigrant rhetoric:

After the shootings on Monday, the main candidates in the French presidential campaign, including Mr. Sarkozy, suspended their campaigns as political debate swirled around whether the killings were somehow inspired by anti-immigrant rhetoric. The campaign has been long and heated, and Mr. Sarkozy has been trying to win back voters who drifted to the far-right National Front party.

It remained unclear what the effect of the killings would be on the election, which is only a few weeks away. Nor was it clear whether they would further stoke anti-Muslim rhetoric in the country. Muslims complain widely of feeling vilified by some political elements, on the right in particular, and the anti-immigration far right has been gaining unprecedented popularity in recent months. Some analysts have suggested that the deaths could cause a calming of the political discourse.

The Times has a double standard on Jew-hatred.

When neo-Nazis were supposedly behind the anti-Semitic attack, the paper immediately sought out societal origins of the problem, and wondered whether it was part of a broader national trend. But now that the attack appears to have been carried out by a Muslim extremist, the Times acts as if this radicalism developed in a vacuum; as if the larger community played no role.

And it’s not just the Times. Progressives clamored for national soul-searching after the Tucson shooting and Anders Breivik’s terror attack in Norway, but seem to have little interest in analyzing what drives some young American and European Muslims to embrace radicalism, anti-Semitism and terrorism.

And the reason is clear: If you claim the radicalization of young Muslims is a sign of larger societal problems (in the U.S., France, or elsewhere) that require public soul-searching, then you may as well be House Homeland Security Committee Chair Peter King. Not only would you be raising uncomfortable questions about the Muslim community, you’d also be implying that some members of the Muslim community aren’t already doing everything they can to prevent radicalization. And as the New York Times has editorialized in the past, that’s outside the bounds of politically correct discourse.

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Removing All Traces of Islamist Terror from Toulouse Shootings

How could the same man gun down three French soliders in the city of Toulouse — two of them Muslim, the other North African — and then attack children at a Jewish school? Something just didn’t add up. There was “no clear motive” for the attacks, the New York Times said in an early draft of its story on the shooting at Collège et Lycée Ozar Hatorah on Monday. In later versions, after an outcry of disbelief, this was self-protectively revised to read: “Speculation over the motives for the killings ranged from anger at Muslims fighting in Afghanistan — the unit of three of the soldiers has been deployed there — and anti-Semitism, to a hatred of immigrants.”

Wrong. The alleged gunman, who reportedly has claimed all three French shootings, is a 24-year-old Muslim named Mohammad Merah.

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How could the same man gun down three French soliders in the city of Toulouse — two of them Muslim, the other North African — and then attack children at a Jewish school? Something just didn’t add up. There was “no clear motive” for the attacks, the New York Times said in an early draft of its story on the shooting at Collège et Lycée Ozar Hatorah on Monday. In later versions, after an outcry of disbelief, this was self-protectively revised to read: “Speculation over the motives for the killings ranged from anger at Muslims fighting in Afghanistan — the unit of three of the soldiers has been deployed there — and anti-Semitism, to a hatred of immigrants.”

Wrong. The alleged gunman, who reportedly has claimed all three French shootings, is a 24-year-old Muslim named Mohammad Merah.

Please don’t tell M. Jay Rosenberg of Media Matters Action Network. He will be badly disappointed at the news. When I first wrote about the Toulouse school shooting on Monday, Rosenberg tweeted:

https://twitter.com/#!/dg_myers

Oops. Oh, well. Rosenberg won’t be alone in trying to cover his tracks. In reporting that “French Police Say They Have Cornered Suspect in School Shooting,” the New York Times earlier today described Merah as a “French national of Algerian descent,” carefully avoiding any mention of his religion. After saying that Merah “told negotiators that he belonged to Al Qaeda,” and after identifying his motives at last (“the attacks were meant to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and to protest French military deployments abroad”), the Times went on to reveal that Merah “called himself a mujahedeen [sic],” which the newspaper helpfully translated as a “freedom fighter.” (Because, you know, to shoot Jewish schoolchildren in the head at close range is obviously to strike a blow for freedom.)

No further mention was made of Al Qaeda or mujahedeen, and none at all of anti-Semitism or Islamist terror. Instead, the Times found a way, like Rosenberg, to keep talking about rightists. Three times its story mentioned the political right in connection with the murders. Easily the best passage was this:

Muslims [in France] complain widely of feeling vilified by some political elements, on the right in particular, and the anti-immigration far right has been gaining unprecedented popularity in recent months.

Still no mention of Merah’s being a Muslim, by the way. Nor any suggestion that French Jews might complain of feeling targeted for murder.

And so it goes. The campaign by the mainstream media to whitewash Islamist terrorism and pin Jew hatred only on the extreme political right is being conducted even now, even as a self-confessed Islamist terrorist holds French police at bay. In a few hours, of course, Merah will be captured or killed. And the New York Times will have removed all traces of its self-embarrassment again.

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NY Times Simulates Journalism on Iran

There’s a moment in the middle of Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger where Auric Goldfinger, now thoroughly annoyed with how Bond keeps turning up, tells 007 that “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.” That’s how readers of the New York Times must feel when confronted with the paper’s unsubtle front page campaign to brush back Israeli action against Iran.

Last month the Times ran a double bylined A1 article by James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, headlined “U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb.” Just to make sure readers knew how to contextualize the de facto talking points, the article kicked off with: “even as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a new report Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program…” The disclaimer was a reference to IAEA investigations, which the Times had previously buried on A8, cataloging the evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

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There’s a moment in the middle of Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger where Auric Goldfinger, now thoroughly annoyed with how Bond keeps turning up, tells 007 that “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.” That’s how readers of the New York Times must feel when confronted with the paper’s unsubtle front page campaign to brush back Israeli action against Iran.

Last month the Times ran a double bylined A1 article by James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, headlined “U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb.” Just to make sure readers knew how to contextualize the de facto talking points, the article kicked off with: “even as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a new report Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program…” The disclaimer was a reference to IAEA investigations, which the Times had previously buried on A8, cataloging the evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

A more interesting approach, and one thoroughly within the abilities of the two experienced journalists, would have been to report out which U.S. agencies were at odds with the notoriously cautious IAEA. But explaining how U.S. officials were provided to the paper as part of a more or less open anti-Israel campaign wouldn’t really fit into the broader theme. So instead readers were led through a fantasy world in which Iran had never been caught working on nuclear explosive devices, or holding damning weapons blueprints, or investigating how to mate nuclear warheads to missiles, or enriching nuclear material past what’s necessary for medical research and energy production.

Fast forward to the yesterday, with the Times weirdly declaring from the front page that American Jews are divided on an Iranian attack. Jonathan promptly dismantled that claim.

And now this morning, with the Times publishing another double bylined Mazzetti piece, this time with Thom Shanker, on the front page. Whereas last time the talking point was “Iran isn’t going nuclear,” this time its charming assumption is that “Israeli self-defense will get American boys and girls killed:”

A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials… The two-week war game, called Internal Look, played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans.

You have to keep reading to find out that the simulation was:

(1) Not designed to evaluate the effects of an Israeli strike – “the exercise was designed specifically to test internal military communications and coordination among battle staffs.”

(2) Inconclusive on the effects of an Israeli strike – “the exercise’s results were not the only possible outcome of a real-world conflict.”

(3) Likely wrong – “many experts have predicted that Iran would try to carefully manage the escalation after an Israeli first strike in order to avoid giving the United States a rationale for attacking… it is impossible to know the internal thinking of the senior Iranian leadership… Israeli intelligence estimates, backed by academic studies, have cast doubt on the widespread assumption that a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would set off a catastrophic set of events like a regional conflagration.”

The military invented — not evaluated, not declared likely, but deliberately invented — a scenario where Iran attacked and killed 200 Americans, so it could test how U.S. military communication would hold up if Iran attacked and killed 200 Americans. On the basis of that artificial, simulated, and by-admission improbable Iranian escalation, the Times wrote a story in which Iran would attack and kill 200 Americans.

The story is the equivalent of the U.S. military testing how its internal communication system would respond to an alien invasion in the aftermath of a solar storm, and the Times reporting that the U.S. military believes the next solar storm will trigger an alien invasion. The scenario might not be false, but it’s the premise not the conclusion of the simulation.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Paper of Record was out to preemptively blame Israel for the deaths of Americans, and that this story was the best they had on hand this morning.

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Jews Divided on Iran? Not Really

Worry over the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon is one issue that has long united the pro-Israel community. The strength of this consensus, which is shared by the majority of Americans, is such that the only real division is over whether it is advisable for Israel or the West to strike Iran relatively soon or to wait a while for crippling sanctions to force a diplomatic solution before force is used. Some on the left continue to weakly argue that Iran doesn’t want to build such a weapon or, alternatively, that a nuclear Iran can be contained. But President Obama’s recent speech to the AIPAC conference in which he reiterated his determination to stop Iran and disavowed a containment strategy, demonstrated that such voices are very much on the margins of public debate, let alone the Jewish community.

However that didn’t stop the New York Times from running an article today on the front page that claimed in the headline in the version published online on Sunday afternoon “Pro-Israel Groups Differ on Iran” (by Monday, the headline had been changed to read “Hawks Steer Debate on How to Take on Iran”). But those readers eager to discover which mainstream Jewish groups were taking a contrary position on Iran were disappointed. The only organizations that the Times could find to back up that headline were J Street and Tikkun. While the former claims to be “pro-Israel” even the latter’s adherents do not attempt to play that game. But however you wish to label them, the idea that disagreement from these two left-wing outliers constitutes any sort of a Jewish debate is comical. Perhaps only in the pages of the New York Times or that of Tikkun itself, could a situation where the opposition of groups as marginal as these be considered a serious news story.

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Worry over the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon is one issue that has long united the pro-Israel community. The strength of this consensus, which is shared by the majority of Americans, is such that the only real division is over whether it is advisable for Israel or the West to strike Iran relatively soon or to wait a while for crippling sanctions to force a diplomatic solution before force is used. Some on the left continue to weakly argue that Iran doesn’t want to build such a weapon or, alternatively, that a nuclear Iran can be contained. But President Obama’s recent speech to the AIPAC conference in which he reiterated his determination to stop Iran and disavowed a containment strategy, demonstrated that such voices are very much on the margins of public debate, let alone the Jewish community.

However that didn’t stop the New York Times from running an article today on the front page that claimed in the headline in the version published online on Sunday afternoon “Pro-Israel Groups Differ on Iran” (by Monday, the headline had been changed to read “Hawks Steer Debate on How to Take on Iran”). But those readers eager to discover which mainstream Jewish groups were taking a contrary position on Iran were disappointed. The only organizations that the Times could find to back up that headline were J Street and Tikkun. While the former claims to be “pro-Israel” even the latter’s adherents do not attempt to play that game. But however you wish to label them, the idea that disagreement from these two left-wing outliers constitutes any sort of a Jewish debate is comical. Perhaps only in the pages of the New York Times or that of Tikkun itself, could a situation where the opposition of groups as marginal as these be considered a serious news story.

The article attempts to frame the debate as one between evangelical Christians and “neocons” on the right and the peace faction on the left represented by J Street and Tikkun. But there is, in fact, no great division on the issue. It is true that conservatives are deeply skeptical of President Obama’s promises on the issue and point out that his actions have never matched the fierce rhetoric on the subject that he has been spouting since even before he was elected president. But the argument about whether Obama has done much on the issue or if he will ultimately do anything at all is a very different question than the one posed by the Times.

As even the Times noted, the only opposition to tough sanctions that mandate an oil embargo on Iran came from the far left or the isolationist far right. But to represent the views put forward by Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul as having anything but a miniscule following in the country in general, let alone in the Jewish community is an astonishing distortion.

As for J Street, while it once hoped to replace AIPAC as the voice of American Jewry on Israel, that is an assertion that is not treated seriously anywhere but in the pages of the Times. J Street’s positions opposing Israeli measures of self-defense and refusal to join the consensus on Iran has prevented it from achieving the success it thought it would achieve. Congress pays little attention to its attempt to bite AIPAC’s ankles on the issues and even President Obama, whose cause it was set up to support against attacks from the left, has deserted it. Obama’s speech to AIPAC made it clear that, at least while he was running for re-election, he has ditched the group’s agenda of pressure on Israel for the sake of a dead-in-the-water peace process.

As for Tikkun, it is so far out of the mainstream that it makes J Street look moderate. Tikkun isn’t merely a supporter of Israel’s discredited Peace Now faction as is the case with J Street. It is a home for those on the far left who oppose the state’s existence altogether and back measures of economic warfare to bring it to its knees.

The Times article framed J Street and Tikkun as representing a sizable Jewish faction simply because the editorial slant of the piece demanded it. To claim they represent anything but the far left is absurd. Indeed, the piece’s conclusion contradicted both the lead and the headline when it noted:

The harder line that Mr. Obama articulated also happens to be good domestic politics, according to experts. The president’s statements, they said, calmed the jitters of some Jewish voters about his support for Israel and defused the effort of Republican presidential candidates to use Iran as a wedge issue against him.

That is true. While the left hopes to buttress what it believes is Obama’s true wish to stay out of a conflict on Iran, his tilt on the issue shows that he knows there are very few votes, Jewish or non-Jewish, to be won by sounding as soft on Iran as J Street and Tikkun would like. The only real Jewish debate on the issue is strictly in the imaginations of these extremists and their cheering section at the Times.

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Islamophobia, This Time at the NYT

Following on from the recent (prideful!) admission of the BBC’s director-general that the network has a double-standard when it comes to religious criticism (Islam is no go, but Christianity is fair game), it seems the New York Times is pursuing the same policy.

Having published an anti-Catholic advertisement by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, execs at the Times have opted, at least for the time being, not to publish an anti-Islam ad that mirrors the very same language of the anti-Catholic one:

Why send your children to parochial schools to be indoctrinated into the next generation of obedient donors and voters? Can’t you see how misplaced your loyalty is after two decades of sex scandals involving preying priests, church complicity, collusion and cover-up going all the way to the top…Join those of us who put humanity above dogma.

And compare:

Why put up with an institution that dehumanizes women and non-Muslims … [do] you keep identifying with the ideology that threatens liberty for women and menaces freedom by slaughtering, oppressing and subjugating non-Muslims… Join those of us who put humanity above the vengeful, hateful and violent teachings of Islam’s ‘‘prophet.’’

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Following on from the recent (prideful!) admission of the BBC’s director-general that the network has a double-standard when it comes to religious criticism (Islam is no go, but Christianity is fair game), it seems the New York Times is pursuing the same policy.

Having published an anti-Catholic advertisement by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, execs at the Times have opted, at least for the time being, not to publish an anti-Islam ad that mirrors the very same language of the anti-Catholic one:

Why send your children to parochial schools to be indoctrinated into the next generation of obedient donors and voters? Can’t you see how misplaced your loyalty is after two decades of sex scandals involving preying priests, church complicity, collusion and cover-up going all the way to the top…Join those of us who put humanity above dogma.

And compare:

Why put up with an institution that dehumanizes women and non-Muslims … [do] you keep identifying with the ideology that threatens liberty for women and menaces freedom by slaughtering, oppressing and subjugating non-Muslims… Join those of us who put humanity above the vengeful, hateful and violent teachings of Islam’s ‘‘prophet.’’

The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue commented that the double-standard was based on ‘‘either [anti-Catholic] bigotry or fear [of Islamic violence], and they’ve painted themselves into that corner.’’

The Times preferred instead to paint a more patriotic picture: ‘‘the fallout from running this ad now,’’ the newspaper claimed, ‘‘could put U.S. troops and/or civilians in the [Afghan] region in danger.’’

Firstly, this seems to confirm Donohue’s conclusion – that, as with the BBC, the threat of violence (literal Islamophobia) ultimately wins the day. Secondly, the Grey Lady doth protest a little too much: this defense will perhaps fall on deaf ears coming from a newspaper that so willingly published the Wikileaks’ cables, apparently without much concern for how they might imperil ‘‘U.S. troops and/or civilians’’ in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

It’s not clear whether it’s more or less noble that the BBC now readily admits its double standard, whereas the Times prefers not to. Either way, the conclusion is the same: there is a reasonable debate to be had about whether these sorts of ads are appropriate, but, like the BBC, the New York Times cannot have it both ways.

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Obama’s Approval Rating Among Women Drops 12 Points

Here’s more evidence suggesting that the New York Times “trend” story on how women are bolting from the GOP and flocking to the Obama campaign was complete fantasy. And the latest contradictions come from the New York Times’ own poll:

In the head-to-head matchups, Mr. Obama also maintained much of the advantage he had built in the last year among important constituencies, including women, although he lost some support among women over the past month, even as the debate raged over birth control insurance coverage.

Mr. Obama appears to be retaining much of his gains among important demographic groups, erasing inroads that Republicans made in 2010, especially among women. But his falling approval rating in the last month extended to his handling of both the economy and foreign policy, the poll found.

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Here’s more evidence suggesting that the New York Times “trend” story on how women are bolting from the GOP and flocking to the Obama campaign was complete fantasy. And the latest contradictions come from the New York Times’ own poll:

In the head-to-head matchups, Mr. Obama also maintained much of the advantage he had built in the last year among important constituencies, including women, although he lost some support among women over the past month, even as the debate raged over birth control insurance coverage.

Mr. Obama appears to be retaining much of his gains among important demographic groups, erasing inroads that Republicans made in 2010, especially among women. But his falling approval rating in the last month extended to his handling of both the economy and foreign policy, the poll found.

“He lost some support among women” is apparently the New York Times’ nice way of saying Obama’s approval rating dropped 12 points among women during the past month, from 53 percent to 41 percent. Needless to say, the Democratic Party’s “war on women” rhetoric doesn’t seem to be working:

In recent weeks, there has been much debate over the government’s role in guaranteeing insurance coverage for contraception, including for those who work for religious organizations. The poll found that women were split as to whether health insurance plans should cover the costs of birth control and whether employers with religious objections should be able to opt out.

Poll respondents said 51 percent to 40 percent that companies should be allowed to opt out for religious/moral reasons. Women said companies should be allowed to opt out, 46 percent to 44 percent.

Those numbers are even more favorable to conservatives when you specifically ask whether religiously-affiliated employers, like schools and hospitals, should be forced to provide birth control coverage. Poll respondents said these institutions should be allowed to opt out, 57 percent to 36 percent. Women said these institutions should be allowed to opt out, 53 percent to 38 percent.

It sounds like the Obama administration has seriously miscalculated its “war on women” strategy. Either women are in favor of religious opt-out rules, as the Times poll suggests (and in that case, are possibly offended by the way the Obama administration has handled the controversy); or, women care so little about this issue that they haven’t even been paying close attention to the debate. Even if the latter is true, that doesn’t mean this strategy was cost-free. According to the Times poll, Obama has further alienated religious voters, and received no political gain with women in exchange. His support has dropped to 37 percent with Catholics, 26 percent with white Protestants and 18 percent with white Evangelical Christians.

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NYT: No Nukes Are Good Nukes

The New York Times editorializes today (in a piece actually labeled “Editorial,” I should note) that the United States has too many nukes, because the Cold War is over. I have no objection to the Times voicing its support for reducing our supply of Things That Go Boom–the Times’s predictability is oddly comforting–but I have a couple of questions about their reasoning. Here is the Times:

For strategic and budgetary reasons, [Obama and his nuclear experts] need to further reduce the number of deployed weapons and the number kept in reserve. If this country can wean itself from its own dependence, it will be safer and will have more credibility in its efforts to contain the nuclear ambitions of Iran, North Korea and others.

That is the argument: We must not be dependent on our own nuclear weapons. But the rest of the editorial doesn’t seem to back this up. It argues we will be safer with fewer tactical nukes because it will reduce the chance of an unplanned exchange of weapons we never intend to use anyway. But it doesn’t explain why our dependence on our own weapons is a problem. This is the type of phrasing commonly used to suggest one of two things: either that reducing our own dependence makes us more likely to strike a conciliatory tone with our enemies, or that we would be more likely to depend on others. The editorialists do not tell us on which other country’s nukes we should rely, rather than our own. And the other countries mentioned in the editorial–Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China–have all adopted tougher lines when we have sought that conciliatory tone.

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The New York Times editorializes today (in a piece actually labeled “Editorial,” I should note) that the United States has too many nukes, because the Cold War is over. I have no objection to the Times voicing its support for reducing our supply of Things That Go Boom–the Times’s predictability is oddly comforting–but I have a couple of questions about their reasoning. Here is the Times:

For strategic and budgetary reasons, [Obama and his nuclear experts] need to further reduce the number of deployed weapons and the number kept in reserve. If this country can wean itself from its own dependence, it will be safer and will have more credibility in its efforts to contain the nuclear ambitions of Iran, North Korea and others.

That is the argument: We must not be dependent on our own nuclear weapons. But the rest of the editorial doesn’t seem to back this up. It argues we will be safer with fewer tactical nukes because it will reduce the chance of an unplanned exchange of weapons we never intend to use anyway. But it doesn’t explain why our dependence on our own weapons is a problem. This is the type of phrasing commonly used to suggest one of two things: either that reducing our own dependence makes us more likely to strike a conciliatory tone with our enemies, or that we would be more likely to depend on others. The editorialists do not tell us on which other country’s nukes we should rely, rather than our own. And the other countries mentioned in the editorial–Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China–have all adopted tougher lines when we have sought that conciliatory tone.

Which brings me to the other problem with the editorial. “Many experts believe the United States can easily go down to 1,000 warheads in total — deployed and stored — without jeopardizing security. We agree,” write the editors. That may well be true, but the Times’s logic claimed we would gain credibility with others if we cut our nuclear supply. Let’s say we cut it to 1,000–a number the Times indicates it will be satisfied with for at least five minutes before it hectors the administration to cut more. What will such credibility get us? Let me put it this way: Why wouldn’t the reaction of Iran, North Korea, and China (Russia has more than 1,000, so they’re exempted from this hypothetical) decide that 1,000 is a great target, and that they shouldn’t have to stop producing nukes until they, too, hit that number?

The evidence seems to support my pessimism on this. After all, if reducing our nuclear stockpile would convince other countries to reduce theirs (or at least stop expanding), why, as the Times admits, has China continued expanding its nuclear weapons program after we have already agreed to reduce our count more than once?

Furthermore, is it really true that, as the Times claims, China is “the only major power expanding its arsenal”? I suppose we can argue about what constitutes a “major power,” but it seems North Korea may have still been conducting nuclear tests in 2010, and they may have been on behalf of Iran (evidence suggests the West thinks one was probably for Iran and one was probably their own, which would make the most sense).

The IAEA–not exactly Iran’s biggest or most determined critic–now admits Iran is probably building a nuclear weapons program, surprising no one. That sure sounds like an expansion. Why wasn’t Iran convinced by our New START treaty with Russia?

The fact remains that the Times is either offering us unsubstantiated theories (dependence on our own capabilities is bad) or already disproved assertions (our agreement to reduce our stockpile encourages others to do the same). What the Times wants is for us to reduce our supply no matter what other countries do. That’s fine–they’re certainly free to keep saying so. But the more they try to justify their plans, the weaker their arguments sound.

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Are Women Really Ditching the GOP?

Are Republicans losing female supporters because of the Democratic Party’s incessant attempts to smear them as anti-women? Polls say no, but when do liberals ever let statistics get in the way of a good narrative? The truth vigilantes at the New York Times put seven reporters across the country on the case, and, after “dozens of interviews in recent weeks,” managed to track down five female Republicans and one independent who displayed varying degrees of disappointment at the GOP candidates’ recent comments on social issues. The result was this headline: “Centrist Women Tell of Disenchantment with Republicans.”

The Times reports:

In Iowa, one of the crucial battlegrounds in the coming presidential election, and in other states, dozens of interviews in recent weeks have found that moderate Republican and independent women — one of the most important electoral swing groups — are disenchanted by the Republican focus on social issues like contraception and abortion in an election that, until recently, had been mostly dominated by the economy.

And in what appears to be an abrupt shift, some Republican-leaning women like Ms. Russell said they might switch sides and vote for Mr. Obama — if they turn out to vote at all.

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Are Republicans losing female supporters because of the Democratic Party’s incessant attempts to smear them as anti-women? Polls say no, but when do liberals ever let statistics get in the way of a good narrative? The truth vigilantes at the New York Times put seven reporters across the country on the case, and, after “dozens of interviews in recent weeks,” managed to track down five female Republicans and one independent who displayed varying degrees of disappointment at the GOP candidates’ recent comments on social issues. The result was this headline: “Centrist Women Tell of Disenchantment with Republicans.”

The Times reports:

In Iowa, one of the crucial battlegrounds in the coming presidential election, and in other states, dozens of interviews in recent weeks have found that moderate Republican and independent women — one of the most important electoral swing groups — are disenchanted by the Republican focus on social issues like contraception and abortion in an election that, until recently, had been mostly dominated by the economy.

And in what appears to be an abrupt shift, some Republican-leaning women like Ms. Russell said they might switch sides and vote for Mr. Obama — if they turn out to vote at all.

The Times is careful to note that “[to] what extent women feel alienated remains unclear: most interviews for this article were conducted from a randomly generated list of voters who had been surveyed in a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, and their responses are anecdotal, not conclusive.”

Fortunately, there have been actual polls conducted on whether women have become disenchanted with the Republican candidates. Today’s Washington Post/ABC poll found “no measurable effect at this point” showing that women are moving toward the Democratic Party. In fact, President Obama actually appears to have lost ground with women in a general election matchup against Mitt Romney:

Compared with last month, disapproval of Obama’s job performance is up slightly among men, and there’s no increase in approval among women. And on vote preference vs. Romney, Obama did better among men and women alike last month, and has lost ground slightly among both sexes this month. In the latest results Romney has a 12-point lead among men who are registered voters; among women, it’s Obama +6.

So the only evidence that Republicans have lost support among women at this point is in a few cherry-picked anecdotes from the New York Times.

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The “Times,” It Ain’t A’Changing

Well, I’m back from my 12-day cruise off South America, lecturing with a Hillsdale College group. Except for two ten-hour flights on American Airlines in economy-class seats that would, were I a prisoner of war, violate the Geneva Convention, it was a great trip, with a great crowd.

Much to my surprise, on my return I found that the New York Times’s editorial page is still utterly predictable. The lead editorial this morning for instance, contains absolutely nothing new regarding drilling in the United States and U.S. waters. The Times writes:

It’’s campaign season and the pandering about gas prices is in full swing. Hardly a day goes by that a Republican politician does not throw facts to the wind and claim that rising costs at the pump are the result of President Obama’’s decisions to block the Keystone XL pipeline and impose sensible environmental regulations and modest restrictions on offshore drilling.

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Well, I’m back from my 12-day cruise off South America, lecturing with a Hillsdale College group. Except for two ten-hour flights on American Airlines in economy-class seats that would, were I a prisoner of war, violate the Geneva Convention, it was a great trip, with a great crowd.

Much to my surprise, on my return I found that the New York Times’s editorial page is still utterly predictable. The lead editorial this morning for instance, contains absolutely nothing new regarding drilling in the United States and U.S. waters. The Times writes:

It’’s campaign season and the pandering about gas prices is in full swing. Hardly a day goes by that a Republican politician does not throw facts to the wind and claim that rising costs at the pump are the result of President Obama’’s decisions to block the Keystone XL pipeline and impose sensible environmental regulations and modest restrictions on offshore drilling.

As any economist (except Paul Krugman) could tell the Times, any restrictions on future supply has an immediate upward price effect (and vice versa–promise of greater future supply brings down prices right away). So the Keystone XL pipeline decision certainly put upward pressure on gas prices. So does “modest restrictions on offshore drilling.” These modest restrictions include putting the entire east coast, the Florida gulf coast, and the entire west coast off limits to oil drilling. I hate to think what immodest restrictions would look like.

Even where drilling has been grudgingly allowed by the government, as off the north coast of Alaska, non-governmental organizations that the Times would never dream of criticizing stand ready to block any drilling. As the Times itself reports this morning, Shell Oil has launched a preemptive suit to try to forestall the inevitable legal challenges from groups masquerading as environmental groups (they are actually anti-business groups). Shell has already spent $4 billion just to get the government’s permission to drill. The Times writes:

Marvin E. Odum, Shell’’s president for the United States, said in an interview that he was “highly confident” that the company’’s plan for preventing and responding to an oil spill would survive any legal scrutiny. He said the company had filed the suit in the hopes of speeding up the judicial review of the plan that will come if and when the environmental groups — who have challenged Shell at every step of the process— file suit.

Their filing suit is more certain than the sun’s rising in the east tomorrow morning.

The Times also notes that we use 20 percent of the world’s oil (not surprising, actually, as we have 25 percent of the world’s GDP), but only 2 percent of the world’s reserves. This is lying with statistics. By definition, “proven reserves” are those that 1) are known to exist, 2) can be economically extracted with present technology and, 3) can be exploited under current law. So the vast reserves that are known to exist offshore (although even exploration is forbidden in many areas–doubtless because the left fears something might be found) don’t count. Neither do the huge reserves locked up in the oil shales of the West. Take away the legal restrictions imposed by the left, and American oil reserves probably exceed those of Saudi Arabia.

It’s nice to be back in the real world, even if it means I have to start reading the New York Times editorial page again.

 

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NYTimes: War, Again?

The New York Times has a “news analysis”–usually code for “front-page, signed editorial”–lamenting the American public’s appetite for countering the Iranian regime’s attempts to build nuclear weapons. The conceit of the story is that this is a rerun of the war in Iraq, where the supposed existence of a nuclear weapons program spurred the West to form a coalition to depose Saddam Hussein.

“Echoes of the period leading up to the Iraq war in 2003 are unmistakable,” Scott Shane tells us, “igniting a familiar debate over whether journalists are overstating Iran’s progress toward a bomb.” And who is debating the veracity of reporters’ accounts? “Both the ombudsman of the Washington Post and the public editor of the New York Times in his online blog have scolded their newspapers since December for overstating the current evidence against Iran in particular headlines and stories.” So it is the New York Times accusing the New York Times of beating the drums of war. Let’s take a look at some of the other parallels.

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The New York Times has a “news analysis”–usually code for “front-page, signed editorial”–lamenting the American public’s appetite for countering the Iranian regime’s attempts to build nuclear weapons. The conceit of the story is that this is a rerun of the war in Iraq, where the supposed existence of a nuclear weapons program spurred the West to form a coalition to depose Saddam Hussein.

“Echoes of the period leading up to the Iraq war in 2003 are unmistakable,” Scott Shane tells us, “igniting a familiar debate over whether journalists are overstating Iran’s progress toward a bomb.” And who is debating the veracity of reporters’ accounts? “Both the ombudsman of the Washington Post and the public editor of the New York Times in his online blog have scolded their newspapers since December for overstating the current evidence against Iran in particular headlines and stories.” So it is the New York Times accusing the New York Times of beating the drums of war. Let’s take a look at some of the other parallels.

“The intelligence on weapons of mass destruction, which was one of the Bush administration’s main rationales for the invasion, proved to be devastatingly wrong,” Shane writes. Not just wrong, but devastatingly wrong. I’ll leave it to others to check the Times style guide for the spectrum of wrongness, but “devastatingly wrong” must be among the wrongest you can be, in the Times’s opinion.

Moving on, we’re also experiencing a time “in which each side has only murky intelligence, tempers run high and there is the danger of a devastating outcome,” Shane writes, paraphrasing the opinion of Harvard’s Graham Allison. Well actually, that’s not Allison comparing Iran to Iraq; he’s comparing the Iran conflict to a “slow-motion Cuban Missile Crisis.” Fearing that the analogy is becoming strained, Allison summons a stirring appeal to his own authority: “As a student of history, I’m certainly conscious that when you have heated politics and incomplete control of events, it’s possible to stumble into a war.”

Of course, “heated politics” and “incomplete control of events” are staples of both foreign affairs and domestic politics–something a student of history should probably have picked up on. Unconvinced? Let the common sense of academia wash over you:

“I find it puzzling,” said Richard K. Betts of Columbia University, who has studied security threats since the cold war. “You’d think there would be an instinctive reason to hold back after two bloody noses in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Still skeptical? What if I told you Betts is a student of history? In fact, he spent the better part of a decade since the Bush administration’s first term as part of something called the “Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy,” made up of “scholars, policy makers and concerned citizens united by our opposition to an American empire.” The group was indeed worried about the possibility of an American empire–its statement warning against it used the word “empire” or “imperial” 16 times.

That American empire never came to be, so what else did the Realistic Realists have to say about American foreign policy? In 2005, the group released an open letter criticizing the Bush administration’s support for Israel, saying it hinders our ability to fight al-Qaeda if terrorists see us as “supporting Israel’s continued occupation of Arab lands–including Islam’s third-most holy site in Jerusalem,” and that Bush was too close to Ariel Sharon and other proponents of a “greater Israel.”

As we soon found out, Sharon was actually willing to once and for all bury the idea of a “greater Israel” by initiating his historic disengagement plan, removing every last Jew from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. You might say Betts and his co-authors were devastatingly wrong. You might also be surprised to know that Betts’s co-authors of that letter included John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, and Juan Cole. Or you might not be surprised.

In any event, the intelligence on Iran isn’t all that murky. What the Times is saying is that even when we can all agree on what the intelligence shows, we can’t trust it, because of Iraq. The Times is actually building a case here against military action even if Iran is about to achieve nuclear capability. As the article notes, however, that’s a view shared by some academics from Harvard and Columbia, but opposed by a majority of Americans.

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NYT Jerusalem Chief Unsure Whether Israel is an Apartheid State

In an interview with Politico yesterday, the incoming New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren said she “would be eager to talk to” Washington Free Beacon reporter Adam Kredo “about anything.” She may be ruing those words this morning:

The New York Times’ incoming Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, won’t say if she is a Zionist.

“I’m going to punt on that question,” Rudoren, who is Jewish, told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview yesterday. “I’m not really interested in labels about who I am and what I think.” …

Asked if she considers Israel an apartheid state—as critics of the Jewish state so often do—Rudoren declined comment.

“I don’t have an assessment yet,” she said. “I’m not sure I’ll ever answer that question in the way you’ve just framed it.”

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In an interview with Politico yesterday, the incoming New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren said she “would be eager to talk to” Washington Free Beacon reporter Adam Kredo “about anything.” She may be ruing those words this morning:

The New York Times’ incoming Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, won’t say if she is a Zionist.

“I’m going to punt on that question,” Rudoren, who is Jewish, told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview yesterday. “I’m not really interested in labels about who I am and what I think.” …

Asked if she considers Israel an apartheid state—as critics of the Jewish state so often do—Rudoren declined comment.

“I don’t have an assessment yet,” she said. “I’m not sure I’ll ever answer that question in the way you’ve just framed it.”

Both the Beacon and Politico interviews are worth reading in entirety to get a sense of Rudoren’s mindset going into this position. She’s also a great example of the increasingly archaic journalistic value of placing objectivity above all else, including obvious and undeniable facts.

Are you a Zionist? Do you believe the Jews have a right to self-governance? Do you believe the Jewish state has a right to exist? This is an issue that I would think someone would come to a conclusion about by the time they’re Rudoren’s age. Do you believe Israel is an apartheid state? Again, an issue you would expect her to have some position on.

If Rudoren didn’t want to answer these questions because she felt her response might interfere with her ability to practice journalism, she could have said that. Claiming to have no opinion is just not believable.

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New Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Doubles Down on Bias

When I wrote yesterday I hoped the incoming New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief wouldn’t be any worse than outgoing chief Ethan Bronner, little did I know that within 24 hours we would learn those hopes were already in vain. As Alana wrote earlier today, Jodi Rudoren had begun exhibiting not only questionable judgment but also an overt bias against Israel even before she landed in the country. Her praise of extremists like the Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah and her laudatory references to Peter Beinart’s book trashing Israel indicated that she saw no reason why the public should have to wait until she started filing slanted stories to understand where she stood on the issues.

In an attempt to do some quick damage control, Rudoren submitted to an interview today with Politico’s media reporter Dylan Byers to explain herself. But it did little to repair her image or to undermine the notion she has already made up her mind about how to report the conflict. Instead, she demonstrated the same naïveté about what constitutes bias on Israel as well as showed herself woefully unprepared for the political maelstrom in Jerusalem.

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When I wrote yesterday I hoped the incoming New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief wouldn’t be any worse than outgoing chief Ethan Bronner, little did I know that within 24 hours we would learn those hopes were already in vain. As Alana wrote earlier today, Jodi Rudoren had begun exhibiting not only questionable judgment but also an overt bias against Israel even before she landed in the country. Her praise of extremists like the Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah and her laudatory references to Peter Beinart’s book trashing Israel indicated that she saw no reason why the public should have to wait until she started filing slanted stories to understand where she stood on the issues.

In an attempt to do some quick damage control, Rudoren submitted to an interview today with Politico’s media reporter Dylan Byers to explain herself. But it did little to repair her image or to undermine the notion she has already made up her mind about how to report the conflict. Instead, she demonstrated the same naïveté about what constitutes bias on Israel as well as showed herself woefully unprepared for the political maelstrom in Jerusalem.

First of all, Rudoren claimed her tweet to Abunimah was meant to be private, not public. But the Anthony Weiner excuse doesn’t cut it. No matter what her intentions, the idea that she considers Electronic Intifada “important” already shows her frame of reference about Israel. It is one thing to say, as she does, a reporter must talk to all sides. It is quite another to make nice in this manner with advocates of economic warfare on Israel. Her promise to reach out “to extremists on all sides” hardly makes up for the fact that she has already put herself on record as thinking well of one group of anti-Israel extremists.

Even worse is her insistence that her praise of Peter Beinart’s tendentious attack on Israel isn’t an indication she supports his point of view. Indeed, she doubles down on her praise for Beinart:

In terms of Peter Beinart’s book, I will absolutely not apologize for thinking that this is a good book. Peter is someone I’ve known for 20 years, he’s a journalist, he’s written a really interesting book. I don’t agree with everything in the book, I don’t even have an opinion about the arguments in the book, but it’s really well-written, it’s really provocative, there’s tons of reporting in it with things people don’t know. I think people should read it. I think hard-right Zionists should read it and Palestinian activists should read it. And young American Jews, who are really the audience for the book, should read it.

I will not apologize for tweeting about the book at all. Will I tweet about books written by people more closely aligned with Netanyahu? Absolutely. I’m reading one book at a time. I expect to have a long and robust and diverse reading list, and when the spirit moves me I may tweet about it.

The very fact that she thinks Beinart’s book filled with left-wing clichés contains original reporting demonstrates that she has a poor grasp of what constitutes good journalism but also that she has come into this post knowing little about the conflict or the literature about it. Moreover, her claim she doesn’t agree with everything in the book is a weasel-worded excuse that will convince no one. You don’t give a gushing endorsement to a polemic such as Beinart’s if you are neutral about its thesis.

As for her claim she is reading “one book at a time,” that reminds me of Herman Cain’s similar pledge to read up about foreign policy after he was called out for being an ignoramus on the subject.

The Times has clearly made a mistake in appointing someone to this post with a clear bias against Israel. But the fact that she has been so indiscreet about her bias ought to alert her editors to not only her lack of political savvy but also her complete unsuitability for such a delicate position. But given the drift of the paper towards an openly anti-Israel editorial position and its unbalanced opinion pages, perhaps the editors have come to the conclusion there is really no need to even pretend to be objective on their news pages anymore.

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New NYT Jerusalem Chief Reaches Out to Israel-Bashers

The ink has barely dried on the New York Times announcement that Jodi Rudoren will replace Ethan Bronner as Jerusalem bureau chief, and the move is already generating controversy. As Jonathan wrote yesterday, Bronner was attacked by Israel-bashers for having a son who formerly served in the Israel Defense Forces. And now Rudoren is apparently reaching out to these same anti-Israel activists, the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reports:

Already, Rudoren is beaming out cutesy missives to prominent, self-described anti-Zionist players such as Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, a website that contains a treasure trove of writings highly antagonistic toward the Jewish state.

Rudoren also Tweeted yesterday with the website Mondoweiss, an online portal that is known to traffic in Israel-bashing.

Early yesterday afternoon, Rudoren Tweeted a friendly dispatch to Abunimah, who has referred to Zionism as “one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today.” …

“Hey there. Would love to chat sometime. About things other than the house. My friend Kareem Fahim says good things,” Rudoren responded, referencing her Times colleague who covers Syria.

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The ink has barely dried on the New York Times announcement that Jodi Rudoren will replace Ethan Bronner as Jerusalem bureau chief, and the move is already generating controversy. As Jonathan wrote yesterday, Bronner was attacked by Israel-bashers for having a son who formerly served in the Israel Defense Forces. And now Rudoren is apparently reaching out to these same anti-Israel activists, the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reports:

Already, Rudoren is beaming out cutesy missives to prominent, self-described anti-Zionist players such as Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, a website that contains a treasure trove of writings highly antagonistic toward the Jewish state.

Rudoren also Tweeted yesterday with the website Mondoweiss, an online portal that is known to traffic in Israel-bashing.

Early yesterday afternoon, Rudoren Tweeted a friendly dispatch to Abunimah, who has referred to Zionism as “one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today.” …

“Hey there. Would love to chat sometime. About things other than the house. My friend Kareem Fahim says good things,” Rudoren responded, referencing her Times colleague who covers Syria.

Electronic Intifada’s toxic anti-Israel rhetoric goes so far beyond mere political criticism, publishing articles that equate Israel to Nazi Germany and calling Zionism a form of anti-Semitism. It’s hard to imagine what “good things” the incoming New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief could have heard about EI, or why she would “love to chat sometime” with the site’s founder.

Rudoren’s exchanges with Abunimah, and with the vehemently anti-Israel Mondoweiss blog, have already raised concerns within the pro-Israel community:

“Obviously a New York Times reporter is expected to talk to everyone in the context of reporting a story, perhaps even terrorists at times. But it’s concerning to see the tone of these exchanges,” said Josh Block, a Middle East analyst and former top official at a pro-Israel group. “These are not people you engage like this, especially your first day as Jerusalem bureau chief for the paper of record. You really don’t even want to be seen in public with them—it’s just a mistake.”

Was the friendly outreach to Israel-bashers an honest mistake? Or a sign of where the New York Times wants to take its Israel coverage? The reporting at the Times has never been particularly favorable toward Israel, and the comments from the new Jerusalem chief indicate that it could get much worse before it gets better.

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The Real Source of Media Bias on Israel

I have not been the biggest fan of Ethan Bronner of the New York Times. The reportage by Bronner, who spent the last four years as the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, was a mixed bag. Though he was clearly a talented reporter who often did some good work highlighting the realities of the Palestinian war on Israel, he was also prone–as virtually every other member of the foreign press corps in Israel–to take Palestinian claims at face value and to omit the context of Palestinian rejectionism from accounts of diplomatic and political encounters there.

Nevertheless, Bronner spent the last two years under constant fire, not so much for his role in the Times’s blatant bias against Israel (for which the editors back in New York were chiefly responsible anyway), but because his son served in the Israel Defense Force. Once the news came out about Bronner’s son serving in the army like most Jewish boys his age in Israel, he was subjected to withering criticism from the pro-Palestinian left as well as a nasty column from Clark Hoyt, the paper’s public editor at the time. Now that Bronner’s leaving the post after a four-year term, the story is being recycled, but the notion that he was compromised by his son’s service is just as absurd today as it was then.

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I have not been the biggest fan of Ethan Bronner of the New York Times. The reportage by Bronner, who spent the last four years as the Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, was a mixed bag. Though he was clearly a talented reporter who often did some good work highlighting the realities of the Palestinian war on Israel, he was also prone–as virtually every other member of the foreign press corps in Israel–to take Palestinian claims at face value and to omit the context of Palestinian rejectionism from accounts of diplomatic and political encounters there.

Nevertheless, Bronner spent the last two years under constant fire, not so much for his role in the Times’s blatant bias against Israel (for which the editors back in New York were chiefly responsible anyway), but because his son served in the Israel Defense Force. Once the news came out about Bronner’s son serving in the army like most Jewish boys his age in Israel, he was subjected to withering criticism from the pro-Palestinian left as well as a nasty column from Clark Hoyt, the paper’s public editor at the time. Now that Bronner’s leaving the post after a four-year term, the story is being recycled, but the notion that he was compromised by his son’s service is just as absurd today as it was then.

Hoyt took the position, as did many cheerleaders for the Palestinians, that: “The Times sent a reporter overseas to provide disinterested coverage of one of the world’s most intense and potentially explosive conflicts, and now his son has taken up arms for one side.”

The problem with this formulation is the assumption that the Times ought to regard an ongoing war to extinguish the life of the Jewish state with complete objectivity. But that is no more reasonable than to expect any American journalist with relatives in the U.S. military to have no opinions or stake in attacks on the United States or its forces abroad. While news reporters ought not to take part in partisan politics or advocacy on issues related to their beats, the notion that they should take no position on wars between Western democracy and Islamist terrorists extends rules about objectivity beyond reason. Those who are neutral about the idea that it is okay to single out the one Jewish state in the world for destruction should be accused of a far worse sin than a lack of complete objectivity.

Just as American reporters can and do report stories that can put the government and/or the U.S. military in a bad light while still acting as loyal citizens of this country, so, too, can any person living in Israel report honestly while not choosing to remain completely aloof from that country’s war of survival. Having a son in the IDF did not make Bronner a stooge of the Israeli government.

On the contrary, the vast majority of the foreign press contingent in Israel who proclaim neutrality about the conflict but treat Arab terrorism with kid gloves and assist the delegitimization of the democratic state in which they are living are the ones who deserve censure for bias. Whatever Ethan Bronner’s sins, at least he was not guilty of that. Let’s hope his successor is no worse than him.

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The Times Gets Confused About Iran Nukes

There are two common reporting challenges that inevitably become more pronounced when a topic of great interest and importance becomes part of the day-to-day news: the tendency of stories to offer no new information whatsoever, and the habit of reporters to allow themselves to be spun into writing self-contradicting pieces.

Today’s New York Times dispatch on Iran is an example of both. The takeaway from the story is that American and Israeli officials talk to each other about the Iranian nuclear program, and that they sometimes agree and sometimes disagree, but don’t expect that to result in an Israeli airstrike on Iran anytime this afternoon, certainly not before dinner. The reporters write that a phone call last month between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu left American officials “persuaded that Mr. Netanyahu was willing to give economic sanctions and other steps time to work.” This is a sentence that could have been written anytime over the last fifteen years, and in fact is only relevant now (a full month after this phone call) because it still hasn’t changed.

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There are two common reporting challenges that inevitably become more pronounced when a topic of great interest and importance becomes part of the day-to-day news: the tendency of stories to offer no new information whatsoever, and the habit of reporters to allow themselves to be spun into writing self-contradicting pieces.

Today’s New York Times dispatch on Iran is an example of both. The takeaway from the story is that American and Israeli officials talk to each other about the Iranian nuclear program, and that they sometimes agree and sometimes disagree, but don’t expect that to result in an Israeli airstrike on Iran anytime this afternoon, certainly not before dinner. The reporters write that a phone call last month between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu left American officials “persuaded that Mr. Netanyahu was willing to give economic sanctions and other steps time to work.” This is a sentence that could have been written anytime over the last fifteen years, and in fact is only relevant now (a full month after this phone call) because it still hasn’t changed.

But the curious aspect of this article is that the writers seem to contradict that point in the next paragraph — or, rather, contradict the relevance of even using that quote. They write:

The difference of opinion over Iran’s nuclear “immunity” is critical because it plays into not just the timing — or bluffing — about a possible military strike, but the calculations about how deeply and quickly sanctions against Iran must bite. If the Israeli argument is right, the question of how fast the Iranians can assemble a weapon becomes less important than whether there is any way to stop them.

“‘Zone of immunity’ is an ill-defined term,” said a senior Obama administration official, expressing frustration that the Israelis are looking at the problem too narrowly, given the many kinds of pressure being placed on Tehran and the increasing evidence that far tougher sanctions are having an effect.

The Israelis have zeroed in on Iran’s plan to put much of its uranium enrichment near Qum in an underground facility beneath so many layers of granite that even the Pentagon acknowledges it would be out of the reach of its best bunker-busting bombs. Once enrichment activities are under way at Qum, the Israelis argue, Iran could throw out United Nations inspectors and produce bomb-grade fuel without fear the facility would be destroyed.

Now hang on a minute. That sounds like the opposite of an “ill-defined” term. It sounds like the Israelis have clearly and explicitly defined it, in order to reduce possible confusion on the part of, say, unnamed Obama administration officials or reporters. Additionally, if it is merely a question of when the Iranians finish this underground facility, then sanctions have a built-in clock; at some point, they become irrelevant, and according to the logic of this story that is when Israel (or someone) will strike. The moment Netanyahu believes time has run out, something will be done about it. Until then, it is extraordinarily obvious that Netanyahu will give sanctions “time to work.”

It’s entirely possible, of course, that that Netanyahu must be persuaded by the Americans that this Iranian facility is not at the point of no return, and that American intelligence on this matter is superior to the intelligence available to the Israelis. But that’s not what the article says. In fact, the article is actually making the opposite case. The Obama administration official talking to the Times reporters is presenting the case that the administration believes Netanyahu is using the wrong benchmark.

The article explicitly states this. The reporters write that Netanyahu is concerned about the Iranians’ “impregnable breakout capability,” the term for this point of no return. “The Americans have a very different view,” according to the Times.

The article pulls the rug out from under itself in this matter several times. Perhaps these unnamed administration officials were “not authorized to describe the conversation” in part because they have no idea what they’re talking about.

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An Absurd Abortion Argument

On his blog, Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times writes, “Abortion is legal. It is a safe medical procedure. And it is rare. That’s exactly how it should be. Government has no business violating women’s privacy rights and making decisions about their reproductive rights. It is the worst kind of ‘big government’ imaginable.”

On the claim that abortion is a “safe” medical procedure: it isn’t a particularly safe medical procedure for the unborn child being aborted. As for abortion being rare, there are roughly 1.2 million abortions performed in the United States each year, meaning more than 3,000 per day, and approximately 50 million since the legalization of abortion in 1973. According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and about four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.

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On his blog, Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times writes, “Abortion is legal. It is a safe medical procedure. And it is rare. That’s exactly how it should be. Government has no business violating women’s privacy rights and making decisions about their reproductive rights. It is the worst kind of ‘big government’ imaginable.”

On the claim that abortion is a “safe” medical procedure: it isn’t a particularly safe medical procedure for the unborn child being aborted. As for abortion being rare, there are roughly 1.2 million abortions performed in the United States each year, meaning more than 3,000 per day, and approximately 50 million since the legalization of abortion in 1973. According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and about four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.

But let’s focus most of our attention on the claim that conservatives who believe a society should protect life, including innocent, unborn life, are acting in a profoundly un-conservative way by supporting “the worst kind of ‘big government.’”

To begin with: Does Rosenthal believe government should take a stand against abortion when it comes to children in their eighth month in utero and/or children who were marked for abortion but were delivered alive? If Rosenthal believes government should be neutral on such matters, his views are monstrous and radical. If, on the other hand, Rosenthal believes government should say “no” to some abortion procedures, he is acknowledging that at some point the protection of the unborn is, in fact, a state interest. The difference he therefore has with those in the pro-life movement is where he draws the line, not that a line needs to be drawn.

Which brings me to the matter of line drawing. Where does Rosenthal propose to draw it? What objective criteria should we use when it comes to the point at which unborn life should be protected? Brain waves and brain activity? Substantial development of the nervous system? When the unborn child feels pain? When organs, arms and legs develop? Heartbeat and blood flow? Sentience? Rationality? Viability outside the womb? In the second trimester? The third? And then ask yourself this: What medical or moral basis is there to say the state should protect unborn life during the second (or third) trimester but not during the first? The answer is: There is none.

Critics of the pro-life movement, when pressed on the matter, simply throw a dart on the board and decide, for entirely arbitrary reasons, when human life has sufficient value to warrant protection from the state.

It’s worth pointing out as well that on the matter of abortion, we’re dealing with human life. That’s not a “religious” judgment; it’s a scientific one. The fetus is indisputably alive and, if it comes to full term, it won’t be a giraffe or a coyote; it will be a human child. Infants are released from the hospital to go to a home, not a zoo. The question, of course, is at what point in the developmental stage one ascribes moral significance and the protection of the law to unborn life. Intelligent and honorable people disagree on this matter. But even liberals writing for the New York Times must acknowledge, at least to themselves, if not
publicly, that at some point the entity in question has a legitimate moral and legal claim on society; that at some point puncturing the skull of an unborn child and sucking out her brain is an act a decent society should oppose. And even Andrew Rosenthal, if he can escape for just a moment from his left-wing catechism, would see how misguided it is to insist that having government protect the most defenseless members of the human community is not the “worst
kind of ‘big government’ imaginable.” There are, in fact, horrors even worse than defending unborn children.

 

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Iran Threatens Israel With Destruction, But the Times Doesn’t Hear It

Today’s speech by Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about the sanctions on his country and its determination to persist in its quest for nuclear capability was a significant news event. Khamenei served notice on the United States that he would not be bluffed into giving up his nuclear plans. Though he conceded the economic pressure on his country has hurt, he said Iran is undaunted and would retaliate against the United States should its nuclear facilities come under attack. All this was reported in newspapers around the world, including the New York Times, which posted a story on the speech Friday morning.

However, there was something missing from the Times report of Khamenei’s speech that was reported elsewhere. Other accounts noted that in addition to threatening the United States, Khamenei said this: “The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor and it will be removed.” While we don’t know how or why a mention of this element of the speech managed to get excised from the account in the Times, it’s a question worth pondering.

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Today’s speech by Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about the sanctions on his country and its determination to persist in its quest for nuclear capability was a significant news event. Khamenei served notice on the United States that he would not be bluffed into giving up his nuclear plans. Though he conceded the economic pressure on his country has hurt, he said Iran is undaunted and would retaliate against the United States should its nuclear facilities come under attack. All this was reported in newspapers around the world, including the New York Times, which posted a story on the speech Friday morning.

However, there was something missing from the Times report of Khamenei’s speech that was reported elsewhere. Other accounts noted that in addition to threatening the United States, Khamenei said this: “The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor and it will be removed.” While we don’t know how or why a mention of this element of the speech managed to get excised from the account in the Times, it’s a question worth pondering.

Any discussion of the nature of the Iranian nuclear threat that ignores the regime’s murderous intentions toward Israel is clearly incomplete.

An Iranian bomb would change the balance of power in the region and endanger all moderate Arab regimes while strengthening the hand of Tehran’s terrorist allies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas (though relations between Gaza and Iran have cooled recently). It would also threaten the free flow of oil from the Gulf to the West and diminish the strategic position as well as the security of both the United States and Europe.

But it is only Israel that Iran has promised to destroy. That is why placing a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime pledged to the eradication of the Jewish state is a different order of threat than Khamenei’s usual bluster aimed at the United States. Because of its small size and concentrated population, one or two nuclear explosions would mean another Holocaust.

So when Khamenei repeats the Islamist regime’s pledge to make good on its threat to destroy “the Zionist regime” in the same context as its vow to satisfy its nuclear ambitions, this is no minor rhetorical point. It is, instead, tangible evidence that Israel’s alarm about Iran is justified and that the question of what to do about this threat is a matter of life and death for millions in the Jewish state.

For the Times to eliminate Khamenei’s threat to Israel from its coverage even as it accurately reports other elements of the speech is more than curious. At the very least, it is an egregious error of judgment. At worst, it smacks of an effort to skew the discussion about Iran away from the imminent peril that its Tehran’s nuclear program represents.

Those who seek to dismiss the justified fears expressed by friends of Israel about the Obama administration’s hesitancy in taking actions and efforts to forestall an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities wish to lower the temperature of the discussion and ignore Khamenei’s threats. But doing so makes it impossible to make a rational decision about averting the danger. Further prevarication such as that going on in Washington right now about Iran is exactly what Khamenei is hoping for as Iran seeks to run out the clock and achieve its ambitions before the West or Israel acts to stop them. Those who believe a nuclear Iran can be “contained” or doubt Iran’s evil intentions need to understand what Khamenei said and what he meant by it. But that won’t happen if major media outlets suppress the full story about Iran.

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Erasing 20 Years of History

When I first read Jonathan’s post yesterday, I thought he was blaming President Barack Obama unfairly: The Palestinians don’t need Obama to produce excuses for shunning negotiations; they’ve produced plenty all by themselves (about which more in a separate post). But when I read the New York Times article he referenced, I was shocked – not by the Palestinians’ position, but by reporter Ethan Bronner’s. For when a Palestinian official asserted that Israel’s demand to retain the major settlement blocs “abandons … the framework we have been focused on for the past 20 years,” Bronner, who as a veteran Israeli correspondent should surely have known better, parroted this without a word of demurral – thereby erasing 20 years of history in which every single proposal ever discussed had Israel keeping the settlement blocs.

President Bill Clinton’s parameters of 2000, long considered the blueprint for any final-status agreement, assigned the settlement blocs to Israel. President George W. Bush asserted in a 2004 letter that “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.” Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of 2008 – which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, after rejecting at the time, suddenly embraced last year, once Olmert was gone and it was off the table – also had Israel retaining the settlement blocs.

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When I first read Jonathan’s post yesterday, I thought he was blaming President Barack Obama unfairly: The Palestinians don’t need Obama to produce excuses for shunning negotiations; they’ve produced plenty all by themselves (about which more in a separate post). But when I read the New York Times article he referenced, I was shocked – not by the Palestinians’ position, but by reporter Ethan Bronner’s. For when a Palestinian official asserted that Israel’s demand to retain the major settlement blocs “abandons … the framework we have been focused on for the past 20 years,” Bronner, who as a veteran Israeli correspondent should surely have known better, parroted this without a word of demurral – thereby erasing 20 years of history in which every single proposal ever discussed had Israel keeping the settlement blocs.

President Bill Clinton’s parameters of 2000, long considered the blueprint for any final-status agreement, assigned the settlement blocs to Israel. President George W. Bush asserted in a 2004 letter that “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.” Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of 2008 – which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, after rejecting at the time, suddenly embraced last year, once Olmert was gone and it was off the table – also had Israel retaining the settlement blocs.

In short, Israeli retention of the settlement blocs is precisely “the framework we have been focused on for the past 20 years.”

But along came Obama, with his assertion last May that the starting point for talks should be the 1967 lines rather than two decades of previous negotiations, and suddenly, 20 years of history have been erased: The Palestinians can unblushingly assert that Israel’s demand to retain the settlement blocs is a new demand, and a veteran New York Times reporter can unblushingly parrot that assertion. In effect, the starting point for talks has just been moved.

This would indeed be a serious obstacle to negotiations if they ever resumed, because in 20 years of conceding one “red line” after another, one of the few things successive Israeli governments have never wavered on is their insistence on retaining the settlement blocs. Yet the Palestinians can’t be more Catholic than the Pope: If the U.S. president deems the settlement blocs illegitimate, Palestinians can hardly do otherwise. That’s precisely why previous U.S. presidents were always careful to provide cover for Palestinian negotiators by making it clear that in their view, the settlement blocs should remain Israeli.

But Obama has practically single-handedly created a new narrative, in which Israeli retention of the settlement blocs is not a given, and his allies in the media are eagerly disseminating it. And that mistake, as Jonathan aptly said, will haunt Israeli-Palestinian talks for a long time to come.

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