Donald Johnson writes:
Today the New York Times has a big article on the first page of its world news section, “Hamas Turns Back 37 Gaza War Orphans From a Bridge-Building Trip to Israel.”
Thirty-seven young war orphans from Gaza set out on Sunday for a rare visit to Israel. They got as far as the Erez border crossing at the northern end of the Palestinian coastal enclave. There the Hamas authorities turned them back, barring the visit at the last minute.
The Israeli organizer explicitly says that the purpose of the trip was to give the 37 Gazans a positive view of Israelis because they will some day be leaders.
“In 20 or 30 years, these children will be the leaders in Gaza,” Mr. [Yoel] Marshak [of the Kibbutz movement] said. “The idea was to give them a positive experience in Israel…”
The unspoken assumption in both his statement and in the article itself is that the conflict is caused because Palestinians have hostile feelings towards Israelis, and this has nothing to do with anything that Israel does, and so the solution is to let a few of them out of this open-air prison for a brief time when they are children so that they will like Israelis. Apparently everyone on both sides favors this wonderful idea, except the stupid Hamas bureaucrats (and actually, I don’t doubt that Hamas bureaucrats are as stupid as any other), and so Hamas is solely responsible for the hatred that Gazans will feel for Israelis.
A summary of the Gazan war is given, which gives the Israeli view and doesn’t mention the fact that Gazans are united in their loathing of the prison sentence that Israel and Egypt have forced on them.
I used to favor the form of activism where children on both sides get together, and I still don’t oppose it, but it’s clear that its main function is to make liberal Zionists feel better about themselves. Unless Israel changes its behavior it won’t accomplish anything except that main function.
And while I’m sure everyone at the NYT would deny it, including the public editor, the NYT is acting like an organization doing everything in its power to protect the liberal Zionist brand and put the blame back on the Zionist right and the Palestinians for the conflict.
James North adds:
They’re giving big prominence to this story in the New York Times, but when activists from Europe and America are turned away at Ben Gurion airport by Israeli authorities and bundled on to planes to fly home, there’s no story.
Marshak is characterized as a leftist. He is a member of the Kibbutz movement and a Labor supporter. I’d question his leftist bona fides. No kibbutz ever accepted Palestinian members, as leftists Jeff Halper and Tzvia Thier have said on this site.
In the fifth paragraph, the article says, “Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and is sworn to its destruction.” Technically this is true– though, what is destruction? Moreover, as Jerry Slater has meticulously documented, there is plenty of information suggesting that this Hamas position has shifted in a practical direction. No one should cover up for Hamas, but any story that includes the line about Hamas’s stated position ought also to say: “However, independent observers say that Hamas is willing to have a longtime truce that de facto recognizes Israel as part of a peace agreement.”