In the New York Times’s lead story yesterday, “Kerry Says Israel Keeps Sabotaging Peace Prospects,” David Sanger makes a reasonable show of impartiality, but includes one sentence so conspicuously false it can’t be the product of just one erring journalist. Rather it is the mind of the paper, working through the reporter:
“It was notable that it was Mr. Kerry who delivered the speech rather than President Obama, who has long kept a distance from Middle East peace negotiations, a pursuit he has always doubted would succeed” [emphasis added].
This attempt to isolate Kerry from Obama – is it just part of the general policy to demote the eccentricity of anyone who does anything unusual (cf. the Times treatment of Bernie Sanders)? It’s true Obama kept his distance in his second term, while he let Kerry keep slugging; but the whole point of the Cairo speech in June 2009 was to set the stage for Israel/Palestine negotiations that were meant to create an opening for reform throughout the region. Sanger knows this, but having said “long kept his distance,” he naturally tops it off with “always doubted.” But that is false not only to the Cairo speech and settlement freeze, it abridges the history of a tension between Netanyahu and Obama that goes back to their first meeting in May 2009.
On that occasion, the Times fell in with Netanyahu’s strategy of using fears about Iran to distract attention from Israel/Palestine. As I pointed out then, the Times
took the most anxiously-awaited meeting with a foreign leader of President Obama’s term thus far, and buried it on page 12. The coverage of a major event, which the same newspaper had greeted only the day before by running an oversize attack-Iran op-ed by Jeffrey Goldberg, has officially now shrunk to the scale of a smaller op-ed.
Given what we now know about the US-Israel collaboration on the Stuxnet virus, one can see that by inserting Iran in their discussions so early, Netanyahu was signalling Obama that this collaboration was the real priority and it was in his power to sabotage it.
An unknown party eventually multiplied the virus so recklessly that the secret got out; the educated guess of the computer scientists interviewed in Alex Gibney’s documentary Zero Days is that Israeli technicians did it.