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In NYT portrait of ‘Netanyahu the peace maker,’ there’s room for just one dissent


How do we define hasbara? A day or so after a fine Isabel Kershner piece in the Times talked about extremism on the West Bank, her colleague Ethan Bronner produces an article portraying Netanyahu as a peacemaker: Netanyahu is following in the footsteps of Sharon, being extremely conciliatory, risking political danger, isn’t this remarkable, and every quote in there supports the idea, except for a one-sentence critique from Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. But everyone else in the article goes along with the interpretation. Peres, Labor, a senior anonymous official, etc. A virtual repeat of this Bronner portrait of Netanyahu the pragmatist from last February!

In the newspaper of record, there should be more than one single sentence in a gigantic article of disagreement with Bronner’s interpretation. Emma Goldman said that we will hold you to your values before we hold you to ours, and the question is, Where is the balance? For reader, there’s another interpretation of Netanyahu’s actions: that they’re grudging, insincere, a make-believe conciliation that has stopped the peace process dead.

"The freeze was less than what was demanded by the Americans and Palestinians," Bronner says, and that word demanded suggests that the US and Palestinians set extreme terms. No: Palestinians and Americans and the rest of the world have repeatedly asked Israel to live up to international law with regard to the Occupied Territories. Demanded makes it sound like there are two sides to the debate and one side is being pushy.

At the end, Bronner quotes Israeli rightwinger Dov Weissglas saying Israel must do more because it is being isolated by the world community, which will not accept Israel "in a majority of the Judea and Samaria territories." Very misleading. The world does not dignify the Israeli presence in any of those territories: indeed, this week the European Union said specifically that it wants a return to the ’67 borders. The EU is not mentioned, while all Netanyahu’s apologists get airtime, in the newspaper of record.

James North and Philip Weiss
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