This is funny, and not.
Yesterday the Times ran a news analysis of the breakdown in the peace talks, in which Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren observed that Mahmoud Abbas
finally, made a deal this week with Hamas, the militant Islamic group widely seen in the West as the devil.
Anticipating what was coming, Adam made a screenshot. It’s at the end of the second paragraph:
The Times soon changed the line yesterday afternoon:
[Abbas] made a deal this week with Hamas, the militant Islamic group that is widely reviled in the West.
There was a lot of sport about this on Twitter, as you can imagine. Yousef Munayyer:
— Yousef Munayyer (@YousefMunayyer) April 25, 2014
Once you’ve characterized a group as “the devil” and then corrected it, doesn’t that undermine your devil-identifying credentials? — Eli Clifton (@EliClifton) April 25, 2014
Though it’s really not that funny. I can’t imagine an NYT analysis characterizing the Muslim Brotherhood in that way. Only ideologues would call the Brothers the devil. But in the Israel Palestine context, ideologues have sway.
Rania Khalek pointed out another problem with the Times analysis– the “casual racism” of this observation:
“Absent a peace process, the threat of a binational state in which Arabs could soon outnumber Jews grows more potent.”
That’s the kind of fear that keeps folks at the Times up at night.
That part of the Times story, of course, hasn’t been changed. Though I’d say the outrage over it is a new theme in western media, and even liberal Zionists don’t have an answer to it.
Obama’s friend Eric Yoffie, the former leader of the Reform Jewish community, wrote three years ago that he doesn’t want “too many Arabs” in Israel. Another liberal Zionist, Aaron David Miller, warned about “too many… Palestinians” in Israel in the pages of the New York Times. Munayyer challenged him about this:
Tell us, how many Arabs are too many? How many human souls of an ethnicity inconvenient to your ideology are intolerable for you? Please put a number on it, I demand you do, so that we can better define the extent of your racism.
The “demographic threat” crowd, like the “time is running out” crowd will avoid an answer because doing so refocuses serious and morally grounded observers to the real problem: Zionism and its fundamental incompatibility with democracy, liberalism, pluralism and the twenty-first century.
This is perhaps the greatest difference between the United States and Israel.
Before long it won’t be alright to utter this sort of thing. But I’m not going to hold my breath.
P.S. Rudoren said earlier this year, “I come knowledgeable about the Jewish American or Jewish Israeli side of this beat.” That familiarity is what underlies both problematic statements above.