The New York Times’ Frontal Assault on Netanyahu
It is not surprising that The New York Times launched a frontal assault on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, bemoaning what its editorial board called his “lost opportunities.” But the timing of the attack, which US President Barack Obama could have written himself, is worth examining.
Not only did it appear mere days after Jeffrey Goldberg’s portrait of Obama appear in The Atlantic, but it came on the heels of a couple of notable Palestinian terrorist rampages in Israel (notable not for their being distinguishable from all the other daily stabbings, car rammings and shootings, but due to their having taken place in Petah Tikvah and Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem and the West Bank); a two-day shuttle-diplomacy visit to the region by US Vice President Joe Biden; a rocket attack from Gaza; and ballistic missile tests in Iran — with an open threat to annihilate Israel engraved in Hebrew on a few of the projectiles.
Anyone who read Goldberg’s piece might have been lulled by his genuine flair for biography into ignoring the disastrous effect of Obama’s Mideast policies. And this emerged in a glowing report; one shudders to imagine how the US president’s words and deeds would have been understood had they been described by an impartial raconteur and interviewer.
Though Obama, with Goldberg’s help, tried to pin his own failures on other leaders — highlighting Netanyahu’s flaws alongside those of additional counterparts who served to “disappoint” him — what emerged was a handbook on how to turn the United States of America into the world’s wimp. Obama’s mentor, “Rules for Radicals” author Saul Alinsky, could not have done a better job.
That the Times took this opportunity to publish a column blaming Netanyahu for the lack of peace with the Palestinians cannot be disconnected from the above. On the contrary, it was like an after-pill; an emergency damage-control measure to place the ball back in Israel’s court. Though Obama is on his way out, a fierce campaign for the election of his successor is underway. The Times, therefore, had to reassure American voters that it is not the Democrats who are at fault for their growing sense of international insecurity, but rather Netanyahu.
This is why it opened its indictment with Netanyahu’s announcement to the media that he had canceled his attendance at next week’s AIPAC conference in Washington — where he was ostensibly set to meet with Obama — rather than letting the White House know in advance. This, said the Times, “is not a surprise, considering the disrespect the prime minister has shown Mr. Obama in the past.”
Actually, anyone who has followed the relations between Obama and Netanyahu over the past seven years might recall that it is the former who has snubbed the latter on more than one occasion, and not the other way around. But never mind that. A more “pressing” issue, according to the Times, “involves the slow but inexorable death of the two-state solution for peace with the Palestinians.”
Suggesting that Netanyahu is trying to extort a larger aid package from the US, as a result of the nuclear deal with Iran that Israel strongly opposed — positing that the Israeli prime minister is biding his time until a different president takes office — the Times landed a typical left hook.
“Military aid alone will never guarantee Israel’s security,” it said. “For that, there needs to be progress toward a Middle East peace deal.”
It’s such a shame, then, that “Mr. Netanyahu has never shown a serious willingness on that front, as is made clear by his expansion of Israeli settlements, which reduce the land available for a Palestinian state.” Though this is not only patently false, but disingenuous and manipulative, it is nothing compared to its subsequent portrayal of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “a weak and aging leader who has given up on peace.”
Now, Abbas is, indeed, 80 years old. It is also true that internal power struggles within Fatah, his lack of popularity among his people and Hamas’ continued attempt to wrest any remaining reins from his grip are a source of exasperation and exhaustion. But the implication that he is frail old man whose efforts at reaching a deal with Israel have worn him out is purposely misleading, as is the assertion that the surge of Palestinian terrorism “is costing lives on both sides.”
A dead terrorist cannot be counted as a casualty, however the statistics are sliced. More to the point: Abbas is an active instigator of the latest wave of what the Times called “violence.”
Alas, the Times wrote, “Despite his efforts to mediate a deal and the importance he assigned to that task at the start of his administration, President Obama may be presiding over the death of the two-state solution.” Furthermore, “with less than a year left in office and many other international crises to manage, it is unlikely that Mr. Obama will make another push for negotiations.”
However, the Times concluded, “his successor must look for new ways to help Israel and the Palestinians make peace happen.” Sigh.
The Times ought to know by now that peace will “happen” the minute the desire to wipe Israel off the map is no longer the goal of its enemies.
Ruthie Blum is the web editor of The Algemeiner.