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August 30, 2016 6:46 am

‘Cranky’ New York Times Editorialists Fester Over Palestinian Grievances Amid Warming Israeli-Arab Regional Ties

avatar by Ira Stoll

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A Palestinian demonstration at Susya. Photo: Wikipedia.

A Palestinian demonstration against Israel. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

With a presidential election underway, along with a genocide in Syria involving the use of chemical weapons, the New York Times chooses to devote the choice real estate of its lead Sunday editorial to, of all things, the warming ties between Israel and Sunni Arab countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Fine. Maybe the Times wants to cheer the good news of warming relations between Jerusalem, Cairo and Riyadh? Alas, not exactly. Instead, the newspaper is sounding the alarm. The last sentence of the first paragraph of the editorial warns that the improved relations “could also leave the Palestinians in the dust, a worrisome prospect.”

The newspaper returns to that theme in the editorial’s conclusion: “The danger is that these countries will find more value in mending ties with each other and stop there, thus allowing Palestinian grievances, a source of regional tension for decades, to continue to fester.”

For the Times, it seems, it always comes down to what’s best for the Palestinian Arabs.

As the president of Shalem College in Jerusalem, the eminent Middle East scholar Martin Kramer, wrote on his Facebook page about the Times editorial: “I’m betting that in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Jerusalem, and even Ramallah, nobody cares what the cranky Gray Lady of Manhattan mumbles. And really, why should they?”

It’s a good question.

Does the Times blame Egypt for the squalor in Gaza because Egypt borders Gaza and ruled it between 1959 and 1967? Or does it blame Saudi Arabia, because of the kingdom’s longstanding and lavish funding of Hamas, the Islamist terrorist organization that rules Gaza? The editorial doesn’t say, leaving open the possibility that the Times editorialists believe the Arab states should care about the Palestinians solely on the basis of some sort of racial or religious solidarity, a view that somewhat undercuts the paper’s usually prevailing view that the Palestinians are a separate and independent people all of their own.

Meanwhile, the notion that “Palestinian grievances” are the explanation for regional tension may have been popular for decades among State Department Arabists and their acolytes at the Times, but as even the Times itself has observed in rare sober moments lately, it’s hard to square that theory with the events of the past decade, featuring bloody Sunni-Shiite warfare in Iraq, the throat-slitting violence of the Islamic State, a civil war in Syria, and attacks at Paris, Brussels, and Benghazi. Are “Palestinian grievances” really the root cause of the casualties in Syria, Libya, and Iraq? Come on.

The Times’ concern for the plight of the Palestinians is touching, but the editorial fails to explain why that issue should cast a pall over Israel’s diplomatic relations with its neighbors, especially when Israel and its neighbors don’t think it should. It’s as if the Times met an outbreak of bipartisanship between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill with an editorial fretting about how the newly warming ties “could also leave Palestinians in the dust.” What does one thing have to do with the other?

For the Times, responsibility for saving the Palestinians seems always to rest with Washington or Jerusalem, or even with Egypt or Saudi Arabia, but rarely with the Palestinian Arabs themselves. How the Palestinians might improve their own lot rather than nursing grievances or relying on assistance from neighboring states would be a fine topic for some future Times editorial, maybe even in the lead spot on a Sunday. That might involve treating the Palestinians as if they had free will rather than as if they were simply passive victims at the mercy of the rest of the world. The danger is that the newspaper’s editorial writers will themselves avoid tackling the issue and will instead simply “leave the Palestinians in the dust, a worrisome prospect.”

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.  

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Times Out

    The Times’ real concern is that if the thaw between Israel and the key Sunni states continues the world will discover that the Palestinian cause has been a hoax all along. The Times has seventy years’ of files demonstrating that they never even considered that possibility, and it will demonstrate that it publishes what it wants people to believe, rather than the news.

  • because Egypt borders Gaza and ruled it between 1959 and 1967?

    should be

    because Egypt borders Gaza and ruled it between 1949 and 1967?

  • stevenl

    As long as the West hopes to extract something from the ME, it will not fully support Israel.

  • stevenl

    The NYT uses its leverage to support the permanence of the corrupted US elite at the helm of the US govt. Just like in the “good old days” of socialism and communism. Slowly becoming the American Pravda or the French L’Humanité from the FPC)!

  • SE Florida

    Self hating Jewish owners of the NY Times allow the ultra leftists to have a field day with Israel. For years. It never seems to get better. What does this prove? The owners of the NY Times aren’t really Jewish, then?

  • nat cheiman

    Palestinians are always using 1948 as their starting point.
    The story is now tiresome.
    They need to start behaving

  • Judith Davis

    When will people recognize The Times refusal to hold Palestinians accountable for their own behavior is a form of patronizing racism?

  • Shalom-Hillel

    Ira Stoll does a great service. He knows the NY Times’ tactics so well, and he is very adept at laying them bare.

  • ese periodico actua al mejor estilo medianita, con su odio gratuito a israel, sarta de paganos anti judíos

  • rulierose

    “the soft bigotry of low expectations”–that wonderful phrase describes the western view of the Palestinians. they are treated like retarded children: not responsible for their actions.

  • Yaakov

    What is it with this obsession with The New York Times?

    • rulierose

      it should be obvious, but I’ll explain since you apparently don’t get it.

      the NYT is still considered the paper of record, which means a lot of people read it. the fact that they consistently and deliberately insult and diss Israel is troubling. Algemeiner, which is written by non-self-hating Jews, is concerned about that.

      any other questions, like how much is 2+2?

    • David


      1) The last decade has seen major increase in quantity and vitriol of anti-Israel propaganda in US news media. 2016 is a turning point. Jews are refusing to accept and ignore this propaganda, and are telling our story.

      2) There are many news outlets peddling anti-Israel rhetoric. However, Algemeiner is based in New York. Therefore Algemeiner writers keep a close watch specifically on NYT.

      3) The real question to liberals is: what is with the obsession with Israel?

  • Jake Holan

    The NYTimes has seen better years when it come to Israel and Jews, I just don’t remember when. If G-d forbid we experience a horrific loss of life the Times will cut us slack for a week or two possible; then again they may start to introduce a counter argument a day later to justify why we deserved it. I suppose you need to be Jew or Israeli who feel you are a Jew or Israel to feel the ice pick go through your heart each time this happens, and it’s often. The Times is certainly not the worst but they maintain an arrogance of being the best, neutral and keeping the editorializing on the Editorial. This may be a shock to the Owners and Publisher of the Times but if you believe that you meet the standard for being the Best, neutral(objective) and not editorializing articles with sharp downward slope when it comes to Israel; you would be in Dreamworld. The only qualifier that you do meet or exceed is arrogance.