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March 18, 2018 8:25 am

New York Times Insists Palestinians Don’t Want to Talk Peace

avatar by Ira Stoll


The New York Times. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The New York Times, in a comical reversal of its usual point of view, has started depicting the Palestinian Arabs as not interested in peace.

For years Times news coverage has portrayed Israeli settlements and “right-wing” or “hardline” Israeli leaders as the obstacles to peace.

Yet this month, the Times seems to have reversed course, repeatedly insisting that the Palestinians are not interested in peace negotiations. A March 6 front page above the fold news article by the current Times Jerusalem bureau chief, David Halbfinger, and a former one, Peter Baker, included in its fourth paragraph this passage:

Mr. Trump insisted that he still had ‘a good chance’ of forging peace and expressed optimism that the Palestinians were ready to return to discussions. ‘The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table very badly,’ he said, despite evidence to the contrary.

Similar language turned up again in an article by Mark Landler in the March 12 Times: “Mr. Trump still sounds committed. Welcoming the prime minister to the Oval Office, he insisted that he still had a ‘very good chance’ to broker an accord. ‘The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table very badly,’ he said. There is little evidence to support that.”

Who do you think has a better view of what the Palestinian Arabs are really thinking? Trump, who almost certainly has access to extensive and highly sophisticated American and allied intelligence that gives him a look into the private communications of Palestinian leaders? Or the Times, which is taking the public pronunciations and posturing of those Palestinian leaders at face value?

It’s almost as if the Times is more invested in its storyline about President Trump being out of touch and uninformed than it is in the storyline about the lack of progress in the peace negotiations being entirely, or at least primarily, Israel’s fault. It reminds me a bit of the North Korea situation, in which the Times was telling us that Trump’s recklessness was going to lead America into war, and all of a sudden the North Koreans surprised nearly everyone (though not Scott Adams) by showing up at the bargaining table.

Maybe Trump knows about some “evidence” related to the Palestinian Arabs that the Times journalists do not know about.

I don’t have the intelligence access that Trump does. It does seems to me, though, that while the Palestinian Arab leadership may not be interested in peace, it definitely benefits from the existence of a peace process, or being at the table. Palestinian Arab participation unlocks all kinds of American money and goodwill, along with Israeli concessions, that otherwise might be withheld.

Anyway, this is one of those items that is worth marking, keeping an eye on, and checking back in on in six months or a year. If some sort of peace talks resume, then President Trump was correct, and the Times‘ smugness about “evidence” was just journalists being snookered by Palestinian Arab publicity. If the Palestinians indeed refuse to come to the table, then Trump was wrong (though, in fairness, he just said they “want” to, not that they actually will) and the Times was correct. In the second case, expect the Times to blame Trump and Netanyahu for the Palestinians staying away from the bargaining table — a storyline the newspaper is already advancing.

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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