New York Times Tilts Toward One-State Solution on Israel-Palestine
The New York Times offered readers a signal of what the post-James Bennet, post-Bari Weiss opinion and editorial pages would look like with an op-ed and podcast by Peter Beinart proposing the elimination of the Jewish state of Israel and its replacement with a country Beinart calls “Israel-Palestine,” “a Jewish home that is also, equally, a Palestinian home,” “a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.”
With its reaction to the peace agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, the Times is doubling down on the anti-Zionism of Beinart and his internal champion at the Times, senior opinion editor Max Strasser.
The Times published an op-ed piece by Diana Buttu, a Canadian-born champion of the Orwellian-named “One Democratic State Campaign.” As recently as May, Buttu compared Israel to the Ku Klux Klan, “Just as we would think it unfathomable to dialogue with the KKK, or to accommodate the KKK, so too we must stop coddling Israeli settler-colonialism.”
Under the Times headline, “The U.A.E-Israel Flight Is Nothing To Celebrate,” Buttu wrote, “Rather than continuing to press for a two-state solution, the P.L.O. should instead press for equal rights. … Mr. Abbas and other Palestinian leaders should aim to provide a workable strategy for achieving our rights rather than working to appease Israel, and the international donor community, by adopting an anti-apartheid strategy.”
The Buttu article follows the Beinart-Strasser line, that Zionism is South Africa-style racist apartheid and a one-state solution is preferable to a Jewish state and a Palestinian-Arab state.
More provocatively, this approach is subtly spreading beyond the op-ed page and into the staff editorials that represent the Times’ official, institutional point of view. A recent Times editorial concluded:
A true Middle East peace deal will require an accommodation with the 4.75 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, a people who have been denied a homeland for more than seven decades. Their plight will continue to draw sympathy and censure from around the world, and their frustration will continue to fuel violence. The two-state solution remains the only viable alternative to either the current state of affairs, or a single country in which Jews are a minority.
This is wrong on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin, but start with the number 4.75 million. The CIA World Factbook lists the population of Gaza at 1.9 million and the population of the West Bank at 2.9 million, of whom about 630,000 are Israeli settlers. By that reckoning, the Times is overcounting the number of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza by about half a million.
Next is the claim that these people “have been denied a homeland for more than seven decades.” Well, that is odd. What is the Palestinian Authority if not a homeland for the people who live there? Between 1948 and 1967, Gaza was under Egyptian control and the West Bank and East Jerusalem were under Jordanian control. Who was doing the “denying” then? The “more than seven decades” phrase makes it clear the Times’ issue is not so much 1967 and the “occupation” that followed but rather the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948.
The Times claims that the plight of the Palestinians “will continue to draw sympathy and censure from around the world” but what the UAE and Bahrain deals show is that this “sympathy” is just so much lip service. The Palestinians will draw sympathy from editors at the New York Times but not so much elsewhere. Similarly, it isn’t the “frustration” of the Palestinians that is fueling violence but rather various dictators and demagogues exploiting the situation for their own purposes. There are plenty of ways to react to frustration other than violence that are more productive. The Times claims “The two-state solution remains the only viable alternative to either the current state of affairs, or a single country in which Jews are a minority.” But “the current state of affairs” is changing as more countries like the UAE and Bahrain accept Israel’s existence and as Israel’s Jewish population grows. The Times editorial doesn’t express a preference against “a single country in which Jews are a minority,” it just describes it as a possible alternative.
One interesting question is whether this point of view is confined to the editorial and op-ed pages or whether it spills over to the news columns. Buttu is increasingly and frequently quoted in Times news articles. She turned up in a page one news article in December 2017, in Times news articles in November 2017 and September 2017, in July 2014, and in multiple other instances. She’s hardly ever identified as Canadian-born, though the Times frequently dwells on the supposed European origins of Israel’s founding generation.
It’s a pretty good sign of how far out on the ideological margins the New York Times is. Arab muslim leaders like those of the UAE and Bahrain turn out to be more willing to accept the reality of modern Israel than are the editors at the New York Times. Perhaps it would be a step up to replace Strasser, Beinart and co. with some up-and-coming journalists from the UAE or Bahrain. It would help the Times meet its oft-stated goal of diversifying its editorial workforce, and it might just make the newspaper more pro-Israel.
Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.