Fantasies of Israel’s Disappearance
Just when it seems that The New York Times might finally set aside, at least for the moment, its unrelenting obsession with Israeli “occupation” of “Palestinian” land, it falls into the same anti-Israel rut that has long framed its discomfort with the Jewish state. Sometimes in bits and pieces, other times in columns by its own journalists or outside contributors, the consensus invariably is to blame Israel first.
So it was in its May 21 edition. In his front-page article, Jerusalem Bureau Chief Patrick Kingsley revealed his obsession with Israeli “occupation” of the “West Bank” (its Biblical homeland of Judea and Samaria). Seemingly unknown to him, that label referred to Jordan’s occupation of territory west of the Jordan River between 1948 and 1967. So it remained until Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War restored the land Biblically identified as Judea and Samaria to the Jewish state. Kingsley seems either oblivious to that history or determined to disregard it.
In a companion article Lara Jakes, diplomatic correspondent for the Times Washington bureau, ignores a different reality. She refers to “more than 5.7 million Palestinian refugees” who receive financial aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Administration (UNRWA). The agency is a scam; there are only an estimated 30,000 actual Palestinian refugees still alive. But their descendants, unto eternity it seems, will continue to be labeled “refugees” so that UNRWA employees will continue to have jobs and Israel can perpetually be blamed (in the Times) for the Palestinian “refugee” problem. Recognizing the scam, the Trump administration halted lavish UNRWA funding but, predictably, President Joe Biden has restored it.
The centerpiece of the Times trifecta of criticism of Israel was a column by Yousef Munayyer, identified as “a writer and scholar at the Arab Center in Washington, DC” Munayyer — born in the city of Lod, a site of intense fighting during Israel’s War of Independence — grew up in New Jersey and (like the renowned Palestinian advocate Edward Said) became a staunch advocate from the land of the United States for presumed Palestinian rights in the Land of Israel.
As Munayyer sees it, the Hamas-initiated Gaza war represents the Palestinian goal of “breaking free from the shackles of Israel’s system of oppression.” These “shackles” include “the impending expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.” The only problem (ignored by Munayyer) is that these homes are not theirs; in 2008 the Israel Supreme Court affirmed that the property is owned by the Sephardi Jewish community, which purchased it more than a century ago.
Grounded in this false claim, Munayyer writes: “Palestinians across the land who identified with the experience of being dispossessed by Israel rose up, together.” In translation, Palestinians were justified in pursuing their false claim of property ownership with waves of violence in Jerusalem and a cascade of rockets from Gaza. Palestinian defiance, especially in Gaza where Arabs are “caged and besieged,” exposed the “ugliness” of Israeli rule. The only problem is that Israel does not rule Gaza; Hamas does, and bears full responsibility for launching waves of rockets — against Israel.
Munayyer seems to favor the (preposterous) goal of “equal rights in a single state if the two-state solution fails.” But the two-state solution has failed because Palestinians have repeatedly rejected it, preferring the disappearance of Israel, by war if necessary. The alternative, for Munayyer, is another fantasy: “equal rights in a single state.” That would only require Israel to relinquish its identity as the Jewish state that it is, and always will be — a state, he fails to notice, where twenty per cent of its population are Arab citizens.
But even a two-state “paradigm,” Munayyer suggests, is “dead.” Why? Because, predictably, “Israel buried it under settlements long ago.” In the end Munayyer is the perfect New York Times advocate for the disappearance of the world’s only Jewish state. Not coincidentally, it located in the Biblical homeland of the Jewish people.
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of twelve books, including Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel 1896-2016, selected for Mosaic by Ruth Wisse and Martin Kramer as a Best Book for 2019