Friday, August 29, 2003

Fair and Balanced, Not
I love the way Middle East correspondents pretend to be balanced. The husband/wife team of John Ward Anderson and Molly Moore reported that "All Sides Failed to Follow 'Road Map'." The happy couple seem to be saying, "See, we're not biased, we criticize all sides!" Of course that's true if each side is equally to blame. But that wasn't the case here.

In a nutshell Anderson and Moore say that the PA refused to fight terror, Israel refused to restrict settlements and the United States refused to make sure both sides lived up to their parts of the bargain. (Later in the article Anderson and Moore quote Saeb Erekat
"There's nothing wrong with the substance of the road map . . . but we need to implement the road map of the quartet, not the road map of Sharon and his 14 reservations."
In other words, America should have leaned on Israel. To back this up they quote ". . . of Israel's most prominent political scientists and philosophers," Yaron Ezrachi:
"The principal cause of Palestinian humiliation and despair is that the settlements have not only not been removed, but are expanding constantly. . .This is absolutely outrageous that the U.S. can let them get away with this. . . . Sharon should be pushed very strongly to remove settlements as a key to the U.S. ability to demand from Palestinians that they dismantle terror."
This supports Erekat and contradicts Dr. Dore Gold who had been quoted earlier saying that peace couldn't begin without security. Anderson and Moore don't bring any viewpoint to support Gold.

Aside from stacking the deck against Israel, there are a few claims toward the beginning of the article that collapse under the weight of their internal contradiction:
Critics said the plan relied too heavily on incremental measures that avoided forcing tough decisions on the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians: the location of borders, dismantling Jewish settlements, the final status of Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees to homes in Israel.

Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian pollster and political analyst, said future negotiations may have to "recognize that the process of step-by-step diplomacy and responding to violence doesn't work, and the only way is to reach a comprehensive deal right away."

Shikaki and other analysts also questioned the utility of supplanting the Palestinians' elected leader, Yasser Arafat, with an appointed government acceptable to the United States and Israel -- a tactic that has garnered limited success because Arafat continues to hold most of the power.
Note the claims here that 1) there was a need for a comprehensive deal and that 2) it was a mistake to replace Yasser Arafat "the Palestinians' elected leader."

Now I'm not a reporter but I have a pretty fair memory. What happened in July 2000 in Camp David Maryland? Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Arafat a comprehensive deal to end the conflict. Arafat refused. To argue that what the peace process is missing is a comprehensive deal and that it needs Arafat is to fall victim to willful amnesia.

If someone said, fifteen years ago that the PLO would control Gaza and various cities in the West Bank of the Jordan River, that person would have to submit for drug testing. Israel has allowed a lot and given a lot to the PA. It has paid a high price. And it hasn't even realized the basic promise of non-violence that Arafat made ten years that allowed the terrorist to be accepted in polite company.

Anderson and Moore and any other reporter may write that all sides are at fault, but the position of the PA in the past ten years is greatly improved and expanded; while Israel has ceded real territory, empowered enemy and not become more secure in the deal. To miss that truth is to miss the clearest theme of the Oslo years. One that unfortunately persists to today.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and SoccerDad.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Hello Mudda. Hello Fadda. Here I am at Camp Sahida
Back in July Palestinian Media Watch reported that Wafa Idris, the PA's first female suicide bomber had a summer camp named for her. Last week, PMW reported a camp named for Ayyat Al Akhras. Akhras killed teenager Rachel Levy and security guard, Haim Smadar in a Jerusalem supermarket. Alas little is remembered of her victims, particularly of Mr. Smadar. As he struggled with the murderess, Smadar reportedly said, "You are not coming in here. You and I will blow up here." His bravery was unable to save Rachel Levy, but he probably saved a number of others. (I wish that PMW would post their e-mails to their website, so I could link them directly, instead of relying on others.)
Crossposted to IsraPundit and SoccerDad.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Reports from an "Industry"
In yesterday's New York Times Don Van Natta, tries to give us a view of the terror "industry:"
As the devastating attacks on civilians in Jerusalem and Baghdad last week demonstrated, suicide bombings have become a grimly efficient terrorist industry. The industry is flourishing worldwide; bomb-makers are in especially high demand.

Pioneered by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon two decades ago and adopted as a routine tool by Hamas and Al Qaeda — most notably in the attacks in New York and Washington two years ago — the suicide bombing campaign was adopted in recent months in Iraq, where a truck bombing at the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad last Tuesday may turn out to be terrorism sponsored by the sympathizers of a deposed state.

Of the terrorism industry's two raw materials — bombs and people — people are far easier to come by. In the militant corners of the Muslim world, signing up for such a mission infuses the volunteer with an urgent purpose and the promise of glory. It seems unlikely that the bombs will ever outnumber the people eager to deliver them.
I object to the characterization of terror as an "industry" but I'll grant him that. But Von Natta makes the recruiting of suicide bombers seem much too easy.
Ismail Abu Shanab, the prominent Hamas leader who was killed Thursday by six missiles fired from an Israeli helicopter into his station wagon, was asked in 1999 why so many people were eager to serve as suicide bombers. He said there was only one thing a person needs to qualify: "A moment of courage."

"The person who explodes a bomb does not need a lot of training," Mr. Shanab told Jessica Stern, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the author of "Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill," during a 1999 interview in Gaza.
This moment of courage is not an epiphany; it is, rather, the end product of indoctrination, recruitment and training. As Daniel Pipes wrote in "Arafat's Suicide Factory":
Convincing healthy individuals to blow themselves up is obviously not easy, but requires ideas and institutions. The process begins with the Palestinian Authority (PA) inculcating two things into its population, starting with the children: a hatred of Jews and a love of death. School curricula, camp activities, TV programming and religious indoctrination all portray Israelis in a Nazi-style way, as sub-human being worthy of killing; and then deprecate the instinct for self-preservation, telling impressionable young people that sacrificing their lives is the most noble of all goals.

The system works: Hassan reports that "hordes of young men" clamor to be sent to their own obliteration. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have established a process of selection based in the mosques, where "a notably zealous youth" ready for martyrdom gets noted by clerics who recommend him for selection.

Those who make the cut enter a protracted, highly supervised, and disciplined regimen of spiritual studies and military-like training. These adepts are taught to see suicide operations as a way to "open the door to Paradise" for themselves and their families. "I love martyrdom" says one such "living martyr."
A lot of effort is undertaken to create that "moment of courage" and Van Natta simply glosses over it. True he mentions the infrastructure, but attaches little importance to it.

Instead Van Natta's effort to "understand" is voiced by two terrorism experts. One is Jessica Stern:
His assessment led Ms. Stern to conclude that suicide bombers are a terrorist organization's most economically viable way to conduct its bloody business. "It's certainly cost-effective," Ms. Stern said, "both financially and in terms of the number of terrorist lives ultimately put at risk."
"The fact that they've been able to sustain the tactic suggests that this tactic is applauded in the community, and it reflects a society under considerable stress," said Brian Jenkins, a terrorism expert with the RAND Corporation. "I think we'd all agree, and it's not just a Western view, that suicide bombing is abnormal. The fact that abnormal behavior is applauded reflects abnormal conditions. If normal conditions are restored, then normal behavior should return — at least they'd be less tolerant of abnormal behavior."
To Ms. Stern it's an economic consideration; to Mr. Jenkins it's a reaction to "abnormality." Both seem like they're making excuses for the terror. The main motivation is hatred. Not economics and not abnormality.

Fiamma Nirenstein uses MEMRI to document what Pipes referred to as "...religious indoctrination all portray Israelis in a Nazi-style way, as sub-human being worthy of killing..." in an article "How Suicide Bombers are Made." An excerpt:
From such hatred it is but a short step to incitement and acts of violence. Arab schools teach not just that Israel is evil, but that extirpating this evil is the noblest of callings. As a text for Syrian tenth graders puts it, "The logic of justice obligates the application of the single verdict [on the Jews] from which there is no escape: namely, that their criminal intentions be turned against them and that they be exterminated" (emphasis added). In Gaza and the West Bank, textbooks at every grade level praise the young man who elects to become a shahid, a martyr for the cause of Palestine and Islam.
The pervasive hatred that is spread about Israel is what fuels the desire of young men to obliterate themselves and take as many Jews with them as possible. It is only when that hatred stops - and there is little sign of it happening in the near future - that there would be any hope for peace. Until then the best way to prevent the suicide bombers is to kill as many of the organizers as possible making it harder to keep the factory running.

(Snide Note: In Thomas Friedman's column this past Sunday, "Fighting 'The Big One'," he derides "terrorism experts,"
By the way, how do you get to be a terrorism expert? Can you get a B.A. in terrorism or do you just have to appear on Fox News?
Maybe it's appearing in the NY Times not FOX news that confers status upon a person. Both Stern and Jenkins have been published on the op-ed page of the Times. In fact, Stern was just there last week arguing that America had made Iraq into a terrorist haven. In fact Stern was arguing the opposite of what Friedman wrote in that very column:
I have no doubt that the U.S. presence in Iraq is attracting all sorts of terrorists and Islamists to oppose the U.S. I also have no doubt that politicians and intellectuals in the nearby Arab states are rooting against America in Iraq because they want Arabs and the world to believe that the corrupt autocracies that have so long dominated Arab life, and failed to deliver for their people, are the best anyone can hope for.

But I totally disagree that this is a sign that everything is going wrong in Iraq. The truth is exactly the opposite.

We are attracting all these opponents to Iraq because they understand this war is The Big One. They don't believe their own propaganda. They know this is not a war for oil. They know this is a war over ideas and values and governance. They know this war is about Western powers, helped by the U.N., coming into the heart of their world to promote more decent, open, tolerant, women-friendly, pluralistic governments by starting with Iraq — a country that contains all the main strands of the region: Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.
While this part of the Friedman column is on target, he eventually descends into gratuitous Bush bashing. Still, if an expert like Stern, thinks the opposite of him, why doesn't Friedman mock her? I don't think it's about being correct; it's about being right or rather right-wing. So Friedman starts his bashing early with a gratuitious slap at FOX.)

Crossposted on Israpundit and SoccerDad.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Kenneth Lasson critiques Middle East Coverage
I didn't link to this story soon enough, but the cache is still available via Google! Kenneth Lasson surveyed various Middle East correspondents. Though he gives each a chance to present his side of the story Lasson concludes:
For a variety of reasons, many of them understandable, foreign correspondents covering Israel frequently betray a narrow a-historical focus. In their effort to be balanced, they too often succumb to an overarching, intuitive obeisance to the illusory journalistic rule that both sides of any story must be reported equally.

Even though few of them buy into the notion of moral equivalency, their choice of language implies otherwise. In doing so, the media are largely insensitive to the idea that words can wound.

This strict taboo against the term "terrorist" at The New York Times, The Washington Post and at Reuters is adherence to a blind principle. Homicide bombers are instantaneously transmogrified into "militants," a much weaker word that could equally be applied to freedom fighters or rock-throwing teenagers.

The same is true with "cycle of violence" — implying that a military response to terrorism is no different than an attack against women and children riding a bus.

In fact there is no circular relationship here between two combatants. If Palestinian terror were to cease entirely, the IDF would certainly cease its military actions. But if the IDF were to disappear, there is little reason to believe that the growing number of radicalized Palestinians would abandon their original charter — which calls for a jihad to "obliterate Israel" and "raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine."

Likewise, the catch-all "extremists on both sides" suggests that a maker of bombs filled with nails covered in rat poison is no different from a settler voicing nationalistic rhetoric.

Why so much of the media appear to miss this logic and reality is not readily apparent, unless they're just caught up in the journalistic jargon of the day. It may be difficult to supply full and accurate historical context to every moving news event, but it is not impossible.
There's a lot more and it's worth your while.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and SoccerDad.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Famous Last Words
Martyrdom Operation Does Not Contradict Truce - Ismail Abu Shanab, reported August 21, 2003. I guess the Israelis granted him his wish. Now he's a martyr too.
Crossposted at IsraPundit and SoccerDad.
The Sick Hudna Joke
Various headlines gave the impression that Israel's hit of Ismail Abu Shanab and his body guards destroyed the ceasefire. (Question: if he was a political leader of Hamas why did he need bodyguards? They don't help much against rockets and the Israelis don't generally send assassins against these guys? Might he have needed muscle to protect himself from other "political" enemies?) If the Israeli hit destroyed the ceasefire, then why did the slaughter of twenty innocents only "endanger" it?

Still there's an occasional bit of truth in reporting. In this case in the Washington Post reported that "Israeli Strike Kills Hamas Political Figure." But buried deep down in the article is an acknowledgement that it wasn't much of a ceasefire:
The 53-day cease-fire had brought a sense of relief and tranquillity to Israel, with people streaming to parks, malls, restaurants and outdoor cafes that they had shunned for more than two years, fearing Palestinian attacks. Israeli military officials claimed that the number of alerts they received about possible attacks had dropped from about 70 a day before the cease-fire to about 15 or 20 a day when it was being observed. Israeli officials said that this week the number of such alerts had jumped to pre-truce levels.
At least Moore and Anderson acknowledge that there were still 15 to 20 threats a day during the hudna, even if they ignored the actual attacks. And even if they ignored the Qassam missiles that Hamas built undisturbed.

Still it's important to remember that the Hudna simply reduced the current threats without eliminating them, but it certainly enabled future attacks. Claiming that this was an important accomplishment that Israel fatally undermined is just a sick joke.
Crossposted at IsraPundit and SoccerDad.
Blind Eyes
There's little I can add to Joe Schick's comments on yesterday's Richard Cohen column. I'll reiterate that the claim of dispossession has allowed Arafat to legitimize his terrorism. It's never worked anywhere else. (A few years ago, Turkey arrested and tried Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Turkish PKK terrorist group. They sentenced him to death. An NY Times editorial urged Turkey not to execute Ocalan, but never once did the editorial take the approach that Kurdish longing for a homeland somehow justified the PKK's violence.) That, of course, is backwards. The means should reflect on the cause. The terror should have delegitimized the cause (which was never compromise but the destruction of Israel. Instead, regarding Palestinian terror, the cause (or ends) justified the means. That's exactly what Cohen did here.

But there's a cost to such moral obtuseness. One of the late Michael Kelly's best columns was "When Innocents are the Enemy" published September 12, 2001. The whole column is excellent but pay attention to the following paragraph in particular:
If it is morally acceptable to murder, in the name of a necessary blow for freedom, a woman on a Tel Aviv street, or to blow up a disco full of teenagers, or to bomb a family restaurant -- then it must be morally acceptable to drive two jetliners into a place where 50,000 people work. In moral logic, what is the difference? If the murder of innocent people is for whatever reason excusable, it is excusable; if it is legitimate, it is legitimate. If acceptable on a small scale, so too on a grand.
For good men to excuse one form of terror, it is to invite more terror.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and SoccerDad.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Gevihah ben Pesisah Revisited
According to MEMRI a number of Egyptian lawyers are looking to bring a class action suit against Jews for stealing Egyptian money at the time of the Exodus.
Dr. Hilmi: "… Since the Jews make various demands of the Arabs and the world, and claim rights that they base on historical and religious sources, a group of Egyptians in Switzerland has opened the case of the so-called 'great exodus of the Jews from Pharaonic Egypt.' At that time, they stole from the Pharaonic Egyptians gold, jewelry, cooking utensils, silver ornaments, clothing, and more, leaving Egypt in the middle of the night with all this wealth, which today is priceless."
I don't know if the Arab world really wants to go there as Article 20 of the Palestinian National Charter says:
Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.
But what's really odd, is that we've been here before. The Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin page 91:a tells the story of Gevihah ben Pesisah. At the time of Alexander the Great, the Egyptians brought a claim against the Jews of the time. They said that it says in the Torah that the Jews borrowed (or more literally asked for) gold and jewelry from the Egyptians when they left after 210 years of slavery and took the wealth with them.

Gevihah ben Pesisah said to the sages of the time, "Let me argue the case of the Jews. If I win the argument fine, if not you can say 'Well it was only Gevihah ben Pesisah who lost.'" (The implication here is that, despite his humility, Gevihah ben Pesisah was himself quite a formidable sage in his own right.)

When the case came before Alexander, Gevihah ben Pesisah countered the Egyptian charges by asking, "How much would it cost to pay 600,000 workers (the number of Jews enslaved by the Egyptians) wages for 210 years?" Alexander accepted the argument and the Egyptian case was dismissed.
Crossposted on Israpundit and SoccerDad.
What's incredible is the way the New York Times does all it can - whether in its news reporting or its choice of opinion pieces - to question the strategy of the Bush administration. One view of what the post-Saddam troops in Iraq are doing is serving as flypaper. In other words, the American troops are now serving as targets to Al-Qaeda and like minded vermin. They will come to attack the American troops, and the Americans will neutralize them - one way or another. That's possibly what President Bush was referring to when he said to bring them on.
The NY Times of course doesn't see things that way. Yesterday, in an essay titled "How America Created a Terrorist Haven" Jessica Stern wrote:
Of course, we should be glad that the Iraq war was swifter than even its proponents had expected, and that a vicious tyrant was removed from power. But the aftermath has been another story. America has created — not through malevolence but through negligence — precisely the situation the Bush administration has described as a breeding ground for terrorists: a state unable to control its borders or provide for its citizens' rudimentary needs.

As the administration made clear in its national security strategy released last September, weak states are as threatening to American security as strong ones. Yet its inability to get basic services and legitimate governments up and running in post-war Afghanistan and Iraq — and its pursuant reluctance to see a connection between those failures and escalating anti-American violence — leave one wondering if it read its own report.
But during the past few months the U.S. has scored some victories against Al-Qaeda, isn't it possible that this a result of ridding Al-Qaeda of a significant ally and forcing them into guerilla actions leading to the apprehensions of some significant cogs? Speculation, of course, but hardly unreasonable.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Puppet or Rock?
Saul Singer in National Review online is worrying a lot about the Sharon government:
How did Israel get into this predicament? The same way that the Oslo process died a death of a thousand violations, each deemed too small to blow the whistle and hold the Palestinians accountable for their commitments. Once commitments are replaced by arbitrary judgments by the U.S. and the Palestinians of what Israel will tolerate, the pressure on the Palestinians is not to comply, but to continue to push the envelope: In other words, to escalate.

The products of this indulgence are devastating not only to Israel, but to the Palestinians and the Arab world as a whole. Indulgence of the PA during this particular ceasefire is an extension of the tolerance for the violent Arab rejection of Israel that has existed since before its inception.
Surprisingly, Amnon Lord apparently sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

But having seen him step toward that map, several ministers - no less attentive to public opinion - have recently decided to take an adamant stand on requiring the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and not handing anything over to the Palestinians for nothing. They are ministers Shaul Mofaz, Silvan Shalom and Netanyahu - and Sharon is toeing their line.

There's nothing like a Hizbullah flare-up on the northern border to illustrate, to Israelis and those abroad, what lies in store for Israel behind the fence in Judea. There is no indication that the prime minister is planning to buy peace and domestic quiet at the price of political concessions. Quite the contrary: Defense Minister Mofaz recently told Defense Ministry planning officials that in the next bout with the Palestinians, Israel will no longer adopt a strategy of limited confrontation, and will opt for strategic victory.

Should the Palestinians infringe the cease-fire, said Mofaz, "the Palestinian Authority's historical role will come to an end."

As far as Israel is concerned, it will be the end of experimenting with the lives of Israelis for no other reason than to placate domestic or foreign decision-makers, however powerful these might be.

Crossposted at IsraPundit and SoccerDad.
Israel's Vision Is Fine; Cobban wears Blinders
Last week Helena Cobban published one of the most vile op-ed columns imaginable. Little Green Footballs already noted one blatant distortion: Cobban calls the Arab prisoners that Israel isn't releasing quickly enough "hostages." That point could be sharpened. Alas, by now, I no longer have access to the complete article, but when the NY Times reported on the release of "only" 300 some prisoners, statements reported made it clear that the main focus of the PA is on the actual terrorists. Why? Because it is the PA's way of moral equivalence: Our terrorists are no different from their soldiers, so they don't belong in jail.
I suppose that the worst part of Cobban's column is this:
I write from France, a country that was invaded and occupied by Germany twice during the 20th century. In the process of dealing with those two catastrophes, the French and their allies learned a lot about how to build long-term peace between former enemies.

In 1918, after France and its allies (including the US) brought about the country's first liberation from German occupation, they adopted policies that imposed harsh, long-term punishments on Germany and its people. Those policies helped incubate Adolf Hitler.

In 1945, after the Allies were successful in their second attempt to liberate France and the other German-occupied lands, they adopted a much smarter policy toward Germany.

By the time the Allies reached Berlin, Hitler and some top lieutenants had killed themselves. The Allies put 22 suspected top Nazis on public trial. (Some were found not guilty. Some were hanged, and others imprisoned.)
First of all, she blames Nazism on the allies of WWI for adopting harsh measures vis a vis Germany after WWI. But look at the implication here. - We can learn how to restore friendliness between two enemies by looking at France that was occupied by Germany in WWII. Wait a second. That makes the Palestinians the equivalent of the French and Israel the equivalent of Nazi Germany.

On the subject of occupation, it's worth asking how does Cobban feel about the Syrian occupation of Lebanon? In a piece of pro-Syrian propaganda Cobban allows that "...its troops shouldn't be in Lebanon." How nice, but he "o" word doesn't escape her keyboard. Her solution for any problems with Syria is to pressure Israel to cede the Golan Heights to "Baby Eye Doc" Assad and to give up its nuclear weapons.

My father has long tracked the academic fellow travelers of Edward Said, and Cobban is one of his "favorites." Much to its discredit she finds sympathetic ears at APN forums. But this article demonstrates that she is not only morally obtuse, she is a borderline antisemite (for equating Israel with Nazi Germany).
Cross Posted on IsraPundit and SoccerDad.

Monday, August 11, 2003

I guess the biggest frustration with media coverage of is the focus on the security fence and the Palestinian prisoners. On the former, Israel is said to be increasing conflict in the words of the New York Times's Ethan Bronner
The problem is that is not what is happening. The fence is not being built on the likely border between two future states but is snaking into the West Bank in ways that make daily life, already burdensome, even harder for Palestinians. Qalqilya is not only blocked off from Israel to its west. It is entirely surrounded by the barrier so it will be isolated it from West Bank Jewish settlements to its east. The result for Qalqilya is that it has become — there is no other word for it — a ghetto, a term with chilling resonance for Jews whose forbears were restricted to such areas across Europe not many generations ago
And on the latter, the prisoner release is portrayed as being inadequate to reduce Palestinian grievances as Greg Myre reports
Israel was not required to make the releases under the Middle East peace plan known as the road map, but it said it hoped to help the sputtering peace negotiations. It had the opposite effect. Palestinian leaders — and even those freed — described it as a hollow gesture, since most of the prisoners had only a short time left to serve, or had not been charged at all. The Palestinians said they would not be satisfied until Israel freed most or all of the roughly 6,000 Palestinians who remain imprisoned. But many have been directly involved in violence against Israelis, and Israel has said that it will not release such prisoners.

But in both these cases the analyst or reporter ignores the bigger question. Bronner never really faces the question as to why Israel requires the fence; he is more eager to draw implicit parallels between Israel and Nazi Germany. (Is Tony Auth's cartoon really worse than this?) Nor does he consider that the Palestinian polity, which happily advocates violence against Israel might be paying the price for its extremism.
Ethan Bronner's dishonesty is emphasized by a report by Elizabeth Bumiller from Texas.
On the construction of a barrier in the West Bank to separate Israelis from Palestinians, Mr. Bush said that he was talking to Israeli leaders about "all aspects" of the barrier. "I made it clear I thought the fence was a problem, and we're talking with them and we'll continue to work on this issue," Mr. Bush said.

The president ignored a question about whether he would reduce loan guarantees to Israel to try to persuade the Israelis to stop construction of the barrier. Democrats have sharply criticized the Bush administration after reports that the White House was considering such a move to pressure Israel.
I don't doubt that Bumiller reports honestly. I can believe that no reporter asked Bush why the fence was so terrible if it wasn't on the Road Map or why didn't the PA respond more graciously to the prisoner release that wasn't on the Road Map. Reporters don't think like that. They frame a story - often unfairly - and become captive to the groupthink that follows.
Still, President Bush could have helped matters by not evading the question of pressure on Israel, and said something like, "Israel has abided by all elements of the Road Map so far. We have some disagreements but they are minor. On the other hand the Palestinian Authority hasn't taken the first step in honoring its obligations. We will excuse Mr. Abbas for a short time because his position is weak, but there are limits to our patience."
Now I still think that such a formula would be too "evenhanded." But I could live with it because the president would be using his bully pulpit to minimize American differences and maybe stop some journalistic tongues from wagging too much over said differences. It's not the President's job to be pro-Israel; it is his job to promote democracy over terror. His diffidence in this area is a significant failing.
I suppose Greg Myre deserves credit for at least acknowledging that prisoner releases are not part of the "Road Map." But still the bulk of his article is devoted to publicizing the Palestinian grievance, not examining whether it is warranted.
A few weeks ago Israel released "refrigerator bomber" Ahmed Jbarra. Did he express any appreciation for his early release from a life sentence? No. Actually after being named a special advisor to Yasser Arafat he used his position to advocate the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. In short order one Israeli soldier was kidnapped and murdered. Two more young Jews are missing in the north. Not only hasn't Jbarra's release made peace more likely, it has hurt Israel. Does Myre even question his assumption that a prisoner release would help the peace? Nope. Objective analysis must be sacrificed to accomodate the Palestinian interpretation of the Road Map and the strengthening of Mahmoud Abbas. The means must be supported even if it means ignoring the ends.
Jbarra's lack of contrition is nothing new. It should be clear to anyone that Israel's prisoner releases are dangerous and an honest reporter should be investigating the cost of these releases. But there are few, if any, honest reporters.
By focusing on the fence and the prisoners the correspondents of the Times ignore the main problem of PA non-compliance and put Israel under undeserved scrutiny. Peace will never come until the instruments of freedom in the free world stop excusing terror.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and SoccerDad.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Credibility Problems Dog the Washington Post
Today the Washington Post reported that weapons inspector David Kay says that Iraqi scientists are cooperating with the American army in uncovering new WMD sites.
Kay said "solid evidence" is being produced, but he indicated that it would not be made public "until we have full confidence it is solid proof of what we're to talk about." He also emphasized that he had been working for only six weeks and in that time had been "concentrating initially on the biological [weapons programs] and the role of the intelligence and security services."
Funny but just yesterday the Post reported, "Scientists Still Deny Iraqi Arms Programs" sub headlined, "U.S. Interrogations Net No Evidence." It's a remarkable turnaround from yesterday:
No matter the circumstances, all of the scientists interviewed have denied that Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program or developed and hidden chemical or biological weapons since United Nations inspectors left in 1998. Several key Iraqi officials questioned the significance of evidence cited by the Bush administration to suggest that Hussein was stepping up efforts to develop new weapons of mass destruction programs.
So is the Washington Post going to investigate how it apparently got bad information into its report yesterday? (I'm assuming that it's today's report that's accurate.) Doesn't it need to restore confidence in its credibility?

But why hasn't the army found anything yet? Little Green Footballs quoting Ha'aretz suggests an answer!
UPDATE: Sgt. Stryker noticed the same thing.