Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Misplaced Concerns
I bring you back about a year and a half to a Washington Post editorial "Palestinian Realities." The Post asserted then:
As Israeli troops laid siege to the headquarters of the Preventive Security Service -- until now a principal point of contact for Palestinian security cooperation with both Israel and the CIA -- Mr. Sharon's vague references to "uprooting terrorist infrastructure" began to come into focus. Evidently, the Israeli leader would like to forcibly remove much of the leadership of the Palestinian Authority as well as its principal security services -- the very institutions that until now have been Israel's only interlocutors in peace negotiations, and the only available instruments for stopping Palestinian terrorism.
After eight and a half years of Palestinian perfidy the Washington Post was still pretending that the PA's security services were "...instruments for stopping Palestinian terrorism" and that the leadership of the PA were "...Israel's only interlocutors in peace negotiations." The illogic of those assertions is astounding. Even the editorial writers for the Washington Post had to know by then that the PA encouraged terror with word and deed. And it had to know that the only fight the PA made against terror was done with the utmost cynicism and ended in temporary imprisonment at most.

Why am I mentioning the Post's sins now? Because the lack of cynicism the Post's editors displayed toward the PA is in marked contrast to the cynicism with which it treated the Israeli government today. Even now, Mohammed Dahlan - long an aider and abettor of terrorists like Mohammed Dief - is belatedly acknowledging that the armed struggle has backfired. In essence, the now unemployed Dahlan (don't cry for him, I'm sure he's socked plenty of his graft away) is acknowledging that PM Sharon's resistance to the PA's violence have been successful at exacting a high price from the Palestinians. (It unfortunately has been at a high cost to Israel too.) But the Washington Post is acting as if the last three years - not to mention the last ten -never happened.

Today the Post writes in an editorial, "Negotiating Israel's Fence:"
The problem is not the fence itself but its route. Though under a previous government the planned fence largely followed the dividing line between Israel and the West Bank, Mr. Sharon's cabinet has pushed it eastward, so that it enfolds West Bank Jewish settlements, key water wells and rich farmland belonging to Palestinians. Some Israeli officials describe this as a pragmatic effort to put as many Israelis behind the fence as possible; others frankly call it a means of punishing the Palestinians for failing to stop violence. The Israeli cabinet is now set to consider plans for extending the fence another 250 miles. Portions of the new route, as planned, could extend as much as 17 miles inside the West Bank to include a large Jewish settlement and would partition or surround several Palestinian areas near Jerusalem while connecting nearby Jewish settlements to the city.
First of all after ten years of Palestinian betrayals, for the Post to condemn Israel for including more land inside the fence is absurd. The late Eugene Rostow insisted that Israel was never required to withdraw from all of Judea and Samaria by Resolution 242; he should have known, he helped negotiate it. To credit the Palestinian claim that they deserve all of the land captured by Israel in 1967 was wrong ten years ago. It is even worse to work from that assumption today. It's not just that the PA supported terror in contravention to its commitment in 1993; it's that the terror was supported by every strata of Palestinian society. So no, there's nothing wrong with punishing the Palestinians and giving them less land than they claim. There should be a price - a steep price - for perfidy.

The editorial concludes:
Mr. Sharon should not be allowed to use a justifiable security project to advance unacceptable territorial ambitions.
All of those years Arafat talked peace to the West and war to his own people. To my knowledge the Post never called him for using a justifiable cause to excuse unjustifiable terror. The Post's concern here seems seriously misplaced. We wouldn't have reached the point we have if publications like the Post had pointed out that Arafat wasn't looking to create his own state but to destroy an existing one. Instead the Post cravenly chose to excuse the violence of Arafat and his henchman by defining it as part of a legitmate struggle for rights.

If the Post really wants peace it should be encouraging the Bush administration to stand firmly behind Israel and show the Palestinians and the Arab world in general that terrorism is not acceptable in this post 9/11 world.

For too long Palestinian terror has been accepted as an unacceptable part of a legitimate claim. In fact the terror was so much a part of Palestinian nationalism it should have always been viewed as a disqualifying factor. The Post's failure to understand this makes its position indefensible. It will more easily excuse the murders of innocents than the loss of land to a tyranny.

More successful in understanding the Middle East than his unnamed editors is columnist Jim Hoagland. In "Sharon's Balancing Act," he writes:
The once gruff and impetuous general has skillfully deployed a string of maybes and ifs and we-will-sees to checkmate Yasser Arafat and, more crucially, to bind the Bush administration firmly to Sharon's bid to bury a generation of failed Palestinian leadership in the rubble of the West Bank and Gaza.
I don't think that he has everything right; but at least he appears to try to understand Sharon and Israel. His editors did not.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and Soccer Dad.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Plame Out
The question as to whether anyone in the Bush administration revealed that Valerie Plame - the wife of anti-Bush op-ed writer Joseph Wilson - was a CIA agent has been getting a lot of play in the media. InstaPundit links to a lot of the discussions here. Strangely he missed William Hobbs's discussion of the subject.

The whole thing feels phony. The incident occurred two months ago. Why didn't it become an issue right away? If a covert agent was compromised the folks calling loudest for an investigation now should have pounced then. Of course then it might have been harder to make something stick to the president. He was riding higher in the polls. Miguel Estrada was still a nominee. And it appeared that David Kay would be telling us where Iraq's WMDs were hidden. Now President Bush's polls are down; Etrada removed himself for consideration and Kay doesn't seem to have an answer about the WMDs. Bush is more vulnerable than he's been at any point since September 11, 2001. It is thus the perfect time to bring this up. It's the opportunistic feel of the charges that kills their credibility.

In contrast I'd like to bring up something that happened during the Israel election campaign of 1999. In January 1999, the office of Stanley Greenberg, Democratic pollster was broken into. Polling data relating to Ehud Barak's campaign for Prime Minister was stolen. American news organization reported that this incident had parallels to Watergate - implying none too subtly that then Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and/or his Likud party were responsible for the break in. The FBI was called in. Then ... nothing.

I never understood why there was no curiosity as to what happened next. Either there was a break in and it should have been investigated. Or someone (knowingly or unknowingly) made a false charge to police. In the latter case the possibility existed that the investigation was not going in a direction that was comfortable for the administration. Possibly Israeli or American elements sympathetic to Clinton's preference for Barak sought to frame Netanyahu. In which case allies of the president may have been implicated. The case died of disinterest and we never did find out what happened.

Why wasn't Senator Schumer interested in a possible abuse of power by the Clinton administration? We all know the answer. It's not the abuse of power that's the problem for the Senator, it who is doing the abusing that 's important.

Again, what's happening now smacks of nothing more than opportunism and an effort to deal a death of a thousand political cuts to the political aspirations of President Bush.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Three Paragraphs Say it All
Every once in a while a really perceptive writer says something so true and obvious, you wonder why seemingly no one else has mentioned it. The tribulations of these past 3 years have given rise to much analysis, most of which is rubbish. There are those who see through the garbage and express truths with great clarity.

Upon observing the Applebaum shiva house (house of mourning), Yossi Klein Halevi in his excellent "The historic significance of American aliya:"
The restrained dignity of the Applebaum shiva could only come from people who know they are home and whom no force can dislodge. In a contest between one society where murderers are celebrated as martyrs, and another where real martyrs are mourned without hatred or rage, I have no doubt which side will prevail.
That is the difference between the two sides. I pray that his we see the confirmation of optimism in the near future.

In his "Three Years of Arafat's War,"Gerald Steinberg took a dim view of the portrayal of Israel and the Arabs in fashionable diplomatic and journalistic circles
FURTHERMORE, IN contrast to this week's headlines, Arafat's influence continues to disintegrate, albeit gradually. Three years ago when the war began, Palestinian talking heads quickly captured all the media fronts. Journalists and diplomats blindly repeated the mantra condemning Israel for "war crimes" and violations of human rights, while embracing Hamas and Arafat's terrorists as "freedom fighters."
Finally, in "On the Right Side of History," Victor Davis Hanson understands Yasser Arafat all too well
Finally, even facts do matter. Before Mr. Arafat returned to the West Bank, life was far better for his people than during his kleptocracy. He may be adept at screaming from balconies and writing checks to terrorists, but he cannot govern. He was a creation of the Soviet Union and a mobster of the old school, and thus can only do what mobsters do — provide protection for money, order hits, extort from rivals, buy supporters, embezzle from friends, and purchase political legitimacy.
All three of these articles deserve to be read. They are all worthy of your time. All three authors develop significant thoughts and have the ability to cut through the garbage and come directly to the point.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.
Another impression reversed
Earlier (here or here) I discussed how some of the early pictures of Arafat's war three years ago shaped impressions and revealed biases. There was another impression that existed three years ago: that Israel was using disproportionate force against the Palestinian Arabs. There was something that contradicted that impression. The numbers.

On November 15, 2001 a press priefing by Colonel Daniel Reisner demonstrated the restraint that Israel used in repelling the force against its citizens. The following quote is significant, but read the whole thing to get the picture.
The claim that the IDF is using excessive force is totally without foundation. There have been 1,351 armed attacks against Israeli targets, and 3,734 attacks without live weapons, constituting a total of almost 5,100 attacks instigated by the Palestinians (figures correct up until November 13). If we take the number of people who have been injured (3-4,000 according to most international organizations) we find that on average, less than one person is injured per incident. This is hardly an excessive use of force.
The other side of these number is the breakdown of casualties. This has been the domain of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism. In the latest available reports ( or here )you can see that Israel has largely been targeting combatants and the Arabs have been targeting civilians.

Israel is engaged in a war not of its own making. Despite the viciousness of these attacks Israel has responded as humanely as possible. This is a truth that should be understood around the world. Unfortunately it isn't.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and Soccer Dad.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Language in the Service of Terror
On August 31, 2003, The St. Petersburg Times ran an essay that was remarkable for its rarity. Philip Gailey, identified as the paper's editorial page editor, authored "Word choice matters in Mideast reporting." Eschewing any language of moral equivalency in his column Gailey asserts:
I also believe that words do matter. And if the word "terrorism" is to have any real meaning, then blowing up a bus crowded with women and children must be condemned for what it is - an act of terrorism.
And the issue here isn't that Gailey is pro-Israel. He may be; he may not be. In fact he writes:
I happen to believe the Palestinian cause - an independent and free Palestinian state - is legitimate and that the Palestinian people do have legitimate grievances over the Israeli occupation.
I don't agree that that's what the Palestinian cause is. If it were, there'd have been peace in the Middle East years ago. But my point here is not to quibble with Mr. Gailey; it is to praise him. His view that terrorism is a well-defined term is common sense. It is, unfortunately, rather uncommon in journalistic circles.

On September 8, 2003, Christine Chinlund, the ombudsman of the Boston Globe wrote an essay "Who should wear the `terrorist' label?" that asserts (among other things):
To tag Hamas, for example, as a terrorist organization is to ignore its far more complex role in the Middle East drama. The word reflects not only a simplification, but a bias that runs counter to good journalism. To label any group in the Middle East as terrorist is to take sides, or at least appear to, and that is not acceptable. The same holds true in covering other far-flung conflicts. One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter; it's not for journalists to judge.
James Taranto at OpinionJournal rightly slammed Chinlund exposing the folly of her "reasoning:"
The only "freedom" Hamas is pursuing, however, is freedom from Jews, whom it seeks to exterminate. By the Globe's lights, we suppose this would make Hitler a "freedom fighter" too. Hey, who's to judge?
Finally, yesterday, in his essay, "The Language of Terrorism" the Washington Post's ombudsman, Michael Getler weighed in on the side of Chinlund:
Critical readers also attempt to equate the U.S. battle against al Qaeda with the Israeli battle against Hamas. There are, however, differences. Hamas conducts terrorism but also has territorial ambitions, is a nationalist movement and conducts some social work. As far as we know, al Qaeda exists only as a terrorist network. It is composed of radicals from several Islamic countries. The Palestinian resistance is indigenous. Al Qaeda launched a devastating surprise attack on the United States. Israelis and Palestinians have been at war for a long time. Palestinians have been resisting a substantial and, to Palestinians, humiliating, Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza since they were seized in the 1967 war. That resistance has now bred suicide bombers. These are terrorist acts, not to be condoned. But the contexts of the struggle against al Qaeda and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are different. News organizations should not back away from the word terrorism when it is the proper term. But as a rule, strong, descriptive, factual reporting is better than labels.
Horsefeathers has an appropriate response to such tripe:
Horsefeathers suggests that Michael Getler, author of the WaPo article, devote himself to explaining how unfair it was to 'label' Willie Sutton a 'bankrobber', when he took such good care of his elderly parents. When a suicide bomber detonates himself in the Washington Post newsroom will he be described as a “militant” critic?
The problem with the reasoning of the ombudsmen, is that there is a cost to it. The late Michael Kelly in his powerful Sept 12, 2001 column observed:
Indeed, it is possible that what happened yesterday had nothing to do with the Middle East. But this evil rose, with hideous logic, directly from the philosophy that the leaders and supporters of the Palestinian cause have long embraced and still embrace -- a philosophy that accepts the murder of innocents as a legitimate expression of a legitimate struggle.

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.
The indulging of Palestinian terror because it is committed in the name of a supposedly legitimate cause is a factor that led to the rise of Osama bin Laden. Had the West stood firm and insisted that evil actions deny legitimacy to the causes they are meant to promote, Bin Laden may have been deterred. But he saw the willingness of many in the West to "understand" their enemies. He must have felt that that "understanding" would shield him from America's revenge. In the end President Bush wasn't taken in by such drivel and launched the "war on terror."

Even if there were no cost to the view that "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," it would still be wrong for news organizations to adopt such a premise. It would be wrong because it is ... wrong.

Recently, in the course of reviewing his book "The Liberty Incident" I had the opportunity ( and privilege) to talk to Judge A. Jay Cristol. He wrote an article in 1986 titled "A Terrorist is a Terrorist is a Terrorist" and graciously sent me a copy. The purpose of the article was to lay out what terrorism was. In the course of the article Judge Cristol laid out 4 criteria that defined a combatant as someone who:
1) Wears a uniform or a distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance and

2) carries his arms openly and

3) is commanded by a military superior and

4) obeys the law of war.
One who does not conform to these standards is a terrorist and a war criminal.

Journalists who ignore these criteria are not demonstrating high minded objectivity by refusing to take sides in an emotional dispute. Their abdication is implicitly taking sides for they are refusing to label evil accurately. Additionally, they are demonstrating moral obtuseness by failing to recognize that there are such things as right and wrong. This obtuseness doesn't improve the discourse in a democracy; it merely gives comfort to those who wish us ill.

Crossposted on IsraPundit and Soccer Dad.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Piling On
One opinion article after another derides Israel for threatening Arafat. They argue that Israel has accomplished the opposite of what it intended. On Sunday it was G. Jefferson Price of the Baltimore Sun:
Until the Israeli declaration, he was holed up and under pressure to give up some of the tight hold he keeps on the Palestinian Authority, to give more power to his latest selection for prime minister, Ahmed Qureia. Israelis seemed poised to launch an assault against his Ramallah compound. By all accounts, the tension was palpable.

Then came the Israeli announcement. And before the end of the day crowds of Palestinians went to the Ramallah compound to proclaim their loyalty and support for Arafat. In Gaza, his followers were out in force chanting their support.
A few days later the NY Times weighed in with "Israel's Threats Against Arafat":
If the Israeli government hopes to marginalize Yasir Arafat ?— an aim we heartily endorse ?— then recent threats by senior ministers to have him killed show how poorly they understand the Palestinians. They have propelled Mr. Arafat back into the warm embrace of his besieged and increasingly desperate people ?— returned him to where he is happiest, to the role of a scrappy fighter standing firm against the Israeli behemoth.
The next day it was the Washington Post concluding "Mr. Arafat Wins Again":
But intervention by Israel, either to expel or kill Mr. Arafat, will only postpone the day when a positive change in Palestinian leadership can occur.
In other words these three - and many other including numerous people in Ha'aretz - are piling on the Sharadministrationion. The Israeli government has taken an action that has had the opposite effect of the one intended. Israel has brought all of Arafat's supporters out to rally around their beloved leader. Or are these folks the ones who are propping up Arafat. Consider Barry Rubin's analysis in the Jerusalem Post, "Should Arafat be Deported":
Consider a few ironies of recent events. Paid bureaucrats and carefully organized schoolchildren are brought to demonstrate in favor of saving Arafat. It is remarkable how little Palestinian reaction there was to the news that Israel was allegedly about to deport him. Yet some say, as is the case with every dictator subjected to pressure, that acting against Arafat will make him more popular.
Amazing. The outpourings of support are about as spontaneous as those Cuban protests for Elian Gonzales three years ago. Not at all. It is not Israel's actions that are handing Arafat the victory; it is those syncophants who refuse to get over their love affair with Arafat and interpret each defeat of his as a victory. Perhaps it's wishful thinking. But the Rubin makes an astute observation:
Or there is Arafat's fear-induced call to renew negotiations with Israel. Why was he not so inspired previously, and what about all the past talks he has sabotaged or reneged on? Haven't we accumulated enough experience the US government certainly has to understand that there is no dealing with him?
That's right why did Arafat make his unconvincing call for negotiations? Wasn't because he sensed he was on the ropes and needed a straw to grab onto. Well he did and his sanitizers did the rest.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and Soccer Dad.
Powell's Disconnect
In two statemens during the past week, Colin Powell made statements that I show a disconnect from his own history. Here's the Secretary of State on Fox News Sunday:
MR. SNOW: Secretary Powell, Israel has defined Yasser Arafat as an obstacle to peace and has advocated his removal. What, specifically, would be the negative consequences of exiling Yasser Arafat?

SECRETARY POWELL: The United States does not support either the elimination of him or the exile of Mr. Arafat. It's not our position, hasn't been. The Israeli Government knows it. And I think the consequences would not be good ones. I think you can anticipate that there would be rage throughout the Arab world, the Muslim world, and in many other parts of the world. And I don't see how, at this delicate moment, that would serve the cause of moving forward on the roadmap.
Using the "rage" of the Muslim as an excuse to prevent Israel from removing Arafat is pretty lame. Especially in light of the predictions of the Arab street rising up to protest America's invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam. Those protests never materialized (or should I say that ,i>rage never materialized?) Why should they now.

Tony Snow incidentally realizes how weak Powell's answer is and follows up with two excellent questions:
MR. SNOW: You mentioned the fact that you fear rage in the streets. Now, we have heard this before, principally when Yasser Arafat was contained at Ramallah. In fact, when the Israeli siege was lifted, people threw rocks at him, so that there was not, in fact, rage at the targeting of Yasser Arafat.

Do you know of any leader in that region who thinks that the region would be worse off without Yasser Arafat -- without Yasser Arafat?


MR. SNOW: Do you believe -- we've talked about Yasser Arafat. He's clearly in charge right now. We're not dealing with him. Now, there are two options: either he is removed from the equation or we have to deal with him. How can we possibly proceed on the roadmap to peace without acknowledging the simple and plain fact that Yasser Arafat is the guy in charge right now?
Secretary Powell's answers to these questions are underwhelming so I'm leaving them out. Then the next day Secretary Powell made Remarks at Halabja Mass Grave Site Ceremony:
This is a very special place and I should say something special to you. What can I say to you? I cannot tell you that choking mothers died holding their choking babies to their chests. You know that. I cannot tell you that Saddam Hussein was a murderous tyrant. You know that. I cannot tell you that the world should have acted sooner. You know that. I cannot tell you of the suffering of those who were poisoned but nevertheless lived. You know that.
The world should have acted sooner? Who's he kidding? Wasn't he one of the leading advocates of assuring that Saddam stay in power in Iraq in 1991?

On one day Secretary Powell uses a discredited concept to explain constraining Israel and the next he fails to live up to his responsibility for keeping Saddam in power for an extra 12 years.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and Soccer Dad.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Hurricane Info
For those of you waiting for Isabel to hit - maybe you're home because work closed - and you still have power there are two excellent hurricane sites. One is the the Orlando Sentinel's hurricane section; the other is the National Hurricane Center. A highlight at the former is the hurricane trivia quiz and at the latter is the hurricane FAQ, including a description of the different categories of hurricane and satellite imaging of the storm(s).

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Stepping Up
Israel's government has gotten a lot of criticism for threatening Yasser Arafat last week. (It appears that the cabinet decision was saying more that there's nothing that Israel can do with the peace process as long as Arafat is around. It didn't even suggest that Israel would move against him in the near future.) Some of the criticism is for publicly announcing such an inclination. But a lot of the criticism is for threatening Arafat. So it is refreshing to see that the Israeli declaration once again has prompted the UN (Security Council) to jump up and say, "We're the bad guys."

This is nothing new, of course.

Three years ago when 3 Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah the UN denied having any knowledge of the kidnapping. It turned out of course that the UN (and its representative Terje Roed Larsen) were lying. The UN had videotape of the kidnapping. Even after being found out the UN claimed that it couldn't take sides. Never mind that one side was a member state and the other side was terrorist organization that existed to right a wrong that was already righted ( the UN certified that Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon ), the UN couldn't do anything that might lead to the identification of the Hezbollah terrorists.

Once again, the Security Council has decided to defend a terrorist. Only an American veto prevented a resolution condemning Israel for threatening Arafat from passing. Among the highlights of this article are:
The resolution, drafted by Palestinian U.N. envoy Nasser al-Kidwa and backed by Arab governments, "demands that Israel, the occupying power, desist from any act of deportation and cease any threat to the safety of the elected president of the Palestinian Authority
"... elected" President, as if more than a handful of the countries who supported the resolution actually have open elections. And the sponsor of the resoltuion was Syria, known for a thriving democracy.
Accusing Arafat of fomenting violence, an allegation he denies, the Israeli Security Cabinet last week announced Israel would "remove" him as "an obstacle to peace," although it did not say how or when.
"...an allegation he denies..." You can't get more balanced than that. Of course you could mention, for example, the evidence tying Arafat to the Karine-A because there is documentation of his involvement in terror. Not mentioning it makes the reporter dishonest.

I can rant all I want, but there's nothing to be gained. 30 years ago, a Nazi stood at the helm of the UN; now it protects terrorists. What use does the UN serve? Apparently to give succor and legitimacy to antisemites.
Crossposted as Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Bad Math at the Times
In a breathless editorial today, "Middle East Math", the NY Times says that the peace process must go on for Israel's own good. After allowing that there is no equivalence between terrorists and builders (Israelis who build their homes in what the Times considers "occupied territories") the Times goes on to tell of the deadly demographic fate that awaits Israel if it doesn't end its occupation.
In Israel itself, there are 1.3 million Arabs and 5.4 million Jews. This means that the number of Jews and Arabs living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River — in Israel and the occupied lands — is approaching parity. By 2020, Jews will be a minority. The longer Israelis continue to settle in the West Bank and Gaza, the harder it will be to cleanly divide the land between two nations with separate identities. Talk of two states will end. Two options will remain: an apartheid state run by a heavily armed Jewish minority, or a new political entity without a Jewish identity.
With those stark choices, well Israel doesn't have a choice. Does it?

Yossi Klein Halevi in the LA Times, though, tells us that the Times way of looking at things is, shall we say, simplistic in his essay "Israel Should Never Again Negotiate Peace With Terrorists":
The Israeli consensus is that this conflict isn't about Palestinian occupation but Israel's existence. However problematic, the West Bank settlements aren't the main problem. The reason there is no peace isn't because Jews live in the West Bank city of Hebron but because they live in Tel Aviv.

We have come to this conclusion reluctantly. We desperately wanted to believe that a "new" Middle East was prepared to accept a non-Arab state in its midst and stop confusing the Jewish return home with yet another colonialist invasion. But the Palestinian leadership convinced us that the Oslo process was never about land for peace but, at best, land for a tenuous cease-fire.
The Times may claim that:
We strongly disagree. True support for Israel means helping it see through its pain and rage to its own best interest. You do not have to believe in Mr. Arafat's sincerity or the Palestinians' good will to grasp the need for a radical course shift. You need only understand the meaning of self-preservation.
As Mr. Klein demonstrated further compromises with a terrorist are not in Israel's best interest. Those advocating such compromises need a reality as they are writing a prescription for killing more Jews. There's a real Chutzpah in claiming that they know Israel's best interest. They should be explaining why an approach that will lead to more Jewish deaths is not - unintentionally - antisemitic.

Another writer, Julius Schvindlerman, writes in "Israel's Black September" that the cost of Oslo has been high:
The Israelis, sadly, have their own Black September, too, with more than 1,000 killed, thousands wounded, scores of orphans and widows and an entire nation traumatized. It all began so nicely though, that beautiful, sunny morning of Sept. 13, 1993, at the White House lawn. Moved, the world saw legendary Six-Day War hero Yitzhak Rabin shaking hands with mythical leader of the Palestinian revolution Yasser Arafat. Bitter enemies were making peace. The speeches were eloquent and hopeful. A new era had just begun.
What to do then? Krauthammer suggests:
The fundamental principle of U.S. policy now must be to prove that Abbas was right. That means no negotiations with Arafat or with any new prime minister beholden to him. That means supporting Israel in its war on terror. And that means not only supporting military responses to atrocities such as the double suicide bombings on Tuesday -- responses such as the expulsion of Arafat -- it also means reconsidering the administration's puzzling opposition to the Israeli security fence.
Clean out the Augean stables of the terrorist filth. Start over again. Allow local leaders to emerge. If they prove capable of dealing with Israel move to the next step. Attempting to base a peace on trusting murderers was doomed to failure. Israel may or may not have a demographic problem in the future. But unless it deals with its enemies, it will have too many funerals. The cost of that is too high.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and Soccer Dad.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Krauthammer vs. Gordon
Two of my favorite columnists are Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post and Evelyn Gordon of the Jerusalem Post. Today's Krauthammer column, In Need of A New Abbas, just doesn't measure up to his usual standards. In particular, as the title says, he wishes that Mahmoud Abbas had succeeded because he was, well, a moderate.
Abba Eban once famously said that the "Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." The fall of moderate Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas -- systematically destroyed by Yasser Arafat -- represents a spectacularly missed opportunity.

Abbas wanted to end the terror and cash in on the American promise of an independent Palestinian state. Arafat, whose unswerving objective is a Palestinian state built on the ruins of Israel and who will not put down the gun until he gets it, undermined Abbas from the very beginning. He now has chosen a puppet as his new prime minister
I thought that Abbas was a puppet too. And I hardly see how he's a sympathetic character.

Gordon on the other hand seems to have measured Abbas correctly in her latest column "Abbas's idea of peace":
Abbas devoted the bulk of his speech to blaming Israel for the collapse of the cease-fire, charging that it acted "too hastily" in resuming its "assassination policies" rather than giving his own government time to act after the Jerusalem bombing.

Unsurprisingly, he neglected to remind the delegates that Israel had no reason to believe that his government would take action - not only because he had solemnly sworn not to do so in every public speech since taking office, but also because he had failed to do so in the 40 hours that elapsed between the bombing and Israel's first move against Hamas.

He did, however, unintentionally demonstrate that Israel's assessment was correct, by assuring the council that his policy of taking no action against Hamas remains in force.

"This government does not deal with opposition groups with a policing mentality, but with the mentality of dialogue," he declared.
I know that Krauthammer, in some ways, isn't as "hawkish" as I am, but I was surprised by his characterization of Abbas; Gordon pointed out why Abbas was not a candidate for our sympathies.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and Soccer Dad.
Influencing Instapundit
A few days ago I ran a couple of criticisms of Instapundit. One was that he wasn't giving any time to criticizing the foremost racist in any political campaign: Al Sharpton. Guess what? He listened! OK so I'm deluding myself. He never saw my post but he did post one item on Al Sharpton. (Scroll down a bit to see the post.)

OK, so I didn't set the agenda in the blogosphere, but Mark Kleiman, whose item was carried by InstaPundit did! Kleiman wrote that seeing the way the Democrats fawn over Sharpton is almost enough to make him vote Republican. Well, I have to disagree here, because if I weren't a Republican, I'd find his unobjected presence on the Democratic side enough to make me switch. Kleiman criticized Slate for only listing the Tawanna Brawley hoax as a skeleton in Sharpton's closet without mentioning Crown Heights or Freddy's. (The other night in Baltimore, Sen. Lieberman called Sharpton "My friend." Ugh!)But that's besides the point. The problem with Sharpton isn't so much that he's simply loathsome, it's that he's evil. That's a point made by David Bernstein over at the Volokh conspiracy as he picks up the thread.

Bernstein's complaint is that the Republicans don't make an issue of Sharpton. He attributes it, on the word of some Republican activists, as expediency. I'd always assumed it was fear of being branded a racist. It's not like every time Sharpton is mentioned in the media his past is mentioned. He's probably described mostly as "controversial" and called an "activist". If his less than passing acquaintance with the truth were regularly mentioned in the mainstream press along with his vocal antisemitism, it would be a lot easier to make the case. According to a NY Times poll a few years ago - I hope I remember - about 50% of the black electorate consider Sharpton a political leader as opposed to about 4% of whites. The discrepancy is huge. Not acting against Sharpton may also be because Republicans don't want to alienate blacks any more.

Still there's one issue I'd like to address. Both Kleiman and Bernstein put Sharpton in Crown Heights fomenting the riot. I've followed the 1991 Crown Heights pogrom closely in the past. Sharpton was not involved in the initial violence. In other words there's no way to tie him to Yankel Rosenbaum's murder; Sharpton wasn't involved yet. He didn't get involved, I believe, until Gavin Cato's funeral. And then he gave his best "Protocols" speech in lieu of a sermon. He encouraged the rioting to continue.

As far as Freddy's goes, despites his protests, I believe he knew of the threats against the store. Though I know nothing of law, I really think he should have been charged with something like reckless endangerment, because I think that the danger of the people he was leading was foreseeable.
Gee Whiz! Oz
Guess who's been opining again! Why it's Amos Oz, declaring that "Like It or Not, Sharon Has to Deal With Arafat"
Instead, Sharon claims that he cannot do business with Yasser Arafat or with any of Arafat's proxies. This is an impossible position for him to take because it is not for the Israelis to decide who represents Palestine, just as it is not for the Palestinians to choose which Israeli will be their partner.

Arafat may be a nasty man with a record of violence and double crossing, as Abbas himself knows well now. But we Israelis cannot select Mother Theresa to become the leader of the Palestinians.

We have to deal with Arafat not because he is nice and sweet, not because he is our friend, but precisely because he is the leader of our enemies. If Arafat had been Mother Theresa, there would have been peace for a long time and there would be no need to negotiate, to bargain and to make compromises. The question is not with whom you negotiate, but rather what is the agenda for the negotiations.
I hate to be impolitic, but Arafat's agenda is hardly one of peace. Though I'm not overly impressed with the interview, Barry Rubin ends his talk with Bret Stephens with a plain truth:
Is there a "Palestine" without Arafat?

BR: The irony is that there can only be a Palestinian state without Arafat, because Arafat will never make the deal to achieve that.
Even assuming that Arafat's election was legitimate (and Dan Polisar argues that it wasn't) it is possible for a lawfully elected leader abuses his power to the point of losing his legitimacy. Arafat's now been chairman in excess of seven years, and shows no signs of stepping down. Essentially he's been elected to be president for life. On those grounds alone he shouldn't be considered legitimate any longer.

Of course leading a terror war against a sovereign nation is also a reason that Arafat should not be legitimate.

Ten years ago Israel bet that Arafat could change when offered a chance to lead his own country. Israel was willing to forgive his terrorist past. But he has failed to live up to the aspirations others had for him and demonstrated that he is unreformed as ever.
Crossposted at IsraPundit and Soccer Dad

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Four on an Anniversary + 2
Thanks to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs I've come accross 4 essays on the subject of the tenth anniversary of Oslo. I'll save the best for last, so let's start with Marwan Bishara identified as a "lecturer at the American University of Paris":
The lion’s share of the blame falls with the United States and Israel, whose actions in turn triggered violent reactions from the Palestinians.
This is like "stop me before I kill again." The PA resolved to settle all disputes through political means not violence ten years ago. It never actually followed that commitment. Violence wasn't a reaction triggered by Israeli actions; it was carefully orchestrated by the PA's leadership and excused by most of the world. The next paragraph actually is somewhat (and surprisingly) honest:
The United States failed to use its considerable influence to curb the expansionist impulses of the proponents of a Greater Israel, who slowly but steadily tore the spirit of Oslo to pieces.
That's right, the expansion of Jewish communities in Yesha and Azza was, at worst, a violation of the "spirit" of Oslo, never of the letter of Oslo, like the aforementioned violence was. (See more on this later.) The building or expanding of Jewish communities in the disputed areas was never mentioned, as Yossi Beilin acknowledges in the next items:
First, the fact that no reference was made to the freezing of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — the Palestinians accepted Rabin’s personal commitment to halt the construction of new settlements — created an opening that a subsequent right-wing government used to build new settlements, though it clearly was not the original intent of the agreement.
Of course so many other details were specified in the Accords, it strains credulity to say that the expansion of a Jewish presence in the disputed areas was clearly meant to be prohibited by the accords. Then in the next paragraph Beilin shows himself to be a master of understatement:
Second, Israel did not give sufficient importance to incitement in the Palestinian media, thinking it was a trend that would pass when the final-status agreement was signed. This incitement played a significant role in the Palestinians’ return to violence in 2000.
First of all, I heard Beilin speak in 1996 and when someone asked about Palestinian incitement (and other violations of Oslo) he answered that Israel's violations were worse! But the incitement would have led nowhere if the PA didn't allow terrorist groups to organize and arm themselves two weeks before Likud leader Ariel Sharon visited Har Habayit (the Temple Mount). Earlier on, though, Beilin demonstrated his absolute blindness with a boast:
But the talks that I initiated in Oslo contained two unique elements: For the first time, the Palestinian partner was clearly identified as the PLO; and the idea was proposed to transfer to Palestinian control most of the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area even before elections were held for the Palestinian Authority’s legislative council and leadership.
Frankly, I can't understand why he's so proud. These are precisely the reasons that Oslo failed. It was predicated on legitimizing an unrepentant terrorist and then giving him a base of operations. It required no complaince or proof of good faith from a well known thug. Of course, Beilin claims only the purist of motives, to maintain Israel's status as a Jewish democratic state. Then why did he sneak around making agreements with the PLO when it was illegal to do so and then present these agreements as a fait accompli to Rabin? I can think of no more certain subversin of democracy than what Beilin did in the name of "peace."

Next up is Dennis Ross. While his entry is not perfect, it shows a lot more clearheadedness than anything he demonstrated from 1993-2001.
Palestinians must know that there will be no Palestinian state born of violence; that terror will delegitimize their cause; that they will have to compromise on Jerusalem, borders, and refugees — indeed, that the solution on refugees must permit a two-state solution, not a one-state solution. Israel will be a Jewish state and Palestinians must be prepared to recognize it as such.

Throughout Oslo, preparation of publics was conspicuously absent, especially on the Palestinian side — where Arafat treated the very concept of compromise on the permanent status issues as a betrayal.

Third, Arab leaders must assume their responsibilities. The Arab role during Oslo was limited — in part because the Palestinians only sought their support but never their guidance; and in part because Arab leaders were fearful of being accused by Arafat asking the Palestinians to surrender their national rights if they pressed him to compromise on the core issues.
Dore Gold gets to the heart of the matter and casts the problems of Oslo as intelligence failures:
Intelligence errors usually are associated with military disasters like Pearl Harbor or the 1973 Yom Kippur War, not with diplomacy.
Yet the last decade of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process may involve such an error of assessment. Looking back now, 10 years after the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, it’s clear that the failure to reach an Israeli-Palestinian agreement cannot be attributed to a lack of political will on the Israeli side or the failure of the United States to deal more forcibly with noncompliance.

Rather, it has to do with the more fundamental question of whether the leadership of the PLO really was prepared for reconciliation and peace with Israel.

The overwhelming evidence from statements by the PLO leadership was that it viewed the Oslo process as a tactical necessity to realize its ultimate strategic goal of recovering the entire territory of British Mandatory Palestine — including the area of Israel.

It would be a mistake to assign this intention to PLO leader Yasser Arafat alone. After all, it was the PLO’s top official for Jerusalem, Faisal Husseini, who on two separate occasions in 2001 described Oslo as a “Trojan Horse” that served the realization of “the strategic goal — namely, Palestine from the river to the sea.”

Similarly, the leader of the Fatah movement in the West Bank, Marwan Barghouti, told The New Yorker that even if Israel withdrew from 100 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not end. What was needed, he said, was “one state for all the peoples.”
Now that we've covered all of the JTA articles that I can find, it's worth bringing two more opinions. Daniel Pipes pretty much agrees with Dore Gold even if he doesn't refer to Oslo as an intelligence failure:
Many things, but most important was that the deal rested on a faulty Israeli premise that Palestinians had given up their hope of destroying the Jewish state. This led to the expectation that if Israel offered sufficient financial and political incentives, the Palestinians would formally recognize the Jewish state and close down the conflict.

Israelis therefore pushed themselves to make an array of concessions, in the futile hope that flexibility, restraint and generosity would win Palestinian goodwill. In fact, these steps made matters worse by sending signals of apparent demoralization and weakness. Each concession further reduced Palestinian awe of Israeli might, made Israel seem more vulnerable and incited irredentist dreams of annihilating it.

The result was a radicalized and mobilized Palestinian body politic. In speech and actions, via claims to the entire land of Israel and the murder of Israelis, the hope of destroying Israel acquired ever-more traction.

Thus did the muted Palestinian mood at Oslo's start in 1993 turn into the enraged ambition evident today.
Finally, it's worth quoting from Michael B. Oren's excellent recollections in today's Wall Street Journal (hopefully they'll post this article to the free OpinionJournal over the weekend):
But while Israelis may have exploited the treaty's spirit, the Palestinians flagrantly disregarded its letter.
And that for now, is the last word.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and SoccerDad.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Disagreeing with InstaPundit
InstaPundit had a couple of items that I have to disagree with. One for what it says; the other for what it doesn't.
#1, he has been arguing that Bush is losing his base and quotes Jonah Goldberg to that effect.
But I must say that if it weren't for the war on terrorism, I'd be a bit at a loss these days to say something nice about him given his performance of the last six months.
Maybe he is losing his base; maybe he isn't. I have to think that it's the latter. Goldberg makes it seem as if the war on terror is just another part of his presidency. But it isn't. It is the defining theme of George W. Bush's presidency. And there's no one on the other side who understands how important the war is. Not even Lieberman. Bush should use a variation on Reagan for his re-election: "You are safer today than you were four years ago." The holiday from history is over.
#2 is about the energy he (and others) is (are) expending criticizing Cruz Bustamante for his connection to a racist organization. I'm not excusing Bustamante, but there's avowed antisemite running for President. Al Sharpton doesn't have the excuse of youthful indiscretion. No as an adult he has engaged in public denunciations of Jewish "diamond dealers" and led an antisemitic protest that turned into a massacre. This is someone the Democrats should spit out; the way Republicans rejected David Duke. But there's only silence. Even from Joseph Lieberman. Who should know better. Bustamante is wrong but his violation only involves words. Sharpton's violation of civil discourse is a lot more serious.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Shhhh! We're hunting terrorists.
Little Green Footballs carried this item from Ha'aretz that reported:
Journalists have been having trouble finding enior Hamas officials over the last few days. Abdel Aziz Rantisi and his colleagues are not only reluctant to come to television studios in Gaza, they are even cutting down sharply on their use of the telephone. But beyond the real fear for their lives that Hamas members at every level are feeling (a fear that Israel is encouraging through repeated declarations by Ya'alon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz about their intention to continue the assassination policy), the organization is facing a serious dilemma. The problem with the Jerusalem attack, from Hamas's viewpoint, is that it was too successful. The large number of people killed, and the large number of children among them, aroused American and European anger at the organization (Europe is even considering declaring its "political" wing a terrorist organization) and provided a rare moment of international legitimacy for Israel's forceful response. The question is, what will happen if Hamas's retaliation is similarly "successful" - and if, once again, the gain proves to be not worth the cost?
(Parenthetically, Europe's a bit late recognizing that there is not really a "political" arm of Hamas as Michael Freund makes clear.)

And how does Israel target the heads of Hamas?
Ten Hamas men have died in helicopter ambushes since Israel vowed retaliation for a suicide bombing by the Islamic group that killed 21 people aboard a Jerusalem bus on August 19.
Seasoned by previous campaigns against a 35-month-old Palestinian uprising in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, dozens of Hamas leaders went into hiding. But this time the odds are really against them, Israeli security sources said on Sunday.
''We have refined our methods and are confident we can reach those in our 'target bank' with minimum risk to innocents,'' a source said, referring to militants slated for attack, although four bystanders have been killed in the recent air strikes.
The names in the ''target bank'' are usually common knowledge, particularly in Gaza where Hamas and kindred groups have a high public profile. That means marked militants are especially vulnerable to Israel's vast network of paid informers, who are themselves likely to be lynched as traitors if discovered.
What's particularly interesting here is the line describing "... Israel's vast network of paid informers ..." If the network is that vast why do we hear so little about it? And if the cost of discovery is so high - being dispatched in a very unpleasant manner - what would motivate anyone to risk it? Wouldn't a vast network of paid informers suggest a very strong disaffection with the PA among its constituents?
Crossposted at IsraPundit and SoccerDad.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

If anyone wants to know how to think about American foreign policy during the Clinton years, he would not do worse than read Charles Krauthammer's "Holiday from History." Krauthammer lays out the general case of how the Clinton administration ignored the threatening forces arraying themselves against the West during the years 1993-2001.

More specific charges are available. Richard Miniter has written a book "Losing Bin Laden: How Bill Clinton's Failures Unleashed Global Terror," which is now being excerpted in the Washington Times. Part 1 detailed how Richard Clarke, the Clinton administration's anti-terror czar recommended hitting Bin Laden after the attack on the Cole. He could find no one in the administration to support his recommendation and America launched no counter-attack.

Part two deals with James Woolsey's vain attempts to recruit more Arabic translators for the CIA. He didn't have the president's support to do so and eventually resigned. (If Woolsey had the president's confidence maybe he wouldn't have resigned and George Tenet - one of those who dithered instead of heeding Richard Clarke's recommendations - wouldn't have been head of the CIA at a critical time. Pure speculation, of course, but no doubt Clarke would have had an ally in Adm. Woolsey. If it had happened like that, there's still the likelihood that two clear thinkers would have been overruled anyway.)

What makes part 2 particularly compelling is that it confirms Reuel Marc Gerecht's critique of the CIA in The Atlantic in the summer of 2001. In his excellent "The Counterterrorist Myth," Gerecht wrote:
A former senior Near East Division operative says, "The CIA probably doesn't have a single truly qualified Arabic-speaking officer of Middle Eastern background who can play a believable Muslim fundamentalist who would volunteer to spend years of his life with sh***y food and no women in the mountains of Afghanistan. For Christ's sake, most case officers live in the suburbs of Virginia. We don't do that kind of thing." A younger case officer boils the problem down even further: "Operations that include diarrhea as a way of life don't happen."
Gerecht's article was particularly striking because it appeared just before the 9/11attacks; Miniter simply confirmed Gerecht's charges.

Gerald Posner seems to have covered some of the same ground as does Miniter, but his targets are lower on the totem pole.
It's not the principle; it's the money
Today's NY Times had an item about the current settlement talks going on between France and Libya over the bombing of a French airliner in 1989. No this isn't Pan Am flight 003. The BBC notes:
The 53-page document lodged with the federal district court in Washington DC tells the story of UTA 772.

It has remarkable parallels with that of Pan Am 103.

On 19 September 1989, the UTA plane was bound for Paris from Congo Brazzaville in Central Africa.

It exploded over the Sahara desert in southern Niger killing all 170 people on board.

An examination of 15 tons of wreckage sent to France revealed traces of an explosive called pentrite in the forward hold.

Then a dark grey Samsonite suitcase was found covered with a layer of pentrite.

This was determined to be the source of the explosion. It had been loaded at Brazzaville.

Also found was a small piece of a green coloured circuit board which turned out to be a timing device.

It was traced back to Libya though a marketing company which, according to the document, had been asked to provide 100 of them for one of the Libyan defendants named in the lawsuit.

A similar link to Libya was made in the Lockerbie case.
The French are threatening to block the American and British effort to lift sanctions against Libya. No this isn't a matter of principle. The French aren't angry that Bush and Blair seem to be betraying their principles for money. It's that France hasn't been offered enough to sell out.
In an address to the nation on Sunday, the anniversary of the coup in 1969 that brought him to power, Colonel Qaddafi said Mr. Chirac had asked for more money, "saying he is embarrassed by the families of the victims who asked why the French victims got less money than the Americans."
(Libya is compensating the Pan Am victims' families between $5 and $10 million, but is, so far, only offering $200,000 to the UTA victims' families.

I don't mean ot belittle the suffering of those who lost relatives in 1989, it's just that it's bad enough that the US isn't standing for the principle of not giving into terrorists. Chirac adds insult to injury by making it clear that his prinicples are available for the right price.
Finally, I just don't get this paragraph:
Mr. de Villepin did not disclose details of the deal. His remarks followed a phone call on Sunday by President Jacques Chirac to Colonel Qaddafi. The conversation, like one between Mr. Chirac and Colonel Qaddafi on Aug. 24, was described by aides to Mr. Chirac as businesslike, rather than warm. Although the French government has not been directly involved in the negotiations, Mr. Chirac intervened to underscore the seriousness of the matter in the eyes of the French government.
If I were representing my country in negotiations with a terrorist who had killed 170 of my citizens, I hardly think the conversation would be "warm." What was the reporter thinking when she wrote this? Why would a conversation between Chirac and Qaddafi on the subject of reparation be expected to be "warm?"

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

First Impressions
There are a number of anniversaries coming up. This month is the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords, the third anniversary of the start of the "Aksa Intifada," and the second anniversary of 9/11. No doubt we will be treated to numerous media stories about the significance of each. In the case of the 3 year anniversary of the "Aksa Intifada" it's important to remember the degree to which the media skewed its meaning from the very start. This anniversary will no doubt be the occasion to lament the "cycle of violence" that has threatened to "spin out of control" since then. I don't wish to delve into the issue of how the PA started the violence. I plan to do that at some point. If you're interested check out the Statement by Israel Ambassador Lancry before the UN Security Council.

For now I'd like to focus on three pictures that arguably defined the "Aksa Intifada" in its first month.

First there was the photograph which was misrepresented all over the world. It is the picture of Tuvia Grossman, an America yeshiva student in Israel. On his way to the Kotel (Western Wall) in a taxi, Grossman and several friends were set upon by an Arab mob. Grossman, severely injured, was photographed with a bloody face and an Israeli policeman in the background. The picture published in many papers was captioned, "An Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount.” Readers were left with the impression that the Israeli soldier had beaten the young man in the picture. In fact he was chasing the mob away from Tuvia Grossman and saving the young man.

Someone recognized Tuvia Grossman and informed his father. Aaron Grossman wrote a letter to the New York Times identifying his son in the picture and the Times responded with a half-hearted correction. It took a lot more outrage and complaints before the complete story was told. (The Baltimore Sun still ran the picture with an incorrect caption a week later. It didn't bother changing its Sunday edition even though the mistake had been corrected by Thursday!) There are articles on this incident at CAMERA and HonestReprorting. Tuvia Grossman's first person account appears at Aish.com.

The media didn't just suffer from mistakes of fact, it also suffered from mistakes of interpretation. Take for example the searing picture of the young Arab man with bloody hands. After participating in the murders two Israel reservists, Yosef Avrahami and Vadim Norzich, the young man,with a smile on his face, was photographed at the window of the Ramallah police station proudly displaying his bloody hands. Instead of simply portraying the lynching as a brutal display of hatred by one side against the other, America's most prominent newspapers attempted to put the lynching in "context." The late Scott Shuger (of "Today's Papers" fame at Slate) properly critiqued the media's refusal to report on this brutality in an honest fashion.

Honest Reporting carries an item about a Washington Post story that equates the lynching of the two soldiers with the Palestinians own example of Israeli brutality. The Post article reads:
Each side in the brutal Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has raged here since September nurses its own image of outrage.

For Palestinians, it is a terrified 12-year-old Mohammed Dura, cowering behind his father seconds before he was raked by Israeli machine-gun fire and killed last Sept. 30. For Israelis, it is the Ramallah lynching.
Now, it appears, it wasn't Israeli machine-gun fire that killed Mohammed Dura. Writing in The Atlantic, James Fallows examined the evidence and concluded:
But almost since the day of the episode evidence has been emerging in Israel, under controversial and intriguing circumstances, to indicate that the official version of the Mohammed al-Dura story is not true. It now appears that the boy cannot have died in the way reported by most of the world's media and fervently believed throughout the Islamic world. Whatever happened to him, he was not shot by the Israeli soldiers who were known to be involved in the day's fighting—or so I am convinced, after spending a week in Israel talking with those examining the case.
In short, the barrel in the picture stood between the Duras and the Israelis, it would have been impossible for the Israelis to have shot the boy at that angle. It's still worth reading the whole article.

The media mistakes in these three instances show the way that biases affect reporting. If reporters went into situations with open minds this wouldn't happen. In the Middle East they go in with the mindset that there are two sides who are fighting for no reason. One side, Israel, is stronger than the other. Our job is to even the odds. So reports get tailored that point of view. And truth is the casualty.
Crossposted on IsraPundit and SoccerDad.