Thursday, July 15, 2010

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

Washington Post vs. New York Times: Just What Is An Op-Ed For, Anyway?

Posted: 15 Jul 2010 10:55 AM PDT

I cannot vouch for what they think today, but back in 2007, they were saying 2 very opposite things.

The occasion was an op-ed by Ahmed Yousef, advisor to former Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh, on the same day in both the New York Times and Washington Post--June 20, 2007, following the bloody coup where Hamas killed Abbas and Fatah out of Gaza.

The ombudsman for The Washington Post at the time, Deborah Howell, defended Wapo's op-ed, favorably comparing the credentials of terrorist Ahmed Yousef and fashion editor Robin Givhan:

Readers continue to vent about fashion editor Robin Givhan's commentary on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's hint of cleavage -- and my column last Sunday about it. Mail is still coming in about an op-ed by Ahmed Yousef, a senior adviser to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. And some readers didn't like a piece by Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, a Hezbollah supporter, that was included in OnFaith, a feature that also runs Saturdays on the Religion pages. Gail Freedman of Minneapolis put it this way: "Once again, your news organization has given a soapbox to terror."

The purpose of commentary -- whether by journalists or not -- is not only to let writers press a point of view but also to stimulate independent thought in readers. The best opinion columns are supported by reporting, facts and cogent arguments and give honest credence to opposing arguments. They are written by men and women with credentials. To bring up a sore point, Givhan has such credentials. While not journalists, so did the Muslim writers. [emphasis added]

Feel free to take a look at Yousef's op-ed and see if you agree with Howell's assessment of Yousef's credentials. I am more interested in what Clark Hoyt, The New York Times ombudsman wrote at the time:

The point of the op-ed page is advocacy. And, Rosenthal said, "we do not feel the obligation to provide the kind of balance you find in news coverage, because it is opinion."

David Shipley, one of Rosenthal's deputies and the man in charge of the op-ed page, said: "The news of the Hamas takeover of Gaza was one of the most important stories of the week. ... This was our opportunity to hear what Hamas had to say."

I agree that Yousef's piece should have run, even though his version of reality is at odds with the one I understand from news coverage. He wrote blandly, for example, about creating "an atmosphere of calm in which we resolve our differences" with Israel without mentioning that Hamas is officially dedicated to raising "the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine," which would mean no more Israel.

Op-ed pages should be open especially to controversial ideas, because that's the way a free society decides what's right and what's wrong for itself. Good ideas prosper in the sunshine of healthy debate, and the bad ones wither. Left hidden out of sight and unchallenged, the bad ones can grow like poisonous mushrooms.

None of this stuff about 'credentials' for Hoyt--no sir. None of this talk about "reporting, facts and cogent arguments and giv[ing] honest credence to opposing arguments."

For Hoyt, controversy is the name of the games. But he does say something about how good ideas prosper and bad ones wither--and not in the light of day, but "in the sunshine of healthy debate."

The only problem with that is that Hoyt already quoted Rosenthal that "we do not feel the obligation to provide the kind of balance you find in news coverage, because it is opinion."

Hmmmmmm, a conundrum.

I guess that would explain why in 2007 the NYT printed an op-ed by Obama and refused to allow McCain to respond.

Hey, you want the sunshine of healthy debate? Go outside...or to a bar or something.

Of course, what both Howell and Hoyt agree on--but both neglected to mention--is that bottom line, it is all about selling papers.

Hat tip: Soccer Dad

by Daled Amos

How do you make peace with someone who doesn't want it?

Posted: 15 Jul 2010 06:02 AM PDT

Isabel Kershner reports on Cheer, Then Gloom, on Talks for Peace Deal in Mideast, which is described as a "News Analysis." This appears to be the heart of what she's writing about:

A senior Israeli minister, Dan Meridor, recently told reporters that it would be "very risky" for Israel to fix borders and leave other major issues unresolved. Specifically, he said, Israel cannot agree on borders before ensuring that the solution to the Palestinian refugee issue lies not in Israel, but on the other side of the lines.

Adding to the discord, Mr. Erekat recently raised a new bar for the start of direct talks. Alongside the longstanding demand for a complete freeze in settlement building, including in East Jerusalem, which the Israelis have refused, Mr. Erekat said talks should start from the point at which the last direct negotiations, between the Palestinians and the previous, centrist Israeli government, left off in December 2008.

He also said that Mr. Netanyahu should state his readiness to recognize a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines.

Both these positions are deemed unacceptable by Mr. Netanyahu's conservative-dominated governing coalition. Yet the Palestinians seem open to entering direct talks, and have been careful not to set firm preconditions.

We know for example that President Abbas has refused to enter into direct negotiations with Israel, yet nowhere in this "analysis" does it portray Abbas as "defying" American wishes. In these paragraphs, Erekat's demand that negotiations continue from where they left off in 2008 is presented as perfectly reasonable. But it was the PA (more on this later) that stopped negotiating. Why does the PA get to reject peace and then get a "do over?"

Here's how the Times describes what happened:

Mr. Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, made a far-reaching proposal in late 2008 to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. It included an Israeli withdrawal from 93.5 percent of the West Bank, with land swaps and a safe route for Palestinian travel between Gaza and the West Bank making up the other 6.5 percent of the land area that Israel won in 1967.

Those talks ended with Israel's military campaign against Gaza, which is run by the militant group Hamas. Mr. Olmert says he never heard back from Mr. Abbas.

Mr. Erekat disputes that version, insisting that Mr. Abbas made a counteroffer. Addressing an Israeli audience at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University in May, Mr. Erekat produced a map that he said Mr. Olmert received, allowing for Israeli annexation of 1.9 percent of the West Bank in return for an equitable land exchange. After 16 years of an intermittent peace process, the sides do not yet agree on which settlement blocs Israel would retain.

In March 2009 he confirmed it:

"Let me recount two historical events, even if I am revealing a secret. On July 23, 2000, at his meeting with President Arafat in Camp David, President Clinton said: 'You will be the first president of a Palestinian state, within the 1967 borders - give or take, considering the land swap - and East Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state, but we want you, as a religious man, to acknowledge that the Temple of Solomon is located underneath the Haram Al-Sharif.'

"Yasser Arafat said to Clinton defiantly: 'I will not be a traitor. Someone will come to liberate it after 10, 50, or 100 years. Jerusalem will be nothing but the capital of the Palestinian state, and there is nothing underneath or above the Haram Al-Sharif except for Allah.' That is why Yasser Arafat was besieged, and that is why he was killed unjustly.

"In November 2008... Let me finish... [Israeli prime minister Ehud] Olmert, who talked today about his proposal to Abu Mazen, offered the 1967 borders, but said: 'We will take 6.5% of the West Bank, and give in return 5.8% from the 1948 lands, and the 0.7% will constitute the safe passage, and East Jerusalem will be the capital, but there is a problem with the Haram and with what they called the Holy Basin.' Abu Mazen too answered with defiance, saying: 'I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine - the June 4, 1967 borders - without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places.' This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign..."

This doesn't sound like Abbas ever sent a proposal back to Olmert. Again, even if he did, why should the Palestinians be able to break off peace negotiations and then get back to where the negotiations were? Alson notice how Erekat's statements are presented without qualification.

Overall the end of the article makes some important points, but then editorializes:

Mr. Netanyahu has put a premium on a security-based process in which Israeli security needs are a prerequisite for any agreement. As the Israeli official put it, "The two are intertwined."

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs , a conservative-leaning research institute, recently published a study seeking to identify Israel's minimum security requirements, especially in light of the thousands of rockets that landed in its territory after its withdrawals from Gaza and Lebanon.

Moshe Yaalon, a former army chief of staff and now a vice prime minister, wrote the introduction. He described the study as a "corrective" to the widely held notion that peace requires Israel to withdraw to the "perilous" 1967 lines, denying Israel strategic depth against rocket and other attacks.

It's correct that after Israeli withdrawals from Gaza and southern Lebanon it was attacked by rockets, so why is perilous in quotes? The very response that Kershner correctly reported shows that Israeli withdrawals are indeed risky. And contrast that to her treatment of Erekat's claim of an equitable swap of land. She didn't enclose equitable in quotes. Apparently only Israeli demands need to be qualified.

These are typical ways that the media distorts the nature of negotiations and the positions of Israel and the Palestinians. Again I think that Yaacov Lozowick has it right.

Since 1993 Israel has performed a series of concrete actions on the ground, changes in the reality, which have weakened its control over the Palestinians. Not one of them resulted in any advantage durable enough to survive two days of violence in September 2000, when the Palestinians launched the 2nd Intifada. Since 2000 the pendulum has swung both ways, with Israel reconquering the West Bank in 2002, and slowly lifting its hand since 2004; with Israel fully evacuating Gaza in 2005, then reconquering less than a third of it in 2009 and again relinquishing direct control and now, slowly, also indirect control. The wary recognition of having an independent Palestine next door, which was the expression of Rabin's position, has been replaced by a Likud prime minister publicly accepting the goal of a sovereign Palestine.

And in all that time, I dare you to find one single concrete step taken by the Palestinians to assure us they, too, are ready for partition. Not words, which can be uttered in English today and denied in Arabic today. Actions. Find me one. Because I could easily write a 10,000-word article about all the things they've done which prove the opposite; actually, I expect I could limit myself to the first half of 2010.

This is of crucial importance. Reaching peace with the Palestinians will mean Israel gives up all those essential security measures spelled out by the JCPA. It will require a gamble with our lives, in the immediate meaning that people we know will die if it goes wrong, if not we ourselves. There's nothing theoretical or hypothetical about this: it will be real people, really dead, just as it already has been. For this to happen the Palestinians need to convince us they can be trusted with our lives. At the moment, nothing comes to mind - nothing - to indicate they can be trusted.

Do you believe in the nobel peace prize, if facebook tells you so?

Posted: 15 Jul 2010 05:13 AM PDT

A number of bloggers have noticed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is campaigning for a Nobel Peace Prize.

I would have thought it was absurd, because
1) He is a doctor of Holocaust denial.
2) He provided the funding for the Munich Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes in 1972
3) He never took a position in opposition to Arafat's orchestration of violence against Israel after Oslo.
4) He rejected an offer of peace from Israeli PM Ehud Olmert.
5) Even now he is "throwing a pie" at President Obama and refusing to engage in direct negotiations with Binyamin Netanyahu.

Since I first saw stories about this during the past week or so, I assumed this initiative was new. It isn't. While I don't know the provenance of this, there's a Facebook page, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas 'Abu Mazen' for the Nobel Peace Prize.

There's a message:

If Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin deserved this prize, how many of this prize do you think a REAL seeker of peace deserves?

To which Weasel Zipper would respond:

And why not? They gave one to Obama for doing nothing, one to Al Gore for creating a money-making hysteria and one to Yasser Arafat for killing Jews...

In order to promote his candidacy the Facebook page has an album showing Abbas with many world leaders. No, there is no picture of him with Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert or Binyamin Netanyahu. But there is a picture of him with an indicted war criminal.

Last year an editorial in the Washington Post observed:

"We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir," said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Abbas is hoping that the Obama administration will pressure Israel to stop building "illegal" settlements in the West Bank; the next time he utters the phrase "double standard" in the presence of a U.S. diplomat, we suggest a query about Mr. Bashir.

If you're trying to make the case that your guy deserves the Nobel PEACE Prize, showing him cozying up to the Butcher of Darfur is probably not the best idea.

Really, I have no idea how official this Facebook page is. Still the message it promotes is at once absurd and revolting. On the other hand Yasser Arafat did win the Nobel Peace Prize so perhaps I shouldn't dismiss it.

Crossposted on Yourish.

BBC: "On the face of it, the Iranian version now sounds a lot more credible"

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 11:50 PM PDT

It is hard to follow the reasoning here of the BBC's "Tehran correspondent." Perhaps it is odd for a defector to ask to go home, but it is also odd for an abductee simply to be released:

There are two diametrically opposed versions of the story. Iran says Shahram Amiri was kidnapped. American sources said that he defected and was giving them high-grade information on the Iranian nuclear programme.

On the face of it, the Iranian version now sounds a lot more credible, as Shahram Amiri has made his way to the Iranian diplomatic mission in Washington, apparently of his own accord.

However the United States continues to insist that Mr Amiri came to them freely, and has now left them freely.

And despite all the American actions over recent years, including the use of extraordinary rendition, and the existence of Guantanamo Bay, the seizure of a foreign scientist would surely be something of a different order.

The article goes on to spend several paragraphs discussing the fact that "Iranian exiles" are often threatened by the Revolutionary Guards, but concludes "Nevertheless there is no evidence of any such pressure on Mr Amiri." Like what, for instance? Meanwhile, at PressTV, Amiri's statements seem to fit right in with the usual offerings of the Iranian press.

[...] "While I was being interrogated by US intelligence agents, they urged me to announce that I carried a laptop containing important information and applied for asylum," he said.

He further added that he had resisted pressure by the US government and Western media.

The Iranian scholar said the US agents had threatened to "transfer me to prisons of the Zionist regime if I refused to cooperate with them." [...]

And we're supposed to believe he wasn't terrified into instant submission?

Crossposted on Judeopundit

Shalom usa's upcoming 11th anniversary dinner

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 10:26 PM PDT

Shalom USA is holding its 11th annual dinner July 25 featuring Jerusalem Post editor and columnist Caroline Glick and honoring Sheldon Berman.


Submitted 07/15/10

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 10:22 PM PDT

This weeks' Watcher's Council submissions are UP!

Council Submissions

Non Council Submissions

Read. Enjoy, Be informed.

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