OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Hamas and Israel in ‘The New York Times’

Israel must relinquish its biblical homeland for a Palestinian state. Only that will satisfy the paper of record.

The New York Times distribution truck. Credit: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.
The New York Times distribution truck. Credit: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.
Jerold S. Auerbach
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of 12 books, including Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel (1896-2016) and Israel 1896-2016, selected for Mosaic by Ruth Wisse and Martin Kramer as a “Best Book for 2019.”

The New York Times editorial board seldom consumes half of the Opinion page to display its thoughts. Nov. 26 was one of those exceptions. Not surprisingly, the focus was on the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. Titled “The Only Way Forward,” its opening paragraph linked Israel and the Palestinians to “the only solution that makes sense: separate states side by side.” History demonstrates that “neither side can achieve its longed-for security, dignity or peace through violence.”

Summarizing previous attempts that failed, despite generous offers by Israeli prime ministers that included sharing Jerusalem and establishing free passage between the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat rejected them. “Zealots on both sides”—a common Times refrain that blames Israelis and Palestinians alike for Palestinian intransigence—refused to cooperate.

The editorial board reminds readers that it has “called many times for an independent Palestine state alongside Israel.” But “the endless cycle of violence,” predictably (again) “on both sides,” has prevented it. While recognizing Hamas terrorism and the weakness of the Palestinian Authority, Israel, as “the dominant power,” must lead the way “toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

It is a preposterous suggestion.

How might this happen? Only, according to the Times, if Israel realizes that it “must jettison” the Netanyahu government … which has steadfastly worked against a settlement with the Palestinians,” who, to be sure, have shown no sign of working toward a settlement with Israel. Otherwise, the editors predict, Israel will remain responsible for “continuing the occupation and incorporating occupied territories“ under its control. In translation, Israel must relinquish its biblical homeland for a Palestinian state. Only that will satisfy the Times.

For the Times, the primary obstacle towards peace with Palestinians is not Palestinian rejection of every Israeli peace offer, stretching back decades, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Everything he has done,” according to Times editors, is “to expand settlements in the West Bank” (nowhere identified by the Times as biblical Judea and Samaria) and “stymie the peace process,” as though enduring Palestinian obstinacy was inconsequential. Predictably for the Times, Netanyahu is held responsible for undermining the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. (No evidence is provided.) He is blamed, preposterously, for “tacitly helping Hamas consolidate its power in Gaza.” (No evidence is offered.) Editors are oblivious to the reality that no Palestinian leader, beginning with Yasser Arafat and continuing to this day with Mahmoud Abbas (now serving the 18th year of his four-year term as Palestinian Authority president), has shown any interest in reaching a peace agreement with Israel.

Only near the end of its two-column diatribe does the board acknowledge: “Holding Israel’s leaders to account” (an enduring Times preoccupation) “in no way lessens the responsibility that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad bear for the present suffering in Gaza.” But in an absurd comparison, it quickly segues to Netanyahu, who is no less to blame than Hamas for the absence of “credible negotiations toward peace.”

Ignoring the recent horrific Hamas attack that murdered 1,200 Israelis, children included, the editors conclude, with appalling moral equivalency: “The critical qualification is for each side to understand the yearnings and fears of the other and to accept that the other has a right to exist.” To the editors, Israel shares responsibility for the hideous catastrophe inflicted by Hamas on Jews—because they are Jews. In reality, however, Hamas qualifies as the new Nazis.

If Times’ editors could moderate their enduring and unrelenting laceration of Israel with even a modicum of awareness, they might realize that Jews are entitled to live in a Jewish state without a horrific Hamas attack that slaughtered so many men, women and children—and dragged others over to Gaza as hostages—only because they are Jewish. But given decades of Times criticism of Israel, that seems very unlikely.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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