During CAMERAs 19-month study of guest Op-Eds relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict in the New York Times (January 2006 through July 2007), the newspaper presented twice as many Op-Eds critical of Israel or espousing an Arab perspective as those supportive of Israel or critical of Arab policies. These included several columns by Arab leaders, including Fouad Siniora, prime minister of Lebanon, and Saeb Erekat, chief of the PLO Negotiations Department, as well as two columns by Ahmed Yousef of Hamas.
By contrast, there were no Op-Eds at all by any Israeli leader.
Of 33 Op-Eds dealing directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict, 16 were critical of Israel primarily or advocated an Arab position, eight were critical of the Palestinians or Hezbollah primarily or advocated an Israeli position, and nine were neutral.
The results were much more balanced when it came to those columns that only dealt with the Arab-Israeli conflict tangentially. Of 11 columns only tangentially dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict, six were neutral, not really advocating for one side or another; two could be categorized as critical of Israel; and three could be categorized as supporting an Israeli position.
It appears that overall rather than representing the nations most important forum on the most contentious issues of the day, the New York Times has become a vehicle for one-sided advocacy in a contentious debate.
Primary Op-Eds: Neutral
1) March 23, 2006 Cuba on the West Bank Gideon Lichfield: Argues that banning communication with and aid to Hamas might make it like Cuba, with Fidel Castro gaining popularity, while giving aid might allow a strong Hamas government to show moderation and get rid of its militant branch. Points out if Hamas has long-term plans to destroy Israel, unrestricted aid would make it more dangerous. Concludes both Hamas and Israel should be given incentives to move in the right direction. (Note: This column really leans toward moderating the stance toward Hamas, but since it also mentions arguments against such a change in policy, it was categorized as neutral.)
2) July 14, 2006 Israels Invasion, Syrias War Michael Young: Criticizes both Hezbollah and Israel Hezbollah for overplaying its hand and Israel for brutalizing Lebanon. Syria and Iran are criticized as well. The Op-Ed concludes with an admonishment to Israel Israel must cease its attacks and let diplomacy take over. (Again, this column leans more toward criticism of Israel, but since there is also criticism of Hezbollah, it was categorized as neutral.)
3) July 18, 2006 A Conflict That Will Stay Close to Home Edward Luttwak: Discusses Israeli-Hezbollah conflict as part of larger conflict financed and directed by Iran and Syria.
4) Aug. 2, 2006 Lebanons Force for Good Adir Gurion Waldman: Discusses the Israel-Lebanon monitoring group that was established in 1996 to oversee compliance to an agreement calling for Israel and Hezbollah to shield civilians from violence, and advocates using this as a precedent for calming tensions.
5) Aug. 5, 2006 To Help Israel, Help Syria Andrew Tabler: Urges Bush to modify its democracy agenda to include support for Syrian reform. Although it suggests that only an Israeli pullout from the Golan Heights would entice Damascus to help seal off Hezbollah-controlled areas and ensure that the fighters are eventually disarmed, the main thrust of the column is that the U.S. should assist Syrias reformers to undermine the widespread and increasingly corrosive suspicion in the region that Washingtons democracy agenda is a cover for an Israeli-inspired plan to spread chaos in the Arab world.
6) Jan. 9, 2007 A Green Line in the Sand David Newman: Discusses the Green Line as the default boundary which has finally been recognized anew by the Israeli government (referring to Yuli Tamirs decision to reintroduce the Green Line into Israeli textbooks).
7) July 19, 2007 Forced to Get Along Mark Helprin: Argues that we are on the verge of a rare alignment of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the leading Arab nations and the major powers, and that the opportunity should be seized.
8) Jan. 24, 2007 What if Israel and Syria Find Common Ground Michael Oren: Discusses the possibility of carrying out back-channel meetings between Israel and Syria while the U.S. opposes discussions with Syria.
9) Aug. 22, 2006 In Lebanon, Even Peace Is A Battle Carlos Pascual and Martin Indyk: Discusses reconstruction effort and how U.S. should finance Lebanese reconstruction through the government so that Hezbollah wont gain upper hand. Suggests that Israel although it has its own reconstruction needs, should request that Washington temporarily reallocate some of its annual $2.3 billion in American military assistance to help the Lebanese government.
Primary Op-Eds: Arab Perspective/Critical of Israel
1) Jan. 27, 2006 Hamas at the Helm Fotini Christia and Sreemati Mitter: Acknowledges Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel, but urges a softening of policy toward the party, suggesting Hamas did not include such calls in its campaign and might be changing stance.
2) March 1, 2006 What the P.L.O. Has to Offer Saeb Erekat: Presents PLO advocacy.
3) March 10, 2006 Israels Tragedy Foretold Gershom Gorenberg: Argues against Israeli settlements, claiming they are a violation of international law.
4) May 11, 2006 Cold, Hard Cash Geoff Porter: Urges U.S. and E.U. funding of Hamas-led government, arguing that it will compel Hamas to embrace a 2002 Arab peace initiative, abandon its charter and recognize Israel.
5) July 27, 2006 The Tribes of War Abbas El Zein: Presents personal anecdote of grandmothers suffering during Israels invasion of Lebanon and warns international community not to allow Israel to continue attacks in Lebanon.
6) Aug. 3, 2006 Ground to a Halt Robert Pape: Calls on Israel to stop its offensive against Hezbollah.
7) Aug. 17, 2006 Is Hamas Ready to Deal? Scott Attran: Portrays Hamas leaders as reasonable and calls on Israel to give more concessions to the Palestinians.
8) Aug. 18, 2006 Start Talking to Hezbollah Lakhdar Brahimi: Argues the Hezbollah-Israel war did not begin with abduction of Israeli soldiers, but with the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel as well as Lebanese prisoners and the military occupation and injustice that has come with it.
9) Oct. 7, 2006 We Cant Go Home Again Sam Bahour: Presents allegations of mistreatment by Israel for not approving his application for Palestinian residency. Claims thousands of other Palestinians are in his situation.
10) Nov. 1, 2006 Pause for Peace Ahmed Yousef: Hamas senior official presents Hamas as peace-loving and explains its offer of hudna, or truce, as a step toward peace.
11) Dec. 17, 2006 If You Love Lebanon, Set It Free Robert Grenier: Argues against isolating Hezbollah, and advocates for integrating Hezbollah politically, socially and militarily into the Lebanese state.
12) May 11, 2007 Give the Arab Peace Initiative a Chance Fouad Siniora: Prime Minister of Lebanon accuses Israel of not complying with international law and of illegal occupations, over-flights, detentions, house demolitions, humiliating checkpoints, attacks and counterattacks.
13) June 5, 2007 What if Israel Had Turned Back? Tom Segev: One of Israels revisionist historians alleges leading Israeli policy planners had determined six months before the Six-Day War that capturing the West Bank would be bad for the country.
14) June 18, 2007 New Lyrics for Israel Adam LeBor: Advocates changing Israels national anthem to exclude the term Jewish soul in order to show Israel as an inclusive society.
15) June 20, 2007 What Hamas Wants Ahmed Yousef: Hamas leader is again given platform for propaganda, this time to rail against Fatah and American and Israeli support for Fatah, while claiming to be the moral and peaceful party.
16) July 21, 2007 Getting Hezbollah to Behave Nicholas Noe: Advocates a softening of policy toward Hezbollah, advising Israel and U.S. to pause and take stock of the nonviolent alternatives that Hezbollah itself says would lead it to shun military action and to give Hezollah what it wants.
Primary Op-Eds: Israeli Perspective/Critical of Arabs or Pro-Israel
1) Jan. 6, 2006: In the Shadow of Sharon Benny Morris: Discusses effect of Sharons illness on the future of Israeli policy and advocates unilateral separation because, he maintains, there is no Palestinian partner.
2) March 18, 2006: How I Learned to Love the Wall Irshad Manji: Discusses the separation barrier and Israels reasons for building it, while acknowledging humanitarian discomforts that it may cause.
3) March 27, 2006: Stupor in Our Time Etgar Keret: Presents personal anecdote of self-declared non-Zionist. Israeli author discusses exhaustion of the Israeli public. (More neutral than pro-Israel, but assigned to this category as it is said to represent the Israeli public.)
4) July 18, 2006 The Way We War Etgar Keret: Presents personal anecdotes supposedly portraying the Israeli mindset and suggests Hezbollah-Israel war is one that does not have the same moral ambiguity as Israels war against Palestinians. (This is subtly critical of Israeli policy, particularly its war against Palestinians.)
5) June 22, 2006 Hiding Behind the Enemy Haim Watzman: Discusses Israeli perspective on using Palestinians as human shields.
6) July 19, 2006 Israel Leaves the Scuds Behind Zev Chafets: Presents Israeli mainstream perspective on Israeli-Hezbollah war.
7) Aug. 2, 2006 Peacekeepers Are Not Peacemakers Nancy Soderberg: Discusses the difficulty and danger of international peacekeeping in Lebanon and says that before international peacekeepers go in, the Syrians, Lebanese and Iranians must give up the fiction that Israel did not fully withdraw from Lebanon in 2000 and that the Hezbollah militia must be disarmed and dismantled.
8) June 19, 2007 Brothers to the Bitter End Fouad Ajami: Discusses the fratricidal war between Hamas and Fatah and is critical of both.
Lebanon War, Summer 2006
The New York Times solicited opinions for a July 22, 2006 feature on how to defuse the crisis from seven experts:
1) Avishai Margalit, Israeli left-wing philosopher on the boards of Peace Now and Btselem, calls for substantial outside intervention based on the Saudi peace plan.
Lebanon: Arab Perspective/Critical of Israel
1) Judith Kipper argues that Hezbollah and Hamas whom she describes as political parties and social welfare organizations whose military wings must be disbanded should not be shunned but should be engaged diplomatically.
2) Robert Malley contends that the the U.S. should ease the economic boycott of Hamas and engage them diplomatically.
3) Rashid Khalidi blames the hostilities on Israels nearly 40-year-old occupation of Palestinian lands and its occupation of Lebanon from 1982 to 2000 and says focus should be placed on the underlying problems of Israels denial of rights to Palestinians and the occupation of Arab lands.
4) Chibli Mallat, running for Lebanese president, says the U.N. should pass a resolution putting Lebanon in charge of its territories, and demand that the Israeli and Lebanese governments begin negotiations to address all outstanding issues that are governed by international law, including borders, refugees, water, Lebanese prisoners in Israel and Lebanese citizens who collaborated with the Israeli occupation from 1982 to 2000.
5) Paul Salem, formerly of Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, calls for intervention of international community to insist on cessation of hostilities so that Lebanese cvilians can receive aid, and to help the Lebanese Army assert its authority throughout the country. Any political settlement should insist Israel release Lebanese captives from its jail and induce Hezbollah to return Israeli soldiers.
Lebanon: Israeli Perspective/Critical of Arabs
1) Richard Perle, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, explains that what appears to some to be a disproportionate response to small incursions and kidnappings is, in fact, an entirely appropriate response to the existential struggle in which Israel is now engaged and advises Israel to see current fighting through to a conclusion that is unambiguously a defeat for
Tangential Op-Eds: Neutral
1) March 30, 2006 You Say You Want a Constitution Steven V. Mazie: Does not deal with Arab-Israeli conflict, but discusses the issue of drafting an Israeli constitution.
2) July 21, 2006 Look What Democratic Reform Dragged In Ted Koppel: Discusses the effect of democratic reform with examples of Hamas being voted into power, Hezbollah becoming the most influential political entity in the country and the Shiites having gained power in Iraq.
3) July 26, 2006 "The Enemy of My Enemy Is Still My Enemy Bernard Haykel: Discusses Hezbollahs ascendancy among Sunnis by having taken the lead on the most incendiary issues for jihadis of all stripes: the fight against Israel, and how Hezbollahs effective defeat of Israel has put it in competition with Al Qaeda for popularity among Jihadists.
4) Aug. 24, 2006 Sweating Out the Truth in Iran Maziar Bahari: Explores how much influence Iran has on Hezbollah and how it has become a political liability for Iran to be recognized as a backer of Hezbollah.
5) Oct. 28, 2006 Stuck in the Canal David Fromkin: Looks back at the 1956 Suez crisis and how it marked the moment when America pushed out the Europeans and then tried to take their place.
6) Jan. 4, 2007 Getting the Middle East Back on Our Side Brent Scowcroft: Former national security adviser to Presidents Ford and Bush Sr. discusses the results of the Iraq Study Group, and urges a vigorously renewed effort to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Tangential Op-Eds: Arab Perspective/Critical of Israel
1) April 19, 2006 A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy Tony Judt: Argues for more coverage in mainstream press of Walt and Mearsheimers controversial Israel Lobby paper claiming that a powerful Israeli lobby in the U.S. directs U.S. foreign policy in harmful ways.
2) April 24, 2007 The Neocon Paradox Robert Wright: Criticizes general neocon policy, including condemnation of endorsing the policies of Ariel Sharon, whose assertive policing of the occupied territories was proving counterproductive, helping to radicalize both Palestinian opinion and, via Al Jazeera, Muslim opinion globally.
Tangential Op-Eds: Israeli Perspective/Critical of Arabs
1) July 25, 2006 Another Mans Honor John Tierney: Discusses honor system in Arab culture generally but also quotes from James Bowmans book on the topic saying that Hezbollah is fighting for honor, to humiliate the enemy, not for any particular objective and Israel has no choice in what its doing. Nothing sort of victory by either side will change anything.
2) Aug. 7, 2006 Counterinsurgency, by the Book Richard H. Shultz Jr. and Andrea J. Dew: Discusses the general topic of counterinsurgency, but brings as example Israeli intelligence gathering, concluding that the British and the Israelis have the blueprints for successful intelligence architecture.
3) Jan. 9, 2007 Dont Play With Maps Dennis Ross: Criticizes the maps used by Jimmy Carter in his anti-Israel book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, saying they were misrepresented and dispels mythology that seeks to defend Mr. Arafats rejection of the Clinton ideas by suggesting they werent real or they were too vague or that Palestinians would have received far less than what had been advertised.