In his story on upcoming Palestinian elections, “Israel to Disrupt Palestinian Vote if Hamas Runs,” (Sept. 17, 2005), reporter Joel Brinkley portrayed as a unilateral Israeli demand what is in fact a Palestinian obligation under the Oslo Accords to bar terror groups from elections. In a further display of bias Brinkley ignored all other Palestinian obligations under the various peace plans as well, but did note an alleged Israeli violation of the Road Map.
Brinkley began his article by informing readers that:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed Friday to withhold Israeli cooperation from Palestinian legislative elections in January if candidates from the militant group Hamas take part.
"We will make every effort not to help them," he said at a meeting with journalists in New York. "I don't think they can have elections without our help."
Mr. Sharon said Israel could choose not to remove roadblocks and checkpoints that would block Palestinians from the polls and make it hard for Palestinians in Jerusalem to vote, among other steps, if Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction, takes part.
His remarks stunned Palestinian leaders. Hamas is taking part in municipal elections now under way and has made clear its intention to field candidates in January.
Palestinian leaders could be stunned by Sharon’s statements only if they share the New York Times’ apparent amnesia regarding solemn Palestinian commitments under Oslo. Annex 2 of the Interim Agreement, for example, clearly requires the Palestinians to bar terror groups like Hamas from the electoral process:
Article III – Qualification and Nomination of Candidates
The nomination of any candidates, parties or coalitions will be refused, and such nomination or registration once made will be canceled, if such candidates, parties or coalitions:
(1) commit or advocate racism; or
(2) pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful or nondemocratic means.
The racism of Hamas is clear both from its terrorist actions targeting Jews and from its charter, which incorporates numerous anti-Semitic canards, including:
With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.
You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it. (Hamas Charter, Article 22)
While its racist charter alone is enough to bar Hamas from the elections, it is also excluded by the second clause regarding use of unlawful means. As Brinkley notes in his article:
Hamas leaders have taken responsibility for some of the deadliest suicide bombings against Israeli civilians in recent years.
If suicide bombings against civilians are not “unlawful means,” then what would be?
Unfortunately this was not the end of Brinkley’s dereliction – he ignored other solemn Palestinian obligations under Oslo as well. For example, he reported “peace deals” between Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, while neglecting to tell readers that any such deal was yet another Palestinian violation of the Oslo Accords. Here is what Brinkley reported:
But Mr. Abbas has signed a peace deal with Hamas and a similar group, Islamic Jihad, and says the best way to ease them away from violence is to urge them into the political mainstream. Israeli and American officials say that until the groups give up their arms and renounce terrorism, they have no place in the democratic process.
Here is what he ignored – under Article 14 of the Interim Agreement:
3. Except for the Palestinian Police and the Israeli military forces, no other armed forces shall be established or operate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
4. Except for the arms, ammunition and equipment of the Palestinian Police described in Annex I, and those of the Israeli military forces, no organization, group or individual in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shall manufacture, sell, acquire, possess, import or otherwise introduce into the West Bank or the Gaza Strip any firearms, ammunition, weapons, explosives, gunpowder or any related equipment, unless otherwise provided for in Annex I.
Thus under Oslo, the Palestinians were obligated to dismantle the armed group Hamas, not reach “peace deals” with it.
Of course, this obligation to dismantle terror groups was not just an Oslo requirement, it was also restated in the more recent Road Map. While Brinkley ignored that Palestinian obligation in the Road Map, he didn’t ignore the document entirely. In fact, he was all to happy to mention the Road Map when he could allege an Israeli violation regarding settlement expansion. Here in its entirety is what Brinkley had to say about the Road Map:
The prime minister took another position that is sure to please many on the political right at home while irritating Washington: He said Israel would not freeze settlement-building in the West Bank until the final negotiations with the Palestinians years from now, "when we are talking about borders."
"The settlements will be the last phase," he said.
The peace plan, or "road map," that the United States and its allies proposed in 2003 and which Israel has endorsed, calls on Israel to freeze settlement growth as one of the very first steps. Several times on Friday Mr. Sharon repeated that he supported the road map and intended to follow it.
And here is just one of the many Palestinian obligations in the Road Map that Brinkley omitted:
Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.
Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.
By ignoring Palestinian obligations under the various peace plans, and by reporting only an alleged Israeli violation, Brinkley undoubtedly leads many readers to believe that only Israel has obligations under these plans, and that therefore only Israel is to blame for the absence of peace. Brinkley may well believe this false picture, but as a journalist he has an obligation to keep such views out of the news pages.
While there’s no doubt the PA routinely violates its peace-plan obligations, by publishing Brinkley’s skewed and inaccurate dispatches the New York Times violates its journalistic obligations to avoid bias and give readers the full truth.