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Middle East Issues





Baltimore Sun Editorial Calls Israel 'Apartheid' State


In an egregious editorial, “Jerusalem's nightmare: Our view: Violence will never lead to peace for Palestinians or Israelis” (Oct. 18, 2015 print, October 17 online) The Baltimore Sun asserts a transparently false equivalence between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, between Jewish and Muslim societies.

“Blame the government of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, whose intransigence and rejection of any step that might lead to a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict has diminished Israel's stature in the world and turned his country into something that increasingly resembles an apartheid state.

“And blame Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has cynically stoked his people's discontents with propaganda and lies in a transparently self-serving attempt to maintain his own dwindling hold on power.”

Or blame The Baltimore Sun for so distorting events—in just five short paragraphs—as to make understanding and judgment impossible.

Intransigence and rejection? Netanyahu repeatedly has urged Abbas to return to direct Israeli-Palestinian talks about resolving the conflict. But the Palestinian side, whether led by Yasser Arafat or Abbas, rejected a West Bank and Gaza Strip “Palestine,” with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, in 2000 and 2001, if it meant peace with Israel as a Jewish state. It did the same under Abbas in 2008, and rejected U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's “framework” for renewed talks in 2014. (See “Stop Giving Palestinians a Pass,” New York Times Op-Ed by Amb. Dennis Ross, Jan. 1, 2015. Ross refers to three rejections, not counting the 2001 rebuff at Taba, Egypt.)

Apartheid state? The Sun well knows that Israeli Arabs, legally and politically better off than Arabs almost anywhere else in the Middle East, enjoy the same civil rights as Israeli Jews. It knows that Palestinian Arabs in the Gaza Strip are ruled not by Israel but the Islamic fundamentalists of Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, and that Abbas' thuggish, corrupt PA supervises the daily lives of more than 90 percent of West Bank Arabs. Yet the paper insinuates falsely that Israel deserves the “apartheid” label, a favorite of anti-Zionists and antisemites everywhere.
 
Conflating  Palestinian intolerance with Israeli fear

Sun editorial writers ask, “How can anyone live in a society so pervaded by fear, hatred and intolerance that desperate people carrying guns, knives and meat cleavers hurl themselves on utter strangers with furious, murderous intent?” But rather than disentangle “fear” from “hatred and intolerance” The Sun erroneously claims “there's plenty of blame to go around for this latest wave of violence.”

No, there's not. The society “pervaded by fear” is that of Jewish Israelis. The one pervaded by “hatred and intolerance” that drives members to “hurl themselves on utter strangers,” so long as they're Jews, is an Arab-Islamic one.

“Blame the Palestinian murderers whose anger and frustration over Israel's occupation of the West Bank offer not the slightest justification for their horrible acts,” The Sun intones. But most of the stabbers, shooters, meat cleaver swingers and motorists running over Israelis, young and old, civilians and police, have been Israeli Arabs or Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem, either with the same rights as Israeli Jews or, in the latter case, residency permits and privileges entitling them to similar treatment (“No country for Jews?” Daniel Gordis, New York Daily News, Oct. 18, 2015).

Israel's partial military occupation of the West Bank (the Palestinian Authority supervises nearly all Arab residents on a day-to-day basis) has next to nothing to do with the current wave of deadly attacks against Jews. Muslim religious incitement, which The Sun's mention of Abbas' “cynical” use of “propaganda and lies” refers to, does. The lie that “Al-Aqsa mosque” is in danger has been invoked periodically since the 1920s by Muslim leaders to instigate anti-Jewish riots and massacres. That is, since long before “the occupation.” (See CAMERA's “Incitement Over Temple Mount Leads to Palestinian Violence, Again,” Sept. 16, 2015.)

But to be accurate and specific—unlike the editorial—those “hurling themselves on utter strangers with murderous intent” are less desperate than enraged. They've been that way this time around since Abbas in an August 1 speech alluded to the “al-Aqsa's in danger” libel. “Moderates” including Abbas, and radicals such as Hamas-approved clergy in the Gaza Strip—from which Israel withdrew in 2005—have continued to inflame anti-Jewish emotions.

Yet The Sun's editorial doesn't just diverge from this reality, it swerves. “Blame the Israeli settlers who have been carrying out reprisal attacks against West Bank Palestinians for years, often with impunity. Their crimes, too, are inexcusable.” Such blatantly false attempts at “a plague on both your houses” moral symmetry make the paper sound foolish at best, ethically bankrupt at worst.
 
Pretending Palestinian violence balances Israeli attacks

The Sun's never reported a wave of Jews, settlers or otherwise, stabbing, shooting, chopping and running over Palestinian Arabs because it never happened. There have been a small number of cases of Israeli Jews shooting West Bank Arabs to death—sometimes, as the paper writes, in “reprisal” for Palestinian terrorism. Those relatively few killings committed not in self-defense have been condemned by Israeli society, not celebrated as Arabs have the latest murders of Jews.

Having smeared Israel and pushed a fraudulent moral symmetry, the editorial staggers to its stale conclusion:

“Breaking the cycle of violence cannot be achieved through more violence. If the killing is to end, Israelis and Palestinians must negotiate an agreement to live in peace, side-by-side in two states with mutual respect.” The Sun refuses, as it has in the past, to acknowledge repeated Palestinian rejection of negotiations to achieve just such an outcome (noted above). Hebrew University Prof. Shlomo Avineri, long a support of Israel's center-left Labor Party, recently said what The Sun denies:

“…[A]ccording to the Palestinian view, the Jews are not a nation but a religious community, and as such not entitled to national self-determination which is, after all, a universal imperative.” While there are many reasons the “peace process” has failed, Avineri notes “beyond all these lies a fundamental difference in the terms in which each side views the conflict, a difference many tend to choose to overlook” (“The Paranoid, Supremacist roots of the Stabbing Intifada,” by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, Oct. 16, 2015).
 
That difference is while most Israelis still would support a two-state solution—provided Palestinian Arabs would uphold it—most of the latter still believe all “Palestine,” all eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel) is a sacred Islamic trust. More than a few of them will commit murder for that belief and many others applaud. The Baltimore Sun's tarring of Israel with the brush of Palestinian intolerance sticks to the newspaper, not the Jewish state.

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