Thursday, September 22, 2005

US Slams the Pals -- Not Fit to Print

Did you know that the U.S. government yesterday criticized the Palestinian response to the disorder in Gaza? Not if you read the New York Times.

One central tenet of the Sulzberger Indifference Template, the Times policy of handling news concerning the Arab-Israel conflict, has been to promote the myth of Palestinian moderation. To do that, it is essential that this once-great newspaper downplay U.S. criticism that runs counter to this myth. One of the most effective ways of doing that, as I mentioned the other day, is to simply not report stuff.

So unless you follow Voice of America website, you won't know the following:

Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, C. David Welch, says Mr. Abbas has major challenges ahead. "Although President Mahmoud Abbas has taken some steps to assert control, overall Palestinian Authority performance to date has been far from satisfactory. The [Palestinian Authority] must move quickly to establish order and to take steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terror," he said.
Not one word in the Times on this, or any of the other numerous comments by high administration officials that are critical of the Palestinians. For example, in an interview with TIME editors published Monday by the State Department, Condoleeza Rice said that Abbas must disarm the Fatah militias:

"Any functioning democracy has to have one authority and one gun, as Mahmoud Abbas has put it. So I think we will want to work with the international community to address this question. I think it is an extremely important question because I don't, frankly, think Hamas can have it both ways. Now, I think it would be a good start for the Palestinians, by the way, if they would disarm the militias of Fatah. That would be a good start. They have a roadmap obligation to disarm terrorist organizations and militias. But as a starting point, because I understand that there are complications with Hamas and there are questions about how capable they would be of actually insisting on disarmament of Hamas."

Surprised? You would be if you read the Times. You also don't see critical comments by members of Congress, such as the head of the House Middle East subcommittee, Ilena Ros-Lehtinen.

This is more than just bad journalism. By ignoring such criticism, the Times is trying--with some success--to take the heat off the Palestinians. Ironically, the Times' actions--or, I should say, non-actions--actually encourage Palestinian intransigence and thereby undermine the mythological "moderation" the newspaper is trying to hard to promote.

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