Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Times Op-Ed Page Sanitizes Hamas

The New York Times Op-Ed Page prides itself on its fact-checking. In an essay on the Times website, the op-ed editor says that his staff fact-check each article on all things major and minor, and that "if news articles - from The Times and other publications - are at odds with a point or an example in an essay, we need to resolve whatever discrepancy exists."

Pretty air-tight, wouldn't you say? So perhaps someone can explain to me how the Times's eagle-eyed op-ed editors published today an op-ed piece, from The Economist's Jerusalem correspondent Gideon Lichfield, containing this amazing statement: "If Hamas in fact harbors long-term plans to destroy the Jewish state, as some fear, then such statements are ploys to give it time to build up its strength." [emphasis added]

As "some fear"? Hamas's aim to destroy Israel is not something that people "fear" but is rather an established, off-repeated goal -- stated by Hamas time and time again in every conceivable forum. It is, for example, the central obsession of the Hamas charter--which makes the "fear" pretty dang realistic, wouldn't you say?

Mind you, this sentence is the linchpin of the entire article, which uses the supposedly unsuccessful boycott of Cuba to argue against similar tactics against Hamastan. But his entire thesis is predicated on a false assumption -- that Hamas's goal of destroying Israel is not, in fact, its goal but rather something that exists in the minds of wimpy westerners.

Lichfield himself acknowledges that if Hamas really wants to destroy Israel, "unrestricted foreign aid will make it more dangerous."

This is not just an intellectually dishonest opinion piece -- it is factually incorrect, bad journalism. It is yet another example of the degradation of a once-great newspaper.

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