October 13, 2000
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With the destruction of Joseph's Tomb, the murder of Hillel Lieberman, and the PLO-police-facilitated lynching yesterday of two Israeli soldiers, one might expect a reckoning from the most ardent enthusiasts of the Arab-Israeli "peace process" here in the American elite. Foremost among those enthusiasts are the New York Times editorialists and the newspaper's foreign affairs columnist, Thomas Friedman.
Such a reckoning took place among the American and British pro-German types and isolationists when it became clear at some point at the middle of the past century that Hitler's appetite for aggression had no bounds. And such a reckoning took place after the Cold War, when it became clear that Reagan's rollback strategy, which so many warned would lead the world to nuclear annihilation, in fact led to a vast expansion of freedom.
But today's New York Times makes it clear that no such reckoning is taking place among the advocates of the appeasement strategy toward the Arab dictators. No, rather than pressing a war to liberate the Arab peoples from their oppressors and to spread the blessings of liberty, the Times and Mr. Friedman are clinging determinedly to their now-discredited approach of relying upon and treating with the very despots who are the source of the violence.
Consider the stirring peroration to the Times' lead editorial this morning: "Mr. Barak seems prepared to do what he can to halt the bloodshed. Mr. Arafat has shown no such inclination in recent days, even though everyone knows he can break the cycle of conflict."
If anything has become clear over the past weeks, it is that Mr. Arafat can't break the cycle of conflict. It is not within him. He is a corrupt terrorist gangster. He is not a man of peace. Even if he were a man of peace -- a big if -- his proto-country is not set up in a way that promotes peace. It is a centralized, non-democratic kleptocracy with no rule of law. In such circumstances, the inhabitants of a country inevitably become restless and seek an outlet for their aggression.
The Times editorial suggests that "Moderate Arab leaders, concerned about the spreading violence, should press for a truce." Which "moderate" Arab leaders is the Times referring to? Is it Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who has ruled with an iron fist since 1981? Is it Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a monarch in a kingdom where the human rights standards that hold sway are primitive? Is it King Abdullah of Jordan, another leader who rules only by the accident of his birth and the maneuvering in the court of his cancer-stricken predecessor? The only leader with a democratic mandate in the Middle East at the moment is Ehud Barak of Israel.
Mr. Friedman also ends his column with a stirring conclusion of dubious wisdom. "Mourn the dead and pray that after this explosion of hatred is over, the parties will find a way to live apart." This is now the progressive, American Jewish left-wing, New York Times-driven, conventional solution to the Middle East conflict: separation. "Live apart." In Kosovo, this sort of thinking is called ethnic cleansing. In America, it is called segregation. In the Middle East, and among the American foreign policy elite represented in the Times, it is called a peace process. What Mr. Friedman calls Ariel Sharon's "peace-destroying provocation" was in fact an expression of what used to be called American liberalism: Sharon was quoted afterward saying "Arabs have the right to visit everywhere in the Land of Israel, and Jews have the right to visit every place in the Land of Israel." In the Friedman-Times worldview, this is defined as a "peace-destroying provocation," while the desired end result that readers should "pray " for is that "the parties will find a way to live apart."
Take Your Pick: "The Middle East was pushed to the brink of an open war," the New York Times writes today in a page-one news story. Hold on, though: "Few Arab officials or independent experts said they thought that the violence would lead to a new Arab-Israeli war. 'The Arabs are too weak to go to war,' said a senior Jordanian official," the New York Times reports today in a dispatch from Jordan that runs in the paper's international section. Take your pick of which story to believe.
Term Limits: An article in the metro section of today's New York Times reports that Mayor Giuliani would consider backing an effort to overturn the term limits on members of the New York City Council. The article goes on for 13 paragraphs and quotes three politicians, but it doesn't include a single quote or reaction from a person who is in favor of term limits. This is despite the fact that a referendum showed that a majority of the city's voters approved of term limits on the council. In contrast, a story on a pro-Israel rally in Manhattan included three paragraphs from an Arab leader that the Times apparently called to add some balance to the article. A reader who didn't know any better might get the idea that the Times included both sides on the Israel story but not on the term-limit story because it has editorial positions against Israel and against term limits. But we would never suggest that as a reason.
Christmas Parties: A story in the metro section of today's Times runs under the headline "New Questions for the First Lady on Donations." The headline could just as well be "New Questions for the Press on Christmas Parties.' The story takes Mrs. Clinton to task for using a guest list for a White House Christmas party to raise money for her campaign. This supposedly blurs the line between official business and politics. But as the Times story itself points out, the Christmas parties "are customarily paid for by the political party that controls the presidency." So they are political events to start with. What's the foul here? Well, the Times has an interest in maintaining the fiction that these are official events, because otherwise its reporters have been dining on eggnog and enjoying free pictures with the president courtesy of that same Democratic National Committee soft-money operation that the Times editorial page has been trying through its support of campaign finance "reform" to get out of politics. Among the 400 Christmas guests now purged from Mrs. Clinton's campaign direct-mail rolls, the Times reports, "were people with White House press credentials, including journalists from ABC News and The New York Times."
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