The Quneitra Question
May 8, 2001
comments powered by Disqus
Friends of Israel know they are in trouble when they have to look to the New York Times editorials for more favorable treatment than the Times news columns are giving the Jewish state. So it's illuminating this morning to read the lead Times editorial, which says, "Yesterday the pope visited Quneitra, a city in the Golan Heights that Syria chose for political reasons. It maintains that the city was razed by Israel in 1974 before being returned to Syria, which Israel disputes."
Oh -- so it turns out that the razing of Quneitra is just something that Syria "maintains" and that Israel "disputes." That must come as news to those who rely on the news columns of the Times for their information.
Here is how a New York Times news article from Damascus on May 6, 2001, described Quneitra: "a city in the Golan Heights captured by Israel in the 1967 war and destroyed before it was returned in 1974, and which Syria has preserved as a museum of Israeli brutality." Nothing there about the facts of the matter being disputed. No attribution, even. The Syrian claim is stated as simple historical fact.
Here is how a New York Times news article from Damascus on May 7, 2001, described Quneitra: "a city on the Golan Heights that was captured by Israel during the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war and destroyed just before the area was returned under a 1974 agreement. Syria has left it ruined as a museum of Israeli aggression." Again, nothing about the facts of the matter being disputed. Again, no attribution.
The claim that Israel "razed" the town before returning it, in a demonstration of "aggression" or "brutality," is false. The town was destroyed by war, not by Israelis deliberately wrecking it before giving it back to Syria. As the book "Myths and Facts" notes, in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Quneitra "was shelled and captured by Syrian troops, retaken by Israelis, and then defended against intense Syrian counter attacks. Tanks roamed through the town, between and through buildings." The book also reports that Quneitra "also suffered damage from 81 days of artillery duels that preceded the disengagement." The book also cites a May 5, 1974, dispatch from Quneitra published in the Times of London, which reported the town "is in ruins and deserted after seven years of war and dereliction. It looks like a wild west town struck by an earthquake. . . Nearly every building is heavily damaged and scores have collapsed." That dispatch is dated weeks before the May 31, 1974 separation-of-forces agreement between Israel and Syria that provided for an Israeli withdrawal from Quneitra.
If the Times news department is going to pass along these groundless Syrian allegations of Israeli brutality and aggression, the least it could do is be as fair as the editorial writer (which is to say, minimally) and report that Israel disputes them.
Gore Campaign Continues: The lead, front-page news article in today's New York Times contains a quote from Michael O'Hanlon criticizing a Bush administration Pentagon outer-space initiative as "a badly premature idea." The Times identifies Mr. O'Hanlon as "a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a non-profit policy group." However, on September 4, 2000, the Times identified him as "a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington who has informally consulted for the Gore campaign." Now that George W. Bush is president and the Times is quoting Mr. O'Hanlon criticizing his policies, the newspaper apparently finds Mr. O'Hanlon's Gore connection not worth disclosing.
'The Right Direction': In an editorial today on Sunday's mayoral debate (the Times editorialists apparently couldn't be troubled to crank out a comment on it in time for Monday's paper), the New York Times asserts that the four major Democratic candidates for mayor of New York are "going in the right direction." Going in the left direction would be more like it. When the candidates were asked in the debate which of the last three mayors they would prefer, not one of them named Mayor Giuliani. The Times seems to consider this "the right direction," apparently hoping that the city returns to the Koch and Dinkins days.
'Advocates for the Poor': The lead news article in the metro section of today's New York Times reports on a dispute over time limits and welfare. The Times twice describes the opponents of time limits as "advocates for the poor," and portrays them as opposing the Giuliani administration. Describing these opponents of welfare reform as "advocates for the poor" spins the article in their favor. They could just as easily be described as "advocates for welfare" or "opponents of welfare reform" or "opponents of time limits" or "opponents of work" or "advocates of poverty." The phrase "advocates for the poor" suggests that what the advocates in question are advocating is in the interests of the poor. In fact, that is the very issue under dispute. The Giuliani administration, welfare reformers, and other true "advocates for the poor" suggest that what would really help the poor is if they got jobs and became self-sufficient, thus getting themselves on the way to being less poor, or even not poor. When the Times sets up this false conflict between the Giuliani administration and "advocates for the poor," it obscures the real issues.
Skipping School: A dispatch from Albany in the metro section of today's New York Times reports on a demonstration by "about 1,000 students and parents" in opposition to new standards for high school graduation in the Empire State. The Times totally misses the angle that these students protesting the academic standards were skipping class. The New York Post has a more clever dispatch in today's editions that throws that issue into sharper relief.
Subscribe to the Mailing List
© 2017 FutureOfCapitalism LLC