November 25, 2001
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The lead article in the Week in Review section of today's New York Times reports on the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. The article refers to a "framework" for what Yasser Arafat -- indelicately, given the historical resonances -- calls a "permanent solution."
The Times reports that under this framework, "A sovereign Palestinian state would be proclaimed, but would agree to remain demilitarized."
"Remain" demilitarized? As the Times itself reports elsewhere in today's newspaper, "Palestinians regularly lob mortar shells into Netzarim," an Israeli community in the Gaza Strip. A front-page article in the October 6, 2001, New York Times reported, "This afternoon, in the shade cast by a building, six Palestinian soldiers drank cups of sweet Arabic coffee, a half hour after trading shots with Israeli tanks."
A situation such as the present one, in which the Palestinian Arabs have "soldiers" and regularly lob mortar shells at Israeli Jews, can not be considered "demilitarized" by any accurate use of the term. The Palestinian Arabs are supposed to be demilitarized under the agreements that Israel signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization, but the PLO has violated those agreements. It's nonsensical to speak of the Palestinian Arabs agreeing to "remain demilitarized."
The same Week in Review article speaks of a "framework" for Jerusalem. "The rest of the Old City would be divided up, as it already is, and the outlying portions of the city divided roughly along the lines of who lives where now," the Times says. It's inaccurate to say that the Old City is "already" divided up. There are various quarters where members of one religion or background are dominant, but the entire city is under Israeli sovereignty.
The New York Times betrays its odd perceptions of the situation in Israel elsewhere in today's paper as well. In the book review section, a Times reporter writes about the Dome of the Rock, "The current Palestinian uprising, the Aksa intifada, is named after it." A more likely explanation is that the uprising is named after Al Aksa mosque, which is near the Dome of the Rock but is a different building.
And in the international section, today's Times reports, "While Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, has accepted the idea of a two-state solution to the conflict here, Hamas rejects a negotiated settlement." The notion that Mr. Arafat has accepted a "two-state solution" is in fact highly debatable. In fact, the Israel government press office has repeatedly accused Mr. Arafat of pursuing a "phased plan" aimed at using a Palestinian Arab state as a platform to achieve the ultimate goal of Israel's destruction. According to an Israeli government press release, "Chairman Arafat habitually invokes the June 8, 1974 resolution of the Palestinian National Council [PNC], known as the 'Phased Plan' for Israel's destruction. The decision contains two key elements: first, to create a Palestinian state on any territory vacated by Israel (paragraph 2); and second, to use that state as a base for mobilizing a general Arab assault on Israel (paragraph 8 of the resolution)." Mr. Arafat has made these references publicly -- in an interview on Egyptian Orbit TV, April 18, 1998, and in an interview with the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, on the occasion of Fatah day, January 1, 1998. Mr. Arafat's aides and officials of the Palestinian Authority have made similar comments casting doubt on their willingness to accept a two-state solution. And never mind what Mr. Arafat and his aides say -- if you look at what they do, in terms of the textbooks in Palestinian Arab schools, the propaganda in Arafat-controlled Palestinian television, radio and newspapers, and in terms of the PLO's willingness to embrace other terrorist groups that aim even more openly at the immediate destruction of Israel, it becomes difficult to credit the assertion by the Times that Mr. Arafat "has accepted the idea of a two-state solution."
Snow Job: An Associated Press dispatch picked up in the New York Times sports section today reports, "The quality of man-made snow is so superior to Mother Nature's version that the International Ski Federation requires a base of manufactured snow for its races." This may be a matter of opinion rather than of an empirical judgment about superior snow "quality." There may be a difference between the "base" and the actual surface one skis on. And there's no accounting for the International Ski Federation. But let's just say that if Smartertimes.com had the choice of schussing down some fresh-from-the-sky snow or some that was pumped out of some snowmaking guns, Smartertimes.com would go with the natural stuff. Not even a close call.
Blowing Smoke: The international section of today's New York Times carries a dispatch from Geneva about "proposals for a global ban on advertising and promotion of cigarettes." Not a word in the story about the First Amendment, which any American backing of such a ban would surely run up against pretty quickly.
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