On January 1 The New York Times headlined a lengthy news story on the Palestinian refusal to consider recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in the following fashion: “Sticking Point in Peace Talks: Recognition of a Jewish State.”
The piece began:
As Middle East peace talks churn on, Israel has catapulted to the fore an issue that may be even more intractable than the old ones like security and settlements: a demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made such recognition the pillar of his public statements in recent weeks, calling it “the real key to peace,” “the minimal requirement” and “an essential condition.” Israeli, American and Palestinian officials all say it has become a core issue in the negotiations that started last summer….
Critics skeptical of Mr. Netanyahu’s commitment to a two-state solution to the long-running conflict say that recognition of a Jewish state is a poison pill that he is raising only to scuttle the talks. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has repeatedly said that the Palestinians will never agree to it….
Contrast the tone of that story with a Jan. 11 Times article, written, as was the first one, by Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren, on Israel’s announcement of new housing construction in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The headline on that one read “In Blow to Peace Effort, Israel Publishes Plans for New Housing in Settlements,” and the story said, in pertinent part:
The Israeli government on Friday published plans to build 1,400 housing units in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a move the chief Palestinian negotiator condemned as a “slap” to Secretary of State John Kerry’s intense push for a Middle East peace deal….
It continues a pattern that began with the peace talks last summer, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has struggled to please his politically complex coalition government by both engaging in the talks and continuing to expand settlements, something the Palestinians and many world powers contend undermines the prospects for a two-state solution.
“Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sent a message to Mr. Kerry today, and the message reads, ‘Do not continue your peace efforts,’ the Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said in an interview. “They know very well that this destroys the peace process.”
So for the Times, the Palestinian refusal to even consider the notion of a Jewish state is a mere “sticking point in peace talks” while Israel’s plans for new housing is a “blow to [the] peace effort.” Never mind that the seminal Balfour Resolution spoke of “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” as far back as 1917, and that the 1948 UN Partition Resolution provided for the establishment of “Jewish” and “Arab” states in Palestine.
The Times just gave its website a complete overhaul in a bid to lure more readers, who must pay for reading Times articles online. In terms of its biased Mideast coverage, however, it’s definitely a case of same old, same old.