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Two Surprises And A Pinhead


The bombing of the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria leaves the Monitor no choice but to again shelve a good-riddance, tribute-in-reverse obituary for an incomparably odious Jew whose stay of Judgment was at long last revoked early last month.

Of the various media responses to the Sbarro atrocity and its aftermath, a couple of pleasant surprises stand out. The New York Times, in an editorial dated Aug. 11, was only minimally critical of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, focusing instead on the fact that, in the Times’s words, “the Palestinian leadership seems unwilling to rein [the violence] in.”

The editorial also characterized as “understandable” Israel’s retaliatory takeover of Orient House, the PLO headquarters in East Jerusalem, and complained that Yasir Arafat “cannot present himself to Israelis and Americans as the leader of the Palestinian people and then plead powerlessness to order and enforce a cease-fire.”

The Washington Post reacted in even stronger terms, calling the Sbarro bombing “simple savagery that no country can reasonably be expected to tolerate …. on a day such as this, what is called for is not negotiation but sympathy and support for the Israeli people.”

But the usual media pinheads were also heard from, as witness the inane question put to Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on “Meet The Press.”  (Mitchell, who is Jewish, was subbing for the program’s regular host, Tim Russert, a non-Jew whose objectivity and interviewing style put Mitchell to shame.)

Mitchell: Bill Kristol, was Israel wrong to retaliate so fiercely?

Kristol: I think they retaliated with amazing moderation. They’ve not…

Mitchell (interrupting): Taking Orient House, taking the Palestinian headquarters…?

Kristol: Yeah. Fifteen civilians are killed by a suicide bomber, and they take a house. That’s a pretty amazingly mild, I would say, retaliation.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page, long a bastion of pro-Israel sentiment, took note last week of those peace-process advocates who, despite having been proved wrong on virtually every front, still presume to offer advice to anyone naive or dense enough to listen. The Journal suggested that if there were the equivalent of a code of military honor in diplomatic and journalistic circles, “the Martin Indyks and Thomas Friedmans of the world would have long since resigned and retired to the golf course. Their logic would be suicidal for Israel.”

The editorial urged the Bush administration to “assist the Israelis, with all the human and technical means available, in targeting those who are plotting to perpetrate more bombings of civilians. These are not ?assassinations.’ They are engagements in a war that is well underway and in which there is a right side and a wrong.”

To syndicated conservative columnist Don Feder, the Journal’s editorial did not go nearly far enough, and in fact melted into a puddle of politically correct glop when it suggested that most Palestinians are “decent, educated people” who not only “yearn for peace,” but are actually “not represented by Yasir Arafat and the other terror chiefs who claim to act in their name.”

Poppycock, said Feder, who pointed to a recent Jerusalem Media Center poll in which 69 percent of Palestinians voiced support for suicide attacks against Israelis – “in other words,” Feder bluntly put it, “the murder of babies.”

To Feder, there is no such thing as a “Palestinian silent majority” that dreams of peaceful coexistence with Israel. “By and large,” he wrote, “the Palestinians who oppose Arafat think he hasn’t gone far enough in killing babies.”

In Feder’s view, Israel has no alternative but to “tell the international community to go to hell, reoccupy Gaza and the West Bank and clean out the terrorist nests (starting with Arafat’s office). After that, Israel can allow the rest of the Palestinians to continue living on the West Bank and Gaza, perhaps exercising a degree of autonomy over their own affairs, contingent on exceedingly good behavior.”

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.

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