This week the Monitor hands the ball to The Weekly Standard, which in its Sept. 10 issue featured a transcript of a conversation between a caller identified as "David from Minneapolis" and Diana Nyad, the host of "Savvy Traveler," a Minnesota Public Radio show.
President Bush and his Secretary of State are certainly deserving of all the praise that will be heaped on them in the Anglo-Jewish media over the United States' withdrawal from the Durban Conference. The proposed anti-Israel resolution was an outrage and it was entirely correct for our government to say that this sort of thing would not be dignified by being the subject of debate or negotiations by us. It was also an important message to the Arab world that the United States has no intention of being part of any gang-up on Israel no matter how popular it is, and that we plan to act on principle.
Last week, Time magazine weighed in on Israel's practice of targeting leaders of the Palestinian wave of suicide bombings. To its credit it ran an article by nationally known columnist Charles Krauthammer who cogently ? and with great logic ? presented the issue in terms of whether it is a reasonable and reasoned response to a significant problem. However, a Time staff writer also focused on the Palestinian Authority's summary treatment of those Palestinians accused of providing Israel with intelligence about the comings and goings of the terrorist leaders.
One expects to see harrowing pictures of Palestinian civilians caught in the middle of the crossfire between Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority terrorists chosen as illustrations for stories about the intifada. These instances certainly abound, especially since the Palestinian leaders cynically place their own people in harm's way to elicit sympathy in the world media. And the media, in any event, seem hell-bent to spin the story of Palestinian provocation and Israeli response in terms of the hardships visited on Palestinian civilians. Thus, although Israeli territory is far more open to journalists than Palestinian controlled areas, it is rare that pictures of Israeli civilians under fire ever accompany any of the stories. But last Thursday, The New York Times "picked a beaut" to illustrate a story about Jews under fire in Gilo.
Sounding a theme recurrent in these pages, Fiamma Nirenstein has penned an article, "How Suicide Bombers Are Made," appearing in the current issue of Commentary magazine, which concludes that the problem with Yasir Arafat and company is not that they can't seem to keep their word or that they disagree with this or that Israel imposition, or indeed that they have a recurrent violent bent. It is that they reflect a fundamental difficulty among Arabs with the notion of a Jewish state in the Middle East.
If you were to hook up Israel's left-wing journalists to polygraph machines and inject them with rivers of truth serum, you would no doubt find that many are more than mere ideological poseurs blankly parroting the latest bit of "progressive" dogma. A substantial number really do believe the myth that Israel is a nation of racist imperialists who ruthlessly robbed the Palestinians of their ancient homeland.
Understandably, Monday's State Department rebuke of Israel over the death of senior Palestinian leader Mustafa Zubari and its policy of restricting the movement of Palestinians generally, has led to sharp statements in the Jewish community. There is a general concern that the United States is wavering in its appreciation of the Sharon government's need to get at those who are directing the terror against its citizens and to impede terrorist infiltration. Yet, while the State Department's statement was not at all welcome, we urge that matters be kept in context.
The criticism of Israel's policy of targeting the terrorist infrastructure to thwart assaults on its citizens continues to grow in leftist circles, particularly in Israel. One also finds news articles and editorials sharply condemning Israel for acting as prosecutor, jury and executioner. It seems that they are all quite willing to disable Israel from addressing the cynical strategy hit upon by Arafat and his colleagues to kill Jews without risk through the tactical use of nondescript terrorists and suicide bombers. That is, the terrorist infrastructure must remain untouched because its members, not being turned over by Arafat, were not convicted in a court of law. Happily, the government of Israel is not cowed by this sophistry.
We are certainly gratified by the apparent meeting of the minds between the Jewish and Black communities in Crown Heights. Although we are not as sanguine as some as to how far along the process is, anything that will serve to heal the terrible breach that was revealed in the pogroms there in 1991 against Jews by rampaging blacks is to the good. The apparent rapproachment between the families of Yankel Rosenbaum and Gavin Cato is certainly a good start. But we were dismayed at the take of some in the media.
As readers may recall, several weeks ago, in an Editor's Note accompanying a letter we published, we expressed our displeasure with the writer for seeking to draw The Jewish Press into a local campaign for New York City Council by claiming that we had erroneously reported that one candidate, Samuel Spirgel, had received his support. As we said, we had it right and the writer was plainly changing his mind, doubtless as the result of pressure from one or more formidable supporters of a competing candidate. We were not amused by this attempt to make a political point at the expense of our reportorial reputation.
There is no question that many everyday Palestinians experience disruption in their daily lives because of Israeli security measures against infiltration. It could not be otherwise but that Israel's need to restrict terrorist access to its citizens would also impact on the mobility of those workaday Palestinians. There also can be no question that the overhanging Palestinian terrorist threat is the reason for the stringent Israeli security measures. So, although we have come not to expect too much objectivity these days from The New York Times, the "paper of record" outdid itself on Tuesday. For The Times, the only story to be told about Israel's security measures was the impact they are having on Palestinian civilians.
Prime Minister Sharon is being roundly criticized in his own Likud Party by those who are disenchanted with his policy of "restraint." Indeed, it would now appear that former Prime Minister Netanyahu would win a vote for leadership of the Likud if it were held today. Plainly, there is much frustration with the continuing violence and the failure of Mr. Sharon to bring an end to it.
It will be recalled that The Jewish Press took the lead in criticizing Hillary Clinton during her campaign for the Senate last year. But the fact that we took a back seat to no one in hammering Candidate Clinton for her appalling record on Israel in no way inhibits us from applauding Senator Clinton for her lead role in the efforts to get the International Red Cross to grant membership to the Magen David Adom Society, Israel's rescue and relief service.
For the second week running the Monitor is forced to postpone a celebration of the death last month of one of the wickedest Jews to walk the earth in this or any other generation. The continuing fallout over outgoing New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Deborah Sontag's novella-length rewrite of recent Middle East history leaves no choice but to put away the streamers and the silly hats and reschedule the party for the next column.
One reading Deborah Sontag's front-page article in the July 26th issue of The New York Times could well understand the calls one hears lately for Jews to suspend their Times subscriptions over its outrageous coverage of the Middle East. Ms. Sontag's piece is transparent revisionism which well serves the seeming omnipresent effort to shift the blame for the collapse of Camp David from the Palestinians to something systemic to the Middle East conflict. It almost seems that Ms. Sontag and others now hawking the same line are following a scenario scripted by Arafat lieutenants intent on minimizing Israeli concessions at Camp David and thereby set the stage for the next phase of negotiations.
An article in the Edah group's online journal about women being called to the Torah should be a wakeup call to leaders of Modern Orthodoxy. When Edah was founded several years ago, it unilaterally claimed a place in Modern Orthodoxy. However, Modern Orthodoxy is at a crossroads and it is now time that the Edah message be seen for what it is.