web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Israeli Officials Escalate War Of Words With The N.Y. Times


Thomas Friedman is visiting in Israel this week.

Thomas Friedman is visiting in Israel this week.

Share Button

WASHINGTON – Israeli officials are stepping up their criticism of The New York Times, slamming columnist Thomas Friedman and arguing that the newspaper is an unfit venue for an op-ed column from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a scathing letter first leaked last week to The Jerusalem Post, Ron Dermer, a top aide to Netanyahu, declined an invitation for the prime minister to write an op-ed for the Times. By way of explanation, Dermer cited what he alleged was the newspaper’s anti-Israel tilt.

“It would seem as if the surest way to get an op-ed published in The New York Times these days, no matter how obscure the writer or the viewpoint, is to attack Israel,” he said.

Dermer’s letter came just days after Friedman, a frequent critic of Israeli settlement policies, asserted that U.S. congressional support for Netanyahu was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), a top congressional appropriator, joined a chorus of commentators in decrying Friedman’s allegation. And Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, said Friedman had “strengthened a dangerous myth.”

“This allegation is profoundly disturbing,” Oren told JTA. “The term ‘Israel lobby’ implies the existence of a Zionist cabal wielding inordinate economic and political power. Unintentionally, perhaps, Friedman has strengthened a dangerous myth.”

The recent flaps are casting a light on the degree to which the Israeli government believes it has not been getting a fair shake from what is arguably the most influential newspaper in the world.

In September, in an editorial about the push for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood, the Times declared in an editorial that it put the “greater onus on Mr. Netanyahu” for the stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks, claiming he “has used any excuse to thwart peace efforts.”

In another editorial a few days later, the newspaper accused Netanyahu of refusing “to make any compromises with the Palestinians.”

The Times published a response from Israeli Embassy spokesman Lior Weintraub in which the Israeli official noted that during his current tenure, Netanyahu has endorsed the idea of a Palestinian state, pushed for direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without pre-conditions, ordered the removal of hundreds of checkpoints and implemented an “unprecedented 10-month moratorium on new West Bank settlement construction.”

Netanyahu “offered to extend the moratorium for an additional three months if the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table. But they did not,” Weintraub continued, adding that in his May speech to Congress the prime minister said that “some settlements will end up beyond Israel’s borders” and pledged that the Jerusalem issue could be resolved “with creativity and with good will.”

Weintraub argued that “obscuring Mr. Netanyahu’s record in pursuing peace only emboldens the Palestinians to avoid direct negotiations with a genuinely willing and eager partner.”

Dermer in his letter suggested that ignoring Netanyahu’s outreach amounted to bad will. Times columnists, Dermer said, “consistently distort the positions of our government and ignore the steps it has taken to advance peace. They cavalierly defame our country by suggesting that marginal phenomena condemned by Prime Minister Netanyahu and virtually every Israeli official somehow reflects government policy or Israeli society as a whole.”

The letter has created a Washington buzz, with some officials with pro-Israel groups scratching their heads at the strategy. Off the record, they say they agree with Dermer’s assessment of the Times, but wonder at the wisdom of turning down an opportunity to appear on one of the most influential op-ed pages in the United States.

David Harris, the American Jewish Committee’s executive director, would not comment on the strategy, but said it was clear that the Times had a problem with Israel, noting some of the trends Dermer listed in his letter: The Friedman column and others critical of Israel by Nicholas Kristof; publishing, without adequate redress, an op-ed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that blames Israel for rejecting two states in 1947, when it was the Arabs who rejected the UN partition plan; and a column suggesting that Israel’s gay rights advances were merely a function of a propaganda campaign to make Arabs seem backward.

Friedman in his column listed reasons he believes American Jews like himself are growing uncomfortable with Israel: the closeness of the foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to Russian autocrats and their anti-democratic leanings; the controversy about segregating women from men on buses that serve haredi Orthodox neighborhoods; a slate of laws seeking to limit the influence of human rights groups; and attacks by extremist settlers on Palestinians and the Israeli army.

“I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics,” Friedman wrote, referring to Netanyahu’s address to a joint session last May. “That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

In response to Friedman’s column, Rothman issued a statement saying that the characterization of the nature of congressional support for Netanyahu reinforced a “dangerous narrative” about supporters of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.

“I gave Prime Minister Netanyahu a standing ovation not because of any nefarious lobby, but because it is in America’s vital national security interests to support the Jewish State of Israel and it is right for Congress to give a warm welcome to the leader of such a dear and essential ally,” Rothman said. “Mr. Friedman owes us all an apology.”

– JTA (JTA Editor-in-Chief Ami Eden contributed to this report.)

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Israeli Officials Escalate War Of Words With The N.Y. Times”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest News Stories
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden

Many Pakistanis consider bin Laden a “hero of Islam.”

Two major obstacles have kept Israel from joining the program: Allegations by U.S. officials that Israel has discriminated against Arab- and Muslim-Americans seeking entry, and a proliferation of young Israelis traveling to the United States as tourists and then working illegally.

A Lebanese man who was arrested in Thailand on suspicion of belonging to Hezbollah admitted to targeting Israelis, Thai media reported.

On Friday afternoon, Syrian fighter jets hit opposition/rebel targets and villages on the Syrian side of the Ramat HaGolan (Golan Heights), in the Quneitra region. Large pillars of smoke are seen rising from struck areas. Quneitra is the site of an official crossing between Syria and Israel on the Golan. IAF jets were sent out […]

As Rabbi Stav said, “You’re free to think what you want. But do you want me to recognize Chelsea Clinton’s child as a Jew?”

Chimpanzees and Orangutans eat Matza, unleavened bread traditionally eaten during the Passover holiday, at the Ramat Gan Safari on Thursday, April 17, 2014. I hope they can digest it. On Passover no leavened bread (Chametz) is allowed in Jewish possession, and that includes food we feed our animals.

Following intelligence reports of further expected Arab rioting and violence on the Temple Mount today, the police have placed restrictions on Muslim entry to the Jewish holy site, according to a report on Arutz-7. Entry will be limited to Muslims over the age of 50, and women, also they must be Israeli citizens or residency […]

PA President Abbas’s refusal to publicly condemn the terror attack that killed Baruch Mizrachi is putting a damper on the parade.

The Shas political party, founded and run by the late Rav Ovadia Yosef, has a appointed a new spiritual leader, according to a Galei Tzahal report. The rabbi chosen to replace Harav Ovadia and be the new president of the party’s Council of Torah Sages is Rabbi Shalom Cohen. Aryeh Deri is the political leader […]

In 1941, the Jews of Kiev received a similar leaflet. When they showed up the next day, more than 34,000 were murdered.

Teen stabbed in South Florida high school.

The Kotel Plaza, the stairs, the Kotel entrance, the roads, everything was packed for Birkat Cohanim – the Priestly Blessing of the People – now imagine if this had been held on top of Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount!

Four Israeli citizens were hurt Thursday in a road terror attack near Tekoa in Gush Etzion.

Israel Police closed access to the Temple Mount to Jews and other non-Muslims on Thursday due to Arab violence.

Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine this week were ordered to “register” themselves and their assets.

U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk is on his way back to the region to revive talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

More Articles from Ron Kampeas

But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.

Russian-Army-031414

Tensions between Russia and the West are mounting over the Russian military takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, with the United States and European countries threatening to impose sanctions.

Expansive outreach, of course, is nothing new for AIPAC. But in the wake of battles over Iran sanctions legislation that pitted the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse against the White House, many congressional Democrats and liberals more generally, AIPAC’s traditional emphasis on Israel as a bipartisan issue has taken on added urgency.

Administration officials and Jewish groups sympathetic to Kerry’s initiative say there is a longer-term agenda in preempting attacks on the framework peace agreement the Obama administration is expected to propose soon.

“As we have since the beginning of the process, we continue to support Secretary Kerry’s diplomatic efforts to achieve a secure and lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman said in a statement to JTA.

WASHINGTON – Until recently, the rule of thumb in the pro-Israel community was that the bigger the academic group, the less likely it was to consider a boycott of Israeli colleagues.

WASHINGTON – Amid simmering tensions over Iran policy, the Obama and Netanyahu governments appear to have quietly forged common ground in recent weeks on Israeli-Palestinian talks, with the United States accepting that a possible “framework” agreement might not address every outstanding issue in the negotiations.

WASHINGTON – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping the enemy of one’s enemy truly does become a friend.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israeli-officials-escalate-war-of-words-with-the-n-y-times-over-anti-israel-tilt/2011/12/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: