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Jewish World Review
March 10, 2008
/ 3 Adar II 5768
Why Is the NYT So NaÔve?
There are two kinds of editorials on grim issues. One type tries to explain to its readers the origins of the conflict, what sustains it and how the predicament might be eased and even solved. Very few editorials are of this explicatory sort. The other form is hortatory. As if governments and terrorists really give a damn what wisdom the editorial board of The New York Times has for them.
In Saturday's Times there appeared the paper's millionth editorial on what Israel should have done and what it needs to do to make peace talks viable. It doesn't even pretend to counsel the Palestinians or the Arab states, although the Arab states are exhorted, along with Washington and Europe, "to start thinking hard about what they can do to improve the lives of ordinary Israelis and Palestinians and give them some faith in the peace process."
This is sheer schwarmeri . There is nothing the Arab states or even Europe "can do to improve the lives of ordinary Israelis..." And probably not much the U.S. can or should do either. And that's because ordinary Israelis live quite decent lives, thank you, despite the evil which intrudes on them regularly. It is one of the magical achievements of Israel that its people have not been dragged down into sorrow and misery but make music and joy out of their lives, men and women, left, right and center. Truly.
As for the Arab states, before trying "improve" the lives of Israelis, they might try to improve the lives of their own populations by lifting the curse of tyranny that imprisons them, Allow them to learn freely and inquisitively. And encourage even the slightest measure of equality so they can experience the advances in work and education that come naturally to other societies.
The Times bemoans the absence of "goal-oriented negotiations that November's Annapolis peace conference was supposed to initiate," As you may recall, I thought that the Annapolis process was as doomed as Oslo and Camp David. But not for the same reasons as motivate the Times in retrospect: "Israel didn't do nearly enough to strengthen Mr. Abbas, and the crushing economic embargo on Gaza only feeds furies there and on the West Bank."
Both of these points are hash. Abbas is a weakling and of the corrupt and avaricious old guard which trashed Palestinian society ever since Bill Clinton ushered Yassir Arafat back to the outlines of Palestine. As for the economic embargo of Gaza, surely the editorial board of the Times knows full well that, as Daniel Doron wrote in Saturday's Wall Street Journal, "Israel keeps supplying Hamas for 'humanitarian reasons,' with subsidized electricity and materiel including the steel and chemicals needed to produce the rockets that attack it." It also provides the Palestinian Authority with cash and weapons.
What the Times editorial board seems not to have contemplated is that Hamas intensified its rocketry against S'derot, Ashkelon and the villages and kibbutzim of the Negev precisely when the Annapolis process was launched. And why? To keep the process from having any modicum of success.
That is what animated Arafat to launch the second intifada in the fall of 2000, when Ehud Barak followed president Clinton down the dead-end path which was a trap for Israel. And that is what happened again. As soon as the world begins to hope, the Palestinians sabotage the whole process.
The editors of the Times "are encouraged that Egypt will try to broker an Israeli-Hamas cease-fire." Frankly, this is the silliest of their notions. Cairo is afraid of its own shadow. Hamas is a wing of the Muslim Brotherhood whose leading activists Mubarak has incarcerated. Hamas is, in other words, an enemy of the Egyptian dictatorship.
Egyptian authorities couldn't keep hundreds of thousands of Gazans out of the Sinai. For years, they couldn't keep out the munitions that Hamas smuggled in to Gaza for ultimate use against Israel. Egypt is a paper tiger. And little more. An asset for peace, too? Nonsense. .
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JWR contributor Marty Peretz has been editor-in-chief of The New Republic since 1974. Simultaneously he has kept up his teaching at Harvard University, where he has been a part-time lecturer in Social Studies since joining TNR.
© 2008 Martin Peretz