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Thursday, August 04, 2011

The cluelessness of Nick Kristof

From Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

Next month, Palestinians are expected to seek statehood at the United Nations. It’s a stunt that won’t accomplish much for anybody, but it’s more constructive than throwing rocks at Israeli cars — or, on the Israeli side, better than expanding illegal settlements.

Yet the American House of Representatives voted 407 to 6 to call on the Obama administration to use its diplomatic capital to try to block the initiative, while also threatening to cut the Palestinians’ funding if they proceeded to seek statehood.

Similarly, when Israel stormed into Gaza in 2008 to halt rocket attacks, more than 1,300 Gazans were killed, along with 13 Israelis, according to B’Tselem, a respected Israeli human rights group. As Gazan blood flowed, the House, by a vote of 390 to 5, hailed the invasion as “Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Such Congressional tomfoolery bewilders our friends and fritters away our international capital. It also encourages the intransigence of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reduces the chance of a peace settlement.

Kristof apparently believes that an explicit abrogation of the Oslo Accords is praiseworthy.

He also apparently believes that Netanyahu was Prime Minister during the Gaza war.

He also believes that it has been Israeli intransigence, not the Palestinian Arab adding preconditions to negotiations in 2008, that has been the obstacle to moving forward towards an agreement.

And he believes, like many, that Israel has been "expanding" settlements - one of the biggest lies out there. Israel has not been building Jewish communities on land outside existing boundaries for many years, and the lie that Jewish communities are today continuously encroaching upon and taking over Arab-owned land is one of the more brilliant propaganda victories of the anti-Israel side.

(A good argument could be made that Israel should indeed do that - because that would lend some urgency to the PLO to restart negotiations. As it is, adding more apartments to existing communities does not affect Palestinian Arabs in the slightest way - except for providing many of them with construction jobs. )

In other words, Kristof has swallowed the Palestinian Arab lies completely and without the slightest bit of even-handed skepticism that one would hope a journalist would exhibit.
In the last few years, a former government official named Jeremy Ben-Ami has been trying to change the political dynamic in Washington with a new organization — J Street — that presses Congress and the White House to show more balance. Ben-Ami has just published a book, “A New Voice for Israel,” that is a clarion call for American reasonableness in the Middle East.

If things don’t change pretty soon, chances are that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will slip through our fingers,” Ben-Ami writes. “As that happens, the dream of the Jewish people to be a free people in their own land also slowly disappears.”
Only the Israeli side has made real concessions since Oslo. J-Street, and Kristof, are adamantly against pressuring the Palestinian Arab side to meet Israel halfway. And yet they claim, incongruously, that it is only Israel that needs to be pressured to give up even more!

American Jews have long trended liberal, and President Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008. Yet major Jewish organizations, like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, embrace hawkish positions.
Since when is supporting a Palestinian Arab state "hawkish"? AIPAC's - and Netanyahu's - plans for a Palestinian Arab state effectively addresses all of Ben-Ami's stated fears. The problem isn't that Israel and AIPAC don't accept a two-state solution - it is that Abbas and the PLO don't accept the idea of compromising for peace. And Kristof gives them a free pass on their intransigence while calling Netanyahu a "hawk."

Kristof also shows his intellectual dishonesty on other ways:

There’s also some evidence that young American Jews are growing disenchanted as Israeli society turns rightward.
And the "evidence" he links to is the famous Peter Beinart article making that claim, with little proof - and there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

And look how Kristof characterizes "Jewish Voice for Peace":
[JVP] supports divestment campaigns against companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.
JVP also supports the "right of return" which is a code-word for destroying Israel. Why doesn't Kristof mention that? Why does he make it sound like it is merely an organization that is against "occupation"? Is he ignorant - or is he trying to hide the facts?


Kristof also throws in this nugget:
(Whenever I write about Israel, I get accused of double standards because I don’t spill as much ink denouncing worse abuses by, say, Syria. I plead guilty. I demand more of Israel partly because my tax dollars supply arms and aid to Israel. I hold democratic allies like Israel to a higher standard — just as I do the U.S.)
The US also gives Kristof's tax dollars to the Palestinian Authority, where it is being used to pay salaries to terrorists and to the families of suicide bombers, where more than half of its budget goes to indirectly prop up Hamas' hold on Gaza. US aid is a much higher proportion of the PA budget than of Israel's. Kirstof's tax dollars helped pay for the second Intifada.

The principled Kristof, if he is to be consistent, should be demanding that US aid to the PA be conditional upon their continuing with existing agreements and not doing things that abrogate those agreements.

Which is exactly what Congress is doing - and what Kristof is calling "tomfoolery!"

Consistency is not what Kristof wants, though. He wants Israel to be pressured to do things that will inevitably bring more conflict to the region, not less, because he is so convinced that he knows better than most Israelis what is good for them.