Monday, January 31, 2022

The black hole of Donald Trump has sucked the Abraham Accords out of American liberal thinking

Jodi Rudoren, the editor in chief of the Forward and formerly of the New York Times, sends out a weekly newsletter to subscribers and potential subscribers. 

In last week's newsletter she wrote a very nice story about Bob Cumins, a photojournalist who has taken some of the most iconic photos in history, and how he went out of his way to send her a replacement copy of a New York Times edition with her very first front page story from 1998 that she had lost in a flood. 

But one sentence in that story seemed jarring to me.
He would eventually cover some 30 General Assemblies of the Jewish Federations of North America and make about 300 trips to Israel with politicians, business moguls and philanthropists. He’s witnessed every peace-treaty handshake — Camp David in 1978 and 1979; the Oslo Accords in 1993 and Jordan the next year; Wye River in 1998. He spent 18 months working for Hillary Clinton during her first Senate campaign. He caught Joe Namath in the locker room after Super Bowl III. He made a stunning collection he calls “Snows of Jerusalem” during a 1980 storm.
In Rudoren's list of peace treaty handshakes, she doesn't mention anything about the Abraham Accords. 

I messaged her and asked if Cumins had witnessed them as well, and she replied that this was a fair point and she didn't know.

Now, I have nothing against Rudoren. I used to criticize her a lot when she covered Israel for the NYT but my impression is that a lot of that should have been directed at the Times' own editors. I think The Forward, which I have also been very critical of, has improved since she took the job  as editor in chief.

But when a major player in the liberal Jewish media doesn't even think that the Abraham Accords were worth thinking about in her list of US diplomatic accomplishments in the Middle East, there is something wrong. 

The Abraham Accords are arguably the most important peace deal between Israel and the Arab world since the Israel-Egypt peace treaty 42 years prior. Israel's peace with Egypt and Jordan remain ice cold - the amount of antisemitism in those countries' media even today is astounding, today. Israel's Oslo agreements with the PLO did not result in the peace that everyone hoped it would, and Nobel prizes prematurely celebrated a man who continued to be an architect of terrorism against Jews years after he "agreed" to stop all support of terror. 

But the Abraham Accords have prompted a dizzying list of accomplishments and "firsts" that happen so often 16 months later than stories that would have been front page news two years ago are barely newsworthy today. Even yesterday, Arabic media was fascinated that Israeli president Isaac Herzog arrived in the UAE with a beard because he is mourning the death of his mother. 

Yet the Abraham Accords are simply not considered to be that important in the media, and are not top of mind to the Forward's editor in chief.

The reason? Because they were brokered during the Donald Trump administration, and all proper liberals want to think of those four years as a black hole that simply didn't happen. To the liberal media, Trump was an aberration who should only be remembered as representing an immoral and evil part of American history, whose very position as President of the United States must be removed from history - along with anything associated with him.

There is plenty I dislike about Trump, but the Abraham Accords was - and remains - a game changer in the Middle East. No longer can it be assumed that a warm peace between Israel and Arab nations are impossible. No longer can it be assumed that Arabs are endemically antisemitic. No longer can Arabs easily point to Israel as being irredeemably racist against Arabs (although they still do, every day!) Positive articles about Israel and Judaism are now regularly published in Arabic media along with the constant antisemitic stream of articles that remain from Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, Houthi and Iraqi media. 

When dislike for Trump outshines the fact that he was able to accomplish what no one else could even visualize, that is no longer criticism of Trump but an obsessive hate. Even the Biden administration has problems mentioning the term "Abraham Accords," although its members do seem to be trying to spread them to other Arab countries. 

Accurate reporting requires getting rid of bias. Criticize Trump all you want, but don't throw out the good with the bad just because of antipathy towards him.