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« Palestinian media report | Main | Reuters' photo caption bias »

Thursday, July 28 2005

Times' editorial boilerplate burns Israel again

PapolicemanA recent independent assessment of the Palestinian security forces found them in a state of utter disarray and nearly impotent as a law enforcement unit. What went wrong? The NY Times' Steven Erlanger reported:

The essential problem for the Palestinian Authority, the report says, is that its security forces were established on "an ad hoc basis without statutory support and in isolation of wider reforms," a lasting legacy of Mr. Arafat's policy of duplication and promoting rivalry within his organization.

Erlanger quotes the head of the Jerusalem office of the organization that drafted the report stating that 'continuing structural reform is the only way to build a credible Palestinian security that can provide internal order and a reliable relationship with Israel that could lead to a permanent peace.'

But that conclusion from the report's own authors, conveyed by a Times reporter, wasn't good enough for the Times' editorial board. Today's Times editorial - 'Nourishing the Palestinian Police' - responds to the report by blaming Israel alone for the unfortunate state of the Palestinian police force:

The tattered nature of Palestinian Authority security forces - including police officers and soldiers - has been evident since Ariel Sharon essentially destroyed those forces three years ago, during the Palestinians' ill-advised intifada. Yet senior Israeli military officials, as well as Israeli politicians like Mr. Sharon, now insist that Mr. Abbas has sufficient manpower and arms to dismantle the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad if he would just decide to do so. Adding insult to irony, Israel has refused requests by Lt. Gen. William Ward, the American-appointed coordinator of the effort to overhaul the Palestinian security apparatus, to allow the Palestinians to import new armored vehicles and fresh supplies of arms to do that very job.

This editorial falls squarely within the astutely noted 'template' for NY Times Mideast editorials presented by Mediacrity:

1. Whatever The Problem, Blame Israel. This is the cornerstone of the template. These editorials always maintain a pretense of even-handedness ("the failure of Israeli and Palestinian leaders"), but the message of the editorials is almost invariably that Israel gets the lion's share of the blame for whatever happens to be going awry at any particular point in time.

The Times editorial board's commitment to blame Israel has now overridden the very news item it comments on. Times editors are showing their true colors here -- it's not a question of subjective perspective, it's an institutionalized bias that grants legitimacy only to information that conforms to their fixed position.

In this case, the independent report's overview of PA security chaos is fine and admissible, but that very report's conclusion of internal Palestinian culpability is ignored, omitted, and rejected.

Comments to NY Times: letters@nytimes.com

(Remember that letters to The Times will only be considered for publication if you include your full name and contact information.)

 

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A few months ago an editorial "A boost for Mr. Abbas" in the Washington Post stated:U.S. Lt. Gen. William E. Ward, who has been monitoring the Palestinian security efforts, delivered a mostly positive assessment to the White House, countering an... [Read More]



 

Comments

This is right on -- an excellent critique of an ongoing problem at the Times, the so-called 'paper of record'.

Quote;1. Whatever The Problem, Blame Israel. This is the cornerstone of the template. These editorials always maintain a pretense of even-handedness ("the failure of Israeli and Palestinian leaders"), but the message of the editorials is almost invariably that Israel gets the lion's share of the blame for whatever happens to be going awry at any particular point in time.
Comment:
As a matter of elementary ethics blame for a situation goes to the party with power over that situation. Since the power in Palestine is so extremely skewed towards the Israelis, it seems to me to be entirely just to put the blame on them.

OT:

The bbc are having a terror news special. My Blair recently said that terror is terror and said very forably that terror is Israel is inexcusable. He said the time for appologists is over. How about asking the BBC about this? i.e. will muslims condemn suicide bombings in Isael, and will the media call terror "terror". Be heard - ask this question here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/4718083.stm

Blairs (fantastic) speach is here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4716505.stm

Click on video, click on full 80 min conference.

If enough people ask similar questions, it should get aired.

I feel I must write to answer Dorothy Kahn above.

Dorothy you could not be more wrong, and dangerously so. To suggest that because Israel is in a position of strength, and therefore able to do what it wants when it wants, and that Palestinians have neither power nor responsibility over their own actions is inadmissable.

All people everywhere have choices. They can act honourably, or they can perpetrate acts of vicious anti-social behaviour.

To remove all responsibility from the Palestinians plays directly into their hands and those of their apologists, while ensuring that their supposed victimhood is enshrined in stone forever.

Only when the Arab nations of the world start taking responsibilty for their own actions and stop blaming the US, Britain, Israel etc for their plight whch they and their partners Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq etc have all been complicit in, will progress be made towards peace.

Some courageous commentators in the Arab world have started to accept that Israel far from being their enemy is in fact part of their salvation. But while attitudes persist like those of the Egyptian Security chief who balmed Israel for last week's Sharm el Sheikh bombing what cahnce is there.

Robert,
What Dorothy Kahn is saying is that the more powerful one in the conflict must not defend itself and just grin and bear it!

"As a matter of elementary ethics blame for a situation goes to the party with power over that situation."

So I understand that to mean that if Arnold Schwartzeneggar is shot by a little punk, Arnold is to blame because of his size and strength.

Thank you Cynic. I understand Dorothy's point only too well.

Your analysis is entirely correct.

Acceptance of responsibilty for one's own actions lies at the heart of the matter. And the Arabs could not even spell it never mind do it!

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