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Mideast Media Sampler – 05/01/2013 – New York Times Op-Ed Index for April 2013

Mideast Media Sampler – 05/01/2013 – New York Times Op-Ed Index for April 2013

Final total – Anti-Israel – 3 / Pro-Israel – 6

1) A Turkey-Israel Opening – Soli Ozel and Charles A. Kupchan – April 1, 2013

For the better part of a decade, Turkey and Israel have been growing apart politically. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party has Islamist leanings; confrontation with Israel is part of its popular appeal. The A.K.P. caters to a more conservative and religious cross-section of the Turkish electorate than the secular governments that preceded it. Indeed, Erdogan has undermined the political strength of Turkey’s traditional power base: the business elite and the military. The Turkish military has long had strong ties to Israel’s security establishment, meaning that its diminished domestic influence has weakened one of the main institutional linkages between Turkey and Israel.

The next paragraph blames the estrangement between Israel and Turkey on a “rightward shift” leading to “expanding … settlements” that diminish the “prospects for a two-state solution.” The language is temperate but the bias is clear. Turkey’s shift is posturing without real consequences, but Israel’s shift produces consequences that justify Turkish resentment. Later on the authors recommend unilateral steps for Israel to take to restore trust, but make no parallel suggestions for Turkey.

Tally – Anti-Israel – 1 / Pro-Israel – 0

2) Please … draw me a state – Shmuel Rosner – April 3, 2013

Indeed. Jerusalem had good reasons to object to a settlement freeze — including for making the Palestinians less likely to compromise — but it also knew that any freeze would be, or could be, temporary and reversible. Drawing a border between a state and a would-be state is a far more significant step, and potentially far more permanent.

This paragraph sums up Rosner’s argument. It’s counter-intuitive to argue – as he does – that Obama is actually pressing Israel harder now. But this op-ed is overall sympathetic to Israel.

Tally – Anti-Israel – 1 / Pro-Israel – 1

3) Not your average Jane Doe – Shmuel Rosner – April 9, 2013

By making Riki his economic cause célèbre, Lapid exposed the extent to which he doesn’t know the average Israeli and is far more out of touch with reality than the nerds at finance. Lapid, whose party did well in the January election in almost all of Israel’s wealthier municipalities, now seems to be overly indebted to these affluent voters.

By focusing on a rookie mistake made by newly minted politician Yair Lapid, Rosner offers some insight into Israeli politics that a reader of the New York Times would not get from reading the regular news reporting.

Tally – Anti-Israel – 1 / Pro-Israel – 2

4) Supermodel and draft dodger – Shmuel Rosner – April 15, 2013

The Foreign Ministry, always on the lookout for ways to make Israel’s image trendier, recently asked the supermodel Bar Refaeli, one of the country’s most famous celebrities, to lead an ad campaign promoting Israeli technology and innovation abroad. She agreed, free of charge. Apparently it was a success: “My Instagram feed has more readers than Israel’s most popular newspaper,” Refaeli bragged in a tweet.

But, as Rosner points out, Rafaeli never served in the army, and the military establishment was upset that someone who never served would represent Israel. Without rancor, Rosner presents both sides. I’d say he’s a bit more sympathetic to the military’s position. In short, he presents Israeli patriotism in a positive light.

Tally – Anti-Israel – 1 / Pro-Israel – 3

5) Syria’s forgotten front – David Pollock – April 16, 2013

This convergence of interests provides an opening for America to quietly strike a deal between Israel and the leadership of the Syrian opposition: Israel should agree to refrain from arming proxies inside Syria to protect its border; and the Syrian opposition should work to keep extremist groups like Hezbollah and Jabhat al-Nusra and other affiliates of Al Qaeda far away from the Israeli frontier. This would demonstrate the Syrian opposition’s bona fides to potential Western supporters and dissuade Israel from intervening or arming allies in Syria.

The idea here is to get the United States, Israel and whatever moderate forces there are among the rebels on the same page. The idea is to serve both American and Israeli interests and, if possible (though, at this point, improbable) create a credible moderate force among the rebels.

Tally – Anti-Israel – 1 / Pro-Israel – 4

6) The Jewish Hero History Forgot – Marci Shore – April 18, 2013

Edelman, who had survived by escaping through the sewers, was the last living commander of the uprising. After the war, in Communist Poland, he became a cardiologist: “to outwit God,” as he once said. In the 1970s and ’80s he re-emerged in the public sphere as an activist in the anti-Communist opposition, working with the Committee for the Defense of Workers and the Solidarity movement. He died in 2009, and to this day, he is celebrated as a hero in Poland.

Contrary to the premised of this essay, Marek Edelman is not forgotten. Perhaps he is not as well known as other fighters from the Warsaw Ghetto. However, Professor Shore’s point is to blame Zionism for any historical slights suffered by Edelman. By itself, this op-ed might be unremarkable. But given the efforts the New York Times has made to popularize anti-Zionism it can’t be ignored and must be seen as part of the paper’s strategy.

Tally – Anti-Israel – 2 / Pro-Israel – 4

7) Separate but Equal – Shmuel Rosner – April 23, 2013

Sharansky’s deal, almost finalized, is a measured compromise with a grain of irony. To accommodate American Jews’ liberal leanings he brokered a “separate but equal” arrangement: The area near the wall where visitors can worship will be expanded to include a new section in which WoW — and all other Jews wanting to avoid strict Orthodox custom — can pray as they wish. Women will be able to wear a prayer shawl without being detained by the police; men and women will be able to mix, pray and celebrate together.

This is an issue that could have been portrayed with some level of vitriol, but Rosner avoided that. Instead he portrays Israel as trying to accommodate all viewpoints.

Tally – Anti-Israel – 2 / Pro-Israel – 5

8) Goodbye to all that – Thomas Friedman – April 23, 2013

For Palestinians, particularly Abbas and Fatah, who so easily turned their most effective executive into a scapegoat, if there is no place for a Salam Fayyad-type in your leadership, an independent state will forever elude you.

This is the first of four “takeaways” that Friedman presents at the end of the op-ed. It is correct. Fayyad’s failure had nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with the political environment in which he operated. Unfortunately, Friedman used most of the rest of the article blaming Israel for Fayyad’s failure.

Tally – Anti-Israel – 3 / Pro-Israel – 5

9) The Faces of Difference – Shmuel Rosner – April 30, 2013

The new bills are somewhat more colorful than current bills, but what has taken some Israelis aback is that all the new figureheads on them are Ashkenazi — that is, Jews of European origin. “It is unconscionable that not one Mizrahi poet could be found for embedding his portrait on the bank notes,” complained a Knesset member of Mizrahi, or Sephardic, origin.

Though Rosner highlights the controversy here, he goes to great lengths to show that whatever societal issues that new currency stirred up, the chasms between Ashkenazi and Sephardi have narrowed over time.

Final total – Anti-Israel – 3 / Pro-Israel – 6

I searched the archive for all opinion articles at the New York Times website for all opinion pieces from April 1, 2013 to April 30, 2013 mentioning “Israel.” I included op-ed and editorials that were substantially about Israel, but not letters to the editor. In nearly two years of doing these surveys I can’t recall a month where there were more pro-Israel articles than anti-Israel ones. Of course, this month’s total is mostly the work of one man Shmuel Rosner, who describes Israeli society in much more depth and nuance than most reporters. Also notable was that there were no unsigned editorials substantially about Israel. (There was one editorial that mocked Israeli proofs about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.) Is this the start of a positive trend at the New York Times? Or just a sign of fatigue?


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