Palestinian terror is a larger obstacle to peace than Israeli construction

David Meyers Former White House Staffer
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The New York Times is at it again, using its “news” section to attack Israel ahead of President Obama’s visit. In Sunday’s front-page article, the Gray Lady claims that Israel has destroyed the peace process by building apartments in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians hope will be the capital of their state.

Where to begin? First, when was the last time the New York Times published a front-page story on Hamas’ slaughter of innocent Israeli men, women, and children? Hamas rules the Gaza Strip and is overwhelmingly popular with the Palestinian people. It strikes me that Hamas’ use of suicide attacks, terrorism, and deadly rockets to murder Israelis might be at least as deserving of a front-page story as some Israeli construction projects.

It also strikes me that these acts of terror and violence are the true reason there is no peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In case the folks at the Times have forgotten, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to create a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas walked away from this proposal.

Instead, Abbas asked the United Nations to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state, and Hamas continues to launch acts of terror and violence against Israel. Talk is cheap. Actions are important. And for all of the Palestinian complaints against Israel, the Palestinians have made no effort to achieve peace. The attacks against Israel continue. Abbas’ establishment of a functional government in the West Bank is only indicative of a desire for a Palestinian state, not of a desire for a peace agreement.

Surely providing for Israel’s security is more important to a peace agreement than new Israeli housing, which could always be torn down or evacuated. (Don’t think this is possible? Talk to settlers who were evicted during the Gaza evacuation.)

This is not to say that the Israeli action is entirely responsible. It is indeed a provocation and it is unhelpful for peace, but the Times fails to mention that the construction is occurring in response to the continued effort by the Palestinians to work against peace — via terror, violence, and stunts like the U.N. statehood bid. Israel is certainly not blameless in its treatment of Palestinians. But the moral equivalency shown by the New York Times is simply appalling.

The New York Times has a history of distorting facts and using its news section to wage war against Israel, specifically Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. For example, the Times erroneously reported that Netanyahu was trying to meddle in the U.S. election and had given special briefs to Governor Mitt Romney (Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren thoroughly exposed the Times’ distortions and deceptiveness).

Further, in Sunday’s article (and many others), the Times deliberately tries to elicit sympathy for the Palestinian cause. For example, the Times claims that East Jerusalem was “seized” by Israel during the 1967 war. Anyone who has opened a history textbook understands this is a misrepresentation at best, and a gross distortion at worst. Nor does the Times acknowledge that Netanyahu himself has called for the creation of a Palestinian state.

The New York Times continues to blame Israel first, without ever holding the Palestinians accountable for their actions. The truth is that both sides are to blame for the lack of peace, to varying degrees. But the Israelis will never make peace until they feel confident enough to do so. And the Palestinians will never make peace until they are pressured to renounce terror and violence. Ironically, then, the New York Times continues to undermine its own goals by writing stories that make Israelis feel vulnerable and let the Palestinians off the hook for their actions.

David Meyers served in the White House from 2006 to 2009, and later in the United States Senate. He is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.