Monday November 24, 2014
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24.11.2014
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Dror Eydar

The Grey Lady doth protest too much

Yeah, I know, The New York Times has reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is isolated when it comes to Iran. Israeli pundits, who are awestruck every time the "world's most important paper" blurts something about Netanyahu, now have something to celebrate. So, what's new? Maybe the gossip items the paper's Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren has so diligently compiled? I am talking about her description of his wife, the cigars, the bed he used on his chartered plane for one of his overseas trips and her overall criticism. The Times correspondent reported on criticism Sara Netanyahu had received over her child-rearing methods(!). Can anyone recall such a story?

Yedioth Ahronoth seized on this dispatch from Rudoren and went on to quote excerpts from the story she filed. It made sure to have a picture of a cigar and a price-tag next to it (great journalistic work, credit goes to Cigarboutique's website).

Indeed, the prime minister's persistence on Iran was not music to Rudoren's ears, who called it "shrill." He has dented the false harmony that we have experienced since the reshuffle in Tehran. Netanyahu's unrelenting efforts to provide real facts on Iran's actual intentions have had the "most important paper" cringe. And this is the same paper that has treated the kingdom of ayatollahs with kid gloves. The paper has been shielding the regime with a Neville Chamberlain-like umbrella that allows it to deceive the West: Iran will hold talks on its nuclear program and will continue its march toward the bomb. A few months ago, newly elected Iranian President Hasan Rouhani bragged about his successful deception of the West in an interview on Iranian television. He told the interviewer that since his appointment as Iran's top nuclear negotiator several years ago, the number of centrifuges had risen from 150 to 1700, and this, even as the talks continued.

* * *

The way The New York Times sees it, just days before talks with Iran resume, Netanyahu is stuck in the past and is oblivious to the shifting geopolitical sands. But the paper has it all wrong: Unlike the American Left, Netanyahu is knee-deep in the present and is "a watchman unto the house of Israel" (Ezekiel 33:7) and unto the world. The New York Times has a history laden with Netanyahu bashing, not unlike Haaretz and Yedioth Ahronoth here in Israel (last week Channel 10 military correspondent Alon Ben-David admitted that the outlet had run some anti-Netanyahu stories that were unwarranted). When the Arab Winter broke out, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman waxed poetic, rejoicing at the sight of pro-liberty flags being waved at Tahrir Square. He hurled insults at Netanyahu and his government for sitting idly by. Even then Netanyahu was portrayed as out of sync. Has Friedman ever walked back those statements?

The Times has a long history of supporting even the faintest of hopes when it comes to reconciliation with ruthless dictators. There is a straight line connecting global fundamentalists with liberal fundamentalists: in both cases the fundamentalists won't let the facts get in the way of their world view. In 1938 the paper was supportive of the surrender deal ("peace treaty"...) that Chamberlain struck with German leader Adolf Hitler, because, as we all know, this averted a war at the very last minute. Netanyahu has recently recalled the paper's support for the 2005 deal with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea that stipulated it must dismantle its nuclear installations. "Diplomacy, it seems, does work after all," the paper's editorial board wrote at the time. This agreement was breached only a year after it was signed, just like the Munich agreement.

* * *

The New York Times' arrogance won't let it rest on its thorns, which were formed by the colossal mistakes it has made. Rather than attack Iran it has been attacking those who have been sounding the alarm on the threats emanating from it. On Friday, my colleague Dore Gold wrote in his column about Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's campaign of deception before he returned to Iran. This included a New York Times op-ed penned by Princeton Professor Richard Falk, which ran under the headline "Trusting Khomeini." The same language currently being used to describe Rouhani was applied to the ayatollah in the 1970s. His advisers were called "moderate" and "progressive," and even had "a notable concern for human rights."

Has The New York Times ever heard of khuda'a, a term that has been used by Muslims to describe the need to mislead the enemy and make sure that it does not decipher one's true intentions? Was Friedman aware of taqiyya -- a similar Islamic concept which allows Muslims to deceive the enemy and lie to it -- when he stood at Tahrir Square with clean shaven Muslims and told the world that the revolution had nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood, the same group that had been using this concept to survive under then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak? Who needs taqiyya and khuda'a when there is the The New York Times and its collaborators?

This piece is not just about turning a critical lens on the media. We are talking about much more egregious conduct.

The New York Times' error was amplified by the fact that the paper and its supporters have blinded the West to the point that it cannot treat the ayatollahs regime's true intentions with the requisite seriousness. Here is a message to those in New York: What's at stake is not Netanyahu nor is it Israel's existence. Rather, it is the West's survival that hangs in the balance.

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