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Wednesday, July 07, 2010


The massacre on the Freedom Flotilla is officially a non-event

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with U.S. President Barack Obama. It's probably not a big surprise that neither Obama nor Netanyahu brought up the massacre on the Mavi Marmara, and, given that they were allowed a grand total of two count 'em two questions, not that big a surprise that reporters at the "press availability" didn't bring it up either, although in both cases (Netanyahu, Obama, and the reporters), the subject of Iran's non-existent nuclear weapons program did come up.

What's frankly not a big surprise either, but more reprehensible, is the fact that The New York Times also failed to mention the subject. Netanyahu and Obama's job is politics, and for both of them, ignoring an unpleasant subject (unpleasant for them) is part of their job description. The job of the Times, however, is news, and truth, and history, and the massacre on the Mavi Marmara is hardly an unrelated subject. As readers of this blog undoubtedly know, Netanyahu was originally scheduled to meet with Obama in May, but canceled the visit when the massacre occurred. Reporting that fact as part of a story on the current visit is simply elemental journalism but not, evidently, at the Times.

Yesterday, surprisingly, the Times actually seemed to be in the journalism business, when it reported on how U.S.-tax-exempt donations were being funnelled to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Even in that article, though, elemental journalism took a pass. The word "illegal" appears in the article, but only to describe "outposts," not major settlements. The article in fact notes that outposts are deemed illegal under Israeli law, so, by symmetry, you might have expected that the article would note that all the settlements are deemed illegal under international law. You would be wrong. The article also includes laughable claims such as "As the American government seeks to end the four-decade Jewish settlement enterprise and foster a Palestinian state in the West Bank..." and "While a succession of American administrations have opposed the settlements here, Mr. Obama has particularly focused on them as obstacles to peace." Both statements are simply false; the U.S. has "demanded" that Israeli stop building new settlements, but has given no indication it wants existing settlements abandoned by Israel. And in both cases (new and existing settlements), U.S. "demands" are akin to a student who says he wants straight A's, but then skips school every day and doesn't bother to study. Claiming you want something is a completely meaningless exercise without actually doing something to achieve that goal.

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