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December 5, 2000
The View from Brooklyn Heights
By Ahmed Amr.

Strident pro-Israeli advocacy has always been a trademark of the New York Times. The 'Week in Review' section of the Sunday edition is like Disney Land for Zionist pamphleteers. Deborah Sontag's most recent contribution to this Times supplement (NYT 12/3/200) is part of an ongoing campaign to shore up Israel's image while allowing the IDF to conduct a relentless reign of terror and collective punishment against the Palestinians.

In the process of polishing up her little pamphlet, Sontag takes pains to make brazen claims of neutrality as just one of the many "foreign journalists who go back and forth between that one truth on the Israeli side and that one truth on the Palestinian side." She claims transient status and unconvincingly states "this is not our conflict" I don't know who 'us' is, but I do know that Sontag is a one-woman float in every Israeli propaganda parade.

If Sontag was not a true blue Israeli partisan, why bother with all the lopsided emotional appeals for Israeli victims and why display such disdain for Palestinian victims? Why only report the funeral of an Israeli soldier and not attend the funeral of a Palestinian child? Why ignore the hundreds of Palestinians who were needlessly slaughtered by the IDF and report so heavily on the minority of victims who are Israeli. Her article does not even mention the lopsided death toll. Sontag wants the reader to know she has a couple of Palestinian "friends". How liberal of a girl from Brooklyn Heights. She must think that allows her license to defame the other eight million Palestinians.

Sontag begins her latest polemic with the following lines "On the day that an angry mob lynched two Israeli soldiers in downtown Ramallah, I watched shortly afterward as Palestinian youths danced there in the fresh-spilled blood." The next day, she attends the funeral of one of these soldiers and describes how "his grief-stricken brother crawled through the dirt toward his coffin". The tone is set for the rest of the article. Sontag, infamous for her one word obituaries of Palestinians, goes on to report the next victim who is described as an "Israeli soldier killed at Rachel's Tomb."

In the very next scene, Sontag's obliging daughter enters the fray "Mama, did you know we heard a bomb at school today?" Sontag whispers in the reader's ear "She doesn't ask and doesn't want to know anything more, like the fact that it killed two Israelis two blocks from her school, during gymnastics club." What exactly is Sontag cooking up? A sequel to 'Exodus'?

In Sontag's latest chapter, the first you hear of any Israeli violence against Palestinians is a reference to "nightly Israeli shelling in retaliation for the routine gunfire from … gunmen who have used their whitwashed hillside town (Beit Jala) as a base of operations for their attacks on Israel; they are paying the price." As a true believer, Sontag feels the Palestinians had it coming.

Sontag sneaks in her digs against the Palestinians with little propaganda gems like "Our children are not settler children whose school buses are targets for terrorists or Israelis who will grow up to be soldiers". Its the kind of language usually reserved for a speech at an AIPAC or Hadassah fund raising meeting.

The girl from Brooklyn does make a passing reference to how "an Israeli assassination of a para-military commander accidentally killed two passers-by." It is standard Sontag pablum justifying the IDF's lethal carnage in the same sentence she reports it. The nearly three hundred Palestinian fatalities don't strike a chord with Sontag and they will never matter to the New York Times.

The chief concern at the New York Times, the flagship media portal of Israeli apologists, is Israel's "image". The New York Times does not want Americans to overreact to the daily scenes of Israeli troops shooting lethal bullets at unarmed Palestinian demonstrators. They want to assure us that there is no similarity to Soweto or Tiennamen Square or Czechoslovakia or the Hungarian uprising.

The brutality inherent in maintaining a 33-year foriegn military occupation cannot be so easily dismissed. Israeli violence has always been rationalized as pre-emptive or retaliatory. In fact, it is usually premeditated, punitive and has the singular objective of terrorizing the Palestinians into submission.

Earlier in the week, Sontag had penned a fluff article on the militant Jewish settlers who still agitate for additional 'removal' of Palestinians from their homeland. If Sontag wants to practice advocacy journalism for the greater glory of Israel, she is free to do so. When it comes to the Middle East, that is what New York Times is all about. But to masquerade as a neutral third party observer of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is incredibly deceptive. Which brings me to that bridge in Brooklyn, or has Sontag already sold it?


  January 3, 2001