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January 5, 2001
NYT bullying the Palestinians
By Ahmed Amr.

I have always been curious at what the editorial boardrooms at the New York Times look like. Do they have pictures of Golda Meir and Ben Gurion and Sharon on their walls? Do they sip martinis while they take a verbal swipe or two at the beleaguered Palestinians? How much arrogance does it take in this day and age to stand shoulder to shoulder with foreign occupation troops tormenting a small people defying all the odds in their fight for independence?

One thing for sure, these are careless men who think that they can dish out whatever they want to an audience that laps up every bit of anti-Palestinian drivel on the editorial pages. If you think the folks who write for Sulzberger are a low breed of "journalists", you should just take a visit to their chat rooms and observe the audacious crowd of New York bigots that uses those chat rooms as a forum to cut and paste their racist graffiti.

So, the Sulzberger boys have to be excused for paying a tune that the Likudnik New Yorkers can swing too. And it is not a Willie Nelson tune (just a little jab at that moron Thomas Friedman).

Hate to do this. But you have to quote these guys before you tear them up. The NYT editorial of 01/04/2000 chides Arafat for not accepting the following proposition. "Palestinian negotiators were asked to agree that Palestinian refugees would not be able to return to their old homes in Israel and that most Jewish settlers in the West Bank would be allowed to remain." This in exchange for "some degree of Palestinian sovereignty over the platform containing the Old City's Al Aksa mosque and Dome of the Rock." So the 200,000 Jewish settlers, using the brute force of the IDF, get to stay on the land they confiscated from the Palestinian. Their illegal settlements get to stay, while the Palestinians who have been exiled from their homes for 52 years are forced to give up their legal right to return to their patrimony. In exchange, the Israelis would withdraw from "most" of the land they occupied in 1967. Now that might seem like a great deal in New York City and Tel Aviv. These guys specialize in serving the rawest possible deal to the Palestinians and passing it off as an Israeli compromise. Let us remember that the original deal the Zionists had was to make the Palestinians vanish.

Now here is a rational deal. All 200,000 illegal settlers pack their bags and leave everything including the furnishings for the Palestinians refugees who will be returning to the West Bank and East Jerusalem From Lebanon. The other half of these refugees can be settled in Israel on state owned lands. Those homes are built on confiscated lands and they were mostly built with Palestinian labor. The Israelis should take their settlers and move back to the Green Line, even without an agreement. They should also promise to treat Israeli-Palestinians as first class citizens and allow an easier judicial process for exiled Palestinians to recover the lands and homes lost in 1947 and 1948. Finally they should acknowledge the Palestinians as "The First People of Palestine". Whatever deal the Palestinians get from Israel will most likely be made under duress. The Israelis have maintained an occupation army in the occupied territory that has set no restraints to the amount of violence that is daily visited on the native population. They have administered these territories in a manner that would make the Portuguese who ruled Angola wince. In Gaza they have seen fit to confiscate a third of the land for 7000 settlers, while over a million Palestinians crowd the slums of Gaza City.

The Palestinians, who have endured three decades of belligerent foreign military rule, now have Clinton breathing down their necks in hope of finding a 'legacy'. They might need to accept the crumbs on the table. For it is difficult to forget the desperate plight of the Palestinians that are living in Lebanon's refugee camps. Inspite of their enduring struggle for justice, the Palestinians have been cursed with a leadership that allowed Dennis Ross and the Israelis to run circles around them for eight years. Oslo, having been hijacked by the Israeli lobby in Washington, could not have ended any other way.

Every time I hear of Arafat making a trip to raise "world public opinion", I have to feel sorry for the man. The Palestinians, having agreed to "American" mediation, in fact accepted the mediation of "AIPAC" and other American Zionist groups. It is a rare American politician who has not taken in campaign contributions in return for leasing out the state department to the Israel Firsters.

So, it should come as no surprise that the Israelis are offering a miserly deal to the Palestinians. They would give less if they could get away with it.

My problem is not only with the Israelis, who wear their national chauvinism on their sleeve and are now about to elect their own brown shirt for Prime Minister. They are Europeans who came to colonize the land and have raised three generations of Israelis to hate everything about the Middle East, except the real estate.

My problem is with American Jews who seem to be oblivious to Palestinian suffering. I have to conclude that this blind level of immorality is driven by religious bigotry and ethnic bias. Go to the chat rooms at the New York Times and see how they talk about Arabs amongst themselves. Throw in the Hillary - Lazio campaign shenanigans and it is not hard to conclude that we have a Foreign policy that basically spells out "Jews are more deserving than Arabs". Once you start making foreign policy decisions on this basis, you end up setting an unfortunate pattern for making domestic policy that is also tainted by prejudice and malice,

So, Arafat is left to accept the crumbs on the table. His reservations are called "a daunting challenge" by the editorial board at the Times. No doubt, these decisions will have to be made by the Palestinians. If this miserly deal goes through, and it might, the Palestinians will get their independent Palestinian state. They certainly need it. But I also predict that a miserly peace will end up as cold as a Siberian winter.

The legal documents will all be in order. The Israelis will become "legitimate", much like that legal casino in Jericho. But they will never be Middle Easterners. Just zealous European intruders who came with bad intent, did the dastardly deed and got away with it on the strength of their firepower and the incessant lobbying of their partners in crime at The New York Times and other Jewish lobbies.

Sulzbergers crew usually decides matters based on "whether it is good for the Jews". I ask them now, will it be good for the Jews when every Arab-American and every Muslim American gets a message that the Jews of New York despise Middle Easterners. Well, Sulzberger, I feel your disdain, all the way in Seattle. So, I tell you now, to stop bullying the Palestinians before I start believe that you might get an egotistical notion to bully Arab-Americans.

The New York Times is always belly aching about whether Arafat has prepared his people for the concessions that must be made. Perhaps, the Times should take the time to prepare its readers to accept an Independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. After fifty years of a steady stream of pro-Israeli indoctrination, you need to break it to your readers and maybe some of your more gullible journalists (Is Sontag as innocent of historic memory as she sounds?). In the meantime, mark my word, consumer fraud in content will become a 'hot' issue before you can say archives.