Friday, March 6, 2009

The New York Times gives an incomplete picture re: talks with Syria

As Obama endeavors on a 'new' journey of talks with Syria, the New York Times has decided it supports this 'engagement.' This is well evidenced by the way a 'neutral' article was written in the Times about this 'engagement.' This article places the onus upon Israel to 'negotiate' and ignores the ways in which Syria has obfuscated all efforts at 'peace' in the past. Syria's state sponsor of terrorism is barely a blip in this article, and it appears at the very bottom of this article. Instead, the onus is on Israel. Feel free to read for yourself what passes as 'news' in the New York Times. This article was not even one that hit CAMERA's website. Just another day the Times, which has their 'two state solution' ideology, and their 'Israel should concede something for 'peace' ideology, as well as their 'diplomacy is always a good thing' ideology. For more information about the New York Times and the ideology that appears in the news pages (as apart from the OpEds, please go to How Fit to Print, a new blog which examines the ideology of the New York Times.

Please see the article right here.

Below is my Fisking of this article.

JERUSALEM — Signaling a new direction in Middle East diplomacy, the Obama administration will send two senior officials to Syria this weekend to begin discussions with the government, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on a visit to Israel on Tuesday.

The overture suggests how the Obama administration intends to tackle three interlocking challenges in the Middle East: the nuclear threat posed by Iran [Note: this ignores the fact that Syria itself is going nuclear]; long-simmering tensions between Israel and Syria; and the grinding conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Syria, regional experts say, could be the key to alleviating all three. [NOTE: the names of these ‘regional experts’ is not given, and there is no reason given as to why Syria could be of help. Moreover, the fact that Syria itself is a major part of the problem, having occupied Lebanon for decades, including to this day, is ignored.]

By seeking an understanding with Syria, which has cultivated close ties to Iran, the United States could increase the pressure on Iran to respond to its offer of direct talks. Such an understanding would also give Arab states and moderate Palestinians the political cover to negotiate with Israel. [NOTE: The definition of what a ‘moderate’ is is left out. This is a crucial term and yet the reader is left to guess as to the meaning.] That, in turn, could increase the burden on Hamas, the Islamic militant [NOTE: the term ‘militant’ and not ‘terrorist’ is used; this is an editorial decision by the Times.] group that controls Gaza, to relax its hostile stance toward Israel. [NOTE: It is not suggested how this could be reconciled with Syria’s decision to allow Hamas terrorists sanctuary on their soil.]

But in a region where even small steps take years to negotiate, officials sought to tamp down expectations of rapid progress. “It is a worthwhile effort to go and begin preliminary conversations,” Mrs. Clinton said, noting Syria’s wide influence in the region, as well as its troubled history with the United States. Yet, she cautioned, “we have no way to predict what the future of our relations with Syria might be.”

The State Department declined to elaborate on the issues the emissaries would broach in Syria or why negotiators were going now.

The two emissaries are Daniel B. Shapiro, a senior director at the National Security Council, and Jeffrey D. Feltman, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Mr. Feltman, a former ambassador to Lebanon, has extensive experience with Syria; Mr. Shapiro advised the Obama campaign on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Middle East experts say they believe that conditions for an opening to Syria are ripe on both sides. [NOTE: Who are these experts?] “We’ve got a Syrian government that wants to engage,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former ambassador to Israel and a peace negotiator in the Clinton administration. [NOTE: Was Mr. Indyk the ‘expert’ the whole time? And why does he want to believe that? How does this wash with Syria’s statements that they will never give up on the Golan? Where is that proof of ‘engagement’? Moreover, how does this wash with his earlier statements of Syria's involvement in terrorizing Lebanon, and its close ties to Iran?] “We’re likely to get an Israeli government that will find it easier to engage with Syria than with the Palestinians.”

There are clear benefits to Israel from better relations with Syria [NOTE: What about the benefits to Syria? Why is it framed as if Israel and not Syria has everything to gain?]: the government of President Bashar al-Assad is a sponsor of Hezbollah, a militant group based in Lebanon, and provides a sanctuary for Hamas’s leaders in Damascus, Syria’s capital. [NOTE: Aren’t these also reasons to NOTE ‘engage’ with Syria?]

In May, Israel and Syria announced that they were in negotiations for a comprehensive peace treaty through Turkish mediators. [NOTE: The Turkish Prime Minister’s recent statements against Israel are omitted here, and the reader is left without the knowledge of how that would/could affect negotiations.] Israel’s departing prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said he planned to brief Mrs. Clinton on those talks on Tuesday.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who is likely to become Israel’s next prime minister, will face pressure from the United States to move forward with the peace process. [NOTE: The Times outright says it will be Israel which is pressured and not Syria. Furthermore, stating that ‘negotiating’ is part of the ‘peace process’ is an editorial which is presented as news.] Mr. Indyk said that Mr. Netanyahu would find it more politically palatable to engage Syria than to alienate the settler movement by slowing or halting settlements as a concession to the Palestinians. [NOTE: The notion of a powerful ‘settler movement’ is introduced as an obstacle to ‘peace.’ Of course, the fact that this did not stop the Gush Katif evacuation is not worthy of mention to the Times.]

Nonetheless, Israeli public opinion polls show wide opposition to giving up the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 war. [NOTE: The Syrian public opinion is seen as irrelevant. Only the Israeli public opinion is an ‘obstacle’ to ‘peace.’ Also note that the Times omits the fact that the Golan Heights was annexed by Israel and that fact affects its legal status.] In his previous stint as prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu initiated peace talks with Syria, but they came to nothing.

The Obama administration has carefully laid the groundwork for the envoys’ visit. Members of Congress, including Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, have recently traveled to the region. [NOTE: Depending on when the trip was scheduled (i.e., if it was during when Bush was in office, it could be a violation of the Logan Act. This is deemed irrelevant to the Times.] Last Thursday, Mr. Feltman met with Syria’s ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha.

“We don’t engage in discussions for the sake of having conversations,” Mrs. Clinton said, after a meeting with the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni. “There has to be a purpose to them; there has to be some benefit accruing to the United States and our allies.” [NOTE: What is the purpose, if Assad has stated on numerous times his demand for the Golan Heights?]

The Bush administration largely shunned Syria, recalling its ambassador in February 2005, after the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri. [NOTE: Syria’s role in the Hariri assassination is buried at the bottom of the article, despite the fact that this could be a major impediment towards any fruitful ‘negotiations.’] Many Lebanese accuse Syria of involvement in the assassination, a charge it denies. A United Nations tribunal has begun proceedings in the case.

While Mr. Feltman was the ambassador in Lebanon, three people were killed when a car bomb exploded next to an American Embassy vehicle in Beirut in January 2008. Suspicions again fell on Syria. [NOTE: The fact that Hizballah leader Nasrallah called Lebanon’s Seniora-led government “Feltman’s government” is omitted. Surely this would affect 'negotiations'!]

Mr. Feltman and Mr. Shapiro are accompanying Mrs. Clinton on her first tour of the Middle East as secretary of state, which began Monday in Egypt, where she said the United States would pursue peace “on many fronts.”

Meeting on Tuesday with Israel’s leaders during a time of political transition, Mrs. Clinton reaffirmed the desire of the United States for an agreement that would create a separate Palestinian state side by side with Israel. [NOTE: Why is this American desire relevant? What about the desire of Israel? Lest we forget, it is none of America’s business whether there is a ‘Palestine.’ This frames the issue of forcing Israel to concede territory that lawfully belongs to it.]

But she was plainly reluctant to step into a domestic political tussle. [NOTE: The Times is right to call this a domestic issue.] Mr. Netanyahu, who is likely to form a right-wing government in the coming days, has emphasized economic development in the West Bank over negotiations to create a Palestinian state.

“We happen to believe that moving toward the two-state solution, step by step, is in Israel’s best interests,” Mrs. Clinton said. “But obviously, it is up to the people and the government of Israel to decide.” [NOTE: Good acknowledgement that it is up to Israel to decide a domestic issue, BUT, Clinton is editorializing that “two states” is indeed a solution. The Times does not call her on that.]

Ms. Livni said she embraced a two-state solution [NOTE: Again, an editorial presented as fact that “two states” is a “solution.], a crucial difference between her Kadima Party and Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party, and one that has impeded Mr. Netanyahu’s efforts to form a coalition with Kadima. Mrs. Clinton met with Mr. Netanyahu on Tuesday.

She promised to consult Israel and other Middle Eastern countries as the United States develops its policy toward Iran. At a Gaza donors’ conference in Egypt on Monday, Mrs. Clinton told the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates that she did not believe that Iran would respond positively to the Obama administration’s offer of direct talks.

Ms. Livni said she had no qualms about the American offer, but she maintained that Israel’s Muslim neighbors were as worried as Israel by Iran. “They feel that Iran tries to undermine their regimes,” she said.

Mrs. Clinton also declined to publicly press Israel to open border crossings into Gaza; critics say that closing the crossings has impeded the flow of humanitarian relief. [NOTE: This is untrue and Israel does allow aid to flow into Gaza.] Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas took control of the territory in June 2007. [NOTE: the fact that this blockade was a defensive response to terror attacks is not mentioned.] It has allowed in aid since the end of the recent three-week assault on Hamas, but has not opened the crossings for many other goods.

On Monday, European officials said they expected Mrs. Clinton to raise the issue with the Israelis.But she said: “It’s very difficult to solve this dilemma when Israel is under physical attack. We have a humanitarian challenge in Gaza, with a lot of innocent Palestinians who need the help [NOTE: What about innocent Israelis in Sderot? Why is it framed as a ‘humanitarian crisis’ only for Gazans?], and Hamas decides to continue to rain rockets down on Israel.”

1 comment:

Marta Clavero said...

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