The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

I have to stop

The New York Times' coverage of the Lebanon war is a scab I can't stop picking.

The latest, from Steven Erlanger, is as dumb-founding as always.

Written entirely from the strategic viewpoint of the Israeli government, this "news analysis" posits that the ceasefire depends on the Lebanese blaming Hezbullah for the damage the Israelis have done. If the Lebanese don't turn on Hezbullah, and the UN doesn't disarm the group, Israel will be forced to reinvade.

Erlanger ends with the following paragraph:
The Lebanese war also raises even more serious questions, suggests Shai Feldman, director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis, about the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Israel respected the international border with Lebanon as verified by the United Nations, and it was Hezbollah that violated the border. “If international borders mean nothing,� Mr. Feldman asked, “why should the Israeli public support a withdrawal from the West Bank to create a Palestinian state?�

Preserving the idea of a two-state solution is one reason Mr. Olmert went to war, Mr. Feldman said. And it is one reason the Security Council acted as strongly as it did to defend the integrity of the international border and mandate an expanded United Nations force to protect it. But whether Israelis will trust those guarantees is yet another open question.

I must be dreaming. Israel is now the upholder of international borders? Israel invaded Lebanon to help further its plans to give the Palestinians a state? Did Mr. Erlanger ask Mr. Feldman about the many borders that Israel has crossed or erased? Did he point out that according to UN observers Israelis have crossed the Lebanese border about 10 times more often than Hezbullah has? Did he ask him if pounding Gaza as well as Lebanon is part of Israel's hopes to establish a Palestinian state?

How can a New York Times reporter not only let an interviewee get away unchallenged with statements such as these, but go on to print them? The only answer I can find is: because the reporter is a propagandist.