By Ira Stoll
In the aftermath of Friday’s disastrous and disgraceful UN Security Council vote condemning Israel, a competition has emerged over who deserves the blame.
Prime Minister Netanyahu blamed the Obama administration. He said it “not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN; it colluded with it behind the scenes.”
The American permanent representative at the United Nations, Samatha Power, who works for President Obama, blamed Prime Minister Netanyahu, contending in her remarks at the Security Council:
…just since July 2016 – when the Middle East Quartet issued a report highlighting international concern about a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalizations – Israel has advanced plans for more than 2,600 new settlement units. Yet, rather than dismantling these and other settler outposts, which are illegal even under Israeli law, now there is new legislation advancing in the Israeli Knesset that would legalize most of the outposts – a factor that propelled the decision by this resolution’s sponsors to bring it before the Council.
The Israeli Prime Minister recently described his government as “more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history”…
I’ve got a different view of it. In my view, the guilty party here isn’t so much either President Obama or Prime Minister Netanyahu, but the New York Times. The UN vote — “disgraceful,” as Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon put it — was in fact the culmination of a successful, year-long editorial campaign by that newspaper. It was a campaign aimed precisely at taking Israel’s security decisions out of the hands of Israel’s democratically elected leaders and placing those decisions, instead, in the custody of a council whose members include Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Communist China and Venezuela.
Consider that back in March, a Times editorial — headlined: “Mr. Netanyahu’s Lost Opportunities” — concluded, “There are several options, but the best may be a resolution that puts the United Nations Security Council on record supporting the basic principles of a deal covering borders, the future of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, security and land swaps, but not imposing anything on the two parties.”
Writing in The Algemeiner at the time, I warned, “The Security Council’s permanent members include Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Communist China and France, with its large and restive Muslim minority. Israel should put its security and capital city in the hands of that body? No thanks.”
The Times editorialists struck again in October, with a piece headlined, “At the Boiling Point With Israel.” That editorial recommended: “[H]ave the United Nations Security Council, in an official resolution, lay down guidelines for a peace agreement covering such issues as Israel’s security, the future of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and borders for both states.”
Again, writing in The Algemeiner at the time, I noted the double standard of the Times:
The Times editorialists shudder at the thought of Russia meddling in the American presidential campaign. Yet these same editorial writers are eager to turn the future of Jerusalem and Israel’s border security over to a UN Security Council that includes a veto-wielding ambassador of Vladimir Putin. When Donald Trump says anything the vaguest way positive about Putin, the Times finds it unacceptable. But when President Obama and the Times editorial writers want to use Putin to do a UN end-run around letting Israel’s elected government make its own security decisions, that’s a whole different story; that’s Russian meddling the Times endorses rather than condemns.
Then, on October 30, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote a long article calling for America to undercut Israel at the United Nations:
After the election but before he leaves office, President Obama may present America’s principles for a two-state outcome in a Security Council resolution that sets out how Israel and Palestine would look in their “final status.” Israel is strongly opposed. That is the best reason for doing it. As long as Israel has a blank check from Washington and an effective Security Council veto through the United States, nothing will change. And something has to.
I pushed back against that one in The Algemeiner, too, writing:
That’s childish. The mere fact that Israel opposes something — which, since Israel is a democracy, generally means that the majority of Israeli voters oppose something — is not a good reason to do it. That logic — Israel opposes it, so go ahead and do it — would also justify any number of other really horrible things, like, say, bombing Israel into oblivion, or evacuating all the Jews from the land and turning it over to the Arabs. Mr. Cohen makes no good argument — no argument at all, really — for why President Obama should substitute his own judgment on Israel’s security for that of Israel’s elected representatives. Is there any other situation or conflict in which America attempts to impose such concessions on its supposed allies?
There’s plenty of talk about the Times’ irrelevance, and perhaps the reality of the incoming Trump administration and Prime Minister Netanyahu will make the UN Security Council irrelevant, too. But if you are upset by the disastrous vote and wondering whose fault it was, place at least some of the blame squarely where it belongs — on those New York Times editorial writers, on columnist Roger Cohen and on the newspaper’s top management and controlling family who employ them. I sincerely hope not a single one of them ever has an unpleasant personal encounter with the Hamas terrorists who hailed and welcomed Friday’s UN Security Council resolution.
Though, come to think of it, with the cash-pressed New York Times looking to vacate and sublet eight floors of its headquarters as a way of cutting costs and increasing revenues, perhaps there’s a win-win to be had. Let Hamas move out of Gaza, out of the West Bank, and into the Times building in Manhattan. Cut out the middlemen, and have the terrorists take over the editorial- and column-writing duties directly. After all, they’re advocating essentially the same thing, an approach that the Israeli government aptly describes as disgraceful.
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal