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10 May 2018

The vengeful audacity of The New York Times

By: Daoud Kuttab
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Regime change has been a taboo subject for sometime in the US because of the disastrous effects of the unauthorised invasion of Iraq by George W. Bush on made-up basis. This mistake is now being repeated again when it comes to Iran. In both cases, the main pusher for regime change has been a single person. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is also behind the belated attack on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the manufactured indignation by many in the west. And despite the fact that Abbas has publicly apologised in clear terms for the hurt that his speech might have caused to anyone, the Israelis are refusing to accept his apology.
 
The attempts at regime change, which are usually opposed by the editorial board of America’s leading newspaper, appear not to include their position on the Palestinian leader. The editorial board of America’s newspaper of record has decided unilaterally that Abbas’ “vile words” make him unfit to lead the Palestinian people. The New York Times, therefore, calls for Palestinians to change their leadership and to bring in someone else who can produce peace with Israel.
 
The words of the editorial board of The New York Times are a perfect affirmation of the conspiratorial theorists among Arabs and Muslims, who fear that Washington (and New York) are scheming to change the world so that it fits their ideas of what and who should lead this country or that.
 
Mahmoud Abbas’ words might have been wrong. Cherry picking arguments from some writers even if they are Jewish does not reflect a coherent contextualised understanding of the European scene in the first half of the twentieth century, or any other time in the history of the region.
 
While it is true that Jews have suffered for being Jews and were slaughtered by Nazi war machine, Palestinians have had nothing to do with that and Mahmoud Abbas was wrong in planting himself in this issue. But whether mistaken or not, Palestinians are hardly going to listen to the editors of The New York Times.
 
In fact, while many do support the need for a change in the Palestinian leadership, many upon reading the comments of The New York Times reversed their position.
 
Palestinians would like to have a new leader, an effective strategy and a leadership that can steer the Palestinians to the safe shores of freedom and independence, but the desire for change is not because of a seven-minute diatribe on the state of the world’s reaction to the case of Jews throughout history.
 
Americans are deeply involved in the Middle East conflict; supporting dictatorial regimes and blocking any criticism of their pet darling Israel, which occupies Palestinian lands, shoots at unarmed civilians, journalists and medics and has rejected various overtures of peace by Palestinians, and even by US mediators.
 
If The New York Times wants leaders to be changed because of what they say in public, they have plenty of documented proof about the vile words and statements of Israeli officials, Jewish rabbis and right wing racists in Israel. A more important and effective policy that The New York Times can adopt could be to hold governments and leaders accountable to their policies and principles. Whether looking at Biblical values of the Jewish Torah, or even the words of their own Declaration of Independence, Israelis have veered far away from their own commitments when they were inducted into the UN, specifically agreeing to the partition plan #181 and the right of Palestinian refugees to return UNGA # 194, or their failure to ensure equality for their own non-Jewish citizens, and their violations of international law by conquering Palestinian territories and building illegal Jewish-only settlements in violation of the IV Geneva convention.
 
The New York Times claims it is a paper that seeks the truth and defends it. The truth is that since Anwar Sadat, the Arab-Israeli conflict has not seen a more moderate, anti-violence Palestinians leader as Mahmoud Abbas.
 
Palestinians might want to have Abbas changed for many reasons, including the fact that he has been too accommodating to the Israelis and too protective of the occupiers through the joint security coordination. But for an American newspaper, which has often papered over the war crimes of Israel, to demand Abbas’ ouster because of his statements about Jews — for which he apologised — is shameful.

* A Palestinian columnist based in Amman, Jordan. - dkuttab@ammannet.net



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