Nicholas Kristof: Every proposition false — and boring!

The New York Times publishes the columns of Thomas Friedman and Roger Cohen regularly, and a disproportionate number of them can be called Israel-bashing. Sometimes they are quite ugly. But for sheer slimy dishonesty, nobody beats Nicholas Kristof when he aims his pen at Israel and her supporters.

Today’s column is representative. It starts mildly enough with a reflexive twitch at Jewish settlements:

Next month, Palestinians are expected to seek statehood at the United Nations. It’s a stunt that won’t accomplish much for anybody, but it’s more constructive than throwing rocks at Israeli cars — or, on the Israeli side, better than expanding illegal settlements.

Kristof and his ideological soulmates apparently think that if they say this enough, the way that Hamas says that Jews are descended from apes and pigs, it will become true. It’s not, and until Kristof and others can answer the arguments presented here, they should refrain from categorical statements like the above.

Yet the American House of Representatives voted 407 to 6 to call on the Obama administration to use its diplomatic capital to try to block the initiative, while also threatening to cut the Palestinians’ funding if they proceeded to seek statehood.

My goodness, imagine the power of that Zionist lobby who could pull the strings of 406 members of Congress! Of course, what Kristof leaves out is that the resolution threatens to stop funding the Palestinian Authority if it does not cut ties with the terrorist, antisemitic, genocidal Hamas!

So it isn’t a question of the poor, oppressed, third-world ‘Palestinian’ people of color being kept from self-determination and the state they ‘deserve’, it has something to do with not wanting to finance murderers. I wonder if he missed that point by accident?

Similarly, when Israel stormed into Gaza in 2008 to halt rocket attacks, more than 1,300 Gazans were killed, along with 13 Israelis, according to B’Tselem, a respected Israeli human rights group. As Gazan blood flowed, the House, by a vote of 390 to 5, hailed the invasion as “Israel’s right to defend itself.”

This paragraph is so packed full of crap that I have to refute it in the form of a list:

  1. B’Tselem is funded by European governments and left-wing US organizations like the New Israel Fund. It is in no way an impartial human rights group, but rather an extremist organization devoted to nothing less than the destruction of the Jewish state. Do I go too far? Read this.
  2. B’Tselem’s casualty numbers are wildly incorrect. IDF figures count 1,166 dead Gazans, of whom 709 were combatants and 295 civilians. A Hamas source later said that “about 600” of their fighters were killed. Considering the nature of urban warfare — and the fact that Hamas deliberately operated from civilian areas — this points to the exceptional care taken by the IDF to avoid civilian casualties.
  3. The fact that there were more Palestinians than Israelis killed does not imply that Israel did not have a right to defend itself, after thousands of rockets and mortars were fired into Israel, not to mention cross-border terror attacks like the one in which several Israelis were killed and Gilad Shalit taken hostage.

Such Congressional tomfoolery bewilders our friends and fritters away our international capital. It also encourages the intransigence of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reduces the chance of a peace settlement.

Kristof seems to suggest that Israel is responsible for the lack of movement in the ‘peace process’ — probably because it has returned to building inside of its ‘illegal’ settlements. But Israel stopped building for 10 months while the Palestinians found excuses to not negotiate. If ‘intransigence’ means conditioning negotiations on a particular outcome, then it’s the Arabs who are intransigent.

If you want to know what bewilders/fritters, it’s the Obama Administration’s focus on the Palestinian issue while Iran moves to get nuclear weapons and take over the region. But that’s another story.

In the last few years, a former government official named Jeremy Ben-Ami has been trying to change the political dynamic in Washington with a new organization — J Street — that presses Congress and the White House to show more balance.

From B’Tselem, Kristof moves on to cite another anti-Israel authority, this time the phony ‘pro-Israel’ J Street, a lobby financed by anti-Zionists (including George Soros and various Arab interests) which has called for Israel to be condemned in the UN Security Council, opposed sanctions on Iran, supported the Goldstone Report, etc.

But time out to resolve the dramatic tension that Kristof’s column turns on, to wit, how can a minority of Jewish fascists force the US Congress to abandon the struggling Palestinian people? Kristof’s answer seems to be that a minority of Jewish fascists speak louder than a great left-wing majority who agree with him about Israel.

American Jews have long trended liberal, and President Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008. Yet major Jewish organizations, like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, embrace hawkish positions.

(“Hawkish?” You mean like wanting the Palestinians to recognize that Israel is the state of the Jewish people, or not agreeing to the idea of settling millions of hostile Arabs who are descended (maybe) from 1948 refugees in Israel, to turn it into an Arab state?)

That’s because those Jews who vote and donate based on Israel are disproportionately conservative (the same is true of Christians who are most passionate about Israel issues). Ben-Ami argues that “the loudest eight percent” have hijacked Jewish groups to press for policies that represent neither the Jewish mainstream nor the best interests of Israel.

No, it’s because the American people are overwhelmingly pro-Israel — Jews and Christians alike — and members of Congress respond to their constituents. Not being one-issue fanatics more loyal to Israel than the US, the American Jews who voted for Obama did so primarily because of issues other than Israel (although as Obama’s tilt toward the Arabs becomes more and more evident, the Israel issue becomes more important and that support erodes).

Some see this influence of Jewish organizations on foreign policy as unique and sinister, but Congress often surrenders to loudmouths who have particular foreign policy grievances and claim to have large groups behind them.

I suppose it’s better to be a loudmouth than sinister. But it’s equally wrong. Nobody hijacked AIPAC and nobody fooled Congress. There is no anti-Israel silent majority — Jews are liberals, but they are also pro-Israel.

In the case of Israel, American Jewish opinion isn’t the monolith that many assume. A 2008 survey by the American Jewish Committee asked Jews what issue they most wanted presidential candidates to discuss. Most cited the economy; only 3 percent said Israel.

Agreed, Israel isn’t the top issue of Jewish voters. If it were, we would undoubtedly be hearing about our unique and sinister dual loyalties! But just because it is not their top issue, one can’t infer that it is not an important one. That same AJC survey showed that 67% of American Jews felt ‘very close’ or ‘fairly close’ to Israel.

There’s also some evidence that young American Jews are growing disenchanted as Israeli society turns rightward. (Palestinian extremism feeds Israeli extremism, which feeds Palestinian extremism, which feeds. …)

Kristof throws everything he can into the hopper, including this reference to the tendentious article by Peter Beinart, in which the latter displays equal ignorance about Israel and American Jews.

The Israeli electorate is moving to the right insofar as the policies of the peace movement since 1993 have brought only disaster. With regard to social issues, I suggest that Beinart and Kristof both commit the fallacy of assuming that Israel is America. It’s in the Middle East, and there are important differences in values and priorities. Hamas isn’t a bunch of 1960’s civil rights workers.

Whenever I write about Israel, I get accused of double standards because I don’t spill as much ink denouncing worse abuses by, say, Syria. I plead guilty. I demand more of Israel partly because my tax dollars supply arms and aid to Israel. I hold democratic allies like Israel to a higher standard — just as I do the U.S.

It’s not just because he doesn’t criticize Syria enough for its policy of raping, torturing and murdering people whose only crime is to complain about the dictatorial regime. It’s that he accuses Israel of similar crimes, when the accusations are not true — blindingly not true — and intended to help prepare the ground for Israel’s enemies to destroy her!

I am concerned about my tax dollars, too. In particular, I’m concerned that the US is funding the Palestinian Authority, which continues to pay its ’employees’ who are in Israeli prisons for terror-related offenses and in Gaza working for Hamas. I also don’t approve of stipends to the widows of ‘martyrs’, nor do I wish to pay for street signs bearing the names of famous terrorists like Dalal Mughrabi.

One of the interesting things about this article, in addition to the fact that almost every single proposition in it is either false or misleading, is that there is absolutely nothing new here. Kristof just rehashes a bunch of tired anti-Israel themes:

  • The ‘illegality’ of the settlements
  • The casualties of Cast Lead
  • The power of the Israel Lobby, or at least the loudness of its mouth
  • The pretense that J Street is anything but a mouthpiece for anti-Zionism
  • The Beinart thesis that Israel is becoming anti-democratic and dangerously right-wing
  • The application of the colonial paradigm where it doesn’t come close to fitting

That’s the best that a featured writer for the great New York Times can do!

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2 Responses to “Nicholas Kristof: Every proposition false — and boring!”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    I read this column by Kristof and though I did not parse it with the thoroughness of this article I did understand its inaccurary, and one- sidedness. I was somewhat taken aback by how bad the article was since I had come to think of Kristof as a pioneering journalist especially in exposing certain kinds of injustice in the world. He has written for many years on the situation in Darfur and he and his wife wrote a detailed study of discrimination against and oppression of women throughout the world.
    This piece on Israel is however so bad that I must rethink my perception of his other work.

  2. Vic Rosenthal says:

    In my opinion, this is an illustration of the special relationship of the Left to Israel. Maybe Kristof is capable of original, creative work in some areas — but when it involves Israel, he falls back on the conventional leftist wisdom that places Israel as a colonial oppressor.

    I remember reading a book of investigative journalism by Michael Moore. It was actually not a bad book — it uncovered a lot of real issues, and was well written. There was a chapter on Israel, too, but it was horrible — the usual lies. When I looked in the back of the book, I found that the other chapters had footnotes, while the one on Israel did not.

    In other words, he didn’t think he needed to do any research. It was enough to just regurgitate the old garbage.