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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 30, 2003

Bronner's Myth

Ethan Bronner, the one-time Middle East correspondent for the Boston Globe, has been transferred to the editorial page of the paper that currently owns the Globe. Now he spreads disinformation about Israel for the New York Times. In today's editorial notebook Bronner wrote:
When a Palestinian terrorist shot Israel's London ambassador in the head in June 1982, the invasion was set in motion. The gunman was from a breakaway group that had nothing to do with Yasir Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization in southern Lebanon. But the shooting was the pretext Mr. Sharon needed. Israeli troops pushed through the northern border, smashing P.L.O. bases. Shiites had suffered terribly under the P.L.O.'s cruel and arbitrary rule and they were thrilled to see it broken. Israeli soldiers reported that locals welcomed them by throwing rice.

Things turned nasty for Israel when it helped engineer the election of Bashir Gemayel, a Christian ally, as president. Begin pushed him to recognize Israel as one of his first acts, something he resented terribly. Before much of anything could happen, though, Gemayel was assassinated. Within a week Israelis helped Christian militiamen enter two Palestinian refugee camps, where they carried out a massacre.
First of if the border with Lebanon was quiet it was not for a long time before June 1982. I was studying in Yeshiva in Israel in 1981, when I was told that Israel had attacked Iraq. I didn't believe it. I remember saying, "You mean Lebanon," because the border with Lebanon had been very busy. (Attacks by the PLO from the north and Israeli retaliations into Lebanon.) But I was assured that I had been informed correctly. And indeed I had.

It also doesn't really matter if cross-border attacks had ceased even for several months. By one account Israel recovered over $1 billion of weaponry that the PLO was holding. Are we to assume that the PLO was just accumulating weaponry for the heck of it? Or did they have longer term plans in mind? I assume the latter. Bronner apparently assumes the former.

It's also odd that Bronner asserts with confidence that Abu Nidal had nothing to do with Arafat. We know that they broke publicly over how honest they thought they should be about their intentions toward Israel: Abu Nidal said that the Palestinians should be honest about wanting to destroy Israel; Arafat said that the Palestinians should pretend to make nice. Still after years of assuring us that Arafat didn't support Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or even Fatah and finding out that Arafat lent and lends at least tacit support for terror even after he renounced it, shouldn't media types be hesitant before categorically denying any tie between Arafat and other terrorists?

The second paragraph is also annoying. Bronner is quite happy to tie Israel in with the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla. But how did Bashir Gemayal die? Did his car spontaneously explode? Why not report that Syria is suspected of having killed Gemayal for demonstrating too much independence from the occupying power in Lebanon?

Cross-posted on David's Israel Blog and IsraPundit.