WE'VE MOVED! IsraPundit has relocated to Click here to go there now.
News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

June 05, 2003

Bennet Just Can't Get Enough

I meant to keep my criticism of the New York Time's reporter James Bennet limited to my last article, but today's report from Aqaba must have crossed every journalistic red line there is.

First of all, Bennet has yet to write an article focusing on the domestic problems Palestinian prime minister Mahmud Abbas--Abu Mazen--faces, namely: he has no power. None. So, while all of his aricles have hinted that the agreements depend on Abu Mazen's ability to carry them out, Bennet has not taken any pains to inform the readers that Arafat still controls everything. Every security organization is now either directly or indirectly controlled by Arafat--since Muhammad Dahlan was stripped of his powers over the security forces by the Fatah executive last Friday--and we all know that a state with no monopoly over violence cannot enforce its mandates.

Bennet does not address this situation of power, although he says that:
"Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian foreign minister, said that Mr. Abbas could work only through persuasion, because Israeli raids had left him without police forces. Yet Muhammad Dahlan, Mr. Abbas's security minister, has thousands of armed men under this control."
Yes, Dahlan retains control over his personal militia, and yes, they could start fighting terrorists. But the point is that the rest of the security forces are under Arafat's control and far from fighting terror these forces are fighting Israel using terror.

But the following are the parts of the articles that really infuriated me for their lack of moral scruples. First, to keep to the same topic, his token line about Arafat:
"Indeed, the risks to national unity may have been apparent today, but so were the risks of not risking unity, as demonstrated by the man who was not there: Mr. Arafat. Mr. Arafat led his people from behind, never completely alienating any group or excluding any option, including terrorism.

"He wanted national unity," said one diplomat who has studied him closely. "But you can't have national unity while you have people getting blown up in coffee shops."

In journalistic lingo, this can be called "the kicker." A kicker is mainly a rhetorical device used to give a good end to an article, to drive a point home. But what exactly is he trying to say? That Arafat used to use terror? That he is a person of the past? That the Palestinians have gotten over that bitter chapter of their history? In using this as a kicker, Bennet is ignoring the entire Palestinian domestic front, glossing over the extreme power-struggles within the PLO, and making the reader think that Abu Mazen is ready to lead the Palestinians in turning over a new leaf.

The next thing that was a cheap shot to say the least was the following:
"It was perhaps significant that Mr. Sharon spoke in English, not in Hebrew. Israeli leaders have often accused Palestinian leaders, particularly Yasir Arafat, of speaking in English and not Arabic when they delivered messages that were popular with the Americans but not necessarily with their own people."

Read that over again, because that very sentence is the pinnacle of biased journalism. There is no reporting in it--what Bennet has done, skillfully, is speculate on Sharon's credibility while playing down the Israeli charge that Arafat, for one, would call for peace in English and martyrs in Arabic. Bennet does not mention that Sharon said the very same things in Hebrew at the Likud central committee meeting last week, or that Sharon has defended his comments, in Hebrew, since. No, Bennet, seemingly intent on debunking Sharon, instills doubt in his statement due to his use of English.

James Bennet and the New York Times have once again proven their extreme bias in reporting and their lack of journalistic ethics, publishing affronts to intelligent people everywhere, what are basically attacks on the credibility of information upon which rests democracy. With our "newspaper of record" publishing opinion under the guise of reporting in this field, I wonder what other stories they have made up.