Martin Peretz writes in JWR The paper of record sneers at the Jewish residents of Gaza - I am back from some exacting days in Gaza and will write next week in TNR about why my experience there was so searing and what it told me about the future of the West Bank. It was a primary event of contemporary history in one of the most punishing conflicts in the world.... It's one thing to read the Times' news pages (it may even be necessary) or the Sunday book review (which under a new editor is becoming richer and deeper), but it's another matter, mind-numbing and masochistic, to go regularly to its editorials. Take the top "lede" today, Thursday night, as I write. Its subject was the withdrawal from Gaza. I hasten to declare that I support this withdrawal, and I believe that this may be a tragedy for the settlers, but it is emphatically not a tragedy for Israel. Quite the reverse. These settlements were never an appropriate project for Zionism.
I agree, and even if they were at the time, it was impossible to defend them in the current environment.I always thought they were doomed. Sharon's action is a sign of serious strategic and historical reflection. I would have thought that the Times concurs in these opinions — indeed, that these opinions would amount to its editorial position. But not so. The Times editorial board has elected not to tell the whole story, and to draw conclusions that are perverse in their pro-Palestinian emphasis. "Some Gaza settlers pinned orange stars to their chests in a reference to the Holocaust," which, of course, if you were a reader of the Times during the years of the Jewish catastrophe you wouldn't have the slightest inkling ever happened. Now, I, too, was in Gaza, at four settlements, to be exact, including Neve Dekalim, the largest one. I'm on the alert for details. I saw exactly two such badges. (The wartime Jewish stigmata were actually in yellow. The settlers' orange derives, rather weirdly, from the Ukrainian revolution last year. Details, details.) Probably there were more and certainly in Keren Atzmona which had exactly 150 residents, probably three-fourths of them children. Anyway, the yellow star psycho-drama was, according to Ha'aretz, a production of one family. It was certainly not a phenomenon of the settler resistance. But the Times editorialist was in Times Square, not in Gaza. He or she merely picked the symbolism that suited his or her fancy.
As the Times always does when printing "All the News that Fits its destorted view of reality..... There was far more hysteria and hatred vented at the police in Chicago in 1968 (I was there) and at the marches on the Pentagon or the bust at Columbia University than there was in Gaza, and there were many more injured. No question about it. But it did not fit the Times' editorial line to admit the fact that almost no one was really hurt, and no one was killed, in Gaza. (I was not at Kfar Darom, the most extreme settlement, where paint, eggs, oil, and some apparently not-very-dangerous chemical agent were thrown at police and army by demonstrators. A few were injured, apparently none seriously. In any event, this distress occurred long after the Times editorial appeared.) For killings, the Times had to focus on the West Bank, where a "settler grabbed a security guard's gun and opened fire, killing several [there were actually four] Palestinians."
And that is while the military were removing settlers from Gaza. They did not remove settlers from the four West Bank cities until later.The Times went on to say that this was "an act that Prime Minister Sharon rightly denounced as 'Jewish terror.'" (What he, in fact, said was that "it was an exceptionally grave Jewish act of terror.") It is indeed Jewish terror, as the atrocity in Shfaram was "Jewish terror," and the Jews of Israel have notably identified the crime with the extremism in their own political culture.
Has Abbas ever referrer to Palestinians as terrorists? In Arabic?Once again, the renunciation and the denunciation cut through the entire society. But do the Times editorialists have no shame? Finally, they have shed their reluctance to call an act of terror "terror," but only when they can put the adjective "Jewish" before it. Was the Dolphinarium bombing in Tel Aviv, which merited no Times editorial, not Palestinian terror? And to how many of the dozens and dozens of other helter-skelter murders of Israelis has the Times affixed the term? The Jewish killer, standing in the Petakh Tikvah courtroom, asserted that "I hope someone also kills Sharon." When has a Palestinian terrorist been arrested and brought to a Palestinian court as an accused? Does the Times editorial page ever call the murder of 30, 40 innocent Iraqis a day — looking for work or at the market — terrorism? Hardly. It is insurgency.
The New York Times is weighty. So it backs up its argument with history, but it's potted history. The history of Gaza, for example. Gaza, the Times tells us, was part of British Mandate Palestine. It was not assigned to the Jews either under the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan or the 1949 Cease Fire Agreements. All true. But the Partition Plan had proposed an Arab state that included the West Bank and Gaza. After Israel's War of Independence, the West Bank was controlled by Jordan and Gaza by Egypt. Why did the Arab state envisioned by the United Nations not come into being? Ask the Palestinians and their Arab friends. Ask the Times. After the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the Israelis wanted to disgorge Gaza. But Egypt wouldn't take it (although it took back the Sinai) and the Palestinians weren't talking to anybody. Frankly, the Arab world wanted to eternalize the Palestinian refugee problem, and it did.
Egypt did not want the Gaza strip back because they had pushed a lot of Palestinian refugees into terrible living conditions in Gaza, rather than finding places for them in Egypt, and they wanted to be free of the whole mess."Gaza represents the worst side of Israel's settlement movement." It is actually a very diverse movement, even among the relatively small number of the 8,500 Gaza settlers, perhaps 60-70 percent of whom are children. In fact, most of the Gaza settlers are thoroughly committed to farming the land and have produced fruitfully from it: as much as 15 percent of Israel's agricultural produce. Let's admit it: The Arabs had Gaza for a thousand years. There were no Zionists to blame for its backwardness. Why did they make exactly nothing of Gaza? We will see what they will make of the hundreds of acres of greenhouses the Israelis have left behind. Anyone taking bets?