Mar
09
2009

Seeing Cracks in Big Media's Pro-Israel Opinion Wall

Asserting that "one positive aspect of the wreckage left by the Bush presidency is that many of the most sacred Beltway pieties stand exposed as intolerable failures, prominently including our self-destructively blind enabling of virtually all Israeli actions," Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald (3/9/09, ad-viewing required) cites "the last three New York Times columns by Roger Cohen" as evidence of "a substantial–and very positive–change in the rules for discussing American policy towards Israel":

Two weeks ago, Cohen–writing from Iran–mocked the war-seeking cartoon caricature of Iran as The New Nazi Germany craving a Second Holocaust. To do so, Cohen reported on the relatively free and content Iranian Jewish community (25,000 strong). When that column prompted all sorts of predictable attacks on Cohen from the standard cast of Israel-centric thought enforcers (Jeffrey Goldberg, National Review, right-wing blogs, etc. etc.), Cohen wrote a second column breezily dismissing those smears and then bolstering his arguments further by pointing out that "significant margins of liberty, even democracy, exist" in Iran; that "Iran has not waged an expansionary war in more than two centuries"; and that "hateful, ultranationalist rhetoric is no Iranian preserve" given the ascension of Avigdor Lieberman in Benjamin Netanyahu's new Israeli government.

Today, Cohen returns with his most audacious column yet: Noting the trend in Britain and elsewhere to begin treating Hezbollah and Hamas as what they are–namely, "organizations [that are] now entrenched political and social movements without whose involvement regional peace is impossible," rather than pure "terrorist organizations" that must be shunned–Cohen urges the Obama administration to follow this trend.

Not prone to rose-tinted views, Greenwald reminds us that "in the very recent past, not even our Constitution's First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources to target and punish Israel's enemies," writing that "the U.S. government has made it illegal merely to broadcast Hezbollah television stations and has even devoted its resources to criminally prosecuting and imprisoning satellite providers merely for including Hezbollah's Al Manar channel in their cable package."

Now if only the Times didn't feel compelled to "balance" such sensible views with outright calls for terrorism by Israeli forces. See the FAIR Action Alert: "Terrorism on the New York Times Op-Ed Page: Friedman Supports Civilian Suffering as 'Education'" (1/14/09)