One of the big stories yesterday was a letter from sixty former US diplomats to President Bush, criticizing his support for Ariel Sharon:
“By closing the door to negotiations with Palestinians and the possibility of a Palestinian state, you have proved that the U.S. is not an evenhanded peace partner,” the letter said.
One of the diplomats quoted by AP even suggested that US difficulties in Iraq were due to US support of Israel:
“Maybe in this year, the disaster that is American intervention in Iraq will finally get through to people, that there is a connection, that the Iraq thing would not have gone so badly if we had been seen in the region as being genuinely interested in upholding the rights and dignity of the Palestinians as well as the Israelis,” said Carleton Coon, a former ambassador to Nepal.
Absent from the news stories is the fact that the letter was sponsored by the American Educational Trust, an Arabist lobby group whose affiliate site – Washington Report – includes a counter indicating US aid to Israel, and a slew of articles from the likes of Robert Fisk and Charlie Reese. As David Gerstman says, ‘The folks here are hardly dispassionate observers of the Middle East. To call them anti-Israel would be an understatement.’
The US diplomats write they were inspired by a similar letter from British diplomats last week to Tony Blair. Turns out those British diplomats, as reported by the Telegraph, have business links with Arab governments or are paid by pro-Arab organisations — ties they failed to reveal in their letter.
Both of these elements — background on the AET, and a disclaimer to the British letter — should have been included in news reports on the AET-sponsored letter to President Bush.