The New York Times Journalistic Backfire

The New York Times can be both factual and misleading at the same time. Take the article, “Obama Shows Talent for Arm-Twisting, and Raises Hopes on Peace Effort.”

The article explains:

When he took office, Mr. Obama wanted to claim the mantle of peacemaker himself. But then his demand that Israel halt construction of Jewish settlements backfired, and an attempt to hold face-to-face talks between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas fizzled.

Indeed, you could make the case that this is accurate. The demand that Israel halt construction of settlements backfired because it did not produce the sought after negotiations. But a simple reading of the text implies that the demand was rebuffed, that it “backfired.”

But the truth is that Israel accepted President Obama’s demand. For ten months, Israel froze settlement construction. This was an unprecedented concession. Yet the “backfire” was that even with the construction freeze, the Palestinians refused to negotiate until the very end of the freeze. Even then they were only willing to negotiate about negotiations. They then refused to keep talking when the ten month freeze expired.

Despite what the article implies, it was neither Israel’s nor Obama’s fault that talks broke down. The talks broke down for one simple reason: Palestinian intransigence.

In the interests of accuracy, the New York Times should make this clear.

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