Abbas Finds a Friend in The New York Times

Office of The New York Times. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Office of The New York Times. Photo: Wiki Commons.

In his Rosh Hashanah tirade at the UN General Assembly Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, now in the ninth year of his four-year term, calumnied Israel. Referring to the recent Gaza war launched by Hamas, he preposterously blamed the Jewish State for “a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people.” Its “settlement activities and the occupation’s brutality,” Abbas alleged, undermined every attempt to negotiate the peace he has persistently fled. Israel, he claimed, had committed “absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world.” Indeed, it was “preparing for a new Nakba against the Palestinian people.”

The “colonial occupying Power,” Abbas’s rant continued (conveniently ignoring that all Israeli soldiers and civilians were removed from Gaza in 2005), “has chosen to defy the entire world by launching its war on Gaza.” Palestinians have the “legitimate right to resist this colonial, racist Israeli occupation,” which is “unmatched in modern times.” In a remarkable display of inversion – indeed, obtuse blindness – Abbas denounced “the rising and rampant racism in the Israeli political and media discourse” and its “culture of racism, incitement and hatred.” He could not more precisely have described Palestinian culture. Leader of a people who pioneered in devising the horrors of modern terrorism, he concluded by blaming Israel for “an abhorrent form of state terrorism.”

Reporting Abbas’s speech in The New York Times (September 26), Somini Sengupta paid scant attention to the vitriolic language and malicious slanders that infused it. (She noted, however, that he was “visibly enraged.”) Her article merely rehashed the Palestinian Authority’s quest for membership in the international court (the better to challenge the legitimacy of Israel) – while acknowledging “the conspicuous absence” of any direct mention of it in Abbas’s address. She also included a sketchy summary of the Gaza war. Not until her concluding sentence did she quote the centerpiece of Abbas’s speech: “settlement occupation” as “an abhorrent form of state terrorism.”

No matter. The Times Opinion page that day provided the opportunity for a deservedly unknown Israeli-American writer to explore “How Israel Silences Dissent.” Mairav Zonszein was perfectly qualified. Her career as an aspiring journalist has been devoted to an array of left-wing, peace-now organizations in Israel…