New York Times's Ethan Bronner Dead Wrong on 'Failure' of Netanyahu's U.S. Trip

May 26th, 2011 12:36 PM

New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner inaccurately portrayed on Thursday how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was greeted on his return to Israel after a lively visit to America, which included a tense meeting with President Obama and a triumphant speech to Congress. Examining the trip solely from the angle of Netanyahu's refusal to offer territorty concessions in the name of peace talks, Bronner found failure: "In Israel, Premier’s U.S. Trip Dims Hopes for Advancing Peace Talks." The online headline was worse: "Israelis See Netanyahu Trip as Diplomatic Failure."

Which "Israelis" are the Times talking about? In the headline, substitute "Some liberal Israeli newspaper columnists" for "Israelis," and it would be accurate and also signal the pointlessness of the story. Is it news that some liberal Israelis oppose Netanyahu and his refusal to accept the pre-1967 boundary lines demanded by the United Nations and other anti-Israel entities?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel returned from Washington on Wednesday to a nearly unanimous assessment among Israelis that despite his forceful defense of Israel’s security interests, hopes were dashed that his visit might advance peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

That lead assumes the ludicrous idea that Israelis are "unanimous" in their embrace of the left-wing idea of Israel returning to pre-1967 boundary lines. If that’s the only way to "advance peace negotiations," perhaps Israelis embrace the alleged "diplomatic failure" of the trip. As is, the only Israelis that Bronner quoted were liberal opinion leaders. As Bronner himself whispered deep into the story, Netanyahu’s popularity among actual citizens edged up in at least one poll.

A poll commissioned by Maariv, and conducted in one day, found that Mr. Netanyahu’s popularity rose slightly after his Washington visit. Asked who was best suited to be prime minister of Israel, he took 37 percent. Second place went to Tzipi Livni, head of the centrist Kadima Party, with 28 percent, followed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, with 9 percent.

Another poll ignored by the Times had even better news for the Israeli president. Over to you, John Tabin at the American Spectator:

Cut to Haaretz (a left-leaning paper which runs some very left-wing columnists), where you'll find this headline: "Haaretz poll: Netanyahu's popularity soaring following Washington trip." The story's deck notes that "the public seems to be turning a deaf ear to analysts who criticized Netanyahu's address to Congress." Perhaps the Times shouldn't pretend that said analysts speak for all Israelis.

Indeed, the paper’s sample of opinion consisted of two newspaper columnists, a cartoonist, the president of Tel Aviv University, and a Parliament member from the opposition Kadima Party. Hardly a representative sample of all "Israelis."