The New York Times seems determined to kill the proposed Trump Middle East peace plan before it is even made public. In the guise of news, the Times provided “analysis” in the news section, which was, in reality, an editorial. Readers must be wary…. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
The New York Times seems determined to kill the proposed Trump Middle East peace plan before it is even made public. In a recent article, it quoted only nay-sayers and critics, who without having even seen the plan have declared its demise. In the guise of news, the Times provided “analysis” in the news section, which was, in reality, an editorial. This has become more and more common on the news pages of The New York Times. The separation of news from opinion is in the highest tradition of journalism, but The New York Times seems determined to knock down that wall of separation, especially when it comes to subjects on which its editors and publishers have strong opinions. Among these subjects are both Israel, which can do no right, and Donald Trump, who is always wrong. When these two subjects come together, as they do with regard to the Trump peace plan, readers must be wary of accepting news reports as objective.
Every single expert quoted in the article predicted that it would not succeed. Many of these experts have been involved in past unsuccessful efforts to bring about a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is not surprising that these experts would not want to see others succeed where they have failed, especially if those others were members of the Trump administration. Then one expert went so far as to say: “The only way to protect the long-term viability of the best aspects of the Kushner plan,” he wrote, “is to kill the plan.”
The danger of such biased reporting is that it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If The New York Times reports that the plan will fail, that report itself is likely to have influence on parties to the negotiation. Nobody wants to risk their credibility by being part of a failed effort.
The New York Times declined to seek expert opinion from those of us who actually consulted with the administration on aspects of the plan. They seem deliberately to avoid quoting anyone who had a positive view of the Trump administration’s efforts.
No one ever lost money betting against peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and the expressed unwillingness on the part of Palestinians leaders even consider the Trump plan is not an encouraging sign, despite published reports that the plan includes considerable economic incentives that could improve the lives of all Palestinians. The hope is that the other Sunni Arab nations in the area will see virtues in the plan and will pressure the Palestinians to sit down and negotiate.
Despite the likelihood of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forming a right-leaning government, it is likely that Israel will look positively upon the Trump efforts, if not all aspects of the plan.
Any peace plan requires compromise on the part of both sides. It would be far better if The New York Times waited until the plan was released and then commented on its specific provisions rather than stacking the deck against it by quoting only its most strident critics.
There are those who will criticize any plan, no matter how positive it may be, if it emanates from the Trump administration. When President Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, many Democrats who would have favored such moves if they had been done by Barack Obama, opposed them only because these same moves were done by President Trump. These Democrats do not want to see Trump succeed at anything, even if his success would be good for America, for Israel and for peace.
Such an attitude reflects the hyper-partisan nature both of today’s politics and of today’s media.
If the editors of The New York Times refuse to separate opinion and analysis from hard reporting, every reader has an obligation to make that separation for herself or himself. Bear this in mind when you read The New York Times.
Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of The Case Against the Democrats Impeaching Trump, Skyhorse Publishing, 2018. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.