Yellow Journalism at Its Nastiest

Can anyone doubt that The Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages show rabid anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias? Consider early June: Fouad Ajami kicked off the month with a piece critical of Palestinian plans to obtain UN recognition for their state. Ajami asserts that when the Israelis took this route in 1948, “Labor Zionism” had already done the “hard work” of nation-building, and UN recognition was merely a seal on its efforts. According to Ajami, however, for the Palestinians to seek recognition through the UN is illegitimate; the only appropriate path for them is bilateral negotiations with Israel.

Ajami’s hypocrisy is breathtaking. To write, as he does, that a Palestinian state “requires convincing a decisive Israeli majority that statehood is a herald for normalcy” is beyond absurd and flies in the face of a century of Zionist theory and practice. Zionism has consistently sought to marginalize or expel the Palestinians, initially by denying Arabs employment in Zionist colonies, later by ethnic cleansing, and today by continuing to colonize the West Bank while making the lives of the Palestinians as difficult as possible.

Ajami well knows, but omits, that Zionism throughtout its history has made extensive use of international institutions and has also frequently sought and received help from the rich and powerful. When the Zionist experiment was on the brink of bankruptcy around the beginning of the 20th century, the House of Rothschild bailed out the early colonists. And when the Arabs were advancing in the desert, fighting the Turks as allies of the British for a country of their own, the Zionists were also advancing. But they were advancing in salons and government offices in London and Washington, the result being the Balfour Declaration, promising a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

After World War I, Great Britain became the Mandatory Power in Palestine under the supervision of the League of Nations. The Balfour Declaration was incorporated into the Mandatory Agreement under which Britain administered Palestine. Other provisions of that document served to facilitate the arrival in Palestine of a host of unwanted and uninvited European immigrants. Although the League of Nations described the Arab provinces of the defunct Ottoman Empire, of which Palestine formed a part, as having “reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized,” the British refused to grant self-rule in Palestine. The British colonial authorities were responding to the influence and blandishments of Zionist leaders like Chaim Weizmann, who knew that Palestinian self-government would mean the end of Jewish immigration and the eclipse of Zionism.

Two days after Ajami’s piece appeared, the Journal printed another op-ed about Palestinian statehood, this time by former UN ambassador John Bolton. Without a word about why the U.S. ought to oppose statehood for Palestine, Bolton, probably figuring his long service as an apologist for the Zionist enterprise would be explanation enough, suggested that the U.S. should stop paying its UN dues if the General Assembly approved a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood.

Bolton’s trademark attacks on the UN blind him to certain uncomfortable facts, old and new. Up until George Bush the Lesser’s administration made its entirely bogus case for invading Iraq, the UN generally served the foreign policy goals of the U.S.; examples include votes to expel the North Koreans from South Korea, to kick Saddam out of Kuwait, and to approve the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Today, however, the U.S. is not respected the way it was prior to the Bush administration. Endless unwinnable wars in the Middle East and huge American indebtedness to China have circumscribed American power. Terminating American financial support of the UN over Palestinian statehood would only be regarded as further evidence of Israeli control over American levers of power and American alienation and isolation from the international community.

Some of Bolton’s article is ironic, almost funny. Bolton states, “‘Palestine’ manifestly [does] not meet customary international law definitions of statehood, such as having a clearly defined territory and exercising a government’s legitimate domestic and international responsibilities.” Doesn’t Bolton’s statement apply equally to Israel? Has Israel defined its borders? Haven’t the Israelis breached normally accepted standards of international conduct by continuing to colonize the West Bank and east Jerusalem and keeping Gaza under siege? But the real question to be asked is, why is it so important to the Journal’s editorial board to prevent the Palestinians from having a state of their own? Given how much is going on in the world, especially in the world of finance, why is attacking Palestinian statehood so important as to warrant two op-eds within a three-day span?

Appearing the same day as Bolton’s piece was an opinion piece by a Dutch politician, Frits Bolkestein, regretting Europe’s multiculturalism and loss of confidence in European culture and values in the face of non-European, especially Muslim, immigration. Even in Bolkestein’s Journal article the Palestinians get slapped around. Bolkestein disingenuously compares the plight of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation with that of Christians in predominantly Muslim societies, forgetting that Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians and others is enabled by a loud and self-righteous chorus of supporters in Europe and North America, the best example perhaps being the U.S. Congress.

One can only hope that Bolkestein read the Journal two days before his article appeared. There he would have found, perhaps to his delight, an opinion piece by ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden extolling the virtues of torture, a practice that has been an important part of European culture from Torquemada to Hitler. Even better, the folks Hayden was torturing were all Muslims, just the people whose presence in Europe Frits finds so troubling.

To conclude, congratulations to Fouad Ajami for having a serious academic job at Johns Hopkins, where no one seems to notice the trash he churns out for The Wall Street Journal. Best wishes to John Bolton on his mooted run for Obama’s job, but he should note that, outside the opinion pages of the WSJ, being a neocon no longer generates much excitement. As for Frits Bolkestein, and his enthusiasm for apparently lost European values, perhaps he should read the Wikipedia entry on the Srebrenica massacre. There he will learn how a Dutch battalion commander exchanged toasts with Gen. Ratko Mladic just before the Serb commander murdered 8,400 Bosnian Muslims whom the Dutch soldiers were supposed to be protecting. And Gen. Hayden ought to continue to explain the benefits of torture to the Journal‘s readers.If he convinces the public that torture is actually an American value, he’ll have less of a chance of joining Ratko Mladic at The Hague.

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Author: John Taylor

John Taylor received an A.B. in Near Eastern languages from the University of Chicago, a B.A. and an M.A. in Oriental studies from Cambridge University, and an MBA from Columbia University. He served two years active duty in the United States Army, reaching the grade of sergeant, and spent six years in the reserves. Before making his career in the oil and gas business in Texas, he worked in the Middle East as an archaeologist, banker, and civil servant. Taylor is a life-long Republican.