Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reuters correspondents reach for the Xanax

Correspondents in Reuters Jerusalem Bureau are clearly depressed: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks likely to finish his term in office:
Now, for the first time since Menachem Begin's right-wing government completed its 1977-1981 term, another Likud party leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appears to be on course to defy the odds, riding on strong economic indicators.
Past the mid-way point after a 2009 election, Netanyahu's Likud-led bonding of religious and right-wing parties as well as legislators who broke away from center-left Labor, shows few signs of fracture before the next vote due in 2013.
With U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks frozen, relative quiet along Israel's borders and a strong economy, there has been little to jolt the coalition or the electorate.
A paucity of opinion polls in the third year of the Netanyahu government is arguably one of the clearest signs that Israelis are not about to bid farewell to 'Bibi' any time soon.  A rare poll last week forecast that if elections were held now, Likud would win 32 of parliament's 120 seats -- up from 27 in the 2009 vote but still short of a governing majority -- compared with 29 for the main opposition centrist Kadima party.
Assuming Netanyahu could keep his current coalition partners, he would emerge from the ballot with about 66 parliamentary seats, the same number his government now controls, according to the survey.
One can sense the utter dismay dripping from the words of Editor-in-Charge Jeffrey Heller as he acknowledges that Netanyahu and his Likud Party are even more popular today than when they came to power in 2009.

What?  You mean Israelis by and large, support a negotiated peace with the Palestinians that would include their recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and a united Jerusalem affording all faiths the freedom to worship?  Oh, the inhumanity!

Yet unsurprisingly, Heller is always able to find those anonymous "critics":
Critics accuse him of pandering to ultranationalists in the coalition, mainly his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to keep the alliance together rather than pursue peace compromises.
What Heller really meant to write was:
[We at Reuters] accuse him of pandering to [those we slander as] ultranationalists in the coalition, mainly his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to keep the alliance together rather than pursue [what we consider] peace compromises [but are too pusillanimous to admit in our op-ed].
After dozens of stories where Reuters refused to report that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had offered nearly all of Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") to the Palestinians to settle the century-old conflict, Heller finally acknowledges the historical record:
He [left-wing writer Aluf Benn] was referring to Olmert's offer to the Palestinians of an Israeli pullout from much of the occupied West Bank and territorial swaps in exchange for major Jewish settlement blocs.
Yet even here, Heller cannot bring himself to inform readers that the Palestinians obdurately refused to accept Olmert's extraordinary offer.

Heller is indeed disheartened that Netanyahu cannot be broken:
With Obama plagued by domestic economic woes and wary of alienating U.S. Jews strongly supportive of Israel, there appears to be little incentive for tough pressure on Netanyahu to bend in the run-up to the president's 2012 re-election bid.
But as is Reuters' long-standing tradition of bias, never a suggestion that that "tough pressure" might be justifiably applied to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his constituency.

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