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The Only Democracy? » On The Ground Reports » 3 problems of “benevolent soul” Nicholas Kristof

3 problems of “benevolent soul” Nicholas Kristof

By Ofer Neiman

Nicholas Kristof of the NYT seems to be a benevolent soul (no small feat, considering colleagues like Thomas “suck.on.this” Friedman’s war mongering and smug neo-liberal lecturing).

However, there is a disturbing pattern of apology for Israel, and perhaps some ignorance of fundamental facts about the occupation, in Kristof’s writing. At the request of Mondoweiss’ Phil and Adam, I wrote a short piece about a previous blog entry of Kristof’s.

A more recent entry by Kristof suffers from similar problems.

1. Euphemisms:

One problem is that Prime Minister Netanyahu isn’t enthusiastic about a two-state solution and won’t make the concessions necessary for a deal.

Considering what we have known for years about the bamboozler, and what we now know after a clip of his talk at a settlers’ home in 2001 has been aired, “isn’t enthusiastic” is simply funny.

2. Wishful thinking:
Kristof recommends that Palestinians send out only those people highly trained in civil disobedience. This does make some sense, considering acts of stone throwing I have witnessed around me during demonstrations (it should be stressed that throwing stones by Palestinians at well armed Israeli soldiers enforcing a violent occupation is certainly not a criminal act). However, his Indian example seems to fail: Israeli soldiers will not just club the demonstrators. They will shoot them. This is certainly true for the “no-entry” zones inside the Gaza strip, declared by Israel.

Furthermore, It seems probable that if the Palestinians send women and children to those areas, the Schumers, Clintons and even the Obamas will condemn “their cynical use of children”, or at least deliver statements along the lines of “The conflict can only be resolved at the negotiating table”.

3. Slight ignorance:

True, nonviolent protests didn’t work so well in Iran last year. But Israel is a democracy with huge numbers of television cameras all over.

A democracy? not beyond the green line. The army can easily issue a “closed military zone” decree.  And isn’t it strange that Kristof omits cases of protester violence (and more protester violence) in Iran last year? For some reason, this violence does not taint the Iranian struggle struggle, but the much much milder Palestinian act of stone throwing does…

Let’s hope Kristof does better next time.

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Ofer Neiman is an Israeli citizen residing in Jerusalem. He is a co-editor of the Occupation Magazine: He got his first political wake-up call reading Btselem reports as a teenager. Ofer has a BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science, teaches computer science and also works as a translator.

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