"A Damaging Distance," Ethan Bronner's news analysis for the New York Times Sunday Review, blamed the "growing human distance between Israelis and Palestinians" not on Palestinian terrorist attacks against civilians, but Israel's security measures to stop it.
Bronner's tenure as Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the Times was marked by pro-Palestinian bias, including slanted labeling, calling hard-line Israeli supporters "extreme right" without bestowing similar labels on the hard-left of Israel. He also helped spread the truly dehumanizing characterization of Jewish settlers as "rampaging" during protests. He left a consolation card for the Palestinian cause upon his departure in March 2012.
In his Sunday think piece, Bronner glossed over both past and present Palestinian atrocities against Jewish citizens.
Days after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was gunned down in 1995 by an Israeli Jew who opposed compromise with the Palestinians, Shimon Peres, the acting prime minister, held a news conference. He was asked why more had not been done to protect Mr. Rabin from people like his assassin, Yigal Amir. Mr. Peres replied that it had never occurred to the authorities that a Jew could do such a thing.
In discussing the murders of the three Israeli teenagers, Bronner strangely skipped from the kidnapping to the three bodies being found, without raising the fraught word "murder." Yet a Palestinian caught in a revenge crossfire was bluntly "kidnapped and burned alive by Israeli extremists....an act of violent torture."
I was at that news conference and have thought often of that remarkable assertion in recent weeks as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has descended into an ugly blood feud. When three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped in the West Bank while hitchhiking home last month, Israeli security forces searching for them took the opportunity to arrest hundreds of Palestinians associated with Hamas. It was commonly claimed among Palestinians either that the kidnapping was an invention used to create a pretext for this latest suppression or that Jews themselves had carried it out. A week and a half ago, after the bodies of the three were found and a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and burned alive by Israeli extremists in an act of revenge, many Israelis claimed that it could not have been done by Jews. Such an act of violent torture, they said, was what Muslims do to one another in honor killings; Jews are incapable of such things.
Bronner then blamed Israel's security barrier for "dehumanization."
The change has taken place over the past 10 to 15 years because it was widely felt that mixing caused trouble and the two peoples needed to be separated if they were ever to live side by side. A result, however, has been a heightened dehumanization that has allowed the murder of four teenagers to escalate in just a few days into a series of devastating Israeli airstrikes that have killed scores and Palestinian rocket attacks that have displaced thousands.
Bronner's anodyne description of the failed 2000 peace talks failed to note that it was Palestinian PLO terror leader Yasir Arafat who walked away from peace talks and launched the second intifada:
When the Oslo peace process fell apart in 2000 and a Palestinian uprising erupted, the common wisdom that quickly developed was that the two nations needed not greater intimacy but complete separation. Israel built a barrier, barred most Palestinians from entering (replacing them with Asians on temporary visas) and made it illegal for Israeli citizens to enter Palestinian cities. At the same time, a movement took hold among Palestinians aimed at cutting off contact with Israelis. This has grown into what is known as boycott, divestment and sanctions, or B.D.S., which seeks to isolate Israel internationally.
Bronner skipped the many despicable attacks against Israelis during the "Palestinian uprising," including the bombing of a Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem that killed 15 people, including seven children, and injured 130 others in August 2001.
Later Bronner lamented that "the growth of the global digital economy has allowed Israel to build an economy largely separate from the nations around it. Trade with its neighbors is insignificant; it is essentially a thriving European-level economy surrounded by poverty." Whose fault is that? Bronner skipped that Israel is also surrounded by bloodthirsty hostile enemies.
Bronner cavalierly portrayed Israelis as living carefree lives, while Palestinians live in an Israeli nightmare. That scene is at best several weeks out of date, given the rocket attacks on civilians by Hamas launched from the Gaza Strip:
Israelis -- especially in the heartland around Tel Aviv, where two-thirds of the country lives -- can now go weeks without laying eyes on a Palestinian or ever having to think about one. In Gaza, Israelis do not exist except in a kind of collective nightmare....