New York Times’ Roger Cohen Misstates Facts Of Arab War On Israel
July 12, 2007

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to a number of substantial factual mistakes regarding the Arab war on Israel contained in the New York Times’ Magazine guest columnist Roger Cohen’s profile of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ( New York Times, July 8). In his article, Cohen claims the following:

  • “Livni brought out a map to make her point that a return to the precise 1967 lines — as U.N. resolutions and the Arab peace plan reiterated this year in Riyadh demand — was impractical.” —- The facts: No binding United Nations resolution calls for Israel’s complete withdrawal from all the territories conquered during the defensive 1967 Six Day War. The authoritative U.N. resolution on the war, United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 242 calls only for “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” not “withdrawal from all the territories occupied” and only in the context of a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Arab belligerents in that war. This applies explicitly to Israeli armed forces, not to Israeli civilians. Unlike the so-called 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, UNSC 242 does not call for total Israeli withdrawal from these territories (which today would include Israeli civilians living there) and does not describe the disputed territories in question as “Arab territories.” In the words of former Supreme Court judge Arthur Goldberg who, as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. at the time, played a key role in the passage of UNSC 242, “The notable omissions [from the Resolution] are the words ‘the’ and ‘all.’ The significance of these omissions is vital to a proper understanding of Resolution 242. The Resolution, in essence, neither commands nor prohibits total Israeli withdrawal. Rather, it remits the extent and timing of any withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the parties to the conflict to negotiate.” By stating the opposite, Cohen is mistaken in law and fact and gravely misleading his readers.

  • Cohen quotes Palestinian Authority (PA) official Saeb Erekat claiming, “‘There are 70-percent-plus of Palestinians who go with the two-state solution, even if nearly 50 percent of Palestinians voted for Hamas. Those same people condemn suicide bombing. Look, negotiations are over. It’s time for decisions!’ He has a point.” —- The facts: Successive Palestinian polls indicate the opposite. A February 2007 Near East Consulting poll found that 75% of Palestinian Arabs do not think that Israel has a right to exist and that 70% of Palestinian Arabs support a one-state solution in which Jews would be a minority, not a two-state solution consisting of a Palestinian Arab state living peacefully alongside Israel. A September 2006 An-Najah University poll found that 61.3% of Palestinian Arabs support terrorist attacks upon Israeli civilians. A February 2006 Palestinian Center for Public Opinion poll showed that 83.3% of the Palestinian Arabs oppose dropping the legally and morally baseless so-called ‘right of return’ of refugees and their millions of descendants to Israel, and which is incompatible with Israel’s continued existence. Other polls have shown majority levels of Palestinian support for continued terrorism even if a Palestinian state were to be established.

  • “The 59-year-old battle for the same land of Zionist and Palestinian national movements … has been dragged into the wider crisis of Islamic civilization.” —- The facts: The Palestinian Arab war against Israel has always been a religiously-inspired war involving the surrounding Arab and Muslim world. The Palestinian Arab leader, Haj Amin el Husseini, who declared a holy war against the Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine, was close to the Muslim Brotherhood leader Hassan al-Banna, the spiritual father of Islamist thought and Al-Qaeda. The 1929 Husseini-inspired pogroms against Jews across the Mandate were engineered by a preparatory campaign of falsely alleging Jewish attacks upon Muslims and Muslim sites in Jerusalem. When the Palestinian leadership rejected the 1947 UN plan for a partition of the Mandate into Arab and Jewish states, the leadership of Al-Azhar, the leading Sunni Muslim religious institution in the Muslim world, declared a holy war on Israel even before it had been officially established. All Muslim states rejected the partition plan and surrounding Arab countries invaded to abort Jewish statehood.

  • “An Israel that wants to remain Jewish and democratic cannot also be despotic on occupied territories where Palestinian demography is against it … A Greater Israeli democracy will end up not being Jewish because there will be more Arabs in it than Jews.” —- The Facts: A recent study by the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) discloses that fertility rates for Israeli Jews stand at 2.75 per woman — the highest in the industrialized world — and, while not expected to rise further by 2025, the Arab birth rate is expected to drop to 2.4 percent by that date. Additionally, the AIDRP has amassed impressive evidence, presented to the U.S. Congress last year, showing that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had deliberately misled U.S. and international humanitarian efforts by creating a ‘Million Person Gap’ — inflating its population figures to total over 3.3 million, as opposed to the actual figure of 2.4 million. The findings of the AIDRG study show that a 67% Jewish majority over 98.5% of the land west of the Jordan River (without Gaza) can be expected, contrary to the predictions, like Cohen’s, of impending Jewish minority status.

  • Refers to “fenced settlers-only highways” in Judea and Samaria. —- The facts: On account of relentless Palestinian terrorism targeting Israeli civilians driving in Judea and Samaria which claimed scores of lives, several new roads were paved which can and are used by Israeli citizens, Jewish or non-Jewish. In fact, Arab Israelis driving cars with Israeli number plates have been killed by terrorists while driving on the pre-existing road network.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Roger Cohen’s piece contains so many errors of fact, easily ascertainable and available on the public record, that it is disappointing that the New York Times allowed this piece to be published without a thorough review first by a competent fact-checker. The New York Times prides itself on factual accuracy but it is hard to see how it can do so in this instance.”

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