Captain's Quarters Blog

« Kinsley: Democrats Between Iraq and A Hard Place | Main | Like Lemmings Over The Cliff »

December 12, 2003
Times Follow-Up on Siegman Disappointing

As I predicted in my post last night, the story regarding the meeting between Henry Siegman and Yasser Arafat continues today in the New York Times with very little clarification about Henry Siegman, his motivations, or his past history as an Arafat supporter and associate:

Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, has released a statement saying that he recognizes and respects "the Jewish religion and the Jewish historical attachment to Palestine," in a bid to restore his standing as an advocate of peace after more than three years of conflict. ... Mr. Arafat was said to have made his comments in a meeting last Wednesday in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Henry Siegman, the director of the United States/Middle East Project of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Siegman provided The New York Times with a summary of the meeting prepared immediately afterward and then translated into English. Mr. Siegman and Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian negotiator who was present, said the summary recounted the conversation. Mr. Arafat approved the summary, both men said. It had the starched quality of an official statement, rather than the feel of a freewheeling exchange.

Siegman's status with the CFR is the only background given (except that Siegman has "known Mr. Arafat for many years"), leaving out the tremendous body of writings that Siegman has compiled -- some of it published by the New York Times itself -- and this gaping omission certainly is at odds with the carefully constructed notion within this story and the AP piece that preceded it that Siegman is some sort of neutral "American Jewish activist" only interested in moderating negotiations. Indeed, this piece makes the communication of the summary seem more like an action with which Arafat reluctantly agreed, rather than the whole point of the exercise.

Again, if Mr. Siegman is the conduit for this supposedly "new" flexibility on the part of Arafat, it would be helpful to readers to know who the man is who has assumed the role of negotiator and what his biases and motivations are. Hiding this information by pretending it doesn't exist does not serve the readers of the New York Times, nor does it ultimately serve the cause of peace for an apologist for terrorism to be portrayed as a partisan for the opposite who is making a noble outreach, as the AP article clearly implies. Mr. Siegman is entitled to his opinions and his positions, of course, but being entitled to opinions does not make your opinions correct or helpful, and in my opinion Mr. Siegman is being unhelpul in the extreme by enabling Arafat's policy of deliberate obfuscation towards the West while Arafat pursues his other policy goal of the annihilation of the Israeli state.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 12, 2003 7:48 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry is

Design & Skinning by:
m2 web studios

blog advertising


Proud Ex-Pat Member of the Bear Flag League!