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April 06, 2009

Goldberg and Bibi, the second time around

The Los Angeles Times' Nicholas Goldberg, deputy editorial page editor, was a correspondent in Jerusalem from 1995 to 1998, during Bibi Netanyahu's first term as prime minister. But that experience didn't seem to help him much when it came to putting together this backgrounder yesterday. The headline: "Is this a new Benjamin Netanyahu?" A good question, but if you're looking for an answer in Goldberg's piece, beware of key inaccuracies:

1) Goldberg incorrectly writes that Netanyahu's earlier government "opened an ancient tunnel to tourists beneath the Western Wall and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem." He did no such thing. The controversial tunnel runs along the retaining wall of the Temple Mount -- it is beneath neither the Western Wall nor the Al Aqsa Mosque. It is right next to the Western Wall (which is the compound's western retaining wall), and some 200 meters away from the Al Aqsa Mosque, which sits in the southern end of the compound.

As the Times' own Rebecca Trounson wrote at the time of the controversial opening:

Palestinians threw stones and bottles at Israeli police Tuesday to protest Israel's opening of a controversial tunnel near several of the holiest sites in this disputed city. . .

The tunnel, which traces an ancient roadway, stretches 500 yards beside the Western Wall, all that remains of the Second Temple [sic -- there are other temple remains] destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, and alongside the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Arabs as Haram al Sharif, the "Noble Sanctuary." The compound houses the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque and is the third-holiest site of Islam. ("Tunnel Opening in Jerusalem Sparks Protests," Sept. 25, 1996)

The fact that the tunnel runs along the outside of the compound's retaining wall (which is the Western Wall) and does not go under the Al Aqsa mosque, is plainly visible from this CNN map:


2) Goldberg errs: "Avigdor Lieberman, [is] a right-winger from the Yisrael Beiteinu party who rejects the idea of a Palestinian state. . . " To categorically state that Lieberman rejects a Palestinian state is incorrect.

Indeed, he wrote in the New York Jewish Week on Feb. 27, 2009: "I also advocate the creation of a viable Palestinian state," a statement which was picked up by other media outlets including Ha'aretz. In addition, in last week's speech, which Goldberg cites, Lieberman notes that the Mideast "road map" is binding for his government. The "road map"'s formal name is "A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," the two states being Israel and. . . . Palestine.

The LA Times' Ashraf Khalil got it right on Feb. 20 when he wrote: "Lieberman technically supports the idea of a Palestinian state, but is lukewarm on the current process." The current process is the one adopted at the Annapolis conference, which skips over the preliminary stages called for in the "road map" and jumps right into the final status issues.

In short, Lieberman supports the establishment of a Palestinian state under certain conditions, namely those specified in the Quarter-sponsored "road map."

CAMERA has informed the Los Angeles Times of these errors and has requested corrections. As Goldberg asks in his backgrounder: So what happens now?

Posted by TS at April 6, 2009 07:33 AM


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