The New York Times, whose coverage over the years of Edward Said can only be described as fawning, is still at it, this time setting its journalists to the hard work of shouldering aside the revelations in the September Commentary (see Ruth King's column in this issue) that the esteemed professor made up out of whole cloth his oft-repeated life story of growing up in Jerusalem and being chased out by the Israelis in 1947.
Let us look at how the Times handled the story. The headline sets the tone: "Israeli Says Palestinian Thinker Has Falsified His Early Life." Note how the Times sets up the issue: it is Israeli versus Palestinian -- indeed it is Israeli versus Palestinian "thinker." From the start, the Times has clouded the issue, which has nothing to do with the nationality of Justus Reid Weiner, the article's author (an American who moved to Israel) but everything to do with the bona fides--or rather lack of them--of Edward Said.
After the briefest possible skipping over of Weiner's findings, the Times turns the article over to Said: Said denies ever having misrepresented his past; the real point is that his relatives were forced out etc. etc. In each case where Weiner's assertions are juxtaposed with Said, the Times writer gives Said the last word. For example, the Times makes it an issue that Weiner did not interview Said. (There would have been no point to an interview: Weiner quotes Said's published statements about his childhood and documents their falsity. In fact, such an interview would have been a foolish move on Weiner's part, since it would have forewarned Said and given him the opportunity to rant publicly against Weiner in his usual vicious style prior to the article's publication). As it turns out, Weiner reports he did make an attempt to talk to Said. Said denies it. The Times leaves the last word with Said.
The Times goes on to describe Said's forthcoming memoir in which he describes his childhood in Cairo in detail. Weiner had noted this in his article and explained this sudden rewriting of his history by Said as an effort at camouflage, since he was by now well aware of Weiner's research into his past. The Times' last word goes to Said: "Rubbish."
And so it goes. The entire last paragraph goes to Said who airily explains that whatever he may have said about his childhood is unimportant in any case and makes no difference "to the case I am representing." The average New York Times reader, who will not have read the article in Commentary, will come away thinking that Weiner, not Said, needs to explain himself. On the other hand, those who read more than this newspa- per of left-wing record will receive an accurate account of Said's fabrications. On the same day the Times launched its whitewash, the Wall Street Journal published an abbreviated version of the Weiner article as its lead op-ed piece and an array of columnists sank their teeth in the story with glee. Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe put it best. A journalist guilty of such fabrications would be fired on the spot. The standards of the academy being so much lower, Said's career will not skip a beat.
Worse still, there will be Jews who will continue to give this vicious and venomous Arab propagandist credibility. (Readers of Outpost will recall from our June 1999 issue his wild rants in response to the mildest academic criticisms.) In a particularly disgusting travesty, Said played "moral hero" at a two week workshop for musicians organized by Daniel Barenboim (long a fan of Said and Arafat) in connection with a memorial concert of Israeli and Germans at Buchenwald. Barenboim (New York Times, August 31) waxed adulatory: "For some of the Arab musicians, it was probably the first time they had heard the word 'Holocaust' or 'concentration camp.' Mr. Said was invaluable in explaining that an understanding of Jewish history was essential, whatever the current problems Arabs have with Jews." Given the concert's location and the fact that Said regularly denounces Arafat as a sell-out for even pretending to make peace with the Jewish state, the level of nausea one feels at this entire episode rises high indeed.
A group of Israeli "peace activists" are celebrating the holiday of Succot by a two day visit to Gaza for purposes of planting a "peace pole." While this is billed as
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Outpost - 2 - September 1999