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Monday, November 15, 2010

Roger Cohen's Muddled "Madam Secretary's Middle East"

In a New York Times op-ed of today's date entitled "Madam Secretary's Middle East" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/16/opinion/16iht-edcohen.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), Roger Cohen would have us believe that Hillary Clinton is gradually distancing herself from the warmth she expressed for Israel as a New York senator.

It is the purported policy of The New York Times that anonymous sources should be used only as “a last resort when the story is of compelling public interest and the information is not available any other way.” Yet, here we have Roger Cohen stating:

“'A bit of an epiphany,' in the words of one aide, came in March 2009 on the road to Ramallah. 'We drove in a motorcade and you could see the settlements high up, and the brutality of it was so stark,' this aide said. 'Everyone got quite silent and as we approached Ramallah there were these troops in berets. They were so professional, we thought at first they were Israel Defense Forces. But, no, they were Palestinians, this completely professional outfit, and it was clear this was something new.'"

Maybe, Roger, you would care to tell us the name of this anonymous "aide", who became so upset by the "brutality" of the hillside settlements? Is this elegant prose truly a verbatim quote, or has it been "dressed up" for publication?

Maybe, Roger, if this anonymous "aide" were to witness the aftermath of an "honor killing" of a Palestinian woman, he/she would better understand the true meaning of brutality.

According to Cohen, "Clinton has been a darling of Israelis since she her early days as a senator for New York [sic]." Nice try, Roger. You seem to have forgotten that in November 1999, Hillary participated in a function inaugurating an American-funded health initiative in the West Bank, during which Suha Arafat claimed, "Our [Palestinian] people have been submitted to the daily and intensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children." Although the Palestinians later acknowledged that there was no basis for Suha Arafat's allegations, Hillary, who was sitting on the dais with Suha Arafat, embraced and kissed Suha.

No, I'm not saying that Hillary is pro-Palestinian. I'm also not saying that she is pro-Israeli. I am saying that my anonymous sources, who are far more reliable than those of Cohen, tell me that Hillary is 100% pro-Hillary.

[The New York Times refused to post the content of this blog entry in response to Cohen's op-ed. I sent an e-mail to the Public Editor of The New York Times with copies to all the various editors, asking whether Cohen's use of anonymous sources is in keeping with their journalistic standards. Thus far no response from any of them. In addition, I have contacted the U.S. State Department and asked if they are aware of any such conversation between Cohen and a Clinton aide, and if so, is Clinton in agreement with the views attributed to the aide. Stay tuned.]

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