NYT Editorial Actually Condemns the World, not Israel
NYT Editorial Actually Condemns the World, not Israel

The New York Times published a most unfortunate editorial on Tuesday based entirely on an inaccurate premise. Not surprisingly, it came out strongly against Israel and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"It is heartbreaking," the paper's editorial board wrote, "to see the Israeli cabinet approve a contentious bill that would officially define Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, reserving 'national rights' only for Jews."

The paper implicitly refers to the bill as one that "diminishes the rights of [Israel's] people" and "[denies] full rights to minorities."

The proposed bill does neither of these.

By granting the Jewish People exclusive "national rights" in Israel, the new bill does not deny civil or democratic rights to Arabs or any other ethnic group. They will continue to enjoy the absolute best that any democracy in the world has to offer, and certainly much more than Jews in Arab countries. They will continue to vote for and be elected to the Knesset, serve as Supreme Court judges, and so on, etc.

By granting the Jewish People exclusive "national rights" in Israel, the new bill simply restates the international resolutions that paved the way for, and legitimized, the establishment of the State of Israel.

Back in 1922, representatives of the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I - Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan – met in San Remo, Italy, and agreed to create a Jewish national home in what is now the Land of Israel.  The relevant resolution passed at that conference states:

"The [British] Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the [Balfour] declaration ... in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." The resolution immediately adds that it is "clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine."

To emphasize:

The treaty specifically notes that the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine must not be harmed - but says nothing about "political" rights of the Arabs living there. This, despite a request by one of the nations that the non-Jewish communities also be granted "political rights;" this proposal was rejected.

It was thus the international community that denied "political rights" to non-Jewish minorities in Israel.

Similarly, the relevant League of Nations resolution included the following significant clause: “Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country." No such recognition of Arab rights in Palestine was granted. 

In 1945, the United Nations took over from the failed League of Nations - and assumed the latter's obligations.  Article 80 of the UN Charter states: "Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed, in or of itself, to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties."

Clearly, then, Israel was created with international legitimacy that specifically gives national rights there only to Jews.

The word "heartbreaking" should better be reserved for the way The New York Times frequently, with regard to Israel, erases the boundaries between news and editorials.