Netanyahu, New York Times Spar Over Iran

YERUSHALAYIM -

A New York Times editorial critical of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s adversarial stance on the Iran talks was met with a firm rebuttal on Netanyahu’s behalf by Home Front Minister Gilad Erdan, in the latest exchange of blows between the newspaper and the Israeli leader.

In a weekend editorial titled “Not the Time to Squeeze Iran” the newspaper accused Netanyahu of undermining prospects for a rapprochement with Iran, which could lead to war.

A “rare opportunity for a diplomatic resolution to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program is at risk because many lawmakers, urged on by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel, are insisting that Congress impose tougher economic sanctions,” it said.

The editorial argued the Obama administration line that if the talks fail, “the Iranians could conclude that America is determined to overthrow their entire system, and as a result, accelerate efforts to build a nuclear bomb. This, in turn, could end up leading to American military action…”

On Motzoei Shabbos, Erdan issued a direct response, “Precisely the Time to Squeeze Iran,” stating that the deal being discussed now “makes more likely the very two outcomes its proponents seek to prevent — a nuclear-armed Iran or the use of force against Iran’s nuclear weapons infrastructure before it’s too late.”

Erdan argued that “an agreement that allows Iran to continue enrichment of material for nuclear bombs while talks go on will not freeze Iran’s nuclear program.” He also dismissed assurances that the sanctions relief being offered was moderate.

“Allowing the Iranian regime access to billions of dollars would significantly ease the very pressure that has brought Iran to the table in the first place. In a tanking economy like Iran’s, these changes will make a big difference,” he said. “The current sanctions regime took years to put in place and is likely to fray quickly once the proposed deal kicks in.”

If Iran refused to dismantle centrifuges and its plutonium reactor and stop enrichment now, he asked, “why would it agree to do so after the pressure on it has been reduced? If a deal this bad is the first step, what comes next?”

In another Times-related item, the media watchdog Honest Reporting took the newspaper to task for its coverage of last week’s murder of IDF soldier Eden Atias by a Palestinian terrorist in Afula.

In an article headlined “Attack on Israeli Worsens Tensions With Palestinians,” the Attia killing was placed in the tenth paragraph, with most of the piece devoted to the issue of building in Yehudah and Shomron.

And in what Honest Reporting branded a “photo outrage,” instead of a picture of the Israeli victim or his bereaved family, it ran an image of the mother of the terrorist “presumably mourning the fact that her son is now in Israeli custody.”

“In the eyes of The New York Times, Israeli victims of terror are mere footnotes to a one-sided narrative of Palestinian suffering and Israeli responsibility for that suffering,” it concluded.