The JTA’s Ron Kampeas’ Misplaced Indignation Against Pro-Israel Bloggers

king_abbas3Ron Kampeas, Washington bureau chief for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, has ripped those of us who pointed out Abbas Palestine Post-gate – in both the JTA and Times of Israel blogs section.

Leaving aside the fact the Times of Israel has seemingly dropped their strict rule against cross-posting at other sites, Ron’s piece is so off the mark, that I have decided to rip him a glorious one.

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, visited Saudi Arabia this month and presented King Salman with a framed 1930s-era copy of the Palestine Post.

The gift is not exceptional, maybe a little dull. But there are folks who are calling Abbas out – mocking him, even – for being a “Zionist.”

Weirdly, the mockers are all Zionists.

This seems to be the first hint of Kampeas’ disdain for those of us who are “Zionists” – as in, those of us who support the Jewish right to self-determination in our historical homeland.

Two days ago, David Brinn, an editor of the Palestine Post’s successor, the Jerusalem Post, posted a photo of the encounter on Facebook, and jokingly wondered whether Abbas was pointing out a typo.

(Brinn, an old colleague, neighbor and buddy of mine, has noted the propensity of Jerusalem Post readers to rise up as an aggrieved assembly at the mildest of errors.)

Actually, that is not the David Brinn post I noticed. I noticed this one:

which was clearly alluding to the fact that the Palestine Post was a precursor to the Jerusalem Post, a point I explicitly mentioned.

Kampeas weirdly enough does include this tweet, and continues:

Brinn and others pointed out that the Palestine Post was then, as the Jerusalem Post is now, the voice of Israel’s English-speaking Jewish nationalist community.

A lot of folks in Hasbara-land thought this was pretty funny. Ofir Gendelman, who handles Arab media for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tweeted: “Abbas gave the Saudi king a copy of the ‘Palestine Post’ as a present. Didn’t he know that it was a Zionist paper?”

“Humungus Fail Of The Day: Abbas’ Zionist Gift To Saudi King,” chortled the blog Israelly Cool. “Abbas Ridiculed for Strange Gift to Saudi King in Attempt to Distort History,” reported United With Israel.

Is Abbas’ gift any stranger than this type of pro-Israel reaction?

No, I don’t think Abbas was making a Zionist gesture by handing the king the Palestine Post. Pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon, calling the photo “hilarious,” noted that the newspaper in the frame is dated August 13, 1935 — and was undoubtedly chosen because it features a front-page report of a visit to the Holy Land by Emir Saud, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia (who happens to be Salman’s half brother).

And I am pretty sure Abbas knows what the Palestine Post represented. The Palestinian president probably thought it not unusual at all – normative, even – that the Jewish nationalist publication in the 1930s would cover the arrival of the Saudi royal.

Abbas has been all over the map on whether the Jewish presence in the Holy Land is normative – sometimes promulgating conspiracy theories of Nazi-Zionist collaboration, other times forthrightly affirming the “Jewish right to the land of Israel.”

But one of the most consistent thrusts of the pro-Israel argument – of Netanyahu’s argument – is that Abbas and the people he leads should accept that the Jewish presence in Israel, Palestine, the Holy Land is a matter of fact (as well as matter-of-fact).

He does exactly that – however much as an afterthought, that’s what is happening in the picture – and he’s mocked for it?

By folks who call themselves pro-Israel?

How does that help?

Ron Kampeas, you completely missed the point!

The link you included to show that Abbas forthrightly affirms the “Jewish right to the land of Israel” does nothing of the kind. He just expressed in English – to a small audience of Jews – that he would not deny it. He has never affirmed our rights to the land of Israel to his Arabic audience. He has denied it. That is a fact.

The point of my post, which you so clearly missed, was Abbas – who claims the palestinians have been here for over 6000 years – has been photographed giving as a gift the Palestine Post, a Zionist newspaper.

Abbas is no fool. He knew the photographers were there. He knew most would see the words Palestine Post and make the connection to his people. Their arguments are often not more complicated than that.

Ron Kampeas, it worries me greatly that the Washington bureau chief for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency can get it so wrong. That you cannot investigate Abbas’ differing messages to English and Arabic audiences. It worries me even more that your indignation – so fierce that you felt the need to publish duplicate posts – was aimed at pro-Israel people like me, on the very day Abbas repeated a discredited blood libel. This is the battle you want to wage, while such vicious lies are being aimed at us?

I won’t deny it, we have major issues with JTA. Time and again they show they cannot be relied upon. So I am not surprised their Washington bureau chief would post such damaging drivel.

It is the reason I refuse to post stories from their site, as well as the Times of Israel, which copies and pastes a lot of their stuff.

Yet I still receive mails from them asking for donations.

Ron, the chance of me donating to JTA is about as good as Mahmoud Abbas admitting he underestimated those of us who actually are in command of the facts.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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