National Post prizes propaganda over principle
December 26, 2000

Somewhere on the front page of Conrad Black’s National Post you’d think there would be a picture of St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.

Twice this fall, the paper’s editors and editorialists failed spectacularly to impose their proprietor’s political weltanschauung on the Canadian public.

First was the campaign to manufacture consent for Tom Long as the leader of the “alliance,” a putative amalgam of Reform Party populists and Tory Conservatives. The paper picked Long, a functionary in Ontario premier Mike Harris’ Tory machine, to lead the party to victory in the Promised Land—Ontario. Long finished a distant third, behind eventual winner Stockwell Day and outgoing leader Preston Manning.

Undaunted, the National Post threw its support behind Day, larding its election coverage with spin-doctored bumpf and shameless tub-thumping. Two of 103 Ontario seats on Election Night hardly qualifies as a success. The Liberals won a third-consecutive majority.

To complete the humiliation, Black kvetched in the Wall Street Journal that Canada would be better off joining the U.S. A reprint of the piece in the Globe and Mail on Dec. 1 (Election Day +4) brought a justifiable public outpouring of ridicule, derision and contempt.

Final score: Reality 2; Hubris 0.

Notwithstanding any journalistic merit that it might possess, the National Post is less a newspaper than it is a vanity newsletter, where inconvenient facts aren’t permitted to pre-empt the pontifications of its proprietor. Naturally, such a non-rational approach to reporting leads to embarrassments, but at least these two had a swift, public demise. Not so a third.

The newsletter’s news stories and editorials on the Middle East are so conspicuously skewed in favour of Israel that they ought to be identified as Israeli government press releases so that readers will know they’re reading propaganda, not journalism.

It's common knowledge that peace between Palestinians and Israelis is possible only if Israel is compelled to return the lands it illegally seized in the 1967 War. Palestinians will accept nothing less. Why should they? This return of land, and a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee problem, form the essence of UN Security Council Resolution 242—a binding agreement signed on Nov. 22, 1967, based upon mutual respect for the security and rights of all parties. Israel has accepted 242.

Moreover, the Palestinians have done their part for peace by acknowledging Israel’s right to exist, in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories: the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.

But Israel will not reciprocate. Israeli spokesmen since Abba Eban have claimed that Paragraph 1 (i) of Resolution 242 (“Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”) implies that Israel does not have to withdraw from all lands, and that their final status is negotiable. This is an outright lie.

In 1981, Lord Caradon, the author of the resolution, wrote: "It was from the occupied territories that Resolution 242 calls for withdrawal. The test was which territories were occupied. This was a test not possibly subject to doubt. As a matter of plain fact, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan and Sinai were occupied in the 1967 conflict; it was on withdrawal from occupied territories that the resolution insisted."

In fact, the equally authoritative French version of 242 speaks in the plural of des territoires occupés, not partially of de territoire occupé, as Israel would have the world believe.

Moreover, the preamble to 242 states that the acquisition of territory by war is inadmissible, which means the UN wouldn’t draft a resolution that violated its own principles—in this case, Article 2. Since Israel’s claim has no moral or factual foundation, its continued occupation of the territories, and repression of the Palestinians, must be considered a violation of international law and the fundamental cause of the conflict.

Now, take the lead “news” story in the Nov. 24, National Post, “Canada fighting Israel at UN,” concerning federal support for 10 UN resolutions critical of Israeli conduct in the Occupied Territories:

“...The UN will tell Israel to ‘cease all practices and actions that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people,’ and will remind Israel of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which requires an occupying power to guarantee the protection of civilians in areas it controls.

“This is meant to drive home the UN’s view [sic] that Israel is occupying the West Bank and Gaza, even though their status remains a matter to be negotiated as part of a hoped-for lasting peace.”  

This latter claim is, of course, blatantly misleading, but it does serve to show that the greatest crime in the Middle East is not the killing, but the way Israel and the U.S. exploit the “peace process” to subvert international law, abet Israeli colonial exploitation, and actually undermine UN resolutions that provide for this “hoped-for lasting peace.”\

Does the National Post, contrary to all reason and honesty, expect its readers to accept that international law should not apply to Israel, and that peace will come when Palestinians negotiate away land that is theirs by law and by right?! It would seem so.

A crowning touch to this shameless shilling came on Nov. 6, when the Canadian Jewish Congress wrote a letter-to-the-editor praising the National Post for its unflagging support for Israel.

St. Jude, the National Post will certainly need your help in the New Year and for many years to come.