Steven A. Hemmat
Steven A. Hemmat

The New York Times, bromides and dying children

bro·mide  brōmīd/ noun; plural noun: bromides

A trite and unoriginal idea or remark, typically intended to soothe or placate.  Example: “feel-good bromides create the illusion of problem solving.”

This past Sunday morning I read a Sunday editorial by the New York Times Editorial Board entitled, “Can Israel and the Arab States Be Friends?”  The editorial started off positively, citing that both Israelis and Saudis have reasons to work together.  The article went on to state that Israel’s ties with Egypt have improved since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became Egypt’s president in 2014, “enabling greater security cooperation against Hamas in Gaza and the militants battling Egyptian troops in the Sinai.”

Then came the clincher toward the end, “Where does this leave the Palestinians?”  With incredible ignorance of history, the New York Times Editorial Board wrote:

The danger is that these countries will find more value in mending ties with each other and stop there, thus allowing Palestinian grievances, a source of regional tension for decades, to continue to fester.

How is it that the New York Times Editorial Board can still espouse this outdated and false platitude?  Surely one would believe that after the collapse of the Oslo Accords, the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, the rise of murderous ISIS and Islamic State, and the implosion of Syria into civil war, the New York Times Editorial Board would have realized that Israel’s neighboring Arab nations used Palestinian grievances for decades as a cudgel against Israel in an effort to undermine Israel’s legitimacy. Those who promote BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) attempt to achieve a similar result.  If these Palestinian grievances were to disappear overnight, is there anyone who truly believes that the vaunted “regional tension” and instability spanning from Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iran would be resolved?  Of course not. Israel is not the problem in the Middle East.  Israel was never the problem.

There are many areas aside from physical security where Israel can assist its Arab neighbors.  Agriculture development, desalinization efforts, development of technology, trade, medical advances, and transportation are among the many areas where Israel can serve as a key partner with its Arab neighbors.  In a microcosm of the horror of what is now Syria, this past week we learned the tragic news that one-month-old conjoined twin boys who were evacuated from a besieged rebel-held suburb of Damascus died.  Undoubtedly, had these twin boys been airlifted to an Israeli hospital, they might have survived. The death, destruction and turmoil of the Middle East, having nothing to do with Palestinian grievances or Israel, condemned these young innocent lives.

If Israel and its neighboring Arab nations work together to achieve a real peace, perhaps Palestinians will come to realize that anger, hatred, incitement of violence, and the myth of dismantling Israel as a Jewish state must yield in order to achieve a better destiny for future generations.

About the Author
Steve Hemmat is an attorney in private practice in Seattle, Washington, where he has held several leadership roles in local Jewish institutions and is an alumnus of a Tikvah Fund workshop. Formerly with the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Justice, Steve has a deep interest in Israel and the welfare of the Jewish people. His wife, Rachely, is a native of Israel, and he has three children. He can be reached at
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