Today's New York Times has an article on Kerry and Bush's efforts to appeal to Jewish voters by touting their support for Israel. In it, Stephen R. Weisman alludes to criticisms made of Kerry without actually presenting the details of what has been alleged, which means that readers don't get the context they need to fairly evaluate the charges:
[Republicans] cited the senator's praise seven years ago for Mr. Arafat and his suggestion earlier this year that Israel's barrier separating Palestinian and Israel populations might become "a barrier to peace."
...Kerry campaign aides, countering these charges, say that Mr. Kerry's praise for Mr. Arafat goes back to the high-water mark of peace negotiations, when terrorist attacks had subsided and shortly after Mr. Arafat had shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister, and Shimon Peres, the Israeli foreign minister, with whom he had reached agreement on the Oslo accords.
As for the barrier, Kerry aides note that the senator had criticized it as potentially harmful because at the time its route had sharply jutted into Palestinian communities, separating them from other parts of Israel. They further point out that Mr. Bush had also criticized the route as "a problem."
Weisman presents these charges as "he said"/"he said." But as we showed at Spinsanity, both are being taken dramatically out of context.
First, Kerry's alleged praise for Arafat as a "statesman" in his 1997 book The New War is being misconstrued:
The Bush campaign's suggestion that Kerry's book "calls Yasir Arafat a 'statesman' " is also questionable. In it, he quotes historian Paul Johnson as stating, in part, that "after the PLO and the other terrorist movements it succored racked up an appalling total of lives extinguished and property destroyed, how far have they progressed toward achieving their stated political ends?" Kerry then goes on to write that "only 11 years have passed since those words appeared in print. If nothing else, this indicates the velocity of change in the late 20th century. Terrorist organizations with specific political agendas may be encouraged and emboldened by Yasir Arafat's transformation from outlaw to statesman, while those whose only object is to disrupt society require no such 'role models.' "
In context, Kerry's characterization of Yasir Arafat as a statesman is more a comment on the Palestinian leader's image in the world than an unqualified endorsement. While Kerry's writing can be ambiguous, the Bush campaign's quotation of a single word unfairly strips out the relevant context, a problem both sides have had when discussing this book.
And here's the problem with the "barrier to peace" quote, which former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani touted at the Republican convention:
Giuliani said that, "In October of 2003, [Kerry] told an Arab American institute in Detroit that a security barrier separating Israel from the Palestinian territories was a barrier to peace. Okay. Then a few months later, he took exactly the opposite position. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post he said, 'Israel's security fence is a legitimate act of self defense.'"
Once again, the first statement is taken dramatically out of context. Kerry actually said, "I know how disheartened Palestinians are by the Israeli government's decision to build the barrier off of the green line, cutting deep into Palestinian areas. We don't need another barrier to peace." As aides explained in the Jerusalem Post article Giuliani cites, Kerry was describing the route of the fence as a "barrier to peace," not the fence itself.
Weisman can't even be bothered to explain the first charge, and the second is barely discussed. But he has ample room to pontificate about the political machinations going on. As always, it's process before policy, speculation and pseudo-analysis instead of facts and context.