BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is On the Media. I'm Brooke Gladstone.
BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. In November 1967, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 242, which called for the "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict." The "recent conflict" was a six day war between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Jewish soldiers captured land from Syria to the north, Jordan to the east, and Egypt to the south. And the UN resolution asserted that Israel, in exchange for a recognized right of security and sovereignty, should give it back. The quid pro quo of Resolution 242 has become the foundation of a 38 year stalemate, now codified in the phrase "land for peace." It formed the basis of the 1979 Israel Egypt Peace Treaty when Israeli forces voluntarily withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, and it remained the guiding principle this week as the world's media covered the removal of Jewish settlers, sometimes forcibly, from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Nearly 9,000 residents in 25 neighborhoods stood face to face with Israeli troops who carried eviction notices and no guns. Scenes of tearful evacuations and angry standoffs made for compelling reportage in a region where journalism, like land and like history, is up for grabs. Michael Young of the Beirut-based Daily Star will join us soon to survey some of the reaction in the Arab press, but first, J.J. Goldberg, editor of the Jewish weekly, The Forward, has been following the press coverage in Israel and some in the States. He joins me now. J.J., welcome to the show.
J.J. GOLDBERG: Good to be here. Thanks, Brooke.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So at the heart of this evacuation is tension in Israeli society between mainstream secular Jews and those in the settlers' movement. Do we see this tension in the recent coverage of the Gaza pullout?
J.J. GOLDBERG: I think there was a sense in the Israeli media, this week especially, building over the last few weeks, that the goals of the settler movement and the goals of mainstream Israeli society used to dovetail and they don't any longer. Israel saw the territories as a defense forward position. The settlers saw them as a divine promise. Ha'aretz captured it in an editorial this week. They said, "Those who still see the knitted skullcaps" --that is, the modern Orthodox Jews --"as the best and brightest of our youth, who think their contribution to the country and the Army is priceless, hope that the moment of truth, the revolt against the evacuation, will not erupt. But in recent days, the concern has arisen that the line has been crossed. The protest has become a revolt."
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And Ha'aretz you would define as a very mainstream paper in Israel?
J.J. GOLDBERG: Ha'aretz is often called The New York Times of Israel. It's also quite liberal.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Mmm-hmm.
J.J. GOLDBERG: It is not the largest circulation. The largest circulation paper is Yedioth Ahronoth. It's a tabloid. Its editorial line is kind of gritty liberalism. And their main political reporter, essentially the dean of Israeli political reporting, Nahum Barnea, a combination of, I guess, Jimmy Breslin and David Broder --
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS]
J.J. GOLDBERG: --he wrote this week I'm going to translate now: "The picture appears to be of a great deal of sadness, the soldiers and the settlers weeping together." And now he writes, "Excuse me but that scene strikes me as confusing. In the Army that I grew up in, crying was simply not an option, certainly not weeping over tragedies that can be repaired, like tile roofs, cinder blocks and attractive bathroom fixtures." In other words, it's become a national day of mourning, when essentially what it is is the Army trying to create a new defense line.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: What about the national religious papers or the conservative papers? Obviously, they're not going to share the position of the two papers you mentioned, that "the time has come to make this shift, we were wrong."
J.J. GOLDBERG: Well bear in mind, the national religious and the conservative are two different groups. The conservative press, Ma'Ariv, which is a smaller tabloid, or The Jerusalem Post, which is a pro Likud daily in English, take the view that you don't reward terrorists, and therefore Israel should stay put in the territories until it's got a real partner. So they're not in principle against ever giving up territory. They're essentially neo-conservative. And they've taken the view that this is a mistake, it's bad timing, and they're sympathizing with the settlers who were the brave pioneers. The national religious press, Arutz Sheva, for example, is a settler radio station. It's been filled with posts this week saying this is the saddest day, talking about the expulsion victims feeling lost, about having no home. Soldiers are reported to be unable to complete their mission. There's a deep feeling that sooner or later God's going to come to His senses and prevent this from happening.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: How are the press treating Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon? He was elected in 2001 partly on a platform that opposed disengagement from Gaza, and obviously experience has led him to change his mind. How is he faring in the press? Predictably, being treated as a sensible man of reason on one side, and as the ultimate betrayer on the other?
J.J. GOLDBERG: It's pretty much predictable, in that sense. You get an awful lot in the Orthodox press of Sharon as a dictator. At times there's even talk of him being satanic. Some of this has come across here in The Jewish Press. capital "P." It's published in Brooklyn. It reflects the views of the settler movement. And there's been a fair amount about the junta that governs Israel now or is knuckling under to unbearable pressure from the Bush Administration, which sometimes gets the blame. In the mainstream press, Sharon is regarded as an Israeli everyman.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: You mentioned The Jewish Press, the national religious press that's published in Brooklyn. I was wondering can you make a clear distinction between the mainstream American press and the Israeli press coverage?
J.J. GOLDBERG: The American press has had a lot of coverage, especially this week, of the sadness of Israeli society. And when you have anti settler coverage, it's primarily from Palestinian commentators who are glad that the settlers are leaving. In Israel, you have a phenomenon that you don't find here of mainstream commentators who dislike the settlers and dislike Orthodox Judaism, the sort of fundamentalism that they see. Jews in America are uncomfortable disliking Orthodox Judaism. There is a sense that if it's more Jewish than I am, it's got to be good. And so people look over their right shoulders for approval in America. And the mainstream press doesn't want to take on the Jewish community in that sense. They don't want to be accused of anti Semitism. So you're not going to get people talking about a form of Judaism that has brought about conflict.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: J.J. Goldberg is the editor of The Forward, a weekly Jewish newspaper published in New York City. J.J., thank you very much.