The Palestinian Papers and the Malice of “Journalism”
February 14, 2011 1 Comment
“The Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.” —Tzipi Livni, 2008, then Israeli foreign minister
Let that statement sink in for a moment, and you will appreciate one of the most disturbing pathologies about the Middle East peace process—but not the one you think.
The quote was featured prominently in the liberal British newspaper The Guardian as part of its coverage of the so-called “Palestinian Papers”—1,600 documents about Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations leaked to Al-Jazeera and provided to The Guardian.
Here is what Ms. Livni actually said:
“I understand the sentiments of the Palestinians when they see the settlements being built. The meaning from the Palestinian perspective is that Israel takes more land, that the Palestinian state will be impossible, the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.”
Consistent with its policy of active malice against Israel, The Guardian deliberately converted a statement by Ms. Livni describing Palestinian perceptions into a declaration by Ms. Livni of actual and pernicious Israeli policy. In short, The Guardian brazenly lied.
Ever determined to demonize Israel as the obstacle to peace, The Guardian introduced the Palestinian Papers with the blaring banner, “Israel spurned Palestinian offer of ‘biggest Yerushalayim in history’.” (Yerushalayim is the sonorous Hebrew word for Jerusalem.) Yes, the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, spoke the phrase “biggest Yerushalayim in history”—much exploited elsewhere by The Guardian—just as Tzipi Livni spoke the words attributed, with scissoring malice, to her. But Erekat’s words in context belie the Guardian narrative of Israeli intransigence:
Israelis want the two-state solution but they don’t trust. They want it more than you think, sometimes more than Palestinians. What is in that paper gives them the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history, symbolic number of refugees return, demilitarized state…what more can I give?
So Israel does want a two-state solution, sometimes even more than the Palestinians. The Guardian, evidently less so. And just to make sure there was no lingering ambiguity about The Guardian‘s bigotry, it published a cartoon of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dressed up like an Orthodox Jew toting an Uzi-like gun— drawn by cartoonist Carlos Latuff, known for his viciously anti-Israel work. What a splendid contribution to peace.
The revelations from the Palestinian Papers are not especially surprising—negotiations were cordial, frank, serious, and constructive—but the “journalists” at Al-Jazeera and The Guardian are full of fraudulent and bigoted surprises. Even more disturbing than the apparent intractability of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (for which the Palestinian Papers actually suggest a ray of hope) is the despicable state of much “journalism” concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (for which there is evidently no hope).
By comparison, WikiLeaks’ impish and reckless Julian Assange, who simply dumps secrets that imperil human lives, looks cherubic.
While The Guardian anchored the anti-peace process in the West, Al-Jazeera ensured hostility to peace in the Arab world, with particular attention to slandering Palestinians. Declared Al-Jazeera in one “news” article: “The Palestinian Authority (PA) has shown operational willingness to co-operate with Israel to kill its own people, The Palestine Papers indicate.” This is not journalism. This is cynical and fraudulent hate-mongering.
The slander about craven Palestinian negotiators making unprecedented concessions has already sent Palestinians scurrying for cover, immeasurably complicating an always delicate negotiation dynamic. In fact, Palestinian negotiators acted as sophisticated diplomats, in pursuit of a realistic peace that neither Al-Jazeera nor The Guardian want.
But then, surrounding Arab regimes have always had an interest in perpetuating the suffering of the Palestinian people. PA President Abbas condemned Al-Jazeera’s agenda as sparking a Tunisian-style uprising among Palestinians. Maybe so, maybe no, but Palestinians, thinking that surely 23 Arab states and 57 Muslim states have their backs against one Jewish state, have put so much misplaced faith in a fake solidarity that has failed them for 60 years.
Ghassan Khatib, Executive Director of the Arab Reform Institute, straightforwardly called Al-Jazeera’s coverage “malevolent.”
Al-Jazeera, which already pursues an Islamic political and ideological agenda, not only posted these documents on a website, but produced four major television programs “presenting” the documents. Al-Jazeera maliciously took things out of context with the objective of exaggerating the negative light they cast on the Palestinian Authority.
Negotiations may be suspended—but I see a tiny ray of hope. I see Palestinians and Israelis both recognizing that no one else in the world has as much shared interest with either of them as they do between themselves. I see Palestinians finally recognizing the cynicism of their Arab brothers in surrounding autocratic regimes that have exploited Palestinians for decades, and used Palestinian aspirations for their own cynical purposes while contributing nothing of consequence to—and often actively thwarting—the betterment of the Palestinian people and the peace process. I see Israelis resolving to trust again, to use power sparingly, to partner with their Palestinian brothers and make Semitic peace. I see recognition by Palestinians and Israelis that their lives, their livelihoods, their peace and security have become a ghoulish global sport, with hateful-half-baked and massively misinformed opinions traded like baseball cards. I see Palestinians and Israelis recognizing that hate and bigotry are imports from this global ghoulish sport, and resolving with vigor befitting their children to be done with them in their respective communities. I see honorable Palestinians and honorable Israelis re-committing to negotiating peace on terms that honor their children, rather than the distorted politics of foreign cynics. Yes, I see peace.
It is, admittedly, a tiny ray of hope, and perhaps one I’ll not be privileged to see realized in my lifetime, such is the anger and hate and suspicion that plasters the region. But I believe my son’s generation will make it happen. And I honor him and them in hopeful anticipation.
[Also published at CiF Watch.]