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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Friday, December 21.
The fading relationship to reality

In one of its more unhinged editorials, the New York Times laments The Fading Mideast Peace Dream:

So far this week, Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-line government, defying the Western powers, has approved construction of more than 6,000 new housing units. The approvals follow an announcement late last month that Israel would continue planning for new development in the E1 area — a project northeast of Jerusalem that would split the West Bank and prevent the creation of a viable contiguous Palestinian state. Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, has called this project an “almost fatal blow” to a two-state solution.
Anyone following the New York Times and its critics knows that the Times reported that building in E1 would split the West Bank in two. When CAMERA pointed this out to them, it occasioned, not one, but three corrections. Instead of making the false claim, the editorial is now forced to use the term "viable contiguous." Contiguous, though, is a binary state. Either something is contiguous or it isn't. The qualification "viable," really doesn't modify "contiguous." But accept for the sake of argument that the narrowness of distance between Maaleh Adumim and Jordan is inimical to the viability of a Palestinian state, why doesn't Israel's narrowness at Netanya make Israel non-viable?
Mr. Netanyahu gave the go-ahead in retaliation for the United Nations vote to elevate the status of Palestine. Israel is also withholding $100 million in tax revenues it collects monthly for the Palestinian Authority, which needs the money to pay salaries. As a result, the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, on Thursday called for a boycott of Israeli goods.
The UN gambit - which Abbas presaged in an op-ed for the New York Times a year and a half ago - was a violation of the principles on which mutual recognition of Israel and the PLO was based. Yasser Arafat promised to settle differences through negotiations and rejected violence. We know that he didn't do the latter. His predecessor by turning to the UN violated the former. Where's the criticism of Abbas?
Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, hopes for Mideast peace have envisioned two states, for two peoples, living side by side in security. But there is increasing talk now of a one-state future, which would be disastrous to both sides. By absorbing the West Bank, Israel would risk its character as a Jewish state because Israeli Jews could become a minority in their own country. Israelis would also have to decide whether to give Palestinians equal rights, the denial of which would harm Israel’s standing as a democracy.
"Increasing talk" is hardly an argument. In any case since late 1995, more than 90% of the Palestinians in the West Bank have fallen under the control of the Palestinian Authority. With Israel also leaving Gaza in 2005, demographics are no longer a problem. What's left is a border dispute. The demographic argument is outdated and is only used as a cudgel against Israel, when a critic sees nothing to criticize about the Palestinians.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is a weak leader who has squandered chances to negotiate peace. But he is the best partner Israel has, and Mr. Netanyahu’s belligerence, including the settlement activity, increases the stature of Hamas, Mr. Abbas’s violent rival.
It is Hamas that has been shooting rockets into Israel, and it is Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshal, who has vowed never to recognize Israel. Mr. Abbas, by contrast, has forsaken violence and criticized Mr. Meshal for not recognizing Israel. The space for a peace deal is shrinking. While no one can impose a peace, the United States is still the most credible mediator. At a minimum, President Obama should be exhorting both sides to halt retaliatory measures. Arab and European leaders also need to show leadership. This is not a problem that will fix itself.
It's nice of them to note that Abbas has squandered chances. But he didn't just squander chances to negotiate, he rejected an offer from Ehud Olmert in 2008. It's hard to see how "settlement activity" is "belligerent." What is belligerent, is attempting to ally oneself with a terrorist organization. That is what the New York Times reported In Step Toward Palestinian Unity, Hamas Holds Rally in West Bank that Mahmoud Abbas is doing.
“Reconciliation, by definition, is a very, very long-term process — it involves a lot of grievances and, unfortunately, blood,” said Husam Zomlot, a Fatah official. “It’s not going to be a single bullet. There will have to be a gradual process of deescalating, normalizing political processes. It doesn’t mean years; it could happen within weeks.”
Mr. Zomlot and other West Bank political leaders said Thursday’s rally was an important step in building unity on the ground. It was not a large demonstration — perhaps 1,000 Hamas supporters gathered after the march in Nablus’s bustling main square, with a similar number of onlookers smiling from the periphery, many leaning out from five levels of the municipal mall’s parking garage. It was peaceful and orderly under crisp sunshine, with no visible presence of Palestinian security officials other than those directing traffic on nearby streets.
And yes, in that article, there's an acknowledgment that "Mr. Abbas sought to downplay the differences" between Fatah and Hamas and that he criticized Khaled Meshal. But if Abbas is trying reconciliation with Hamas he is rejecting peace with Israel, which really calls into question how good a partner he is. The weak criticism pales in comparison to his perfidious actions.

(It's a measure of the Times's intellectual incoherence that recently, in another editorial, argued "It is getting harder to see how he can muster the leadership required to unite Hamas with Fatah in the pursuit of any comprehensive long-term peace deal with Israel." If Hamas is so violent, how will Fatah/Hamas unity bring about a peace deal?)

Left with no real arguments to criticize Israel, the editors of the New York Times rely on time worn cliches to feign their interest in peace.

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