Last week, we found the AP doing a relatively decent job of reporting Israel’s internal politics. But every time they write about relations between Israel and the Palestinians, the same old bias appears.
AP Blames Israel For Making Palestinians Want to Destroy It
By Barry Rubin
In an article of September 20, Ali Daraghmeh, “Army says troops kill Palestinian with firebomb,” there is a long discussion of the current state of the peace process.
Let’s be clear: virtually nobody in Israel who is not speaking as an official government spokesman believes that there is any chance that there will be a peace soon with the Palestinians. The great majority of them place most or all the blame on the Palestinians. In addition, most people in political life who would say publicly that there is a chance for peace have the opposite view in private conversations.
These two points, which hold true across the political spectrum except for the far left — doubts about the process and blame on the Palestinians — never appear in coverage. Never, ever. Yet these are the two most important facts about the most over-covered issue in the world. Articles lately will say that the deadline will probably not be met, but present that as sort of an accident or due to Israel’s fault — the fall of the government.
This article, like so many others, gives a lot of space to Palestinian viewpoints and none to Israeli viewpoints. In this case:
“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, warned that time for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is quickly running out.” It then quotes a Mahmoud Abbas op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal blaming, “Israel’s continued settlement expansion and land confiscation in the West Bank makes physical separation of our two peoples increasingly impossible.” Actually both settlement growth and land confiscation (pretty much exclusively for the separation fence and often reversed by Israeli courts) is pretty limited.
Another really long article is dedicated to proving that Israel is destroying any chance for peace, basically serving as a Palestinian propaganda statement. This article, Steven Gutkin, “Palestinians despairing of independence effort“, September 20, 2008, basically says that the nice Palestinians really want peace but Israel won’t give it to them. As a result, the frustrated Palestinians may have to resort to violence. Well who could blame them under these conditions, right?
Here’s the lead:
Prominent Palestinians are lighting a fire under Israel’s feet by proposing a peace in which there would be no separate Palestine and Israel, but a single state with equal rights for all.
So let’s ask some questions. The Palestinians use the phrase about lighting fires as a code word for terrorist violence, though the American reader will understand it here as sort of, urging Israel to move forward. Is a Palestinian demand for Israel to disappear and millions of Palestinians to be allowed to live there a peace proposal? And does anyone take seriously the idea of equal rights for all, a phrase taken from the U.S. Supreme Court building?
In the next paragraph though we are told that it is not just a single state with equal rights for all but a “binational” state, which is sort of like creating the perfect conditions for daily violence and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Maybe, the article continues, this is “little more than a Palestinian pressure tactic fed by frustration over the failure of talks on a two-state solution, but it has set Israeli leaders on edge.”
My, my. Now why would it set them on edge, it seems so harmless, sort of like how things work in America? Oh, right, it is a binational state that would include radical Islamists and radical nationalists who have been murdering Israelis for decades.
Such a merger of Israel with the West Bank and Gaza Strip would quickly result in the Jews being outnumbered by the faster-growing Arab population. For most Israelis it would result in a nightmare choice: Give the Arabs full voting rights and lose Israel’s Jewish character, or deny them equality and be branded an apartheid state.
But even in the above paragraph which pretends to explain Israel’s point of view a key point is left out: Palestinians have never abandoned their goal of replacing Israel with a Palestinian Arab Muslim state. It isn’t something new. And the idea of using a “binational” state as an interim step in that direction has been around for 35 years.
Instead, we are told that this “idea is gathering important Palestinian adherents,” as if up until now they have been in favor of an end to the conflict, permanent peaceful coexistence, and the resettlement of Palestinians in a Palestinian state. Note that their refusal to accept such things was critical in the collapse of the “peace process” in 2000 at and after Camp David and has been the continued cause of inability to achieve a diplomatic solution since.
The rest of this extremely long article repeats the false themes of Palestinians just yearning for peace but being forced, unwillingly, to demand Israel cease to exist.
On another front, the AP finds room for a very long article by George Jahn, “Diplomats: Syria passes 1st test of nuclear probe,” September 20. The article uses a dozen paragraphs to clear Syria of any guilt for having been engaged in an effort to build a nuclear facility to produce materials for gaining atomic weapons. Note that this is a leak, not an official report, and even then proves nothing. It was immediately pointed out, for example, that the Syrians had been working on the site and might well have removed or buried the evidence.
Now, however, hundreds of thousands of readers will say: Ah, so that attack on Syria was about nothing, then, and the Syrians were victims.
Just like the Palestinians.
And, it would be far more true to say, just like the people who read these stories.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA and other GLORIA Center publications or to order books, visit http://www.gloriacenter.org.