Here is an example of why I despair of most of our news media. I’m using an example from NPR, whom I beat up on regularly, but it could be the AP, the cable networks, etc.
NPR’s Daniel Schorr explained why (a shocker) the ‘peace process’ is going noplace:
Most recently, while special envoy George Mitchell was striving to resume modest contact through so-called proximity talks, the tension was increased, first by the provocative announcement of new Jewish settlement activity at the moment Vice President Joseph Biden was in Jerusalem. Then the Israeli commando raid on a Turkish-led flotilla of relief ships for blockaded Gaza…
The basic deadlock remains firm. Netanyahu will not accept a Palestinian state with its own defense capability. The Palestinians will not accept a Jewish state that nibbles away with settlements in occupied territory. But never mind, we are a long way from tackling these ancient deadlocks.
This is like vuvuzelas at a soccer game. The drone is always there and after awhile you stop paying attention to it. But it still makes you tired.
Let’s just look at some of what’s packed into this boring little report.
First, the ‘provocative announcement’: a lower-level functionary announced, during Biden’s visit in March, that at some time in the future Israel intended to build 1,600 apartments in an existing Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem, a couple of blocks from the green line, a neighborhood that already has 20,000 residents and which would certainly become part of Israel if Jerusalem were to be divided. This should have been a non-event — Biden didn’t even know he was supposed to be insulted until they told him, but the administration decided to make it a test case of the proposition that Israel is not sovereign in Jerusalem.
A huge flap ensued, and Israel was forced — pay attention, you’ll see this again — to agree to an unstated, but real, freeze on construction in East Jerusalem. The Obama administration sprung a trap on Israel. And from then on the media referred to the “Israeli provocation” as if Israel had done something, er, provocative.
Next, the ‘Israeli raid’: Israeli commandos boarded several ships which ware attempting to break the legal blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza. On one ship they were surprised by a specially trained and organized squad of Islamist terrorists, who tried to beat and stab them to death and/or take hostages. When the Israelis finally defended themselves, several of the terrorists were killed, giving rise to a worldwide fury of condemnation — as if Israel was responsible for the deaths.
The US, as in the previous instance, exacted a price: Israel was forced to lift restrictions on almost all material flowing into Gaza, and forfeit its right to apply economic pressure to the Hamas regime. In essence, the US and the world legitimized Hamas. Just as before, the media — as illustrated by Schorr — has decided that the event will be treated forever after as an Israeli provocation. It would be more correct to refer to it as ‘the IHH [the Turkish Islamist group responsible] ambush’ instead of ‘the Israeli raid’, but you will never hear that.
Finally, the ‘deadlock’: if you repeat something often enough, no matter how nonsensical, ultimately people stop looking for reasons and just assume that it’s true. So NPR, the Times, etc. keep saying that Israeli settlement construction is an obstacle to peace. Nobody seems to notice that Israel hasn’t built a new settlement in years, and that the government is enforcing, sometimes quite forcefully, the settlement freeze it agreed to. But it is important to the US administration and the media that Israel be seen as the roadblock, and hence the constant emphasis on this.
Let me just add another thing about settlements. Exactly why are they an obstacle? Israeli security measures like the fence and bypass roads, etc., are often used as evidence that Israel is practicing a form of apartheid. But that could not be true, because Israel — within the Green Line — is dotted with Arab settlements, many of which are currently expanding (often by means of illegal construction).
So if Arabs can live in Israel, why can’t Jews live in ‘Palestine’? The answer is that the conception of ‘Palestine’ is precisely of a racist state where Jews are not permitted. If you think this is anything other than racism, ask yourself this: suppose an Arab citizen of Israel wanted to move to ‘Palestine’. Would the Arabs object?
The more complete answer, of course, is that the Arabs see all of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean as belonging to them. They want the Jews out of all of it. What good is a two-state partition if it doesn’t get them closer to their objective?
There’s a precedent: in 1948, all the Jews living in Jordanian-occupied territory in Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem were forcibly deported — ethnically cleansed — from those places.
All three of these issues are spun in the way they are for a reason: to divert attention from the fact that the responsibility for the continuation of the conflict is on the Arab side. Israel is presented as the problem, and the implication is that the solution requires Israel to move, not the Arabs.
It is profoundly distressing to me that this is the line taken by the US administration and promulgated in its friendly media. Because — what does the administration want to happen?
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