By Barry Rubin
Doesn’t the West ever learn?
Step 1: Al-Hayat reports that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas offers to give Israel the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem and the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple to Israel in a peace agreement.
Step 2: Media covers this extensively as great concession and proof that the Palestinian Authority wants peace.
Step 3: PA spokesman denies it.
And I happen to know for a fact that this story wasn’t true.
Over and over and over and over and over again.
PA prime minister Salam Fayad says Jewish settlers welcome to stay in Palestinian state. This contradicted every statement the PA and its leaders ever made. Media coverage. Denial.
A lone Palestinian whom nobody knows claims Israel committed massacre in Jenin. Media goes wild though there’s no proof. UN disproves allegation. (Some still believe it.)
PA parliament stages hoax, holding a session during broad daylight with curtains closed to “prove” Israel has shut off power. Shown to be false.
Multiple examples of altered photographs, false atrocity stories, etc.
Would it be beneficial if I listed a hundred such examples? Many of these are deliberately engineered, usually to claim falsely Israel has commited some crime, more rarely to exaggerate Arab or Palestinian moderation.
Remember that reporters demand daily that the Israeli government prove that it didn’t do something or other. Either there’s no time to look into the issue, meaning there is no denial or disproof, or a lot of effort is put into disproving the lies, which takes up the energy of a limited staff and, by the time an authoritative answer is documented, the media ignores it any way.
Please, people, let’s learn from experience. Of course, many reporters won’t because they are ideologically and politically determined to produce anti-Israel propaganda (you know who you are) though many others do try to do their best but all too often get fooled (you know who you are).
And thanks to those who don’t get fooled.
From an analytical point of view it is easy to avoid these mistakes. The PA leadership is either too weak (Fayyad, Abbas) or too radical (almost everyone else) to make any concession at all.
They believe they can avoid making concessions by mustering Western support and getting Israel blamed for everything. Either the result is that nothing happens (in which blame and pressure theoretically build against Israel) or they can unilaterally declare independence without making ay compromise at all. It’s a no-lose situation.
If you understand that you won’t be fooled by any of these false-moderation stories.
Similarly, if you understand that Israel is a decent democratic countries that may make mistakes but doesn’t commit mega-evil acts on purpose, you won’t be fooled by the lies on that front.
That’s not so hard to comprehend, now, is it?
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) CenterMiddle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle East (Routledge), and editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).