By Barry Rubin

Here’s the West’s biggest problem at this moment in the Middle East (there will be bigger ones soon): The creation of an absolute fantasy world in place of the actual real Middle East. 

Consider an article in the Financial Times.

The lead: 

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“Palestinian workers in the West Bank have so far failed to benefit from the recent surge in economic growth, with new research showing that unemployment is high and rising while wages continue to fall.”

Their interpretation:

The survey offers a sobering counterpoint to recent statements by Israeli and international leaders hailing annual growth rates of more than 9 per cent in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At the same time, it appears to confirm the concerns expressed by international economists and by Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, who warned repeatedly that the revival of the Palestinian economy was “unsustainable” without further political progress.

My interpretation of their interpretation:

Ah, so if the Palestinian Authority lies about its economic situation, it really shows that Israel is wrong. Ha, ha. Good one. And if the economy isn’t doing well, it also shows that Israel must make more concessions and the Palestinians must be given more things! Another good one. 

My interpretation:

The Palestinian economy is a mirage floating on a sea of massive foreign donations. It is still full of government incompetence, inefficiency, and corruption. If everything is so fragile and you turn it into a state that doesn’t miraculously solve economic problems. It just creates a fragile state that will depend on anti-Israel demagoguery, tolerating cross-border raids into Israel, infusions of pro-Islamist money (Iran, Syria, Muslim Brotherhood), and possibly a takeover by Hamas. 

We are being told that Hamas is not to be feared because the West Bank economy is doing so well. If elections are held the Fatah rulers of the PA will win. Similar confidence made fools of them in 2006, when Hamas won the election and the U.S. State Department depended on false polls done by Fatah cadre to predict the opposite.

So when a respected journal like the Financial Times tells you that 25 percent unemployment proves that we must rush into a deal one might ask what planet they are living on.


“[Israel and the Palestinians] have also clashed over a recent deal to restore unity between rival Palestinian factions, and agreement which Israel rejects.”

Unvarnished Truth

Might one of those factions be a genocidal, antisemitic, revolutionary Islamist, terrorist, client of Iran and Syria, intent on war group known as Hamas? Otherwise, why should Israel possibly reject “unity between rival Palestinian factions.”?

Never Blame the Palestinian Leadership for Palestinian Problems

There’s no discussion of what the PA might be doing wrong. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who had been continually bragging about his accomplishments regarding the economy, is portrayed as being the chief person warning about the problems. And Israel is at fault, if only for trying desperately to find something nice to say about the PA.

Making a Negative into a Positive

“The downbeat economic news offered a striking contrast to the apparent surge in political optimism among Palestinians. According to a new opinion poll…more than 83 per cent of Palestinians say they feel `optimistic’ or `very optimistic’ about the future – an increase of more than 15 percentage points compared to September last year.”

Why optimistic? Because they are hoping to avoid a deal with Israel, falsely believing (and encouraged to do so by their leaders) that the UN will hand them everything they want and that Fatah-Hamas unity will make it possible to defeat and destroy Israel.

But we know that these “hopes” will be disappointed. So what then? A return to violence? That won’t help the economy. The election of a Hamas government, since now we are being told that the PA’s only electoral asset–its economic success–doesn’t exist?

 In other words, while this article contains very useful information its interpretations makes the overall effect of this piece another “counter-informational” exercise.

So the only thing left for me to say is this:

Readers of the world, unite! Realize that the mass media is largely inculcating false consciousness on the toiling newspaper-buying masses. If you do believe this stuff well, then, you have nothing to lose but your brains. 

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is

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