By Barry Rubin
What have I been telling you? The Associated Press and other media institutions can always report—and do so frequently—on what the Palestinians want and what Israel “must” give them. But never ever ever on what Israel wants and what the Palestinians “must” give them to get a state and a lot more territory than they control now.
I think we know by know the Palestinian side but not the Israeli side. And so for example Diaa Hadid tells us in “Palestinians: Israel must back 2-state solution,” April 9, 2009.
We will never see a headline that says:
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“Israelis: Palestinians must stop incitement to violence,” because we are never told about the incitement to violence.
“Israelis: Palestinians must tell people to accept Israel’s existence,” because we are never told that they are told the opposite.
“Israelis: Palestinians must forget about demand to return and resettle refugees in a Palestinian state,” well we are told about the Palestinian demand but not the Israeli response.
And the bottom line of all: “Israelis: Palestinians must back 2-state solution.” By solution, I mean a full and final end of the conflict, something that their leaders have refused to accept before.
The article then continues with what I would call a lie, though strenuous effort could be made to try to prove that it is merely extraordinarily mislading. But I’ll call it a disgusting lie. Here we go:
“In neighboring Jordan, senior officials from several Arab states reiterated their support for an Arab peace initiative offering recognition to Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories it occupied in the 1967 Mideast War, including land the Palestinians want for a state.
“However, Israel’s previous centrist government did not accept the initiative, and it is even less likely to win the support of the new right-wing coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
First of all, the description of the Arab peace initiative—usually called the Saudi initiative—does not state accurately what was in it. A fair description would go like this:
Offering recognition to Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories it gained control of which had been under Egyptian and Jordanian rule in the 1967 Mideast War, accepted a Palestinian state on all that land, and allowed any Palestinian who had any ancestor living on the territory of what is now Israel come live in Israel.
Doesn’t sound as appealing does it? And in fact that is why the second paragraph is a lie. The previous government—which should probably be called center-left—was positive about the initiative but objected to two provisions: a Palestinian state on all the territory and the return of possibly millions of Palestinian Arabs to live in Israel.
In short, first the AP doesn’t tell you about the provisions to which Israel objects, then it doesn’t tell you that Israel accepted in principle the provisions it told you about.
This is consciously deceptive, a deliberate attempt to make anti-Israeli propaganda and encourage readers to be hostile to Israel by not informing them of clear facts.
The article then tries to show that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the bad guy—no criticism can ever be made of at least the non-Hamas Palestinian leaders:
“Netanyahu hasn’t expressed support for the idea of Palestinian statehood, instead offering the Palestinians `economic peace’ and his foreign minister has dismissed peace efforts by the previous U.S. administration. A year of U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations did not produce tangible results, and it is unlikely talks on the terms of Palestinian statehood will resume under Netanyahu.”
In this paragraph, there is an attempt to give the impression that Netanyahu has opposed a two-state solution, though he has not done so. In fact, he accepted a two-state solution in principle when he became prime minister the last time, in 1997—that’s 12 years ago.
And it’s a lie to say his foreign minister has dismissed peace efforts by the previous U.S. administration. All he did was say he accepted one plan but not a second one.
We are not told that the Palestinian side has in practice dismissed peace efforts by the previous U.S. administration because it didn’t fulfill its side of the bargain. Netanyahu has spoken of this but AP censors it out.
And it’s an even bigger lie to say that it is “unlikely” talks will resume under Netanyahu since he has been trying hard to get talks restarted and will probably succeed.
But note how talks are defined. Not talks about full peace or both sides reaching an agreement but merely over “the terms of Palestinian statehood.” The Palestinians get what they want, that is supposedly all set. What does Israel want? Who cares?
That’s what makes this paragraph so amusing:
“The Palestinians have set their own conditions for resuming negotiations.”
Yes, we know what the Palestinian conditions are but it is worded as if we know what Israeli conditions are—things like an end to incitement to violence and that the Palestinians live up to earlier commitments. That is what Netanyahu has said but it isn’t what we are going to hear from AP.
I am thoroughly disgusted by such coverage. On one hand, it is absurdly biased and demonstrably so. On the other hand, AP editors will insist that such stories embody the highest quality of journalism. I wouldn’t mind so much if they stonewalled and then tried to do better. But I know they won’t. They have forgotten, if they ever knew, what proper journalism is supposed to be like.