« Really, really bad ideas department |
Blog Home Page
| Don't Cry for Me Argentina: SC Gov Mark Sanford »
June 24, 2009
Making up the news
The Washington Post's June 24 edition carries an erroneous report by Jerusalem correspondent Howard Schneider that Benjamin Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister to demand that, as part of a final peace settlement, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as Jewish state.
The headline reads: "Netanyahu's Peace Stipulation -- Israeli Premier Is First to Seek Recognition of Jewish Homeland." Schneider's article -- a classic example of historical distortions -- reinforces the headline by selectively pointing to the Oslo accords of 1993 and the U.S. sponsored Annapolis process of 2007 as not stipulating Israel's Jewish identity.
Schneider then goes on to nail down his false thesis by adding a quote from an erstwhile Oslo negotiator who tells him that insistence on defining Israel as a Jewish state "has never been an Israeli demand."
The inaccuracy of these assertions -- by the headline, by the article and by this Oslo negotiator -- is easily demonstrable. Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu's predecessor as prime minister, repeatedly declared that in launching his negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas last year, he would insist on Palestinian acceptance and recogniton of Israel as a Jewish state.
Bibi merely echoed Olmert's negotiating demands. He hasn't broken new ground.
To cite but one example, here's what Olmert, as prime minister, declared on Nov. 11, 2007: "I do not intend to compromise in any way with the issue of the Jewish state. This will be a condition for our recognition of a Palestinian state."
Strange that Schneider omits any mention of Olmert's negotiating demand that a peace treaty identify Israel as a Jewish state.
Strange also that Schneider makes no mention of similar demands by Tzipi Livni, who served as foreign minister in Olmert's cabinet and succeeded him as head of the centrist Kadima party.
To cite but one example: Livni, in a recent colloquy with France's foreign minister, asserted that Palestinians cannot have it both ways -- to demand a separate state for Palestinians "while opposing the existence of the Jewish nation state."
In his warped and selective history, Schneider goes so far as to mislead Post readers about Kadima's actual postion on this issue during Olmert's tenure. In the 15th paragraph of a 19-paragraph article, he throws in this sentence: "An official with the centrist Kadima party, which was in power at the time, said the issue was viewed as something to tackle at the end of talks, not set as a central condition."
That obviously doesn't tally with Olmert's and Livni's repeated public declarations that defining Israel a Jewish state was indeed a central condition on their negotiating agenda.
Strange, but also revealing, isn't it, that Schneider would trot out an anonymous Kadima official to feed him a Kadima policy position totally at odds with the official declarations of the party's two top leaders?
Also conspicuously missing from Schneider's piece is the official position of the Obama administration, which from the top down is on record as envisaging a two-state solution that would end up with a "Jewish state of Israel" next to a Palestinian state. President Obama has used this formulation. So has the State Department. So has Obama's special Mideast envoy, George Mitchell.
Just one example: During a June 9 stop in Jerusalem, Mitchell met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and told him that the United States envisages a Palestinian state, "side by side in peace and security, with the Jewish state of Israel."
Strange that there's absolutely nothing in Schneider's piece that Netanyahu, Obama and Mitchell are on the same wave-length when it comes to identifying Israel as a Jewish state. If you're going to delve into the current state of the peace process, one would think that the views of the U.S. president and his special envoy, who obviously are key players, deserve some recognition.
But for Schneider and the Post, it seems that if it doesn't fit their own idea of what should be discussed on the negotiating table, out it goes.
Having mangled and botched recent history, Schneider is similarly deficient about earlier history.
International validation of Israel as a Jewish state actually goes back to 1947, when the United National General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, which called for a two-state partition of Palestine into "Arab and Jewish states."
Netanyahu didn't come up with anything that's startling new. He was merely picking up where the international community left off 62 years ago.
Strange that Schneider failed to pick up on that.
Of course, one shouldn't be surprised since, in the same article, Schneider also inverts the history of that period by writing about 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced to leave their home during the 1948 war "that led to Israel's creation." The 1948 war followed Israel's creation. It was a war against Israel's founding and existence.. Hundreds of thousands of Arab residents were dislocated not because of Israel's creation but by a war waged by half a dozen Arab armies to exterminate Israel in violation of the UN partition resolution. They were the victims of their own brethren's refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state -- a position that hasn't changed since then.
Either in the region, or at the Washington Post.