In Media World, only Israel Blocks Peace Process
One of the great ironies about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that Palestinians can deliver multiple blows to serious prospects for peace, but it's Israel that gets singled out in mainstream media coverage as the only culprit standing in the way of movement toward a peace deal.
Actually, there's more than ample evidence of Palestinian responsibility for the stalemate. It just doesn't get reported in papers like the Washington Post.
Of this more later, but first a bit of history, also ignored by the Post. For starters, Israel has been ready for years to engage in peace talks without any preconditions by either side -- a position also espoused by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration. Hamas, however, screams treason if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dared take any step toward negotiations. Not that Abbas, on his own hook, would really move in that direction. He has for years insisted on huge, one-sided Israeli concessions -- a building freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, release of Palestinian terrorist prisoners -- as preconditions for talks, knowing full well that's a nonstarter.
Bottom line: In the eyes of any objective observers, it's become clear that Abbas -- not Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- is the real obstacle to getting to the negotiating table. Yet, in the face of this reality, mainstream media just yawn and go silent.
As for the basic framework for a peace deal, Netanyahu repeatedly has made clear his support for a two-state solution -- again in tandem with the White House. However, the Palestinians -- both Hamas and Abbas's Fatah party -- favor an ultimate one-state solution -- Palestinian rule from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, thus erasing the Jewish state altogether.
Hamas makes no bones that this is its basic agenda. Abbas, who pretends to be a two-stater to keep U.S. and European funding, in reality also favors total Palestinian rule from the river to the sea. He would accomplish this by insisting on an absolute "right of return" to Israel of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The Arab League, in its pseudo-peace plan, takes the same route to end Jewish sovereignty.
Yet, Western correspondents generally ignore this basic Palestinian obstruction to a realistic peace. Instead, they blame Israel -- and only Israel.
A classic example of this upside-down journalism can be found in the June 19 edition of the Washington Post in a Jerusalem-dateline article by correspondents William Booth and Ruth Eglash. The headline: "Israeli officials give mixed signals on prospect for peace with Palestinians -- Netanyahu's coalition divided on whether idea of talks is dead or alive."
The lead paragraph reads as follows: "As the United States seeks to revive Middle East peace talks, the coalition government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become a babel of voices whose members issue contradictory statements, sometimes hourly, declaring that negotiations with the Palestinians are: A. On track. B. Dead. C. Baloney."
The article goes on to cite some members of Netanyahu's coalition who, having waited in vain for years for the Palestinians to enter negotiations, now opine that a two-state solution is not in the offing and and if it ever came to fruition, they would vote against it. But not Netanyahu, who remains firmly committed to his two-state agenda.
Defections from the two-state stance in a governing coalition of five different parties is not exactly surprising. But the Post fails to give readers a full context, including the far graver Palestinian sabotage of the two-state agenda.
Instead, Booth and Eglash uncritically tell readers with a straight face that Palestinian officials from Abbas on down "expressed alarm" about two-state opposition by some Israeli cabinet members -- "The Palestine Liberation Organization blasted the disunity in the Israeli government."
Which is rich, when you think about it. Palestinian crocodile tears taken at face value in the pages of the Washington Post.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers