BBC and Guardian can’t he holier than Abbas

British Foreign office, BBC, European liberal-left devastated by leaked revelations on Israeli settlements, Guardian furious at “weak” and “craven” Palestinian leadership

Robin Shepherd Online

Game over. No way back. An entire edifice of anti-Israeli demonisation definitively consigned to the scrap heap, never to be recycled again. This is the uncompromising message that comes out of yesterday’s revelations on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. To the horror of a European political intelligentsia which has been steadfast to the point of fanatical in its opposition to Israeli “settlements” in east Jerusalem, the Palestinian leadership itself, we now know, has long accepted that the vast majority of Israeli settlements can be considered legitimate and would become part of Israel under any reasonable peace agreement.

This is utterly devastating since it simultaneously shows that everyone from the British Foreign Office and the BBC to the European Commission and the continent’s passionately anti-Israeli NGO community have been adopting a position which was significantly more uncompromising on “settlements” than the Palestinian leadership itself, and also that that same Palestinian leadership had accepted that the so called 1967 “borders” — the gold standard for practically every anti-Israeli polemic around — are irrelevant to the prospects of a lasting peace.

In one of its most resentful leader columns for years, the Guardian was nothing short of apoplectic: not so much with Israel, but with a Palestinian leadership which has effectively blown the credibility of the Guardian’s very own mantras on the MidEast straight out of the water. The Palestinian leadership, the paper declaimed, had been shown to be “weak” and “craven”. Their concessions amounted to “surrender of land Palestinians have lived on for centuries”. And, in words that look alarmingly close to the position adopted by Hamas, “The Palestinian Authority may continue as an employer but, as of today, its legitimacy as negotiators will have all but ended on the Palestinian street.” This is sheer spite.

The Palestinian leadership accepts what any reasonable person has been able to accept for decades. The Guardian then slams them as surrender monkeys. The Guardian newspaper is more hardline against Israel than the Palestinian leadership itself. And bear in mind, as you mull over the implications of that stark and unyielding state of affairs, that the Palestinian Authority is led by Mahmoud Abbas, who is a Holocaust denier.

But it gets worse. The only conceivable way out of this for the anti-Israel community is to turn this all upside down and argue — as analysts, reporters (anyone they can get their hands on) have been doing on the BBC all day — that what this really shows is the extent of Israeli “intransigence”: the Palestinians offer all these concessions, and still the Israelis say no! This was the line adopted by Paul Danahar, the BBC’s MidEast bureau chief, who quite casually averred that, “The Israelis look churlish for turning down major concessions”. Good thing no-one’s taking sides then.

Tragicomically, it just won’t wash. Privately and morally, senior Palestinians can see that there is nothing illegitimate or even especially problematic about most of the “settlements”, (as reasonable observers of the MidEast have been saying for years). This we know from the leaks themselves. But publicly and politically they cannot sell such concessions to their own people. This we know because they are currently trying to distance themselves from the leaks, and because they educate their own people in an implacable rejectionism which extends to the “moderate” Palestinian authority glorifying suicide bombers and other terrorists by naming streets and squares after them.

Logically and reasonably, the Israeli response is to see such “concessions” for what they are: well intentioned in so far as they go, but impossible to implement in practice. Quite apart from the question of Hamas-run Gaza, the Palestinians have been playing the same old game of saying one thing to one audience and something else to another. They are not a credible partner for peace, and the Israelis do not look remotely “churlish” for understanding this.

It will be interesting to see how this whole affair now plays out. But never again can the anti-Israel community play the settlement card and at the same time retain a single ounce of credibility.

———

NB: Just for the record, there are now no less than four opinion pieces on the subject up on the Guardian’s Comment is Free site right now. This has got them seriously rattled…
p.s. As of 3pm UK time, make that five pieces which I think is an all time record. Not that anyone’s obsessed or anything…

January 24, 2011 | 21 Comments »

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21 Comments / 21 Comments

  1. we know that the Israeli government is sitting on the sidelines fearing the outcome

    -i think it would be a mistake not to see that moral courage and intellectual confidence tend to go together. People act when they believe in themselves. Westerners who have waning religious faith need to see that their religion is based on anthropological truths about the nature of existence. That’s my point. It’s only a difficult point because it’s unfamiliar to you, or because there are limits to my writing skills. It’s not inherently fanciful.

    The Islamists may have confidence, but it’s confidence in a rather shallow understanding of human possibility. That makes them less free and hence, over the long run, less effective as a fighting force against free people who truly know themselves. But it’s intellectually challenging to know what underpins human freedom. Many people just don’t get it. The loss of freedom is hence a very real possibility; it stems from a lack of will because many people just don’t get it. You don’t raise the apathetic by saying “get a spine” and shut your mouths. You have to help show them why they are worth fighting for. That’s where will comes from. We are worth fighting for because we know our tradition carries more keys than the other side’s to unlocking a greater universal understanding of the open-ended possibilities inherent in the human.

    But if you can’t tell the difference between vain intellectualism that obscures truth and saps strength, and intellectualism that deepens our understanding of human reality and thus may help deepen faith, I guess you might well be impatient with any wordy offering.

  2. Yamit

    Felix you can explain your existence in the present through the perspective of material dialectic. What you can’t explain though is Why is there existence at all.

    We Jews believe we can supply the Why! Even the How? See Here

    Truepeers

    4. The domain of the transcendent exists as a basic human fact whether we are religious or not. Human existence is not strictly a material thing but is shaped and changed by what can be carried as shared human meaning and memory (of historical events). Judaism transcends the material existence of Jews and shapes that existence in ways that greater or lessen the chances of Jewish survival, and of any more universal human ethical imperatives associated with the survival of Jewishness.

    My flimsy contribution:
    That might be well and good, but while you are discussing weighty, philosophical, airy fairy issues the ME is seething with threat of violence, insurrection and complete instability. We might not understand one iota of what you write, but we know that the Israeli government is sitting on the sidelines fearing the outcome.

    The Arab governments are likewise concerned, that they might be next.

    America fears that any succeeding governments might just be very unfriendly to their interests. And whither Islamism, are they sitting on sidelines waiting to pick up the pieces?

    Sorry for the interruption, what did you say about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

  3. Felix you can explain your existence in the present through the perspective of material dialectic. What you can’t explain though is Why is there existence at all.

    We Jews believe we can supply the Why! Even the How? See Here

  4. Felix: Religion is connected with this and is very important but it is more a matter of religion being created anD co-opted into this struggle for a Jewish Homeland by real human beings. It (religion) too is rooted in reality, inside real material conditions and inside the hearts of real material human beings

    -i have to say i think this comment is blind to some basic human realities which I will assert are neither religious in nature, nor material. (They are anthropological.)

    1. If religion were just an extension of some more material existential struggle, one would be hard-pressed to explain why the Hebrews have survived more or less intact while pretty much every other tribe or ethnicity of their founding era has died out and merged with others.

    2. Could it be possible that religions themselves are in a struggle for survival and that the Jews have survived as a tool of Judaism?

    3. The recourse to “the material” as the ultimate ground of explanation cannot explain basic human facts, such as language and the arts (and religion). For example, every word I type or speak has a material existence only as a collection of individual letters or sounds, for example aa-r-d-v-a-r-k. In order to “get” the word, one’s brain is associating the letters or sounds to come up with the shared meaning of this arbitrary collection. The word (the meaning associated with the letters or sounds) itself has no material existence; the significance of the collection aa-r-d-v-a-r-k is surely not imprinted on my neurons (at present, I cannot even remember what an aardvark looks like, though i know it’s an animal). My neurons fire to associate the letters but my comprehension of what this association means, “aardvark”, is transcendent – no brain scanning will ever be able to point to its material analogue.

    Memory depends on mental associations which are necessary but not sufficient to explain it. Collectively, we rely on a shared mental network of shared meanings emerging from shared events where (historically) some animal has been pointed out as significant and given the arbitrary name, “aardvark”. Again, the overall memory of that event has no material existence other than as a collection of symbols that initiate mental processes, not unlike how a communally-meaningful, evocative, painting only exists, materially, as a series of colours or paint splatches.

    4. The domain of the transcendent exists as a basic human fact whether we are religious or not. Human existence is not strictly a material thing but is shaped and changed by what can be carried as shared human meaning and memory (of historical events). Judaism transcends the material existence of Jews and shapes that existence in ways that greater or lessen the chances of Jewish survival, and of any more universal human ethical imperatives associated with the survival of Jewishness.

  5. Felix, examine statement #2 above (the 1st one). This is the reason you can’t relate. To you, according to my understanding of this statement that you wrote, our religion is real and pertinent only because it is in our hearts and in our minds, not because the real truth of the world lies there. Do you really find it coincidental that the entire world is being dragged to Jerusalem? Does it make any sense whatsoever that Jerusalem should be the focal point of things for all these nations when the world’s financial systems are falling apart around them? You’re trying to make sense of the world of deception. You never will. Focus on the truth of things and it will all become clear. The “politicians” are not going to save anything.

  6. Yamit

    It may be the latter thought, that I feel i am talking to somebody in you who is not totally present with us in this real material world

    That means there is a growing weariness in me to carrying on a discussion with you into the future

    YOU DO NOT TOTALLY LIVE IN THE REAL MATERIAL WORLD AND THUS THEREFORE YOU CAN NEVER EITHER RESOLVE ANYTHING IN THIS REAL MATERIAL WORLD and if you cannot resolve anything you become a captive of fate

    But on that the future of the Jewish people will be decided also

  7. Let me establish some truths

    1. The Jewish struggle for Israel is in essence a national liberation struggle which is rooted in the reality of human existence

    2. Religion is connected with this and is very important but it is more a matter of religion being created anD co-opted into this struggle for a Jewish Homeland by real human beings. It (religion) too is rooted in reality, inside real material conditions and inside the hearts of real material human beings

    3. The Irish and Celtic struggle for Irish nationalism and their Homeland is similar and SHOULD be a point of connection and support

    4. And statements by religious leaders, Rabbis, should be evaluated and examined critically in so far as they provide a solution to the real MATERIAL conditions of Jews in the present, for example the change that a Hizbullah linked Lebanon and an Islamist Egypt may create

    Historical reviews and comparisions are important but they must be addressed from the PRESENT! We live in the present!

    This is the weakness of this film whoever it is made by. Remember this film is also made by modern human beings and these also have certain political viewpoints of the present

    And what it leaves out totally is any understanding or acknowledgement of the present crisis in the capitalist system IN WHICH WE HUMAN BEINGS TODAY EXIST INSIDE OF

    It also leaves out that there is the closest of connection between the economic crisis of capitalism which followed on from the Wall Street banking Collapse and the growth of Fascism in the world, including the growth of the German Nazi Party

    We can say also that Obama is grounded in this crisis in the capitalist system. It is as a direct result of the indebtedness of America that Obama strikes out to hit the American working class, and this means

    1. Abroad America is forming an alliance with Fascist Islam (We can see the way the land lies in that both republicans and democrats linked arms together heads bowed before this phoney in the State of the Union Speech of the “mascot” Obama, as a result of the shooting in Arizona, meaning those like Ted and Laura who overplay the republicans are on bummer)

    2. America is making Israel into the scapegoat for the crisis

    The film leaves out this relation of politics to the capitalist crisis

    the type of leaders that this film and way of thinking will produce will therefore be very limited if not downright treacherous

    Which brings us to Israel and to people like you

    THE ISSUE IN ISRAEL TODAY IS 100 PER CENT ABOUT ITS LEADERS, WHAT THEY THINK, WHAT THEY DO, WHAT THEY DON’T DO ETC

    But Yamit never tells us anything about these leaders despite many requests

    Maybe Yamit does not live entirely with us in the real world

  8. Can you imagine NATO attacking Israel?

    No, but the only reason is because I can’t see our leadership standing up when it needs to. El foldo…too bad too – it would be a great opportunity for the sanctification of G-d’s name throughout the world. Maybe they surprise me…

  9. Felix we know what happened to Serbia so tell me how you think It can be repeated here even if there is no leadership change? Can you imagine NATO attacking Israel?

  10. Yamit

    I am not saying it is inevitable. I and you have to fight to avoid it

    But the dangers are there.

    The same class and nation forces broadly are implicated against Israel as against Serbia

    There is a severe crisis of leadership in the Israeli leadership as there was in the Serbian

    There is a serious and active traitor national class in Israel as in Serbia

    There is the extreme intervention of “Imperialism”

    As Clinton and Blair were in the forefront against the Serbs now it is Obama and Cameron plus EU etc etc

    It boils down to leadership

    Incidentally I disagree with Samuel on Gaza. Gaza should not be surrendered to the eenmy. It is still all in the balance

    But leadership is the key

  11. Sorry to be a party pooper, but I don’t really see these revelations, or the reaction of certain elements of British media, as a positive development.

    The media here – the WSJ, no less – is already spinning this as proof of “Israeli intransigence”. In other words, “See how much the Palestinians were willing to compromise, and still those greedy, stubborn Israeli bullies said ‘no deal'”.

    True or not, Al Jazeera is simply trying to undermine the Fatah-led PA and bolster Hamas. This will probably work. I’d be tempted to agree with Yamit that this could be a “good” thing….if I weren’t so cynical as I am to expect that the world community will then engage in gold-medal class mental gymnastics so as to rationalize twisting Israel’s arm to negotiate with Hamas, to make Israel out to be the “bad guy” even in relation to them. Why not? Isn’t the manufactured “public outrage” over the blockade of Gaza essentially the same political dynmaic?

    In any event, the “concessions” made by Abbas are meaningless unless he was willing to agree to formally recognize Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, and to that end, amend the PNC accordingly. Those of us supporting/defending Israel in the public sphere need to keep that in mind, need to make sure that is always part of our response, as the media tries to spin this against Israel as I describe above.

  12. I have just finished editing a short article on the above before reading this article by Shepherd

    There is a lot of agreeement yet there is substantial points of divergence.

    The first thing that is plain to me is that there is a link between the position of Israel today and the position of the Serbs in the Krajina in the 1990s.

    Also there is a link between the Serbs in Kosovo and the Israelis in Israel today.

    There is also a difference in emphasis. Abbas and Erekat will either be killed or they will MOST LIKELY be coopted into the new regime

    The forces in this new regime are

    1. America, the CIA, especially Obama’s Democrats

    2. The EU with Britain and the BBC at the front

    3. What we very reflectively call the Pro-Fascist Islam “Left”

    Much of this is made clear, at least partially, in the article which although I do not like to advertise I feel I have to draw your attention to:

    http://wedefendisrael.com/2011/01/25/wikileaks-is-moving-to-create-a-fascist-nazi-alliance-behind-hamas-hizballah-and-iran/

    I feel rather strongly that it is worse than useless, in fact it encourages illusions, to talk about what the Israeli leaders “should” do etc in response to this new situation

    These are illusions and a continual reading of the analyses and historical surveys of Gil White make it clear, that the Israeli leaders, all of them, will only betray the Jews.

    Thhere are NO Israeli leaders in existence today who will not betray WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN

    The position of Netanyahu is not FUNDAMENTALLY different to the traitorous Israeli leaders who were sitting down along WITH THE CIA and opposite Abbas and Erekat to discuss the surrender of Judea and Samaria

    THAT IS THE MAIN DIFFERENCE I HAVE WITH SHEPHERD. He does not deal with that.

    He does not deal with the actual crisis of leadership inside the Jewish political system and class.

    These may be hard things to say, and may give an edge unwelcome to some, resented by others, but unless plain speaking is the norm, then Jews will go the way of the Serbs of Krajina

    The trap is being sprung…

  13. They are more fanatically anti-Zionist than the PA.

    Even if it’s a hoax, it’s brought into the open the kinds of people who write for the Guardian and who broadcast on the BBC. Armchair revolutionaries. Moral and “revolutionary” poseurs. Like the kind of kids you see egging on two kids fighting in the school yard, because they would never have the guts to get involved in something like that themselves.

  14. I agree with Belman that there’s a good chance it’s a hoax. Would Arab negotiators really say “Yerushalayim” instead of “Al Quds”?

  15. truepeers says:
    January 24, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Why do you assume these documents are what al-Jizz pretends they are? With all the history of Pallywood you just assume these are not doctored, mistranslated, forged, in some way?

    It doesn’t matter. Nice to see them on the defensive trying to explain away to their own constituents that they are innocent while showing their other side to the world press.

    If I were Israel. I would throw them under the bus and confirm the documents as true. Then sit back and watch the fun. I would also have published in English and Arabic the accounts of all their Pali Leaders with an itemized accounting of how much they have stolen from the Pali People. The Arab street knows they are all crooks but lets put some meat on the bone and confirm their suspicions. A Hamas takeover of the PA is the best thing that could happen for us in the interim.

  16. Why do you assume these documents are what al-Jizz pretends they are? With all the history of Pallywood you just assume these are not doctored, mistranslated, forged, in some way?

  17. You would think that those who have long claimed to be for a peaceful settlement between Israel and the “palestinians” would see this as something postive, but yet it has them enraged that the PA would actually compromise. What this tells us of course is that the Guardian and other leftists organs never had an interest in a peaceful two-state solution, but instead they desire the obliteration of Israel as a Jewish state. They are more fanatically anti-Zionist than the PA.

  18. Al-Jazeera puts the nail in the coffin of the peace process:

    I watch al-Jazeera in english. It is liberal and surprisingly moderate, and is patterned after the BBC. I don’t know what they say in the arabic version.

    Yesterday, they came out with the “palestinian papers”. These are not particularly shocking, and confirm what we all suspected: the palestinians want 1967 borders as closely as possible, while the leftist Israeli governments were ready to settle for 1967 “with a little bit more”.

    But al-Jazeera (in english) took the opportunity to spin the documents as “proving” that Abbas and the PA are virtually traitors to the palestinian cause.

    I didn’t know al-Jazeera harbored this degree of hatred for the PA.

    It’s good news for those of us who prefer a somewhat greater Israel than a smaller one. The PA will now have to retract any concessions they have made until now, and toe a very hard line from now on, which will stand no chance even with the most leftist Israeli government (if there ever is one again). Otherwise, their own people will kill them.