Haaretz is Israel's most important high-brow paper, which doesn't mean it necessarily gets things right, but it's an important publication. Inevitably, it's also mostly left-leaning, though not in an atavistic, thoughtless way, like The Guardian. For weeks I've been watching with interest as the paper struggles to align its political line with its reading of reality regarding the negotiations with the Palestinians in general, and the upcoming Annapolis event in particular. It has been an uphill job, resulting in what seems to me a bit of farce this weekend, the last before the event itself.
The editorial pleads that we take the process seriously: Don't Knock Annapolis - from which you understand that most of us are. Most of us, including almost every column writer on the staff of Haaretz:
Aluf Benn looks at Olmert and decides he's serious about the process, but past experience tells that every one of his predecessors who similarly changed their positions came to grief.
Veteran pundit Yoel Marcus reminisces about Begin and Sadat, see no resemblances to Olmert and Abas, and sums it it thus: If peace comes out of Annapolis, I'll eat my hat.
Professor Emmanuel Sivan, one of the most important scholars on the Arab world anywhere, frames the whole event in terms of Condoleezza Rice's mediocrity (he apparently has been observing her for decades), and concludes with the prediction that all we're about to see is "a parody of Camp David 2000" (which in my opinion was something of a parody itself, but that's just me).
Nathan Sharansky, a foe of Soviet tyranny of the stature of Vaclav Havel if not greater, says that Annapolis will inevitably fail because its assumptions are all wrong, and we're dealing with the wrong Palestinians.
Most telling of all, Avi Issacharoff tells that on the Palestinian side, nothing has changed since the fiascoes of 2000-2001; the Palestinians have learned nothing, and moderated none of their positions. His report seems not to have been translated into English, and I wasn't able to find even the Hebrew original on Haaretz' website.
There is also an amusing caricature. The words in Barak's balloon are something like "Gosh, I really hope it succeeds".
Finally, as a last stab at being optimistic, Akiva Eldar tells of a working group of Israelis and Palestinians who think the issue of refugees (or, I might note: the descendants of the refugees) can be resolved with 85 billion $, no more. Yet even here, the English version of the website does not offer the post-script of the article, which talked about Jerusalem, and, though I read it three times, I managed to find nothing in it to reassure me. The working group suggests, for example, that Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem , with hundreds of thousands of Jews, be dismantled, while the expectation is that Israel will continue footing the bill for social security and health insurance for the soon-to-live-in-Palestinian-Jerusalem Arabs.
All this, I remind you, in a Lefty-newspaper.