Friday, June 19, 2009

Ignoramusi Pontificating

Regular readers will know my opinion that The Economist is at the pinnacle of the journalist world. Sadly, this doesn't mean much. Even the folks at The Economist can't remember things that were quite obvious only a few years ago.

Today's Leader (British for Editorial) analyses Netanyahu's speech, under the subtitle Binyamin Netanyahu has taken one essential step. Now he must take a whole lot more. Set aside the silly proposition that the Israelis must move so that there will be peace, while the demands on the Palestinians are perfunctory and shallow. They're Brits, are the editors of The Economist. What's so completely outlandish about the article is the assumption that Netanyahu has inserted new conditions into the process that will foil the process.

The Germans have a fine word for this, which needs no translation: Quatsch.

Rather than write a long rebuttal, I've done something easier. I've gone back to the book I wrote in 2003, Right to Exist, and have simply lifted its tenth chapter, the one which described what would need to happen for there ever to be peace. Admittedly, I have no official standing, and represent only myself, but the chapter contains descriptions of what everyone was talking about in early 2003. Since the topics were exacly the same then and now, and the positions also (though the Palestinian positions got worse when they elected a Hamas majority in January 2006), well, the Economist contention must be wrong.

Wrong. Not interpreted in a way that aggravates me. Factually wrong. What the Economist has to say is demonstrably false. Not true.

Here's a snippet of the chapter, relating head on to the Economist's untrue description:

In July 2001, 9 months into the Jerusalem Intifada and four months into the Government of Ariel Sharon, a group of some two dozen intellectuals from both
sides convened to build a bridge over the ruins of peace. These were all old friends who have been meeting for many years in hope of finding enough common ground to enable the politicians to pick up the torch. Back when they started, they were unpopular pariahs in their respective communities for daring to reach out to the enemy; but over years of perseverance they had managed to pull ever larger segments of their people behind them, and from eccentrics they had become mainstream. Between them there must have been many thousands of hours of dialogue. Intelligent, educated individuals, rational realists, there was not a hard-line militant among them.

Their idea was simple: to agree on a joint declaration calling on the warring factions to desist from their insanity and return to negotiations. The peaceniks would join hands, and with their moral authority embarrass the politicians back to sanity. The Palestinians were willing to join in stating that there should be two independent states alongside one another, but the Israelis, alerted by the fiascos of Camp David and Taba to a nuance they had previously overlooked, demanded that the statement clearly say that Israel would be a Jewish State and Palestine an Arab one. The Palestinians refused. Jews, they said, are a religion, not a nationality, and neither need nor deserve their own state. They were welcome to live in Israel, but the Palestinian refugees would come back, and perhaps she would cease to be a Jewish State.


Dimitry Papkov said...

This is indeed not new. So are Netanyahu's demands. They had been the official position of the Israeli gov for some time now. He just brought them to light, while others didn't press them. You just need to look at the reservations Israel put in writing to the roadmap.
-Palestinians must agree to Israel being Jewish
-The provisional Palestinian state must be demilitarized

Before Anapolis, Olmert pressed on the inclusion of the Israeli Jewishness, too, but backed down.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the chapter. Reading it brought back memories of how deep the disappointment really was after the failure of the Camp David and Taba negotiations. But I think it's something few people outside of Israel really understand. You make a very good effort to explain the "asymmetry", but it's so "politically incorrect"...

Barry Meislin said...

The question, though, is how many times does repeating a falsehood convert that falsehood into a truth?

100 times? A thousand times? A million times? A thousand million times?

Anonymous said...

Barry Meislin
in an ordinary office feud all it needs to be taken seriously is being listened to by somebody higher up. Then it becomes taken seriously instantly by "all" and a "truth" as soon as a comparatively small number says "Oh stop it, I can't hear it anymore" -
Then it has turned into a legitimate cause that has to be compromised on no matter how nutty it may continue to be.
I think at there can be found an article by I think Jeanne Kirkpatrick describing the history of the PLO to become "somebody". That piece struck me as following uncannily the above all to familiar pattern.