Friday, January 06, 2012

Mideast Media Sampler 1/6/12: Media vs Santorum on and Israel, The Peace Treaty The Left Wants To Trash

From DG:
1) Santorum and Israel through Mackey's distorted lens

Robert Mackey who blogs at The Lede for the New York Times hasn't yet addressed the problem that he periodically relies on an unreliable source. Though his own credibility is suspect, Mackey, yesterday turned his attention to Rick Santorum.
Writing in The Jewish Week on Monday, Douglas Bloomfield reminded readers that Mr. Santorum told a man in Iowa six weeks ago that “all the people that live in the West Bank are Israelis. They’re not Palestinians — there is no Palestinian — this is Israeli land.”
A video of the exchange, which was recorded by CNN, shows that Mr. Santorum responded to a question about whether or not Israel “should dismantle its settlements” by suggesting that the West Bank was as much a part of Israel as Texas and New Mexico are part of the United States. The entire territory, Mr. Santorum added, “is legitimately Israeli country,” so Israelis “have a right to build things based upon their ownership of that land.”
The first part of the Santorum statement is confused, but it's hardly identical to saying that the entire territory is "Israeli country."

Mackey continues:

Since 1967, Mr. Santorum said, Israelis have been “occupying that ground, and having that ground be part of Israel.”
As Glenn Kessler, campaign fact checker for The Washington Post, explained on Thursday, even Israel’s government calls the West Bank a “disputed territory,” whose future status “is subject to negotiation.”
Mackey (and Kessler) here seems to be arguing that Santorum is at odds with the Israeli government. Mackey's wrong. Santorum isn't necessarily arguing that Israel won't cede territory for peace (a ridiculous claim anyway since over 90% of Palestinians in the West Bank live under Palestinian Authority rule and have since 1995) but that the territory Israel acquired was legally acquired as it was captured in a war of self defense. The point of view that Santorum is rejecting is that Israel is or was illegally occupying the territory.

Mackey argues further that Santorum's history is wrong:
Mr. Santorum’s account of the 1967 war is also contradicted by the Jewish Agency’s an official history, which explains that Israel’s leaders decided “to take pre-emptive military action” with “a surprise air attack on June 5,” rather than “wait for the first blow of an Arab attack.”
Mackey is deliberately misleading here. The whole paragraph reads (Mackey was honest enough to include a link):
While a detailed analysis of the developments leading up to the Six Day War lies beyond the scope of this class, several key facts should be noted. The concentration of Arab forces near Israeli borders, the Egyptian expulsion of the United Nations peace-keeping troops from Gaza and the Sinai, the closure of the Straits of Tiran (blockading the Israeli port of Eilat) and the formation of a military pact by the surrounding Arab states, prompted Israel in May 1967 to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis. When this was not forthcoming, the Israeli government debated whether to take pre-emptive military action, or to wait for the first blow of an Arab attack which would exact a greater price in Israeli lives.
While the website does claim to be official, the very first sentence tells us that this paragraph is not complete. Expelling the UN peace-keeping force was arguably an act of war and the closing of the Straits of Tiran definitely was. Furthermore as this timeline recorded, earlier in the year there were over 270 border incidents. So calling the Six Day War "pre-emptive" is like calling Cast Lead pre-emptive. There were plenty of provocations and even live fire leading up to the Six Day War. Israel's attack was only pre-emptive in that Israel did not wait to suffer a full scale attack.

But the real reason Mackey took on Santorum is here:
Although Mr. Santorum’s argument was clearly offered in strong support of the rights of Israeli settlers, it is interesting that his extreme stance, if it ever became official United States policy, could actually undermine Israel’s stated goal of remaining “a Jewish and democratic state.”
As observed above, this is ridiculous. Israel has ceded the vast majority of the territory it captured in 1967 in order to make peace. In addition to what was noted above, Israel gave up the Sinai for peace with Egypt and also fully withdrew from Gaza, which is now under the control of the terrorist group Hamas. The occupation is physically over. Whether the Palestinians want to make a peace agreement is a separate matter.

Santorum's beliefs are much less extreme that what Mackey distorts them to. If Santorum is less than precise when he's campaigning, he was pretty clear about his beliefs last year, when he wrote Israel in Peril, in the National Review. (h/t Israel MatzavJewish Virtual Library):
By stating that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines,” President Obama prejudged the minimum negotiation starting point for the Palestinians and gave the Palestinian leadership a tremendous diplomatic boost, putting Israel further on the defensive. Don’t take my word for it, read what the Palestinians say. As one major Palestinian political scientist put it: “This is much tougher for Israel to swallow.” 
Does President Obama even realize what he said? The 1967 lines include East Jerusalem — the site of the Western Wall — and they would make Israel nine miles wide at its most vulnerable point. Making matters still worse, President Obama said, “The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.” Take a look at a map of Israel and see what this “contiguous state” means. It means transecting Israel in two, further weakening Israel’s possible defenses from terrorism, missile launches, or invasion. As Israeli prime minister Bibi Netanyahu put it Friday, “Peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle East reality.” Who do we think will be the worse-off victim in such a crash? 
This is why Pres. Ronald Reagan once said, about the 1967 borders: “In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely ten miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.”
In other words, Santorum's view is not that Israel shouldn't cede territory for peace or that Israel should recapture the territory it previously ceded. His view is that Israel justifiably captured land in a defensive war and that it is not the place of the United States to pressure Israel to cede more territory and take more risks. This is a far cry from the caricatured policy that Mackey - who clearly dislikes Santorum - presents.

2) Tweet of the week

From Omri Ceren:
I'd have to check, but I'm pretty sure that the only peace treaty on Earth that leftists are cavalier about suspending is Israel/Egypt
If you don't believe him read Thomas Friedman's End of Mideast Wholesale from last year:
Let’s start with Israel. For the last 30 years, Israel enjoyed peace with Egypt wholesale — by having peace with just one man, Hosni Mubarak. That sale is over. Today, post-Mubarak, to sustain the peace treaty with Egypt in any kind of stable manner, Israel is going to have to pay retail. It is going to have to make peace with 85 million Egyptians. The days in which one phone call by Israel to Mubarak could shut down any crisis in relations are over.
This is different from saying that peace is good for Israel. This is saying Israel must behave properly to deserve peace.
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