Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Media Rules of the Game: Why Israel is Always Wrong

With renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs starting this week in Washington, opinions are already be offered about what the outcome will be.

And the consensus is that these talks will fail.

If true, the question is why they are destined to fail -- and over time, it appears that there is a consensus about that too.

As a friend pointed out to me, when Abbas said no in 2008 or Arafat said no in 2000, the media analysis goes into great detail in order to show that the offer being made to the Arabs was not really as generous as advertised.

Thus, for example, Clinton blamed the failure of peace talks in 2000 on Arafat:
On Tuesday night, Clinton told guests at a party at the Manhattan apartment of former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke and his wife, writer Kati Marton, that Arafat called to bid him farewell three days before he left office. "You are a great man," Arafat said. "The hell I am," Clinton said he responded. "I'm a colossal failure, and you made me one."
Later, when Arafat died, Clinton again reiterated Arafat's failure at the 2000 peace talks:
I regret that in 2000 he missed the opportunity to bring that nation into being and pray for the day when the dreams of the Palestinian people for a state and a better life will be realized in a just and lasting peace.
Contrast that with Robert Malley's scattershot attempt to exonerate Arafat of blame:
It [blaming Arafat] ignores history, the dynamics of the negotiations, and the relationships among the three parties. In so doing, it fails to capture why what so many viewed as a generous Israeli offer, the Palestinians viewed as neither generous, nor Israeli, nor, indeed, as an offer. Worse, it acts as a harmful constraint on American policy by offering up a single, convenient culprit—Arafat—rather than a more nuanced and realistic analysis.
Malley, Clinton's assistant  on Arab-Israeli affairs, begins his analysis by informing us that "each side came to Camp David with very different perspectives" -- which I suppose might explain why there was a disagreement and a need for the talks in the first place. But to Malley, this is a revelation.

How to explain such desperate attempt to absolve the Arabs of responsibility for their actions?

At the Augean Stables blog, Prof. Richard Landes writes about this media phenomenon in The Media’s “Take” on Negotiations: How Palestinian Cogwar has Checkmated Israel in Western Public Opinion:
My friend Avi Bell sent me the following. While exaggerated for effect, it’s a recognizable Catch 22 for Israel and a “get-out-of-responsibility-free card” for the Palestinians. Heads we lose, tails, they win
Here are some of the points Bell makes:
  • If Israel refuses to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it refuses to negotiate.

  • If the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see negotiations with Israel are pointless.

  • If Israel makes preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it is trying to avoid negotiations.

  • If the Palestinians make preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians have to force Israel to be serious in the negotiations.

  • If Israel makes no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace.

  • If the Palestinians make no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see that making offers of peace with Israel are pointless
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas. Woody Allen said 80% of life is just
showing up. Over the years, Abbas has managed to
cut that in half. Credit: Wiki Commons

There are more -- and it is worth reading the full extent of the media bias against Israel in its attempt to excuse the Abbas regime for its failure to live up to the Oslo Accords which require the Palestinian Arabs to negotiate peace with Israel.

Hat tip: David Gerstman

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