There were two articles that I unfortunately spent the time reading today that must be shared. Not because they give some sort of insight into the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but rather because they demonstrate the absolute bias that occurs in American politics.
The Christian Science Monitor ran an article detailing the trouble Israeli settlers are having with the sudden shift of the usually reliable Netanyahu; whereas he once looked after setter’s rights, he has dramatically shifted to the left, leaving the innocent settlers (politically) undefended. Despite the results of the recent meeting between Netanyahu and George Mitchell (Netanyahu will not agree to ’67 borders or extend the inefficient settlement freeze) and despite the reports that the initial settlement freeze was hardly enforced and despite the warnings from Tel Aviv that an extension of the settlement freeze would lead to a fall of the current government, the CS Monitor thankfully tells us about the plights of the settlers:
At first, they saw the temporary freeze as a necessary political move, but now they fear Mr. Netanyahu will betray them as his predecessor Ariel Sharon did by evacuating Gaza’s Gush Katif settlement bloc in 2005.
“Netanyahu is very experienced, and he fell into a trap,” says Yehudah Bohrer, a founder of Beit El, a West Bank settlement. Mr. Bohrer voted for Netanyahu, but is now having doubts about him. “It’s not clear what [Netanyahu] will do… He will try to weasel out of ending the freeze…. [But] he has created a ‘freeze momentum’ that is hard to undo.”
To Dr. Bohrer, a rabbi who was born in Germany in the 1940s, even a temporary freeze sends a message that Israel might give away what the settlers call Judea and Samaria, the biblical lands that Jews believe were promised by God to the Hebrew people but today are largely populated by Palestinians. “The freeze means you are negotiable,” he says, calling it a “terrible mistake.”
[tweetmeme] The article goes on to talk about how the settlers are suffering because they cannot build schools and new homes, but it does not once mention that these settlements are completely illegal under international law. Now, my problems with this article are on the complete lack of focus on what the extensions of these settlements are doing to Palestinians. Often, the expansion of settlements come at the expense of Palestinians (farm land, typically, is confiscated for military purposes and then transferred to the settlements). Furthermore, the author neglects to mention what debilitating impact the continuing expansion of the settlements has on the possibility of peace in the region. Nor, it must be added, does the report mention any of the brutal settler attacks on Palestinians that regularly occur.
Of course, there are Israeli settlers who do not burn Arab olive groves, kill Palestinian children and raid Palestinian villages. That is to say, of course, that not all Israeli settlers are violent and that being told to leave ones home is an emotionally taxing event. However, the settlements are illegal and many of them, thanks to extensive Israeli funding, are in much better condition than most Palestinian villages.
Secondly, the Washington Post, unsurprisingly, has reiterated the ridiculous sentiments behind New York Times editorial calling for Abbas to return to direct negotiations without a halt to the settlement construction or a framework for negotiations. After calling the Palestinian leader intransigent, he goes on to laud Netanyahu as “seriously considering a deal on Palestinian statehood.” Though, if Netanyahu were serious about making peace, he would be open to starting talks on a level playing field – meaning that Abbas would not need to start negotiating while Israeli settlers were carving up Palestine.
I apologize for the rants. To end on a lighter note, I would like to point you to an article in the Jerusalem Post discussing the possibility of direct talks starting next week. While for some, that possibility is silver lining enough to mask my emotional (and most likely less than clear) response to the above articles. The bright spot, though, comes in the first sentence of the article:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may agree to direct talks next week if Israel agrees to pre-1967 borders, according to a letter found by Reuters on Thursday.
I like the idea of a Reuters correspondent walking down the street and seeing a letter on the ground. “What could this be? What luck! Wait until my editor hears about this scoop! And to think, I almost took a different route to work today!”
Maybe a word other than ‘found’ would have been more appropriate. For all those that don’t have the same poor sense of humor as me, I apologize and urge you to focus on my rants instead.
Photo from Peace Now