By Jamal Kanj
Western media is obsessed with presenting a positive spin on everything related to Israel, while trivializing good and accentuating negative news on Palestine.
It’s admirably free in many aspects, but when it comes to discussing Israel the Western media loses its spark. Disingenuous news spin and Israeli pampering are doing peace a great disservice.
In 2003, the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon rejected a road map for peace by adding 14 conditions. Western media downplayed the provisions, emphasizing only Sharon’s pretense at approval.
Now, the same media wants the public to believe that Israel’s anti-peace coalition lost seats in the current Israeli election.
At first glance, this may appear speciously accurate. But the media fails to impart that the pro-peace camp did not gain any new support.
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have lost direct party control over some members of the Knesset, this did not translate to a loss for the anti-peace crowd. That’s because the same exact number of seats (11) went to Netanyahu’s former acolyte Naftali Bennett. That means in this election, the Israeli public voted in a far more radical anti-peace coalition. To the right of his former boss, Bennett’s Jewish Home party calls for the annexation of large parts of West Bank.
However, instead of focusing on this the Western media remained sanguine that another new self-proclaimed centrist party, Yesh Atid (There is a Future), won 19 seats. It ignored the fact that in 2009 another perceived centrist party, Kadima, won more seats than Netanyahu’s Likud party – but this hardly mattered. The anti-peace coalition of right wing parties has maintained an overall majority in the Knesset. Meanwhile, Kadima – which ran on a national and pro-peace platform in 2009 – was reduced from 28 seats to just two.
Yesh Atid did well in this election after campaigning on domestic issues and calling for an end to military service exemption for ultra-Orthodox Israelis. Even though the new party received less than 45 per cent of the seats secured by the anti-peace camp, its leader Yair Lapid declared he would not enter the government unless Netanyahu was serious about peace negotiation. In reality, and on issues most critical to Palestinians Lapid’s position does not differ much from the current anti-peace government.
In an article headlined “Lapid’s peace-process doublespeak”, Israeli newspaper Haaretz concluded his party’s platform “does little to distinguish it from the hawkish agendas”. On the subject of occupied East Jerusalem, he believes Israel has “no existence without (East) Jerusalem”. He is so far out of touch that, according to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baski, he thinks by taking firm stand he will “be able to convince the Palestinians to give up Jerusalem”.
Alon Pinkas, former Israeli consul general in New York, accused the new party of being “too vague” on peace negotiations. Sadly, even Lapid’s professed interest in “peace” stems from inhibited racism, a desire to preserve an ethnocentric nation and a wish to avoid living in a country “half Arab, half Jewish”.
Lapid belongs to the same school of deceptive Israeli leaders who claim to support a two-state solution and announce their readiness to make “painful sacrifices”, while impeding Palestinian statehood by building separation walls and illegal “Jewish only” colonies.
The Palestinian leadership must stop waddling. They need to behave like a recognized nation, not an observer of events, and they can’t afford to wait for a new Israeli government to emerge – or until the West recycles another peace plan for the same elusive Zionists.
With an indifferent world community and absence of tangible Arab support, the Palestinian leadership can’t give it another try as “Jewish only” colonies are disintegrating Palestine. It was Albert Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.
– Jamal Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes a weekly column on Arab issues and is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.om.