There’s something rather ironically predictable about the Guardian choosing to end this particular year, in which Israel and Jews everywhere have been under unprecedented attack, with a rather pompous piece by Mehdi Hasan. This rising young star of the British media world has been in the spotlight rather often in recent months for reasons which can best be described as ‘interesting’ in the same manner that my children used to describe my mother’s culinary attempts.
For non-British readers, here’s a quick guide to Mehdi Hasan’s world. He was an editor at Channel 4 and commissioned various ‘Dispatches’ documentaries, including ‘It Shouldn’t Happen To A Muslim’ by Peter Oborne – best known to some of us for his recent programme exposing the non-existent ‘Jewish Lobby’. Then Hasan moved to The New Statesman, where he currently works as senior political editor and also blogs. Since taking up his new position he’s managed to ruffle quite a few feathers by suggesting that it’s acceptable to work for the Iranian regime mouthpiece Press TV, that it’s good to talk to the Taliban, and that Israel is to blame for rising antisemitism in Britain. Understandably, he has been taken to task for these and other claims. There was also a rather prolonged spat with Harry’s Place, which culminated in the publication of a video of Hasan speaking at an Islamic centre.
In today’s piece on CiF, Hasan the Londoner informs us that he’s changed his mind about the desired outcome of Middle East peace negotiations and declares that the only way forward is a one-state ‘solution’. He blames Israeli settlements in the West Bank for closing the window of opportunity for two states for two nations, conveniently managing to completely ignore the entire second Intifada, which put paid to the Oslo agreements and scuppered an embryonic Palestinian state a decade ago. Like so many others of his ilk, senior political editor or not, Hasan has a remarkable ability to ignore those facts which inconvenience him.
“A decade that began with Bill Clinton bringing together Arafat and Barak to attempt to conclude the Oslo process, at Camp David, has ended with Barack Obama unable to persuade the government of Netanyahu and Lieberman to agree to a partial settlement freeze. On Monday, the Israeli housing ministry announced plans to build nearly 700 new apartments in occupied East Jerusalem.”
Well, some residents of the West Bank may be rather surprised to learn that there is no building freeze after all! Others may care to ask just why Mehdi Hasan seems to believe that any future peace agreement should preclude Jewish presence in either east Jerusalem or the West Bank. Besides the fact that these are issues still to be negotiated, surely Mr. Hasan can see just how racist such an approach is, particularly when one considers that some 20% of Israel’s population is non-Jewish. In fact, if one thinks about it, any supporter of a one-state solution should not be in the least bit bothered by Israeli settlements wherever they are. Naturally, Hasan also manages to completely ignore the fact that Israel has evacuated settlements in the past from both Sinai and Gush Katif, proving beyond all doubt that when the situation justifies it, settlements are not an obstacle to peace.
The fact is that what the last decade has shown us beyond all doubt is that the PA, even whilst negotiating seemingly endless agreements, never intended to settle for a two-state solution. What Fatah has not been able to achieve throughout the 45 years since its inception by use of the military might of surrounding Arab countries or the terrorists of its own creation, it now hopes to achieve politically and has hooked up with both the extreme Left and Islamist factions in the West in order to do so.
People such as Mehdi Hasan, and many others of CiF’s pages, are in fact encouraging the Palestinians to avoid making peace by persuading them that there is a global movement in favour of holding out for ‘a single, secular and binational state’ as Hasan puts it. Such a state would not only be the very opposite of a peaceful solution to the problems of the Middle East, it would also be racist as it would deny Jews their basic right to self-determination.
What is truly amazing is that Mehdi Hasan should think that his opinion on this subject carries any weight whatsoever. There are many of us who have a real stake in finding a lasting and just solution to the conflict in the Middle East because we actually live there and will have to bear the consequences of any agreements signed. Mehdi Hasan and his fellow travellers on CiF and at the Guardian will not. When will these people have the intellectual honesty to admit that it’s not about them?