Guardian

How the Guardian Helped Kill the Peace Process


This is cross posted by Emanuele Ottolenghi at Contentions, the blog of Commentary Magazine.

As Alana noted yesterday, the extent of Palestinian concessions during peace talks, once made public, has seriously damaged PA leaders — and the State Department has weighed, noting that things are now going to be even harder than they were already.

The immediate fallout from the leaks should raise a number of important questions for the Guardian, but judging by the way it is spinning the story, it is hard to believe introspection is coming.

First, the Guardian appears shocked and angered by the extent of Palestinian concessions on settlements and yet blames Israel for the subsequent impasse on account of … settlements!

As Noah pointed out, if the main cause for lack of progress in the past 24 months was Palestinian insistence on an Israeli settlement freeze, one that included Jerusalem, as a precondition for talks — and this, thanks to U.S. backing — the papers reveal that it was merely a cynical pretext for the Palestinians’ not resuming talks once Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu took power. Otherwise, why make a sacred cow of something they had already conceded before? The answer may be that the Palestinians neither accepted nor rejected the Olmert offer but, rather, regarded it as still on the table, allowing them time to see if Olmert was going to survive politically. With Olmert (and Livni) out and Obama in, then, the Palestinians may have concluded that a better deal could be had with a more sympathetic U.S. administration in place. This is consistent with Palestinian behavior historically and a tried-and-tested recipe for disaster for their aspirations.

In his Guardian op-ed on the leaks, Jonathan Freedland wrote that:

Surely international opinion will see concrete proof of how far the Palestinians have been willing to go, ready to move up to and beyond their “red lines,” conceding ground that would once have been unthinkable — none more so than on Jerusalem. In the blame game that has long attended Middle East diplomacy, this could see a shift in the Palestinians’ favour. The effect of these papers on Israel will be the reverse.

What Freedland is telling us is not what might happen but rather what he ardently wishes would happen. He may be right, of course — but it is not like Israel was basking in the light of international favor before the leaks!

So in effect, the Guardian is saying, Thank heaven Israel will be forced to give back what the Palestinians conceded — that will surely lead to a more equitable result! (Though the Guardian also concedes that the chances for a deal are now dead in the water, thanks to their leak!)

Second, the fallout caused by the Guardian leak is that, in the short term, Palestinian negotiators will have to heed the calls of the street and be much less amenable to compromise than was demonstrated in the leaked papers. Why is it that private virtue and public vice deserve praise?

Again: in the established tradition of Arab leadership, privately held views can never be aired in public, because the public cannot take the truth. This is what the leaks show: Palestinian leaders — much like their Arab counterparts and their Palestinian predecessors — are prisoners of their own past lies and public rhetoric. What they might have agreed to in private has exploded in their faces once made public.

How then can one expect these talks to have ever come to fruition? Surely had the Palestinians and the Israelis signed such a deal, the reaction would have been the same — a rejection of the deal and the questioning the PA leadership’s legitimacy, as the Guardian has indeed done on Sunday.

The Guardian has then chosen to leak the papers with a goal – to discredit Israel and the Palestinian leadership at the same time, to peddle its own rejectionist agenda. And what exactly is this agenda? Today’s commentary on the leaks, titled, tellingly, “Papers reveal how Palestinian leaders gave up fight over refugees” by Seumus Milne and Ian Black, is worth quoting:

The documents have already become the focus of controversy among Israelis and Palestinians, revealing the scale of official Palestinian concessions rejected by Israel, but also throwing light on the huge imbalance of power in a peace process widely seen to have run into the sand.

Milne is an anti-imperialist firebrand, who has applauded “the resistance” against the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, trivialized the scale of Stalinist atrocities, repeatedly shilled for Hamas, and staunchly defended unrealistic Palestinian claims on refugees. In short, he’d be probably kicked out of the Nation for being too left-wing; but at the Guardian, he is the mainstream.

To him, the leaks are a wonderful opportunity to berate what appear to be much-needed Palestinian concessions for a viable agreement as a surrender to Israel and a betrayal of Palestinian rights.

The Guardian hates the revelations in these papers not because they supposedly show that Palestinian leaders were ready to make the necessary concessions for peace and that Israel was intransigent, but because it hates the fact that Palestinians must make any concessions if peace is ever to be achieved. That is why the real story behind the leaks is not the papers themselves but the Guardian’s agenda for leaking them.

The sanctimony of its articles since last weekend shows a contempt for the kinds of concessions that everyone knows are the necessary preconditions for a deal. Milne is flummoxed by the fact that the Palestinians would renounce the refugees’ claim to a right of return; his colleagues are fuming because Israeli settlements would be allowed to survive under Israeli sovereignty; the lead editorial on Sunday decried Hamas’s exclusion from negotiations; and they lament “the huge imbalance of power” between Israel and the Palestinians — something they wish would change in favor of the Palestinians so that it would be Israel, not the PA, that would have to concede.

The peace process may have been moribund, but surely, after this weekend’s leak, it is dead. The Guardian has just given it the coup de grace and is now busy taking credit for it.

11 replies »

  1. The bottom line is that The Guardian and its columnists just despise Jewish success, however it manifests itself.
    The Jewish columnists there, of whom Freedland is a classic of the genre, just desperately crave to be accepted by those who never will.
    That is the enduring narrative.
    The rest is commentary.

  2. Judging from most of the comments posted on this site, one would conclude that most of the regulars here are very happy that the peace process has been “killed”.

  3. The “peace process” is a joke. The Guardian has not helped kill the peace process as it is already dead.
    One can hardly blame the Palestinians for voting Hamas when the PA are so utterly corrupt. Would you vote for a man like Abbas? What an amazing choice.
    The PA are obviously Vichy stooges of the US and EU, you don’t have to be a Lefty or Islamist to see that; Abbas and co obviously motivated by the bribes they received from the State Department and the EU.

    One things this leak illustrates is how thick Condeleeza Rice is; Pinochet and Videla are not in charge of Chile and Argentina any more, love…they are actually democracies now, and they will tell you to go f*** yourself. Rice’s comments reveal the Yanks still think they own Latin America.

    Leaks are good; they weaken the powerful and put them in their place. The powerful need to be stripped of their power.

    Anyhow Britain should stay out of this, we have nothing to contribute and most British people are fed up with the middle east.

  4. MTC

    Judging from most of the comments posted on this site, one would conclude that most of the regulars here are very happy that the peace process has been “killed”.

    Seems to me reading Levy and Benn seriously damaged your braincells.

  5. Gary

    Leaks are good; they weaken the powerful and put them in their place. The powerful need to be stripped of their power.

    Correct. All power to the Hamas and Hezb’allah! Their succes will greatly contribute to the welfare of the opressed Palestinians and Lebanese.

    Anyhow Britain should stay out of this, we have nothing to contribute and most British people are fed up with the middle east.

    Tell this to your FO Mr. Hague! We Israelis would be very happy not to hear about you in the future after your decades of noxious and malicious meddling in our lives.

    Pinochet and Videla are not in charge of Chile and Argentina any more, love…they are actually democracies now, and they will tell you to go f*** yourself.

    The only occasion when they forget their proud f**ck you when begging for money from the US.

  6. “Anyhow Britain should stay out of this, we have nothing to contribute and most British people are fed up with the middle east.”

    That’s the way that most Americans felt about Europe in 1940. The vast majority couldn’t have cared less if the Nazis had conquered and enslaved Britain.

    “The PA are obviously Vichy stooges of the US and EU, ”

    As opposed to the British stooges who loyally followed the Americans into Iraq and Afghanistan, killing untold thousands of innocent women and children in the process ?

    “Pinochet and Videla are not in charge of Chile and Argentina any more, love”

    Argentina ? Doesn’t Britain have an occupied territory there ? The British recently fought a war there in which 900 people were killed, 600 of them innocent. Of course for the British sending their army 10,000 miles to maintain colonialism is perfectly justified but Jews are not allowed to defend their own borders.

  7. MindOfCrap said…

    “That’s the way that most Americans felt about Europe in 1940. The vast majority couldn’t have cared less if the Nazis had conquered and enslaved Britain.”

    Today the vast majority of Brits couldn’t care less if the islamofascists conquer and enslave Britain.

    http://www.boycottscotland.com

  8. How odd Al Jazeera leaked them what was it trying to achieve? How authentic are thse leaks? What has transpired is the Palestinians are resorting to more inhouse fighting. Perhaps this is propaganda that has misfired. Personally I support Israel who after evacuating Gaza has had nothing but trouble from the area since. I would not waste any money on purchasing a newspaper which is full of bias and bigotry, which skewers facts, obfuscates reality and is certainly not worth reading. The Guardian is propaganda for the left and crucially the political religious ideology of Islam which seeks to take over. It never bothers with context and is rabidly anti Israel and personally any Jew who writes for this odious apology for journalism should jump off the morally sinking ship post haste. However unfortunately the Guardian has a wide readership amongst liberals and academics and probably students, and that is why it does need monitoring because it forments hatred and bias against Israel. I can not understand how people who have been trained to think critically would swallow the blatant and obvious propaganda. A rather crude and simpistic ideology of Israel and Palestinians is offered and accepted without question. Palestinians good, Israel worse than bad and actually that is UNTRUE and more often the reverse. The Palestinians are fed hatred with thier mothers milk. Of course the Guardian would never address this crucial fact.

  9. I wouldn’t be surprised if the leaks were manufactured by Hamas/Hez b’Allah/Iran in order to delegitimise Fatah and the PA.

    If so and if successful, it has pushed any peace process beyond any possible rehabilitation, because Iran and its proxies are not interested in peace, as demonstrated by their action in Gaza and Lebanon.

    What with Tunisia, Egypt and now this, the Middle East looks further from peace than at any time in the past.

  10. While other news agencies carry this story, the worlds more urgent attention seems to have passed to Lebanon, then Egypt. The Guardian bang the drum “Papers” issue seems to have been upstaged….one poster even lamented that the story did not receive a great deal of attention in the US press…..(oddly, domestic issues like The State of the Union address take precedent)

    The problem with this story from the beginning is that it is more about the Guardian making news, than reporting it…..