Guardian

‘Comment is Free’ claim on Bibi’s ‘opposition’ to Syria peace begins to unravel


Yesterday we critiqued an essay at ‘Comment is Free’ (‘In the Middle East, the prize of peace is now there for the taking‘, Oct. 17which somehow managed to assign at least partial blame for the continuing wars and violence in Syria, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere in the region to Israel and its supporters.

cifWhilst we spent most of our response refuting the broad narrative of the ‘CiF’ commentary – jointly written by three former UN officials, including the Ahmadinejad-supporting Marxist who served as Daniel Ortega’s foreign minister – there was a specific claim about Netanyahu’s alleged opposition to peace in Syria which appears to be totally erroneous.

Here are the relevant passages:

There are signs that the situation is changing. First, the British and then the American people and their representatives rejected a new war in Syria. Russia, the US and Syria reached an agreement over Syria’s chemical weapons. US president Barack Obama is making moves towards honest negotiations with Iran, and the EU’s foreign policy chief and Iran’s foreign minister judged talks just concluded in Geneva as “substantive and forward-looking”.
All these developments should be pursued with the utmost energy. The planned second Geneva conference on Syria must include all internal and external parties to the conflict if it is to constitute an important step towards finding a solution to the tragedy of that war-torn country.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his supporters are staunchly opposed to these moves towards peace.

So, there are two issues raised by the authors regarding Syria: the chemical weapons deal, and the upcoming peace conference in Geneva.

First, Bibi’s response to the Syrian chemical weapons deal was certainly cautious, but there is nothing to suggest he ever opposed it. Indeed, most media outlets reported that the prime minister gave his cautious support to the deal.  Even the Guardian reported at the time that Netanyahu said that the “deal between the US and Russia over Syria’s chemical weapons must be judged on whether it achieves ‘complete destruction’ of the arsenal.”  

So, while it would be accurate to characterize Bibi’s response as cautious or guarded – or even as representing ‘qualified’ support – it is erroneous to suggest, per the ‘CiF’ contributors, that he “opposed” the deal.

Second, regarding the proposed Geneva Peace Conference (tentatively scheduled for late Nov.), upon searching for a source to back of the authors’ claim we were unable to find any report suggesting that Netanyahu is “staunchly opposed” to the proposed Syria peace conference, or that he’s taken a clear position on it either way.  

In light of the dearth of information online regarding his position on the Geneva conference, we contacted the Prime Minister’s office directly to inquire about their official position, and were informed by a spokesperson that they have not taken an official position on the matter.

It appears as if the strong suggestion at ‘Comment is Free’ that Bibi opposes Syria peace talks is completely without merit.

Finally, the apparent inaccuracy of these two particular claims likely don’t represent merely an honest mistake by Messrs. DEscoto Brockmann, Halliday, and Von Sponeck but, more likely, an intentional obfuscation which serves to advance the desired narrative of a war-mongering Israeli state and it’s equally belligerent Zionist supporters in the diaspora.

As we’ve demonstrated previously when critiquing the paper’s Middle East “analyses”, when facts clash with the desired Guardian narrative on Israel, the latter wins out over the former nearly every time.

7 replies »

  1. The article claims that:
    ‘resolution of conflict only comes when we reach out to our enemies and negotiate’.
    Strange that those who blame Israel and her supporters for all the conflicts in the Middle East seem to totally reject any possibility of encouraging such a philosophy when it comes to the enemies of Israel.
    The heading cites ‘Kennedy and Krushchev or Nixon and the Chinese’ but you’d know you were seeing a mirage if such an article’s heading also said in the same breath ‘ or Iran and Netanyahu’.

  2. resolution of conflict only comes when we reach out to our enemies and negotiate
    Do it and then a Guardian editorial will call you a craven opportunist.

  3. “resolution of conflict only comes when we reach out to our enemies and negotiate”

    Only? While we all might want that to be true, it’s simply and quite unfortunately not always the case. The phrase places indoctrination and wishful thinking over reality, and flies directly into a buzz saw when confronting the basic Arab and Muslim attitudes toward Israel supported by these harpies.

  4. “resolution of conflict only comes when we reach out to our enemies and negotiate”

    As Jeff has pointed out above that is not always the case.
    What I find interesting in the quote is the suggestion that there is no conflict between the West and Russia (Soviet Union) or the West and China anymore. Did they think to analyse the voting in the Security Council?
    It rarely, if ever, was a hot conflict between NATO and the Warsaw Pact or China and usually when the fighting started it was a fight between ‘proxies’. Does that sound familiar to anyone else?

  5. You are right to highlight that very muddled middle section of the article.
    Netanyahu could indeed be seen as opposing the lifting of sanctions against Iran. But the article’s reference to “these moves to peace” clearly also includes a resolution of the Syrian conflict. It’s a highly charged point that the authors really should have expanded on – or refrained from.

    • And whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran is necessarily a “move to peace” is a matter of opinion/perspective, of course.

  6. There’s a bit of a problem with the original assertion.

    We’re meant to accept the narrative that there was war (or at least proxy war) with USSR and China prior to the “reaching out” and none after.

    To the extent that the USSR and US never repeated the Cuban missile crisis that’s true, but there were plenty of proxy wars, incidents and missile races yet to come.

    And the same is true for China.

    I guess they want Bibi to negotiate even though they know the war will continue pretty much as before.