Though the Guardian fancies itself ‘the world’s leading liberal voice‘, a fair analysis of the paper’s editorial stance on a myriad of issues suggests an institutional failure to adhere to two important elements of ‘liberalism’ properly understood.
First, they often betray the spirit of liberalism insofar as the term denotes support for free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, women’s rights and tolerance towards sexual minorities.
Second, they fail to show fealty towards another principle attached to the term: open-mindedness and a willingness to examine political phenomena objectively and without preconceived ideas or prejudices.
As such, the media group is often doctrinaire and predictable in their tendency to be suspicious of Western democracies yet often sympathetic towards ‘lefitst’ authoritarianism; hostile towards Tories and Republicans but forgiving of Marxists and Islamists; and, of course, hyper-critical of Zionists but tolerant of even the most reactionary expressions of Palestinian nationalism.
Regarding the latter issue, we were confident to a degree approaching empirical certainty that the Guardian would publish an editorial after talks between the two parties broke down not only blaming Israel, but focusing their ire on the one issue which, in the opinion of their editors, reporters and commentators, represents the root cause of the impasse: Israeli ‘settlements’.
Of course, the mere absence of evidence that such settlement construction – or, often, just housing tenders – had any substantive impact on the failure of the US Secretary of State to get the two parties to agree to a long-term agreement (or even a framework agreement) was never going to represent an obstacle to the inevitable conclusion in their April 27 editorial, Israel and the Palestinians: lost opportunities:
The failure of the talks between Israelis and Palestinians which John Kerry, the US secretary of state, pursued with such determination over nine difficult months can hardly have taken Mr Abbas by surprise. It had been widely anticipated. But the barely concealed relish with which the government of Binyamin Netanyahu two weeks ago bade goodbye to negotiations which they had effectively torpedoed by authorising new settlement-building seems to have pushed President Abbas into an uncharacteristically extreme burst of activity, and perhaps into a strategic change of course.
Leaving aside the fact that their editorial naturally also downplays the significance of Fatah’s announced unity with the Islamist terror group Hamas to the talks’ implosion, even the most casual observer of the 9 months of negotiations would have to acknowledge one undeniable fact which undermines the Guardian’s belief: Israel never agreed to so much as curtail the construction of homes beyond the green line (in Jerusalem or the West Bank) in the initial agreement between the two parties (brokered by the Americans) to begin talks last July.
So, how can Guardian editors – or anyone for that matter – now claim that the talks were “torpedoed” by activity the Palestinians tacitly agreed could continue?
Finally, a few words on the specious logic which underpins the broader settlement mantra.
Negotiations have, since at least 2000, been premised on the broad understanding that final borders would inevitably include Israel maintaining large settlement blocs – including predominately Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem – contiguous with 1949 Armistice Line boundaries (where the overwhelming majority of the construction since July has taken place), and the abandonment of more isolated settlements.
In addition to the fact that any new homes built in isolated settlements – located within territory which will become part of Palestine – could easily be evacuated after a peace deal is signed, how can anyone seriously claim that new homes built on land which will certainly remain Israeli represents an obstacle to a two-state agreement?
It seems that a truly liberal publication – one which values the rigorous examination of evidence over a blind adherence to conventional wisdom and political talking points – would understand that the ‘settlement root cause theory’, advanced by the Palestinians and lazily embraced by the UK media elite, fails the most rudimentary tests of logic and common sense.