Jeffrey Goldberg yesterday penned an article entitled ‘Israel Surrounded as Arab Spring Turns Darker’ . The fear-mongering title aside, it is an interesting piece, not because of what he says, rather because of what he omits. And it is through looking at these omissions that you can really see Jeffrey’s agenda at play. He writes –
‘When a recent United Nations report on the deadly confrontation between the Israeli military and a flotilla of Gaza-bound activists that sparked this crisis largely exonerated Israel, Turkey reacted by threatening to send warships to the eastern Mediterranean. ‘
One would be forgiven for thinking that the UN report Jeffrey cites was a reputable document. Lets ignore the fact that the report didn’t ‘largely exonerate’ Israel (as it condemend Israels unnecessary use of lethal force) but the claim by the Palmer/Uribe (Yes that Uribe) report, that Israel’s blockade on the Gaza strip is legal, actually flies in the face of international law and earlier UN findings. No mention of this from our Jeffrey.
Goldberg goes on to quote NYT man in Jerusalem, Ethan Bronner
“Some here say Israel is again being made a scapegoat, this time for unfulfilled revolutionary promises. But there is another interpretation, and it is the predominant one abroad — Muslims, Arabs and indeed many around the globe believe Israel is unjustly occupying Palestinian territories, and they are furious at Israel for it.”
It’s well known that Arab despot’s have used the plight of the Palestinians as a crutch in the past, to deflect public anger away from their own unsavoury regimes. Yet they would be incapable of doing so, if sympathy for the Palestinians were not genuinely rooted in wider Arab sentiment. It seems that with some Israel-friendly dictators gone, Goldberg and Bronner seek to pretend that just like the dictators, ordinary Arabs seek to use the cause of the Palestinians to make up for perceived failings elsewhere. It appears that Goldberg believes Arabs are not allowed to empathize with the Palestinians without ulterior motives at play.
Goldberg goes on to describe Bronner’s second claim that Arab’s are furious at the Israeli occupation of palestinian land as ‘superficially true’, and that Israel’s current problems with Egypt and Turkey are a result of ‘an Israeli decision to relinquish Palestinian territory.’
Jeffrey then goes on to give us a little history lesson, or at least his version of it. He refers to the Sharon pull out of Gaza in 2005, and claims ‘But the fact remains that Israel gave the Palestinians of Gaza what they claimed they wanted: their territory, which they said would become part of their independent state.’
Goldberg makes no mention, of the fact that Israel pull-out was actually more of a pull-back. As Israel maintained control over Gaza’s borders, coastline, airspace, power and import-exports.
Furthermore Goldberg makes no mention of the true intent of the Israeli pull-back from Gaza, as was admitted by Ariel Sharon’s spokesman at the time, Dov Weissglass –
“The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process… When you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Disengagement supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians”
For some reason Goldberg also neglects to tell us that while Sharon was pulling the settlers out of Gaza, he was basically just relocating them onto more appropriated Palestinian land in the West Bank. A spectacular sleight of hand as Le Monde referred to it.
Goldberg goes on to describe how the Palestinians in Gaza responded to this ‘generous’ action by Israel – ‘How did Gazans respond? First, looters destroyed the vast settlement greenhouses that could have formed the basis of a new Gaza economy.‘
The inference Jeffrey seeks to make here is obvious, that the Palestinians are (insert negative adjective/noun here). However, before we get to what Jeffrey omits, i believe that if I had been a Palestinian living in Gaza and seen the luxury the settlers lived in, I would seek to take some much needed piping or shelter to improve my own dwelling standards and that of my family. That basic human instinct aside, lets have a look at what Jeffrey didn’t tell his readers. I think the NYT headline is quite illuminating ‘Israeli Settlers Demolish Greenhouses and Gaza Jobs’
Of the roughly 1,000 acres of agricultural land that were under greenhouses in the 21 Israeli settlements in Gaza, only 500 acres remain – creating significant doubts that the greenhouses could be handed over to the Palestinians as “a living business,” the goal cited by the Israeli coordinator of the pullout, Eival Giladi.
Why Goldberg felt that little nugget was not necessary, should tell readers all they need to know. He continues –
‘Then, voters elected into power Hamas, a terrorist organization devoted to the annihilation of Israel. Gaza quickly became a launching pad for rocket attacks against Israeli towns. In response, Israel blockaded Gaza to keep weapons from reaching its enemies.’
Again Jeffrey seeks to mis-inform. Israel in conjunction with ‘the Quartet’ actually began restrictions on Gaza (and West bank) when the Democratic will of the Palestinian people brought Hamas to power in 2006 (a democratic election ignored by the self-styled ‘only democracy’) which were actually a more severe interpretation of restrictions dating back as far as 2001. The complete blockade Israel imposed in 2007 was as a result of Hamas actually preventing a Western-Israeli inspired coup by Fatah. Israel sought to punish the Palestinians for not voting the right way, so here we have democracies, ignoring the democratic will of a people and seeking to overthrow those democratic results. To claim that Israel imposed restrictions on Gaza solely because of rocket attacks, is patently untrue.
Goldberg goes on to claim, with regard to Egyptians storming the Israeli embassy in Cairo last week, that it ‘was part of an angry reaction to the accidental killing of at least three Egyptian soldiers last month.’ Unfortunately Israel has form when it comes to the killing of Egyptian soldiers. Goldberg seems to think that the Egyptian people are not allowed to have memories.
He continues- ‘Most of the protesters in Cairo cared not at all about a terrorist invasion of Israel from Egyptian territory, or about the murdered Israelis themselves.’
A nice broad sweeping charge against an entire people. One can only imagine the outcry from Jeffrey and co if someone dared make the same charge against Israelis and the 1300 slaughtered in Gaza in 08/09. Goldberg concludes his rant by referring to possible Israeli govt land handovers in the future –
But that job is made much more difficult by Israel’s enemies, who choose to ignore Israel’s last attempt at giving up territory. And it is made more difficult still by Israeli voters, who, when confronted by demands for further territorial compromise, look to Gaza and say, “Not so fast.”
Indeed they will say ‘not so fast’ if they are continually fed the misinformation and propaganda Jeffrey has attempted to flog with his article. But as we have seen, Israel didn’t really give Gaza to the Palestinians, it just pulled its settlers and forces back to the borders, maintaining an illegitimate siege and instigating anti-democratic activities. Its easy to portray yourself as the victim of an undeserving people if you, as Jeffrey Goldberg has done, choose to omit crucial facts.