NYT’s Bronner says Netanyahu demonstrates ‘territorial flexibility’ on the basis of no evidence

on 21 Comments

Ethan Bronner’s NY Times reports are of fantastic comedic value. Check out the latest spin from the Israeli Army Daddy:

Days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet with President Obama, he laid out his principles Monday for accepting a Palestinian state, showing greater flexibility on territory

So Bibi is willing to trade land for peace, more than ever before. On what evidence?

Mr. Netanyahu showed more willingness to yield territory than he had before, strongly implying that he would give up the vast majority of the West Bank for a demilitarized Palestinian state. He said Israel needed to hold onto all of Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs in the West Bank, thereby suggesting that he would yield the rest.

Implying? Suggesting? Mr. Bronner speculates, with no evidence whatsoever, that Bibi’s position has changed, turning this into a press release.

And why would you call an Israeli leader “flexible on territory” when Bibi’s current position as stated is a) a total non-starter for Palestinians and b) vastly less flexible than Barak’s outgoing negotiation team demonstrated during the 2000 Taba talks that eventually lead to the Geneva Initiative?

I love Bronner’s use of the “vast majority of the West Bank,” implying the shop-worn “generous offer” frame. Even if Israel kept, say, 35% of the West Bank, that would leave Palestinians with 65% of 22% and a Swiss Cheese, fragmented Bantustan state. But that would be the “vast majority” of the West Bank, right?

Finally, of course, there’s the elision of all elisions: When has Bronner ever clearly and honestly stated, “Even as he makes speeches about wanting a two-state solution, Netanyahu continuously oversees a policy of land theft and ethnic cleansing”?

P.S. – Haaretz’s Yossi Verter tears Netanyahu’s speech apart, calling it “a dove masquerading as a hawk.” How come Verter can tell it like it is in an oped, whereas Bronner sings Bibi’s praises in a news report?

Update: Earlier version of this post included reference to a purported C.I.A. study saying Israel will be done within 20 years. The study was a hoax. 

21 Responses

  1. seafoid
    May 17, 2011, 10:50 am

    Bibi says

    “There are consensuses regarding the basic issues:

    First, about my demand that the Palestinians recognize the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.

    Second, about my view, which is shared by many here, that the agreement between us must end the conflict and end the demands from the State of Israel.

    Third, that the problem of the Palestinian refugees will be resolved outside of Israel and not within its borders.

    Fourth, that a Palestinian state only be established under a peace treaty that will not compromise the safety of Israel. I believe there is agreement on this, and I stress that this state must be demilitarized, with practical security arrangements, including long term IDF presence along the Jordan River.

    Fifth, we agree that we must maintain the settlement blocs. Many of us agree that the settlement blocs must remain inside the borders of the State of Israel.

    Sixth, that Jerusalem remain the united and sovereign capital of the State of Israel.”

    This is all away with the fairies. Bibi needs to wake up before it all falls apart.

  2. Avi
    May 17, 2011, 10:52 am

    This “press release” was put out there by the propaganda arm of the Israeli government, also known as The New York Times, for the purpose of presenting Israel — a couple of days after Nakbah Day — as some conciliatory well-meaning state led by prudent, wise men who do not hesitate to make compromises or conciliatory gestures.

    See? It’s those Palestinians who are the true barbarians. Israel — allegedly — gives and gives and gives and gives, and all it gets in return is more violent attacks and calls for its destruction. It’s a tough neighborhood, “suggested” Bronner.

  3. Jim Haygood
    May 17, 2011, 11:04 am

    ‘[Netanyahu] said Israel needed to hold onto all of Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs in the West Bank, thereby suggesting that he would yield the rest.’ — stenographer Bronner

    Other than keeping ALL of East Jerusalem (which the Palestinians want as their capital) and its LARGE settlement blocs in the West Bank, it’s hard to think of anything else Israel wanted except its military presence in the Jordan valley. And since Netanyahu didn’t mention the Jordan valley, probably he’s not implying a willingness to yield it either.

    In other words, nothing has changed. Israel is willing to yield ‘the rest’ of the West Bank, meaning the little blobs of territory outlined by its settler roads and checkpoints, the way grout outlines little chunks of mosaic tile.

    Although the Palestine Papers blew apart ‘facts on the ground’ negotiations for good, Israel (like Richard Witty) remains hopeful that the talks can pick up where they left off any day now, as if nothing had happened.

    The baseball game’s over, but Netanyahu is still standing at the plate and pointing confidently to the bleachers at Ebbets Field, as the empty stadium gazes impassively on his heedless folly.

  4. seafoid
    May 17, 2011, 11:54 am

    Bibi reminds me of the young old guys in those pictures from the 60s who expected their women to shut up and stay in their place in the kitchen, apron on, with the dinner ready for them when they got home in the evening.

    I like this t-shirt

    link to northernsun.com

    There is no going back to the 60s.

    It is the same with the Palestinians. Nakba is the radical notion that Palestinians are people.

    Bibi with his 6 demands is like the young old codgers offering their wives another few dollars for lipstick. The world is about to turn on its head.

    Alternatively it’s like the weeks before Elvis with Bibi as Pat Boone.

    • Lydda Four Eight
      May 17, 2011, 3:12 pm

      have you seen the film “made in dagenham”? it was great. i found it totally relevant/ saw the parallels to Palestine and was encouraged by it. our problem as Palestinians is very much like any other group that does not have equal rights.

      • seafoid
        May 17, 2011, 4:41 pm

        I haven’t. Thanks for the tip > I just ordered it.
        I bought a book of John Trudell’s lyric’s /poetry recently and the parallels between the Indian experience and the Palestinian one are striking.


        The people cry out
        Tears of anger
        Tears of sorrow
        Giving birth to resistance
        Young ones
        To remember struggle
        For the people cry out
        Tears of happiness
        Tears of joy
        Washing the pain
        Cleaning the spirit
        Giving strength
        The generations
        Remembering the past
        To rebuild the future
        For weeping is
        Another way of laughing
        And resisting and
        Outlasting the enemy

        Living in Reality

        Calling us red Indians
        We have been the colors
        On a chameleons back
        Changing with time
        Altering the larger pattern
        Surviving genocide
        Because we have to
        Living in reality
        We are targets of your unfairness
        With warriors for targets
        You create your own destruction
        This is how we bring you down
        Target by target you wound yourself
        Using your greed we watch
        Your spirit fade
        Living in reality
        We can endure your cages
        Your bullets your lies
        Your confusion
        We know you have
        Destroyed your peace
        Living in reality

  5. Woody Tanaka
    May 17, 2011, 12:04 pm

    The baseball game’s over, but Netanyahu is still standing at the plate and pointing confidently to the bleachers at Ebbets Field, as the empty stadium gazes impassively on his heedless folly.

    Oh, this is poetry. Bravo.

  6. Les
    May 17, 2011, 12:20 pm

    Israel gives and gives and gives as Bronner well knows. Gives maybes, is thinking about, might consider, is looking in to the possibility of, and on and on and on and on. And loyal and ever present companion dog Bronner is available to report/broadcast Israel’s latest and most generous offer to date.

  7. yourstruly
    May 17, 2011, 12:41 pm

    breaking news….

    in today’s LA Times’ – “Expectations dim for Netanyahu’s U.S. trip”

    a new narrative

    fair & balanced, actually, at least on the I/P conflict, such that, by reading between the lines……….

    growing consensus that neither obama nor netanyahu will offer any bold new initiative

    both being trapped in the politics of their own making*

    meanwhile the palestinians may have gotten it all together

    in the knick of time too

    a year from november president obama could win reelection by a landslide if only he’d stand up to netanyahu & the traiterous israel lobby here in the u. s. of a.

    it’s up to us**

    *aided an abetted by israel-firsters

    **us, as in all for one and one for all

    • Walid
      May 17, 2011, 1:40 pm

      Off topic for a second, picked up the following from the NYT while reading Bronner’s latest spin ; there has to be an Israel connection somehow in this story:

      United Arab Emirates Confirms Hiring Blackwater Founder’s Firm
      Published: May 15, 2011
      The United Arab Emirates confirmed on Sunday that it had hired a company run by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, to provide “operational, planning and training support” to its military. But it gave no details of the company’s project to build a foreign mercenary battalion for the Emirati government.

      • Lydda Four Eight
        May 17, 2011, 3:17 pm

        and this from January 2011, Blackwater backs African Mercenaries, can you say Qadhaffi?: link to huffingtonpost.com

  8. hughsansom
    May 17, 2011, 1:24 pm

    Well, let’s give Bronner the benefit of the doubt. He wrote that Netanyahu showed “greater flexibility” on territory. Maybe he means Netanyahu has moved from annexing all of the West Bank to annexing just 95% of it…. Flexibility, Israel-style.

    More seriously, Bronner, like nearly all pro-Israel American Middle East reporters, shows absolute imperviousness to fact — an indicator of psychotic delusion. There is no fact or combination of fact that will move Bronner or Kershner or Friedman, Brooks, Douthat, Keller, Gradstein, Burns, or any of the mainstream sheep brigade in the slightest degree.

    Indeed, facts that clearly undermine the pro-Israel dogma are instead taken to reinforce that dogma. This is evidence of a person resolving cognitive dissonance — embracing the more cherished belief at the expense of truth. We see the same thing in American foreign policy with assertions like “America doesn’t torture” or “free markets yield optimal solutions.”

    • Les
      May 17, 2011, 4:31 pm

      NPR’s Linda Gradstein had to be reminded by her bosses that it was not kosher to take money for making speeches to Zionists. She could not tell the difference between what she was being paid to “report” to NPR’s listeners and what she told those who paid to hear and see her speak.

  9. Jim Haygood
    May 17, 2011, 1:59 pm

    While Ethan Bronner flawlessly fulfills his customary role as Netanyahu’s U.S. press secretary, Mahmoud Abbas has taken to the Op-Ed page to present his thoughts, which have nothing to do with negotiating on Israel’s terms. Abbas essentially dismisses the endless, empty negotiations:

    This September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.

    We go to the United Nations now to secure the right to live free in the remaining 22 percent of our historic homeland because we have been negotiating with the State of Israel for 20 years without coming any closer to realizing a state of our own.

    link to nytimes.com

    Let’s hope this works out. But Palestine’s proposed journey to statehood is a perilous one.

    Statehood’s great merit is to jolt negotiations out of the Israel-centric ‘facts on the ground’ framework promoted by the Quartet, and back to UN resolutions and ICJ decisions which declare all Israeli settlements and walls outside the 1967 borders to be flatly illegal.

    But the potential drawbacks of Palestinian statehood are quite serious:

    For one thing, statehood compromises the Palestinian right of return. Israel will assert that by forming their own state, Palestinians have thereby relinquished any claim to return to Israel. [Netanyahu: ‘The problem of the Palestinian refugees will be resolved outside of Israel and not within its borders.’]

    For another, the original proposed partitions of Palestine into Arab and Jewish areas in 1947 were far more equitable than the 1967 borders. As Abbas points out, a Palestinian state within 1967 borders would be left with only 22% of historic Palestine, while Israel retains the best land, water and mineral resources (including recent offshore oil discoveries), and the strategically important coast.

    Finally, a Palestinian state leaves Israeli Arabs as permanent second class citizens. Hopes for a unified democratic state covering all of historic Palestine would be set back by the formation of a rump Palestinian state. As a de facto economic satellite of Israel, its independent viability is shaky at best.

    While wishing the Palestinians well, and sympathizing with their need to reset the stagnant and miserable political status quo, I fear that the downside of statehood may exceed the benefits. Israel’s clever lawyers, aided by US experts such as Dennis Ross, will subvert Palestinian statehood to promptly strip Palestinians of their historic claims, while blocking most of the benefits it was expected to provide.

    At a minimum, Abbas should rely on existing ICJ rulings, such as the one declaring Israel’s wall illegal, to demand very substantial reparations from Israel. An amount in the $20 to 30 billion range (equaling but a decade of U.S. aid to Israel) is reasonable and financially doable.

    • seafoid
      May 17, 2011, 4:57 pm


      Israel will have a civil war if it tries to take the settlers out. The religious crowd have taken over large chunks of the officer class of the Israeli Army. Even 22% of Palestine is too much for Israel. One in 10 Israeli Jews is a settler.

      Israel is really fragile. It’s got a very sophisticated economy that is funded by international capital invested in Israeli bonds at very low rates and Israel has nobody to turn to for a bailout if the speculators attack. The Palestinians are playing a good game for a change and Israel has everything to lose.

      Once the money abandoned South Africa, apartheid was up.

      • Jim Haygood
        May 17, 2011, 5:50 pm

        Definitely they’re playing a better game. It’s a huge step to end-run 20 years of sham negotiations which led nowhere.

        But Palestinians need to prepare for Israel’s next move. Netanyahu has already signaled that the Palestinian right of return will be declared dead if the UN accedes to a Palestinian state. Who knows how Palestinian refugee claims will be treated under international law after September? Best to make discreet inquiries beforehand.

        As you say, the Israeli economy is fragile. Taking a leaf from the post-Holocaust playbook (decades of successful pursuit of damages), Nakba victims could turn the tables on Israel by getting judgments against it.

        The US Congress would rapidly lose its taste for sending $3 billion a year to Israel, if Israel were obliged to pay on the same amount to the state of Palestine as reparations for the illegal occupation. Then Israel might find it convenient to discuss ways of easing its financial pain.

        The world wonders: where is the Israeli de Klerk?

      • Citizen
        May 18, 2011, 8:09 am

        JH, so how would that work out for the US taxpayer? The purpose of continuing to send(directly, not counting the matrix of indirect aid) 3 billion to Israel every year would change from “security” to what, “US portion of having achieved peace in the ME?” Or “maintence of peace?”

        I mean, look how much Obama was willing to give Israel just for a few months pause in the settlement expansion.

  10. seafoid
    May 17, 2011, 3:25 pm

    Bibi does the striptease promise one more time . If you watch carefully he will remove his nipple tassels in the dance that has been going on for 43 years where the dancer remains fully clothed.

  11. Matthew Taylor
    May 17, 2011, 4:06 pm

    Sorry to everyone for referencing the hoax CIA study. Someone posted it on my facebook news feed and I fell for it.

  12. Koshiro
    May 18, 2011, 4:10 am

    For Netanyahu – and Bronner as well, I guess – letting the Palestinians have any territory at all is “flexibility”.

  13. Richard Witty
    May 18, 2011, 6:01 am

    I think Bronner’s references to Netanyahu’s changes are likely accurate.

    The more important question is whether they are sufficient (even to a rational liberal Zionist standard).

    There is nothing that will satisfy militants, short of Israel’s “assimilation”.

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