MSNBC discusses the urgency of the I/P issue, but promotes claim that ‘everybody knows minor land swaps’ will create two states

A little forward movement the other day on MSNBC. First Martin Bashir’s guest host Richard Lui allowed Anthony Summers (“The Eleventh Day” about Osama BinLaden and  Saudi royal funding of Sept. 11 attacks) to name “the Palestine/Israel issue” as “driving” the hijackers, as well as to conclude that solving the Israel/Palestine problem is central to US security. 

Dylan Ratigan offered more discussion of that point, in a segment titled, “Israel-Palestine: Why It’s Key to Regional Stability,” which he began by announcing:

“The latest incursion: 15 activists deported from Israel after their Gaza-bound boat was captured by Israeli Navy commandos.”

Ratigan defines the boat to Gaza as an “incursion”–rather than explain Israeli government rule over the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the illegal siege of Gaza, or the unlawful Wall and checkpoints in the West Bank.   That limit is only the start.  Ratigan invites Jeremy Ben-Ami, of J Street which is “Pro-Israel and Pro-Peace,” to discuss how his new book, “A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation,” posits that the Arab Spring can only achieve stability through solving the Israel/Palestine conflict.  

Ben-Ami tells us: “I begin with the commonly held understandings over decades among nearly every expert whether it’s on the Israeli or the Palestinian side or internationally about what the resolution of this conflict looks like.  The saddest thing about [this] conflict is–while it festers along, decade after decade–everybody knows the broad outlines of what the resolution looks like:…Two states for two peoples. The borders are on the ’67 lines with some moderate adjustments to keep the majority of Israeli settlers within Israel and you trade land to the Palestinians, you divide Jerusalem and you have the Palestinian parts under Palestinian rule and the Jewish parts under Jewish rule….”

Ratigan chimes in, “Two states, two peoples, ’67 borders with….”

Ben-Ami emphasizes, “Minor. Minor adjustments.”

Ratigan: “Minor finagling, and split Jerusalem….”

Ratigan asks what the “barrier” is to such an agreement.  Ben-Ami blames, “Lack of leadership on all sides…Israelis and Palestinians,” as well as “political constraints” in the United States, who he claims is the only credible arbiter in the international community.   But Ben-Ami unfortunately bows to those very political constraints when he fails to name the many Palestinian concessions for peace, which the Israeli government has invariably countered with new demands–like calling for Palestine to betray the twenty percent of Israeli Palestinian citizens, by recognizing Israel as “a Jewish and democratic state.”  

Ratigan asks about benefits to the region, “How significant would that… agreement be…from Syria, to Egypt, to Libya…?”  Ben-Ami claims that the biggest beneficiary would be revived U.S. influence: “If America can help to broker that deal, it restores Ameican credibility in the region. This is a vital American national security interest.’

Matt Miller congratulates Ben-Ami on his book, then announces, “I’m an American Jew: I think I’m your target audience. I’ve felt some angst about the way American Jews participate in this debate.  What’s your message…to an American audience of how American Jews as they express themselves can help be a force for the kind of progress that you think needs to happen?”

Ben-Ami argues that “achieving the two-state-solution is the absolute existential necessity of the state of Israel” for “Israel itself is never going to make it as a Jewish and a democratic nation,” “if it doesn’t separate into two states and let the Palestinians have their freedom and independence in their own state.”  Miller and Ratigan ask about why “too many” in the U.S. resist the idea of a two-state solution,  inquiring about the “politics” and “the fear.” Ben-Ami answers, “Number one is physical security….Any Jew whether they live here or elsewhere” worries: “the concern is that you have Prime Minister Netanyahu who comes here and says that the ’67 borders are indefensible.”  Ben-Ami counters that anxiety: “But you have all these military experts” from “the Mossad and Shin Bet” who say that what is indefensible is the present situation, this is unsustainable….This is insecurity by definition.”

“The Washington Post”‘s Jonathan Capehart and Ben-Ami agree to dismiss the role that concern over Israel and its Occupation of Palestine played in the Arab uprisings, mistakenly narrowing their ideas: “The issue is the United States’s ability to play a new role in the new” “more democratic, more populist” “Middle East”–that is, not to be seen “on the wrong side of the grand scope of history.”  Imogen Lloyd Webber asks what the Obama Administration should do; Ben-Ami answers: pressure all sides equally.

Yet MSNBC’s title for the video clip is, “Author Jeremy Ben-Ami and panel debate whether the Arab Spring has recast the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”  What’s encouraging about this exchange is that all four panelists–far from debating–actually praise Ben-Ami’s prescriptions.  What’s discouraging is that all four panelists praise Ben-Ami’s perspective.  

For Ben-Ami is wrong when he says that “minor” swaps will create a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines.  MSNBC floats maps in the background, comparing “1967″ to “Today,” but no speaker points out the obvious: Palestinian areas have shrunk and dispersed.  No one considers how to inspire Israel to return the stolen lands, or whether such a necessity undermines Ben-Ami’s insistence that both sides are equally intransigent, requiring equal prodding.  That disintegration of territory parallels the shriveling of American debate about Palestine and Israel.   MSNBC–by inviting only a thinker whose “target audience” is “American Jew[s],” whose regressive goal is “fighting for the Jewish nation”– stunts the debate while trying to advance it.  No panelist mentions the sinister double meaning when Ratigan twice describes border swaps as “finagling,” or when Ben-Ami quotes Binyamin Netanyahu’s declaration that the 1967 lines are “indefensible.”  The unstated truth is that neither trickery can be defended.

Ben-Ami, Ratigan, and the rest focus on the so-called enlightened self-interest of the U.S. and Israel, playing down the claims of shared human values throughout Palestine and the world.  But their conclusion reminds us that enlightened self-interest is still selfishness, leaving us with a larger question.  How can the United States become “a [diverse] and democratic state,” in which reporters can look out for the inalienable human rights and “security” needs of all, including Palestinians–starting with the Rights of Return, self-determination, self-defense, freedom to move, and equality under the law?

About Susie Kneedler

Who reads and sometimes writes....
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 5 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. The only way to break the logjam is to break the equation that settlements remain Israeli sovereignty.

    If accepted as a minority within Palestinian sovereignty, the two-state is not dead.

    Both Palestinian solidarity and likud Zionism refer to the settlements as Israeli rather than as Jewish in Palestinian territory.

    I don’t.

    And, the only way that the settlements will be able to be in Palestinian sovereignty as Palestinian citizens, is if they are confident that there will be no persecution, no institutional no interpersonal.

    The two-state solution remains the only possible. The bi-national, with semi-sovereign Israel and semi-sovereign Palestine in a confederation is a possible outcome.

    The single state isn’t, as there are too many that have a national orientation in both communities, that would be “other-governed” in a single state, even if non-nationalist parties emerge as prominent. (They don’t exist even yet, except for fringe parties and only in Israel.)

    • Chaos4700 says:

      Witty, if they don’t remain “Israeli sovereignty,” then what the settlements are, are stolen property inhabited by illegal aliens in Palestine.

    • eljay says:

      >> Both Palestinian solidarity and likud Zionism refer to the settlements as Israeli rather than as Jewish in Palestinian territory.

      1. They are Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. Why should they be referred to as anything other than Israeli settlements?
      2. Referring to them as “Jewish settlements” would hardly make the existence of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory any less inflammatory.

      >> The two-state solution remains the only possible. … The bi-national … is a possible outcome. The single state isn’t …

      You might want to let Israel know that it’s time for “a context of peace” so that they can stop acquiring “enough Israel” at the green line. They really don’t seem to be aware of that and, no, it’s not Hamas’ fault.

    • Koshiro says:

      And, the only way that the settlements will be able to be in Palestinian sovereignty as Palestinian citizens, is if they are confident that there will be no persecution, no institutional no interpersonal.

      Then there won’t be a way. Hilltop colonialists dumping their waste on the colonized don’t get to be welcomed as neighbours.

      The sheer ethnocentric arrogance of the concept that illegal immigrants get to choose the exact conditions under which they might haughtily consent to living in peace with the majority population is staggering. But I guess it dawned on you that your ‘settlers as Palestinian citizens’ nonsense could in practice be somewhat inconvenient on the settlers. They might even – shock and horror – get treated in the same way as the Palestinian minority in Israel. Can’t have that.

  2. To expect MSNBC to discuss, present, or report on this issue in an unbiased manner is ludicrous. Maddow’s contribution to the zionist cause is legend, with her propaganda through ommission tactics on the ISR/Pal issue, and her faithful adherance to the script on Iran.

    Olberman, when he was at MSNBC (as well as now at his new roost) was equally as loath to mention any storyline or occurrence that cast Israel in a bad light.

    Mathews??? Yeah, right.

    Fact is, MSNBC seems to be just as complicit as Fox in bending over to the status quo narrative on ISR/PAL, Fox does it with bullshit, and MSNBC mostly does it with silence.

    Generally, MSNBC is of little help to the left, progressives, or the anti-war crowd. What amazes me is MSNBC’s ridiculous policy of airing shit on the weekends, while Fox is going 24/7 with their political messaging and RW campaigning. Fox politicizes the issues non-stop to the RW’s advantage, while those programming jackasses at MSNBC run prison reality shows and tabloid murder/sex expose’s. And when are the most viewers swilling beer and potato chips in front of the TV??? On the weekend, of course.