Yesterday the New York Times published one of its patented three-headed monsters faulting Palestinians for their manners: “Abbas Takes Defiant Step, and Mideast Talks Falter,” penned by Jodi Rudoren, Mark Landler and Michael Gordon. The three wrote:
The Middle East peace talks verged on a breakdown Tuesday night, after President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority defied the United States and Israel by taking concrete steps to join 15 international agencies — a move to gain the benefits of statehood outside the negotiations process.
The miracle of the internet is that Rudoren, Landler and Gordon don’t have the last word anymore. No, check out the NYT’s comment section on the story and it’s better than the story. Readers who are overwhelmingly critical of Israel see through the Israeli maneuverings, see through the Times’s effort to dress up the maneuverings and shift the blame, and see the historical damage of US imbalance in the conflict. And many you would guess are Jewish from their names.
Yes, now and then a shrill pro-Zionist voice pops in, but this only throws into sharp relief the intelligent, calm, well-informed nature of the other commenters.
OK, so let’s hear from the commenters!
First, the top comment per editors’ pick and readers’ too: Hal Donahue of Scranton is concise and asks the obvious question:
Rather than release an Israeli spy convicted of stealing US secrets, perhaps a better route is to withhold an ever increasing percentage of the massive US aid provided to Israel until a fair agreement is reached?
Guy in NY faults the Times’ framing:
Sure, blame Abbas, and ignore the Israeli sabotage that has been their mode of negotiating since day one. The article title describes his step as “defiant” – for exercising the rights of the Palestinians without permission from Israel of the US? The nerve!
Meanwhile, Israel, in return for the US releasing their spy, agrees to postpone further sabotage for a just little while. Shouldn’t a neutral country be the middle-man for this mess, rather than the US? It’s getting embarrassing.
Jim Michie in Bethesda also faults the Times framing:
“Mr. Abbas moved to join Tuesday included the Geneva and Vienna Conventions and those dealing with women’s and children’s rights.” So this is a “defiant step”, in the distorted minds of the U.S. and Israeli “governments”–for Palestine to join the Geneva and Vienna Conventions and those agencies dealing with women’s and children’s rights? This move on the part of Israel and the U.S. to stop Palestine from joining these agencies is absolutely outrageous, ludicrous and an abomination! What next, U.S. and Israel, what next!
nh in Portland, Me, bridles at the Times’ framing:
The agencies Mr. Abbas moved to join Tues. included the Vienna and Geneva conventions and those dealing with women’s and children’s rights.”
This is a bad thing?
Val Eisman in Portland, OR, is angered at the mainstream media for insulting readers’ intelligence:
What does the release of Mr. Pollard have to do with peace? That is the most absurd thing I have ever read. The Obama administation seems to be growing more ludicrous every day with more and more fantastical allegations which the MSM readily repeats. Only fools would believe them. The press must take us for total nitwits.
Ibaad in Lahore, Pakistan, is a Times editors’ pick, and Ibaad goes after the Times for reflecting the immoral framing of the conflict:
What’s really appalling about all of this is the immorality of this diplomatic equation.
Mr. Abbas is being blamed for pushing the talks “to the verge of a breakdown” since he threatened to exercise the very fundamental rights that every nation in the world is entitled to. Israel on the other hand was only expected to “show restraint” in settlement construction and even that magnanimous concession was not applicable to East Jerusalem.
Essentially, they were trading one side’s moral and fundamental rights for a recession in the other side’s atrocities. With such an unjust basis, how could any such talks ever be expected to succeed? They can make progress only if people of both the nations are treated as equals.
Ziad al-Masri of Amman is also ticked at the Times:
The article title is completely biased and does not mention that the Israeli Goverment did not release the fourth round of prisoners that it already agreed to. Even Secretary Kerry was waiting for the release as promised yesterday morning and after three promises, the Israeli government went back on its written agreement. Israeli government is the one that is defiant to all international laws.
Let’s lay off the Times now and go to more general analyses, which are also excellent. DC from New York says the US is being played once again:
Start from the premise that no Likud-led Israeli government has, or ever will have, any interest in reaching an agreement with the Palestinians. So if Kerry thinks he can achieve a “breakthrough” by giving Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman what they really want — the release of Pollard — in the hope that they in turn will extend peace talks through 2015, he is deluding himself. Netanyahu and Lieberman have nothing to lose and everything to gain by feigning interest in talks until Obama leaves office. It’s a simple equation for them. They have no problem making a fool out of Obama and will use Kerry’s ambition to get there.
Stieglitz Meir, of Givataim, Israel, makes the same point, but sardonically:
Those who are anxious that all Secretary Kerry’s herculean efforts will prove in vain – don’t worry: there’ll be a flood of books entitled something like “A prisoner too far”, with a breathtaking chapter headlined “Shawarma in Ramallah”. Furthermore, the billions of dollars Netanyahu demanded and got from the Obama administration and the hundred millions of dollars Abbas demanded and got from the same source and the EU, all are and will continue to serve a noble cause: the advancement and protection of the settlement project. Be happy.
Andrew from San Francisco is popular with the readers for this homespun:
How’s this…Israel can have Pollard AFTER they successfully conclude a final settlement agreement with the Palestinians.
Children should eat their vegetables before they’re given dessert.
girlperson1 in Nevada samples Bing Crosby in her Israel slam:
Israeli officials say they are not bound by their pledge because no meaningful negotiations have taken place since November.
Israel have never been bound by any pledge, ever. They want land, they want lots of it and, they don’t want to pay for it. That’s their game plan.
Utep3 in Washington, DC, has the vision thing, and a good Americanism:
Drop the negotiation now. By 2050, the US Demographic change will lead to our then President throw her weight behind One state Democratic state. Similar demographics in Israel will work synergistically with the then US President. the new State will be a Cinderella, like Mandela’s South Africa. Easy, peasy. Have the long view.
FB in NY is earnest and describes Americans’ growing anger and resentment:
The “peace process”, which has been crawling on and off for 20+ years and so far achieved nothing positive, is built upon a false premise.
Which is that a negotiation between two parties vastly unequal in strength and power, one of whom is being daily victimized by the other, could succeed in the absence of an external countervailing force acting on the stronger party and forcing it to agree to a fair solution.
The US can and should be that countervailing force. But instead of exerting real pressure on Israel, the US has grossly indulged Israel, almost from the very moment it unilaterally declared itself a state 65 years ago.
That has to stop. It should be noted that among the American people there is growing anger and resentment about their government’s role in enabling Israel to oppress Palestinians and steal their land with impunity. That at least is a good sign.
William Monroe of Providence touches on the same historical problem:
Why should Palestinian statehood depend on Israeli recognition? There is no need for these talks. Two states were to have been created in 1948. Only one now exists: Israel, not dependent on Palestinian recognition. The U.S. should recognize Palestine as an independent state tomorrow, and quit this farce. An independent state within the 1967 borders. Then the two states can begin negotiating about land and population swaps, as equals.
JMS of Winlock, WA, would be caricatured as “isolationist” by the MSM, but he’s voicing a sensible mainstream American position about aid:
Who cares anymore what these people (on all sides) do. They’ve had their chance to resolve their differences. The rest of the world has tried and tried for decades to ‘fix’ their problems for them, apparently they like it as it is.
Let’s keep going toward energy independence and leave them to their own devices. This small area gets much too much attention. We as a nation have our own problems to deal with that we might actually solve if we minded our own business.
Perhaps if left alone, they will begin to make nice with each other and try to get along. If not, they get to live in their own misery.
More anger, from Leo of Chatham NJ. Folks are wising up:
Jonathan Pollard is just the tip of the iceberg. Much of America’s assets are being “transferred” to Israel, and the American people are coming to realize that we are being used, creating animosity against our otherwise good name.
Lately, there has been much talk about sanctions against Russia for their actions in Crimea, but not one word being said about the naked aggression the goes on in the West Bank through settlement building funded by the U.S. taxpayers – on land that the world considers occupied territories.
The double standards have to stop.
S. Peterson, Oxford, CT, is very well-informed and touches on the lobby:
Only the end of Israeli illegal occupation of Arab lands should be the issue. Until the occupation ends, US should impose sanctions on Israel. If Israel then doesn’t change its policy, so be it; at least the US will be on the side of UN Resolutions, international laws and even its own official policy that the occupation is illegal.
In fact Israel is not in US strategic interests as it was during the Cold War. We have the Middle East occupied enough by our troops and through our influence to the degree that Israel is more a drain on US resources than not. And as a country with $34,000 per cap income (just a bit below UK), Israel can do fine without our financial assistance. It is not the US public that supports the bias for Israel but Congresspersons beholden to donations by far right Zionists, whether evangelicals or others.
Patrick in SF offers the lesson of John Judis in his book on Truman (and the lesson Weiss’s mother gave him when he was little and she taught him the name Madlyn Murray O’Hair): separate church and state:
Israel is offering to “slow” the expansion into the West Bank? What kind of offer is that? Until both sides deal with the basic issues, no lasting solution will come to the table. Palestine needs to recognize Israel and accept an equitable compensation package for lands lost in 1945. Israel has to quit encroaching on the Palestinian state and make a real offer that Abbas can sell to his people with dignity. Maybe Jerusalem could become something like the Vatican for both religions.
Having a Jewish state is a large part of the problem. Politics can be argued but religion is faith. With faith, there is no negotiation. Thank God Jefferson (and others) separated the two.
Zoot Rollo III of Dickerson, MD, talks about racism and the American struggle to overcome it:
Oh, if only some of the Pollard/AIPAC apologists here could spend just one day in the shoes of an average Palestinian.
Here in America, we decry – correctly – the abysmal history of African Americans from their original enslavement to the marginalized role they play in the American narrative today; we now recognize the deep, lasting damage that is caused to a group of human beings when, because of the color of their skin, their faith, whatever, they are deprived of opportunity, hope, freedom and, most of all, dignity.
I advert the attention of these people to the fact that the most wretched, uneducated, prison bound African American male youth in America is better off by light years than any Palestinian. If you cannot grasp that reality, then you will never understand why well over 95% of this column’s readership – and a correspondingly high percentage of America as a whole as well as the rest of the civilized world – feel the way they do about Israel and it’s oppresive hypocracy.
MJV in Cambridge also talks about racism, in laying out the new territory to a hasabara-ist:
Thank you, non-Palestinian person, for telling us what Palestinians want. I feel enriched.
We no longer live in a world where you get to control both sides of the argument. Thus begins losing of the argument.
Last word, from Sharon5101 of Far Rockaway:
I’m going to raise my coffee cup in a toast saluting the end of this phony peace process which went round and round in circles for decades and has accomplished absolutely nothing. May the peace process finally rest in peace.