Manual Conflicted are the Peacemakers: Israeli and Palestinian Moderates and the Death of Oslo

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He repeated the allegation as fact.

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He had no way of knowing what was in the buildings, whether it was a rocket workshop, a hiding place for katyushas, the home of a Hizballah leader, or a command center. Robertson later admitted that his report had been influenced by his Hizballah guide. He acknowledged that he had been told what to film and where. He also has not hesitated to point out Hizballah's mendacity.

Conflicted Are the Peacemakers: Israeli and Palestinian Moderates and the Death of Oslo

They were told to turn on their sirens and then the ambulances drove off as if they were picking up wounded civilians when, in fact, they were simply going back and forth. Time Magazine contributor Christopher Albritton made clear that reporters understand the rules of the game. Photographs can be especially powerful, but they can also be misleading or outright fakes. In the last Lebanon war , for example, the Washington Post published a photograph August 2, of a baby that appeared to have lost both its arms. The UPI caption said that the seven-month-old had been severely burned when an Israeli jet accidentally hit a Christian residential area.

The photo and the caption, however, were inaccurate.

The baby did not lose its arms, and the burns the child suffered were the result of a PLO attack on East Beirut. A similarly dramatic photo of a baby pulled from the rubble of a building in Qana that appeared on front pages around the world is now being challenged as a fake.


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Reuters admitted the photos had been changed, suspended the photographer, and removed all of his photographs from its database. It is also conceivable that some of the scenes that reporters are being shown have been staged. Reporters in Lebanon also continue to exaggerate the destruction in Beirut and elsewhere by showing tight shots of buildings hit in Israeli air strikes and rebroadcasting the same images repeatedly.

Most of the rest of Beirut, apart from strategic sites such as airport runways used to ferry Hizballah weapons in and out of Lebanon, has been left pretty much untouched. Qana was also an example of how the press immediately reports whatever statistics they are fed by Lebanese officials. Again, we learned in the last war that these figures are usually inflated and the press rarely bothers to verify them.

Front page stories around the world said that 57 civilians were killed when Israel bombed a building it believed to be empty. While still tragic, the actual casualty figure was only Moreover, most accounts failed to mention the building was in an area where rocket attacks on Israel had originated. While an Israeli strike that killed UN observers drew headlines, little attention was given to reports that Hizballah was using the UN posts as shields.


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Later, it was learned that one person had died. Turning momentarily away from the carnage of war, some reporters have suggested that Israeli attacks have created environmental problems in Lebanon. Meanwhile, little attention has been devoted to the ecological damage caused by fires sparked by Katyusha rockets that have destroyed 16, acres of forests and grazing fields. The press is also spending a great deal of time talking to Lebanese civilians and their relatives in the United States and highlighting the difficult conditions they are enduring. This is no doubt the case since they are living in a war zone; however, the media has spent almost no time talking to the Israelis living under the constant threat of rocket attacks.

Few reporters have gone into the bomb shelters to interview the frightened Israeli families. No one seems interested in how the relatives of Israelis in the United States feel about their loved ones living under siege. Similarly, initial reports focused on the Americans living in Lebanon while no one seems interested in the , North Americans living in Israel. It is terrible that tourists and students had to be evacuated from Lebanon , but what about those same groups in Israel? How many reporters talked to the hundreds of students on summer tours and programs in Israel, many of whom were in the north when the violence escalated?

While the complications of leaving the country may not be as severe as in Lebanon , it is still very difficult to arrange a quick exit from Israel, and many American parents are in a state of panic worrying about their family and friends in Israel. Wars are never easy to cover, and each side of a conflict wants to make its case through the media.

A responsible press, however, does not repeat whatever it hears, it first makes every effort to insure the accuracy of its reporting. That is the standard expected of journalists covering the war between Israel and Hizballah. Three weeks after the beginning of the war initiated by Hizballah on July 12, , Human Rights Watch HRW issued a report that charged Israel with indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Lebanon.

Indeed, there was no means by which it could be sure that they were not Hizballah cadres, since members of the group do not ordinarily wear uniforms or display identity badges. Unless the investigators are mind readers, they could not divine Israeli intentions. Moreover, it is easy to find a great deal of evidence to show the efforts Israel made to avoid harming noncombatants, such as the dropping of leaflets to warn civilians to evacuate locations before they were attacked, the pinpoint attacks of buildings in neighborhoods that could more easily have been carpet-bombed, and the reports of Israeli pilots and others who withheld fire because of the presence of civilians in target areas.

Anyone watching TV, however, saw the images of rockets being fired from civilian areas, and the photos of weapons and armed men in what should have been peaceful neighborhoods. Numerous witnesses also told reporters very different stories than those reported by HRW, giving examples of weapons caches in mosques and fighters using UN troops as shields.

Two days after the release of their report on Israel, and while being subjected to serious criticism for having double standards, a relatively short statement 7 pages compared to 51 on Lebanon was released by HRW. The decision by HRW to treat Israel as the main culprit in this war also entailed a studied refusal to make basic moral and legal distinctions. Most remarkably, HRW did not take note of the contrasting goals of the combatants. HRW justifies this self-imposed moral blindness on the grounds that its touchstone is law, not morality. The spurious allegations made by HRW, as well as similar ones published by Amnesty International, were further undermined by a report issued in November by the Intelligence and Terrorism Center at the Israeli Center for Special Studies.

Israel has been hoping since the death of Yasser Arafat that a Palestinian leader who would emerge with the vision and courage to pursue peace negotiations. The hope was that Mahmoud Abbas was that leader, however, he has proven over the last two years to be unable to control the Palestinian Authority , and he is therefore incapable of negotiating any agreement that Israelis could expect to be implemented.

The election of Hamas to power further undermined the position of Abbas , and worsened the overall situation of the Palestinians as the international community has withheld most of its financial and political support for the PA unless and until Hamas agrees to recognize Israel, end its campaign of terror and agree to fulfill past agreements signed with Israel. Though Abbas has repeatedly offered to form a unity government with Hamas , and said that it was prepared to meet those conditions, Hamas has adamantly refused to do so. For now, the Palestinians cannot even make peace among themselves.

None of these developments inspire confidence that an Abbas-led government, unified or not, can advance the peace process. In an effort to jumpstart the peace process, Saudi Arabia has resurrected the idea of negotiating with Israel on the basis of a formula outlined by then Crown Prince Abdullah in In response to the renewed discussion of the plan in March , Prime Minister Olmert expressed a willingness to talk about the Saudi initiative.

When the plan was brought up a few months earlier , Olmert reportedly met secretly with a member of the Saudi royal family. For the plan to have any chance of serving as a starting point for negotiations, the Saudis and other Arab League members will have to negotiate directly with Israel. In , Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he would go the Arab League summit to discuss the plan, but he was not invited. The Saudis were also been invited to Jerusalem to discuss their proposal, but they rejected this idea as well.

As it is, this initiative is nothing more than a restatement of the Arab interpretation of UN Resolution The problem is that does not say what the Saudi plan demands of Israel.

Moreover, Israel is under no obligation to withdraw before the Arabs agree to live in peace. The Arab plan calls for Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights. The Israeli government has offered to withdraw from most, if not all of the Golan in exchange for a peace agreement; however, Syrian President Bashar Assad has so far been unwilling to negotiate at all with Israel. The Arab initiative calls for a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem based on the nonbinding UN General Assembly Resolution The current population of Israel is approximately 7 million, 5 million of whom are Jews.

Table of contents

If the Palestinians all returned, the population would exceed 10 million and the proportion of Jews and Palestinian Arabs would be roughly Given the higher Arab birth rate, Israel would soon cease to be a Jewish state and would de facto become a second Palestinian state along with the one expected to be created on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This suicidal formula has been rejected by Israel since the end of the war and is totally unacceptable to all Israelis today.

Israel does, however, recognize a right for all the refugees to live in a future Palestinian state. Israel has agreed to allow some Palestinian refugees to live in Israel on a humanitarian basis, and as part of family reunification. Thousands have returned already this way. In the past, Israel has repeatedly expressed a willingness to accept as many as , refugees as part of a resolution of the issue.

In fact, one government report said that Israel accepted , refugees in the decade following the Oslo agreement of Also, it is important to note that Resolution says nothing about the Palestinians and the reference to refugees can also be applied to the Jews who fled and were driven from their homes in Arab countries.

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The Arab demand that Israel accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital has been part of the negotiations since Oslo. It is also worth noting that most of the Arab League nations have no reason not to be at peace with Israel now. Israel holds none of their territory and is more than willing to make peace with the members of the League.

Several members of the League had already begun to normalize relations with Israel before the latest outbreak of violence, and their principal critic was Saudi Arabia. The Peace Now study stated as fact data that it admitted was leaked to the organization by a government official. When asked to produce any of the data to backup the claims, the coauthor of the study said he could not do so and that it was up to the Israeli government to release the information.

The result is that the organization has put an inflammatory allegation out before the public without presenting any documentation to back it up. If the data was made available, it is likely that arguments would be made about the ownership of the land. During the Ottoman Empire, only small areas of the West Bank were registered to specific owners, and often villagers would hold land in common to avoid taxes.

The British began a more formal land registry based on land use, taxation or house ownership that continued through the Jordanian period. Palestinians can and often do challenge Israeli land seizures in court. In fact, the Peace Now report reviews the case of Elon More in which Palestinians petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice and the justices prevented private land from being seized for the establishment of a settlement.

Often, however, the Palestinians cannot prove ownership of land they claim. Moreover, while Peace Now makes a distinction, the Palestinians do not see any difference between the West Bank and Israel proper, which they also claim was stolen and belongs to them.

Volume XXXII, 2015

Several months later, the government released data that cast the entire Peace Now report in doubt. The government data, however, showed that only 0. At one level, the accuracy of the report is irrelevant. Even if data is eventually released to substantiate some or all of the claims in the Peace Now report, it will not change the dynamics of the region; Hamas , Hizballah and Iran will be no more likely to accept a Jewish state in the Middle East.

If Palestinian claims could be proven, at worst, Israel would be expected to compensate the landowners, as it has in the past, and it will deservedly receive a black eye. Most people, however, will also understand that the situation that exists in the West Bank has always been first and foremost the result of the decision of Jordan to attack Israel in and has persisted because of the refusal of any Palestinian leader to trade peace for land. The stubborn reality is that there can be no movement toward peace until a Palestinian leadership appears that is ready to accept a two-state soluiton.

Throughout the war with Hizballah , the media reported casualty totals offered by Lebanese officials as facts with no apparent effort to verify them. Simultaneously, Hizballah sought to conceal its casualties to enhance its prestige and make propagandistic claims about the damage it was inflicting on Israel while suffering few losses of its own.

The truth did dribble out, though it was largely ignored. These sources are consistent with information provided by Israel. These reports suggest that at a minimum, roughly half the casualties in the war were combatants. It is more likely the figure approaches 60 percent, which would mean the majority of dead were terrorists. This reinforces the Israeli position that it did indeed inflict heavy losses on Hizballah and that the civilian casualties were not a result of deliberate or indiscriminate attacks.

Tragically, many civilians were killed, but as Israel has also shown , many of them died because they were used as human shields. Of course, there would have been zero casualties if Hizballah had not attacked Israel and kidnaped its soldiers who have still not been returned or visited by the Red Cross.