Tolerating Israel’s Land Grabs

Secretary of State John Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have reached their predictable collapse, but the U.S. news media still shies away from blaming Israeli intransigence and expansionism nor advocating stern action against the land grabs, as Lawrence Davidson explains.

By Lawrence Davidson

In 1988, Yasser Arafat declared independence for Palestine based upon the notion of two states living in peace in historic Palestine. The border between those two states was to be set roughly at the armistice line established at the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The Palestinian state’s capital was to be located in East Jerusalem.

That was 26 years ago. Finally, on April 14, 2014, the editorial board of the New York Times decided that Arafat was correct and the “principles” that “must undergird a two-state solution” are those he had proposed. Of course, the board did so without ever referencing the great Palestinian leader.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (State Department photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (State Department photo)

Not only did the Times declare the pre-1967 border and a shared capital at Jerusalem necessary and valid, but it called on the U.S. government to do the same: “It is time for the administration to lay down the principles should the Israelis and the Palestinians ever decide to make peace.”

Before anyone gets too excited over this seeming miracle on Eighth Avenue (where the paper is headquartered), it should be noted that the Times’ editorial board made this pronouncement at a point when its fulfillment was impossible. And the editorial board knew this was the case:

“The pointless arguing over who brought the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to the brink of collapse is in full swing. The United States is still working to salvage the negotiations, but there is scant sign
of serious purpose. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry should move on and devote their attention to other major international challenges like Ukraine.”

Having reached this point in the editorial board’s text, one starts to suspect that the board is being disingenuous. First of all, why is it “pointless” to discuss the reason these talks are collapsing? Secretary of State Kerry’s explanation (the famous “poof” heard around the world), made before Congress, lays blame right where it has always belonged — with Israeli acts of sabotage of those very principles the Times now espouses. Why does the Times say that stating this increasingly obvious fact is “pointless”?

It is also interesting that the editorial board suggests in what direction the subject should be changed — toward the “major international challenge” of Ukraine. I am not sure the board thought this suggestion through. After all, what is the core Western complaint about happenings in Ukraine? It is the Russian land grab in the Crimea as well as the alleged threat of more such moves in eastern Ukraine.

Yet just how different is Russian behavior in this regard from that of Israel in the West Bank and Golan Heights? Obviously the Times’ editors do not think it is “pointless” to discuss land grabs when the Russians do it. It is only pointless when the Israelis do it.

The editorial board also surrounds its declaration of principles with an archaic effort to present Israel and the Palestinians as equally at fault. It is not only the Israelis who have decided against making peace, it is both the “Israelis and Palestinians.” It is not just “the obstinacy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu” that is a problem. That “obstinacy” has to be coupled with “resistance from the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.”

It is not just Israel which is unwilling to “move on to core issues,” it is “the two sides” that are unwilling. This insistence on dualism is an illusion hiding the fact that the two sides are not at all equal and, with the exception of the red-herring issue of Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, 99 percent of the obstinacy and all the resistance has been on one side — the Israeli side.

The Times’ editorial board has the same problem as the Obama administration: they both know the truth but are unwilling to do something about it. They both know the problem is that the Israeli government is not interested in genuine peace (actually, has never been interested in it).

Israel is only interested in continuing its conquest of Palestinian land. And thanks to the West, most particularly the United States, Israel has the military wherewithal to ignore not only the Palestinian protests but also those of the rest of the world.

Both the U.S. government and the U.S. “newspaper of record” refuse to act on their knowledge of Israel’s history of sabotage and call for punitive action against a nation that is hurting U.S. national interests in an important part of the world.

Their main concern is to avoid a confrontation with Zionist lobbyists and Times’ advertisers whose devotion to Israel is wholly uncritical. This appears to still be the most favored position even though standing firm over negotiations with Iran has proved the Zionists are not omnipotent.

It’s that old two steps forward, one step backward shuffle: heading in the right direction while ensuring we never reach the proper destination.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

6 comments for “Tolerating Israel’s Land Grabs

  1. April 27, 2014 at 14:02

    There is a serious lack of common sense and honesty in the United States today. I am NOT against the Jewish People or their religion. I am, however an enemy of Zionism and will do everything within my power to see that it is destroyed never to see the light of day again.

    The Religious Right and the very rich along with Christianity are to blame in this debacle. Both of their bibles are arrogant, willful, and decietful. All believe in a god that has no proof other than the word of a bronze age populace that the middle age Europeans realized could be a great control apparatus.

    In my Opinion Zionists should be taken in front of the world court and judgment
    meted out to those who have been the cause of all this hatred and oppression

    • lejardin
      April 27, 2014 at 17:20

      Nooo, nooo, you’re not against the Jewish people or their religion at all, obviously! The tendrils of love absolutely pervade your words! :-0 :-0 :-0 :-0 But apparently the god of Islam is A-OK with you, eh Abdul? :-0 :-0 :-0 :-0 Also, you may want to check a dictionary on the spelling of that word “deceitful,” and maybe also apply it to yourself! :-0 :-0 :-0 :-0

    • Roger Thomas
      April 28, 2014 at 04:02

      Most of the people in the World share your view. The double standards of the USA’s and the West’s governments are thoroughly shameful and not representative of the views or interests of their people, particularly in the UK. Cameron and Hague and many British MPs are Friends of Israel proudly and openly declaring their support for the criminal, apartheid, terrorist, Zionist regime.
      “Will no one rid us of this troublesome cult?’ a cult which has caused havoc throughout the Middle East, fomented religious bigotry and extremism and is the cause of most terrorism throughout the World, whilst being, without doubt, the most callous terrorist organisation ever.
      This murderous cult can even carry out false-flag attacks on its major sponsor with impunity.
      Now with the treacherous Arab monarchies cooperating with Zionism, there is even less pressure being applied to the terrorist cult.

      April 28, 2014 at 06:17


    • May 1, 2014 at 01:02

      I agree that there is a very important difference between the Jewish people and their religion, and Zionism.

      I responded to a couple of very anti-Jewish comments in a recent article here by a couple of “good” Christian posters which I thought were totally uncalled for. I objected as one who used to be a Christian but am not any more.

      Another “good” Christian poster responded to one of my responses with more anti-Jewish prejudice, and accused me of “looking forward to the extermination of lesser beings” such as in Palestine, which is absolutely and totally untrue.

      I do regard Zionism, and the Israeli mistreatment and subjugation of the Palestinians, as being very definitely evil.

  2. Alan Goater
    April 27, 2014 at 11:43

    In the 1st. para., do you mean what are commonly referred to as the ‘1967 borders’ which are in fact the armistice lines drawn at the end of the 1948 war? At the end of the ’67 war a very different state of affairs prevailed…

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