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Saturday, January 09, 2010

"Intransigent"

From Ma'an:
The Palestinian Authority rejected US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call for the resumption of peace talks without prerequisites, Agence France Presse and Israeli media reported on Saturday.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat stressed that peace talks can only be renewed on the condition that Israel realizes a settlement standstill across the West Bank and occupied east Jerusalem. "A resumption of peace talks requires the complete halt of settlements," Erekat told the AFP.

Negotiations, he added, could only be reinitiated from the point at which they were stopped in December 2008, when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead. [when settlement activity was not a pre-condition - EoZ.]

It was announced on Friday that the US and Jordan would urge Palestinians and Israel to discuss Jerusalem and borders – issues that have been relegated to final status talks in previous negotiations. Meanwhile, President Mahmoud Abbas declared eight preconditions which must be met by Israel in order to bring the Palestinian side back to the negotiation table, including a total settlement freeze and Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state on 1967 borders.
So Abbas is adding more and more pre-conditions before agreeing to peace talks.

Yet if you do a Google News search on the word "intransigent" in reference to the conflict, for some reason it is applied to Israel nearly exclusively. (Occasionally Hamas is thus described, but the PA is never labeled with that term in the mainstream media.) We've noticed similar words and phrases in the past that are exclusively associated with Israeli government - "hawkish," "right-wing," "hardliner," "extremist" - even though, objectively speaking, the Palestinian Arab positions and actions have been more extreme than the government of Israel's.

This is perhaps the most damaging part of the false narrative that the world swallows whole about the situation. When supposedly unbiased newspapers keep using these very biased terms in very biased ways, it is no surprise that an entire generation is growing up hating Israel and believing that the PA is being reasonable and "moderate" (a term that is never used for Menachem Begin or Ariel Sharon, both of whom made incredible concessions for peace.)

There is a cumulative effect of this use of language that, over the years, makes the conventional wisdom in the Middle East a sort of funhouse mirror reflection of the truth.

Israel has been losing the language war for way too long.