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Friday, December 10, 2010

Fisking a single Juan Cole paragraph

A reader emailed me to fisk a new Juan Cole posting on his blog. While I would normally not waste my time on something that does not get wide circulation, in the light of my now thinking more in terms of training people how to do hasbara, I thought this would be an opportunity not only to fisk, but to give pointers on how to fisk.

I do not have the time to show the lies in the entire piece, but the first paragraph will do quite well (and take up enough time, thank you.)
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his far rightwing government have slapped President Obama in the face with mail gloves by refusing to extend the freeze on new colonies in the Palestinian West Bank. Palestine Authority president Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed his refusal to go forward with direct negotiations if Israelis were going to be seizing land that was being negotiated for while the talks were ongoing!

1. "Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his far rightwing government." As Cole well knows, left-wing Labor is part of this government. Likud itself is not "far rightwing" by any measure, as it is the government that made peace with Egypt and withdrew from Gaza. The PA, on the other hand, has every attribute of a far right-wing government, as it refuses to negotiate without preconditions and it refuses to compromise on even the most basic demands that Israel could not possibly countenance, like the illusory "right to return." It also refuses to allow any Jews in its nascent state and it imposes a death penalty on anyone who sells his land to Jews, making it an apartheid government as well.

2. "slapped President Obama in the face with mail gloves" is ridiculous imagery - mail gloves are metal gloves used by armored knights. The implication is that Netanyahu is actively injuring Obama, both in terms of honor and physically, which is absurd. (And isn't it interesting that Cole now cares so much about the honor of the President of the United States when he would have applauded any foreign leader treating Obama's predecessor with contempt.)

3. "by refusing to extend the freeze" - There was a ten month freeze,and for nine and a half of those months the Palestinian Authority refused to negotiate with Israel. As Cole will presently mention, he accepts Abbas' refusal to negotiate while the freeze is not in effect, but did he ever say a word about Abbas' intransigence while the freeze was in effect? Of course not!

4. "on new colonies" - Israel has not sanctioned the building of new Jewish towns for years. They have, in fact, dismantled numerous structures built by Jews outside existing boundaries of towns and villages in Judea and Samaria. This is simply a lie. Note also that he chooses the word "colonies" and not the more popular "settlements" because he wants the reader to think of Israel as a  "colonialist" state.

5. "in the Palestinian West Bank." Which parts of the West Bank will end up as "Palestinian" and which will end up in Israel is up for negotiation. UN resolution 242 makes clear that Israel must have secure borders and that the 1949 armistice lines were not the recognized borders of Israel. There has never been a Palestinian Arab state so calling the West Bank "Palestinian" is presumptuous. You can call it "formerly occupied by Jordan," you can call it "disputed," but if you want to be accurate you cannot call it "Palestinian" unless you are referring to Mandate-era Palestine, in which case all of Israel is "Palestinian" as well.

6. "Palestine Authority president Mahmoud Abbas" - who is now the illegal president of the PA because he went past his term in office and did not call new elections.

7. "reaffirmed his refusal to go forward with direct negotiations" - which proves that he is the intransigent party here, not the "obstreperous Likud government" as Cole goes on to say later.

8. "if Israelis were going to be seizing land that was being negotiated for" - All the building happening right now is within existing towns, no more land is being "seized" by Israel. In fact, Palestinian Arabs have been seizing land by planting trees and crops in disputed areas that would and should be up for negotiations.

9. "while the talks were ongoing!" - The Pa negotiated in the past without this condition, which means that it is the PA that has changed the rules and added preconditions, not Israel.

When reading a piece by someone like Cole, one must not only look at the main points but at the side-statements and adjectives, which are in some ways even worse. His entire framework is twisted, so one cannot take literally anything he says to be the truth unless it is verified from another source.

And one must also realize that Cole knows every fact I bring up above is true - and he chooses to ignore the truth anyway. This is enough to prove that his words have no value, and his entire intent is demonization and propaganda, not truth.

The truth is that there is one intransigent party here, and that is the PLO led by Mahmoud Abbas. (The PLO does the negotiations, not the PA.) If Obama is to be counseled to lean on anyone, it is the PLO. The negotiating position of the PLO has not changed since 1988 - no compromises, no flexibility, no concessions since then. Not one. Their demands are identical, and they add up to the same result - the ultimate destruction of Israel. (See this 2009 video just sent to me for yet more proof of that.) This is the reality, the reality that people like Cole know very well but spend countless hours trying to distract the world away from with their mantras of lies like "seizing land" and "far rightwing government."