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January 18, 2006

USA Today Equates Sharon and Arafat

USA Today’s January 6 editorial “Loss of ‘bulldozer’ leaves path to peace clogged’ contains two false equations. One equates Ariel Sharon with Yasser Arafat as an enemy of peace; the second balances hard-line Israeli nationalists with Palestinian radicals. The editorial included other erroneous and misleading statements as well.

In equating Sharon with Arafat, USA Today says, “Five years ago, the question was whether there could ever be Mideast peace with the hard-charging Sharon, known to Israelis as ‘the bulldozer,’ in power. He was every bit the enemy of the olive branch that Arafat was [emphasis added] . But today, the question is whether there can be peace without him.” While the editorial acknowledges Sharon’s recent efforts to promote peace, it nevertheless erroneously leads the reader to believe that Sharon and Arafat had similar goals. But Arafat’s objective was to destroy the Israeli state, Sharon’s was to defend it. Arafat indeed was the “enemy of the olive branch”; Sharon was the enemy of Israel’s enemies.

The second false equation reads, “Sharon and his newly formed centrist political alliance, Kadima, were favored to win Israel’s parliamentary elections in March. His absence invites hard-line Israeli nationalists and radicals among the Palestinians [emphasis added] next door to advance their mutually destructive agenda.

The difference between “hard-line Israeli nationalists” and Palestinian radicals, such as Hamas, is that the former enjoy little support but the latter are expected to get approximately one-third of the vote in upcoming legislative elections. In addition, hardline Israeli nationalists – USA Today does not define the term or provide examples – are not blowing up Palestinian buses; Palestinian radicals have been murdering Israelis

The editorial says Sharon’s promotion of Israeli settlements created “a massive obstacle to a peace settlement and formation of viable Palestinian state.” In fact, Palestinians did not demand as part of the Oslo process that the settlement issue be resolved quickly — they agreed to leave it for final status talks while giving other issues priority. Palestinian propaganda often focuses on Jewish communities beyond the pre-1967 “green line.” But, presented the opportunity by Israel and the United States in 2000 to leap frog the settlement debate by establishing a Palestinian state in 95 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2000, Arafat rejected it. This suggests that something more than eliminating most Jewish villages and towns in the territories motivates Palestinian leadership.

Likewise, USA Today echoes allegations that Israeli retention of parts of the West Bank—perhaps no more than the eight percent on the Israeli side of the security fence—might obstruct formation of a viable Palestinian state. Yet such a state need be no less viable than Israel was in its constricted pre-‘67 boundaries.

The editorial also refers to the security barrier near the pre-‘67 green line as “encroaching on their [the Palestinians’] land” and on “occupied lands.” Legally, the land is disputed, the last unallocated portion of the League of Nations/United Nations British Mandate. As Eugene Rostow, a co-author of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) noted, Jews as well as Arabs have legitimate claims there.

USA Today opines that “lasting security for Israelis requires giving Palestinians dignity, hope for economic security, and eventually their own state.” The editorial misunderstands the essence of dignity -- among other things, it cannot be given. Ultimately inherent, it has to be cultivated on one’s own. Palestinian Arabs must shoulder the responsibility -- like the Israelis building their new state after 1948 -- for building their own dignity. Negotiating in good faith, establishing law and order in places under Palestinian Authority control, investing rather than squandering the billions of dollars in aid provided by foreign donors -- these would be a good start.

USA Today’s “Loss of ‘bulldozer’ leaves path to peace clogged’ needs a bulldozer to unclog its own illogic.

– by Eric Rozenman, CAMERA Washington director, and Kate Naseef, CAMERA Washington research intern.

Posted by ER at January 18, 2006 11:50 AM

Comments

My,my. Did you forget our notorial excellence of self depreciation, self flagelation. Our genie at self mockery? The famous gola jewish "lo l'argiz at ha paritz", I do not attempt to translate, because I am afraid it will lose of its poignancy.
What is this hypocrisy now, why lament a comparison which is so obvious to the World. Did you forget the trio on the white house lawn, Rabin, Arafat and Peres? And then the trio being given the Nobel Prize for Peace. What a joke!

Posted by: Prof. Albert Bartal at February 6, 2006 10:50 PM

I WAS RIGHT, ARAFAT WAS MUCH BETTER THAN HAMAS, THEY WANTED ARAFAT OUT, USED HIM AS A SCAPEGOAT, NOW THEY HAVE HAMAS, NOW THEY WILL USE THIS FACT THAT HAMAS IS AND ACCUSE ABBAS OF BEING A TERRORIST BECAUSE HE WORKS WITH THEM... AMERICA, GROW UP FINALLY OR GO DOWN WITH YOUR STUPIDITY!

Posted by: Anonymous at February 21, 2006 07:56 PM

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