Thursday, May 26, 2011

Israeli People and Experts: We Support Netanyahu and Don’t Want to Return to 1967 Borders. U.S. Media: Israelis Don’t Like Netanyahu and Israeli Experts Say 1967 Borders are OK

This article is published in PajamasMedia

By Barry Rubin

We are living in Satireworld. I mean what more can you say? Well, I can say the title of this article that sums it up:

Israeli People and Experts: We Support Netanyahu and Don’t Want to Return to 1967 Borders.

U.S. Media: Israelis Don’t Like Netanyahu and Israeli Experts Say 1967 Borders are OK

Here's the evidence:

New York Times headline:" Israelis See Netanyahu Trip as Diplomatic Failure."

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel returned from Washington on Wednesday to a nearly unanimous assessment among Israelis that despite his forceful defense of Israel's security interests, hopes were dashed that his visit might advance peace negotiations with the Palestinians.”
Actually, Israelis generally have no hopes that anything is going to advance peace negotiations with the Palestinians because even though it makes them unhappy they know that the Palestinians don't want to advance peace negotiations. But that theme--the Palestinian leadership doesn't want peace--is not permitted in virtually all of the American mass media.

And who cares that the article is the exact opposite of the truth?

Ha’aretz headline: "Ha'aretz Poll: Netanyahu's Popularity Soaring Following Washington Trip"

"A new poll conducted by Dialog, under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs of the Tel Aviv University Statistics Department, showed that 47% of the Israeli public believes Netanyahu's U.S. trip was a success, while only 10% viewed it as a failure."

Because the American media wants to tell its public the exact opposite:

Washington Post [the headline should be but isn't] headline: Israelis Oppose '67 Borders with Land Swaps

Oops! That’s not the headline! The real headline is: “Netanyahu says pre-1967 borders are indefensible for Israel, but experts wonder if that’s so.”

Get it? What does Netanyahu know? Obama knows better and Israeli experts (two of them!) agree with him.

If hundreds of thousands of lives weren't at stake this would all be very funny.

True, that the Post included in the article (but not the headline):

“According to a survey of Jewish Israelis published Wednesday by the Geocartographia Institute, 61% oppose the formula of 1967 borders with land swaps as a basis for an agreement with the Palestinians, while only 27% favor it.”

But the Post actually found two “experts” who say it doesn’t matter. One of them seems to be misquoted because what he’s actually saying appears to be the typical Israeli theme that it doesn’t matter so much what we’ll do they’ll attack us anyway. After reviewing his other statements, I think it is obvious that Giora Eiland, former general and national security council director, has clearly explained his view that a withdrawal to the 1967 borders would be a terrible mistake.

The other is an old personal friend so I won’t say anything more. Let's just say he's a good person and a superb scholar, but no expert on contemporary strategy and known to be very far to the left.

The fact that for every one expert who says the 1967 borders are just fine and dandy one could find a hundred who say: What, are you crazy? It’s the same tactic the media uses with American Jews.

To add insult to injury, the Washington Post features an op-ed by Fareed Zakaria, who knows nothing about Israel (or the Middle East) entitled, "Where Netanyahu fails himself and Israel."

But Zakaria has some fascinating turns of phrase. He says: Bibi is "a man who will be bypassed by history...remembered only as a person before the person who made peace, a comma in history."

Actually, if Bibi did listen to the advice of people like Zakaria, Israel would be remembered only as a formerly existing country destroyed by foolish decisions and the betrayal of friends.

He adds, "While Bibi might sound like Churchill, he acts like a local ward boss, far more interested in holding onto his post than using it to secure Israel's future."

Yeah, right, what does Netanyahu know? Giving up even more territory to a Fatah-Hamas regime in exchange for promises on paper (given the fate of previous ones) is really going to secure Israel's future. Not.

By the way, since Zakaria and Tom Friedman are both key advisors to Obama on his policy and the State Department speech, and Friedman called for mass Palestinian protests (along Tahrir Square lines) in Jerusalem, does that mean this is what Obama really thinks? If so, my readers who keep telling me that he wants to destroy Israel might actually be right.

Quickly, this reversal of reality becomes the conventional wisdom of the chattering class. Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC even misstates the poll results in claiming that most Israelis support Obama, not Netanyahu, so what's all the "hysteria" about? He claims 65 percent of Israelis support Obama.

The Jerusalem Post just did a poll on that question. In fact, only 12 percent consider Obama to be pro-Israel.  On one hand, that's a remarkable figure, indicating how obvious and bad is the situation. On the other hand, it isn't the least bit surprising because the situation really is bad. If American Jews knew how Israelis think about Obama and why they feel that way, perhaps those people would stop supporting Obama. And that's why they are not permitted to know.

See, who cares what (most) Israelis actually think! Who cares what (almost all) Israeli experts think? They are supposed to love Obama and hate Netanyahu. President Barack Obama thinks he knows best for Israel and when he reads the New York Times and Washington Post he will be confirmed in the belief that Israelis back him and not their own government. And he will be confirmed in his belief that Netanyahu is just being silly not wanting to go back to the 1967 borders. He’s just intransigent and only the Palestinian Authority (New and Improved! Now With Extra Added Hamas!) really wants peace.

Do American Jews back Israel? Every poll shows overwhelming support. But to read the mass media you’d think that they don’t, in part because who gets interviewed and the fact that J street seems to have hired the entire media as its press agent.

Of course, most American Jews also largely back Obama, but not on this specific issue. Those who read the New York Times and Washington Post may think that by supporting Obama's policy toward Israel they are supporting Israel since Israelis also (supposedly) love Obama, hate Netanyahu, and think the 1967 borders (well, at least the experts who really know about such things) are perfectly safe.

People I spoke to who were at the AIPAC meeting feel that Obama got a cool reception; those who heard about it through the media think he was incredibly popular there.

Let me put it this way: The Middle East and U.S. policy toward it is heading toward an iceberg. Netanyahu and Israelis generally see the iceberg. Obama, as in his State Department speech, says the weather’s fine and full speed ahead!

The iceberg will be arriving during the next few months.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is His PajamaMedia columns are mirrored and other articles available at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.