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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 12, 2003

Appease Process

More accurate than the "peace process"

Joel Engel writing in the NRO says that reporters disregard history.
The leader of Israel's opposition Labor Party, who guided the party to its worst election defeat in 55 years, resigned Sunday, throwing Israel's peace camp into further disarray."

So reads the beginning of an Associated Press story last week that passes for objective but betrays the kind of insidious bias that permeates most mainstream news reports from Israel. This particular story is certainly no worse than many, and may in fact be better than most, which makes it useful as an example of what's wrong with the usual reportage.

Our first clue that the story suffers from a biased subtext are the words "peace camp." Unencumbered by scare quotes, they imply that all those on the Israeli side willing to make peace with the Palestinians belong to this group. You can almost hear them now, singing "Kumbaya" and "Michael Row the Boat" from around their peace-camp campfire.

Meanwhile, huddled in a garrison on the outskirts, waiting to sabotage the peace, are the warmongering bad boys who prefer to kill for no reason. They're led, of course, by Ariel Sharon, Israeli's "hardline" prime minister, as the story's fifth paragraph calls him — again, without scare quotes. But according to the report, Labor's next leader may himself be more of a hardliner, leading to the possibility that the party could rejoin Sharon's governing coalition.

This, the sixth paragraph tells us, "would be seen as another blow to Israel's 'peace camp'" — the scare quotes finally in play — "which championed the effort to reach peace with the Palestinians in exchange for land captured in 1967."

Now comes the kicker: reference to the "peace process" (without scare quotes), which "collapsed in late 2000 amid violence that continues."

Where to begin? The word "collapse" is probably as good a place as any.

Dragged along in a wimpy passive construction that seeks to avoid blame where blame is due, "collapse" appears in a vacuum, without reference to the refusal by Yasser Arafat to accept, on behalf of his poor people, the offer made in late 2000 by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak for 97 percent of the disputed territories (so says Dennis Ross, the U.S. chief negotiator). Not only didn't Arafat accept, he didn't propose a counter offer. When President Clinton, the driving force behind the settlement talks, asked him why he refused to run with the deal, Arafat said he had no wish to sign his own death warrant — meaning he feared assassination for making peace with the "Zionist entity." That admission didn't resonate for long with Western reporters, who soon focused on the resulting "violence" — that is, the Intifada. MORE
Engel's fisk is as good as they come.