Thursday, January 16, 2014

16-Jan-14: Offensive, inappropriate and dangerously, undiplomatically inconsistent

Based on the Edward Ruscha image
Here on this blog, we try hard to avoid dealing with political issues. It's difficult enough to have our voices heard on the existential issue of terrorism; why dilute that by getting dragged into partisan matters? 

At the same time, we see the roles of malevolent, agenda-driven news reporting and media bias as part of our agenda, and have written about it here many times. Today is one of those times.

The media here in Israel, and to a much lesser extent outside it, have focused attention and vituperation in the past few days on critical statements (for which he subsequently apologized) made by Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon about the peace campaign conducted by John Kerry, the US Secretary of State. Almost unanimously, the voices you hear in the media are as critical of Ya'alon as the official voices in the Obama administration were and are:
“To question Secretary Kerry’s motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally,” White House Spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday, echoing comments earlier in the day from State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki. “The remarks of the Defense Minister [Ya'alon], if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs, and will continue to do... Secretary Kerry and his team, including General [John] Allen, have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the Secretary’s deep concern for Israel’s future... To question his motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally.” [As reported]
The headline next to the portrait of defence minister
Moshe Ya'alon on the cover of the daily Yediot Aharonot
reads: "Ya'alon in closed conversations: Kerry is messianic and obsessed"
The Israeli-Arab analyst and journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, whom we have quoted here numerous times because of what we regard as the clear-thinking, courage and accuracy that characterizes his work-product, today points to a serious and distressing (our words) double-standard on display in this spat.
It is interesting how one comment from an Israeli minister has managed to strain relations between the U.S. Administration and Israel, while fiery rhetoric and street demonstrations against Kerry and Obama in the Palestinian territories and Arab capitals are completely ignored by Washington... While the U.S. Administration has been quick in issuing a response to the Israeli minister's statements, it continues to ignore remarks and demonstrations against Kerry made by Palestinians and other Arabs. Palestinian officials representing various organizations, including the Palestinian Authority, have been denouncing Kerry almost on a daily basis over the past few weeks. But these condemnations do not seem to bother the State Department. Among the officials who have been extremely critical of Kerry's role in the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks is Yasser Abed Rabbo, the PLO's Secretary-General and one of the closest advisors to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Just last month, Abed Rabbo launched a scathing attack on Kerry, denouncing his latest proposals as unacceptable. "Kerry does not have the right to decide where our borders will be," the top PLO official said. "If the U.S. wants, it can give parts of California or Washington to Israel. Kerry's framework agreement is very dangerous." Palestinian officials have also been leaking details about Kerry's latest proposals for reaching an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Some have gone as far as accusing Kerry of being biased in favor of Israel, working toward "liquidating" the Palestinian cause and trying to extort the Palestinians...
Why, then, Kerry is not just as offended by the Arab condemnations? ...If Kerry really cares about the peace process, he also needs to ask the Palestinian Authority and Arab governments to lower the tone and stop inciting against him and the U.S. Unless, of course, those statements and protests do not offend him. [Khaled Abbu Toameh, today]
We think the power and impact of Khaled Abu Toameh's observations are enhanced greatly by the calm and reason of his approach. The facts, in other words, speak for themselves for whoever is listening. We're left wondering why they are barely mentioned in the media coverage emanating from other, less-Israel-friendly places. If you believe Israel and the Palestinians bear essentially the same responsibility for bringing about an understanding and an enduring peace based on whatever compromises are needed, then how can you justify applying two sets of standards

Kerry and Abbas share a recent moment of mutual persuasion
[Image Source]
Smarter people than we speak of the bigotry of diminished expectations. Whether it's that or (being more constructive) some kind of misguided liberalism that imposes one kind of burden on the party perceived to be stronger, richer, more capable, less oppressed, and another far-less-challenging burden on the other side, it reflects an agenda-driven approach to both statesmanship and journalism, and that makes it wrong and dangerous.

We'll end with a question for those who, despite what appears above, feel Kerry's sense of being offended is justified
How can it be that for the past six months his (Kerry's) spokesperson has continued to be unable to answer the following question even while her boss is, as we have just been told, "...working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the Secretary’s deep concern for Israel’s future"? Are the convicted felons being freed by Israel at the behest of the State Department, some of whose victims were US citizens or women or elderly and frail Holocaust survivors, in reality (a) freedom fighters; (b) political prisoners; or (c) terrorists lawfully convicted of their sickening and frequently brutal crimes. 
Our question, for those new to this blog, is not so new. Its background is documented here, complete with video: "14-Aug-13: Are the Palestinian Arab murderers who are being released at this moment, freedom fighters or terrorists? Let's check with the State Department." There's an updated review of it here: "12-Jan-14: Finally, fully justified outrage from State Department about killers being released to do more terrorism". 

Some will call us obsessive. In light of the State Dept.'s bizarre ongoing obfuscation, we think of ourselves as merely infuriated. But at least we're consistent.

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