Thursday, June 14, 2012

John Lyndon Plays It Safe

John Lyndon is a Huffington Post blogger who has been around for a while, but is yet another blogger who only writes about Israel and the Palestinians, usually while criticizing Israel. This time around he returns to a very well trafficked road already: bashing the settlements. In the process he relies heavily on the Fifth Great Anti-Zionist Strawman, and even though his positions aren't that extreme, he still makes some remarks that I feel should be answered so let's get into it.

He begins by praising the Israeli government for its Ulpana decision but then complains that settlements elsewhere are continuing to expand:
""The solution we found strengthens settlements and preserves the rule of law," said Netanyahu directly after the vote. And in case anyone doubted the truth of the first half of his statement, he promptly announced the construction of 300 new settlement units in Beit El, before almost trebling that number to 851."
Okay, so let's take a look at Beit El. It's in the hills north of Jerusalem and was established in 1977. Therefore it was one of the settlements that according to the Oslo Accords was allowed to expand. The only thing Israel has agreed not to do is build new settlements, and that is not what is happening here. Rather this seems more like a case of moving goalposts: any settlement building is "bad" so we're going to condemn it even if it isn't illegal. It would have been nice for Mr. Lyndon to say that Israel is not violating any agreements with this announcement, but this is the Huffington Post, I can't expect miracles.
"A poll commissioned by OneVoice and published last week found the general public's attitude echoed Netanyahu's thinking. While 64 percent of Israelis oppose illegal settlements in the West Bank, only 41 percent of Israelis think they present a risk to the future viability of the two-state solution. The international community considers all settlements built on occupied Palestinian territory illegal."
I wonder if a language issue is going on here. See, Mr. Lyndon says that "64% oppose illegal settlements," and I don't understand why he used the word illegal. There are illegal outposts, which are not sanctioned by Israel's government. Is that what he meant? Or did he mean settlements in general, including Ariel for example? If he meant settlements in general, then why did he throw on the qualifier "illegal," except to make a political statement? And did he use that qualifier during the survey? Because that's what we call a loaded question. The question he used in the survey is:
"In principle, do you support or oppose illegal settlement activity in the West Bank?"
This may seem like I'm hair splitting, but it's actually a question that is open to interpretation. Does he mean illegal outposts or settlements in general, which the questioner may consider to be illegal but the interview recipient might not. That being said, in most polls 64% (if not more) Israelis oppose settlement expansion, so I get his results. But I would also like to know what he means by "oppose." By "oppose" does he mean they think all settlements should be dismantled?

At this point he brings up two of my favorite topics: cognitive dissonance and Great Anti-Zionist Strawmen:
"There is a profound cognitive dissonance at work here. The two-state solution is the only way to secure Israel's democracy for future generations. Equally, the greatest threat to that solution is continued settlement expansion on land earmarked for a Palestinian state in any future agreement. "
I ask the same question I asked in the GAZS post: 1.1% of the West Bank is being settled. No new settlements are legally allowed to be built. How does 300 units in Beit El threaten the two state solution? People who make this argument engage in ultimate circular logic: "there can't be a Palestinian state with the settlements there because the settlements make a Palestinian state impossible." But they never explain exactly how this works, and I would still like to know. As for the Israelis themselves, 41% of them agreed with the statement that settlements work against two state solution, so maybe they know something that I don't. But in my experience this is the classic anti-settlement argument: "I don't like the settlements so let's just say they will eventually destroy Israel as a Jewish state. Who cares if it doesn't make sense!"

Okay, now watch this little bit of logic twisting:
"Without a settlement freeze, millions of Palestinians residing in cities and villages where settlement construction encroaches heavily on their lives would either have to become citizens of Israel (much like the Palestinians of '48) or else remain stateless forever."
Now I find it difficult to believe that Mr. Lyndon is not aware that the PLO are the ones making a demand for an Israeli settlement freeze before returning to negotiations. But he conveniently white washes this utterly and completely and instead places the entire onus on Israel: If Israel doesn't freeze the settlements, the Palestinians will "remain stateless forever." It's unbelievable how little expectations that he has of the Palestinians and their government. They aren't children, they are capable of making their own choices. And one of their choices is that nothing will change unless Israel freezes settlements. Fine. That's a choice that they made, no one else. But at the very least Mr. Lyndon should tell us that! There's a difference between legitimate criticism of Israel and then misleading your audience. Unfortunately this paragraph engages in the latter, unless Mr. Lyndon would like to explain exactly how a settlement freeze would magically create a Palestinian state (and presumably the peace that goes along with it, though that's left unmentioned).

In the comments section, some Huffington Posters inquired about why Mr. Lyndon did not point out any responsibilities the Palestinians have for making peace with Israel, as this is not said in the piece. Here is his response:

Making peace is an "internal Israeli issue." Okay...

See, I get where he's coming from. We've seen it before from Josh Ruebner and the "campaign to end the occupation." Mr. Lyndon has his issue, and he wants us to listen to him about it. The trouble is that sometimes he is willing to cut corners, such as explaining why a settlement freeze is the only obstacle to peace. But hey, that's the Huffington Post for you. Sometimes you just gotta give the people what they want.


  1. Because he believes, as the Arabs believe, that other peoples have the right to tell Jews where they can live, and how they can live, because somehow Jews are inferior to the rest of humanity and thus have fewer rights.

    It grates on people such as these that we no longer bow our heads and step off the sidewalk when our "betters" pass by.

    It is the Arabs and their abettors who want an apartheid state, not the Israeli Jews. It is the Arabs who insist on a Judenrein state, not the Israelis who want to push the Arabs out. The Israelis allow traitors such as Tibi and Zouabi to be MKs, it is the Arabs who are threatened by Jewish babies, so threatened that they have to behead sleeping three-month-old children.

  2. I don't know if you saw this one, from a piece in today's copy. I am getting to the point where I really can't read much of Huff Post. It is too infuriating. These people believe this stuff!!

    Zachary Rose
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    9 hours ago ( 3:19 PM)
    The entire world would be better off if Israel was indeed wiped off the map and replaced with a free and democratic Palestinian state.
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