Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Four Simple Rules for Propagandizing for the Palestinians

The Huffington Post has once again demonstrated its idea of "balance" by publishing two articles about the peace process, one by Toni Verstandig about various cooperative exercises the US, Israelis, and Palestinians are working on, and one by Alaa Tartir of the Palestinian Policy Network about "four rules" for making peace, all of which happen to blame Israel and the US for the lack of peace. Let's check them out.

First, Tartir whitewashes the Palestinian Authority and absolves them of responsibility for anything. He dares to criticize them, but fails to take the next logical step:
"Its strong US-sponsored security forces apart, the PA is at one of its weakest points today. It suffers a political divide between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a financial crisis, and a crisis of legitimacy. It has subsumed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and reduced it to a rubber stamp. The Palestinian people are expressing mounting levels of frustration and anger with the PA/PLO. Embarking on negotiations when you are weak at home is the most harmful starting point for acquiring Palestinian rights."
Tartir fails to answer the logical question that results from this paragraph: Why are the Palestinians "frustrated and angry" with the PA? Could it be because that Abbas is an unelected dictator, now four years overdue to step down from power? Or perhaps because the radical Palestinian population has been trained to oppose "normalization" with Israel (aka talking to Israelis like human beings) and the PA is doing exactly that? As always the Palestinians are caught between the inherent contradictions in their society: the must look like they are making peace while continuing to preach the annihilation of Israel. Tartir doesn't bother to tell us this or reflect on it, he just declares the PA weak and moves on. How convenient.

Tartir's second point: negotiate with power:
"The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not between two identical parties but between an oppressed and an oppressor. Oslo-style negotiations, with all the imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians, can only lead to more disasters and further dispossession. We must combine negotiations with different forms of power such as theBoycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the youth movement, an agriculture-based resistance economy, international solidarity, international diplomacy, and seeking membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) among other forms of resistance. If the last 20 years have taught the Palestinians anything, it is that it's irrational to put all eggs into the basket of negotiations. Steadfastness and resistance to Israeli law-breaking achieve goals, and not powerless negotiations."
Typical Palestinian propaganda of simplifying the conflict to "oppressed and oppressor," declaring themselves to be the oppressed side, and whining about how the power is "imbalanced." If both sides had equal power, there would be nothing to negotiate, Tartir. In fact through history there has never been a negotiation between two identical parties, because if either party thought they had a legitimate chance of getting what they wanted through force they would have done that instead.

Note also how Tartir is perfectly willing to combine negotiations with the BDSM, which rejects negotiations and normalization with Israelis. It seems very dishonest to negotiate with one hand while seeking Israel's destruction in the other, but no one ever accused the Palestinian side of being particularly honest, and Tartir is no exception. If he endorsed economic pressure on Israel to weaken it so that it would be more willing to negotiate (a typical anti-Zionist propaganda point) and left the BDSM out of it he might have a little more credibility.

If the last 20 years have taught the Palestinians anything, it's that working with radical, anti-peace organizations like the PLO, BDSM, and Hamas have gotten them nothing but death, settlements and checkpoints. Negotiations got them international legitimacy in the case of the Oslo Accords. Note that Tartir declares that "resistance to Israeli law-breaking (irony alert) achieves goals" but he fails to mention what goals he's referring to or when they were achieved. Convenient.

Rule 3, and the lies get bigger:
"The donor community has invested more than $23 billion over 20 years in failed economic prescriptions intended to buy peace in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). They have succeeded only in destroying the economy and subsidizing Israel's colonial enterprise...Secretary of State John Kerry has promised the PA/PLO $4 billion in international aid to double the Gross Domestic Product in the OPT and cut unemployment from 21 percent to 8 percent in three years. The rationale is still the same: Invest more money to make the Palestinians feel better economically so it will be easier to compromise politically. "
This is simply not the case. The West Bank's economy is not "destroyed." In fact, it's been growing steadily since the Second Intifada days (again, whose fault is that), and the West Bank has better unemployment rates than countries like Yemen, Tunisia, Sudan, Spain and South Africa. But hey, why tell the truth if it interferes with the almighty Palestinian victim narrative? That only helps everyone besides the Palestinians!

Last rule, and the irony is extreme: Peace needs a popular mandate.
"Palestinian negotiators must be accountable to the people. The negotiators no longer have a popular mandate and live far from the daily realities the rest of the Palestinian people face, enjoying something of a five-star occupation. They are taking decisions on behalf of the Palestinian people, and Palestinian youth in particular, without respecting our views. Indeed, they actively suppress opposing voices, many times violently. For peace talks to succeed, negotiators must have a popular mandate. It is essential to build up a legitimate national body that represents all Palestinians and works for our aspiration to live in dignity in our own land and to practice our right of self-determination. Otherwise, peace will be another form of colonialism wrapped up in modernity."
It's funny that Tartir thinks he can speak for "all Palestinians" when he hasn't won an election recently, but that's a common writing device. And it's a good thing that he admits he isn't a negotiator, because it's obvious that he has no interest in peace.

Tartir is willing to criticize the negotiators for making decisions on behalf of the Palestinian people, but again he fails to mention the next logical step: the Palestinian Authority are unelected dictators who don't represent anyone, and the negotiators work for them. It's amazing that even far away in London, Tartir still isn't able to mention the dueling dictatorships of Palestine. Like most Palestinian writers, he is only able to speak in talking point language and use words like "live in dignity" and "exercise our rights." It's an obvious smokescreen to avoid talking about the real problems, problems that only the Palestinians can solve.

Well, there you go, four simple rules for propagandizing for the Palestinians. Go ahead and criticize the negotiating team, but don't mention the dictators that put them there. Lie about the economy. Work with radical elements that want Israel destroyed. And publish on the Huffington Post.

1 comment:

  1. "Note also how Tartir is perfectly willing to combine negotiations with the BDSM"

    By BDSM you mean.... Bondage, Discipline, Sado-Masochism?


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