What caused poor James to write this blog post is a conversation he had with an unnamed "congressional candidate," a candidate who was woefully misinformed as to the true nature of the conflict. This is what the candidate actually believes:
"He was convinced, for example, that "Arafat turned down the best offer ever and turned to violence;" that "Palestinians would never accept to live at peace with Israel;" and that "President Abbas was incapable of selling any peace agreement to his people.""Can you believe all that? Curse that Jewish lobby for convincing our congresspeople such lies! Good thing Zogby is here to put the record straight.
Here's the first myth he "busts":
"A prime example is the fervently held notion that "Arafat turned down the best offer ever and turned to violence." This was first put forward by then President Clinton in 2000. It was a great applause line, but it just wasn't true.... Barak's offer at Camp David was never clear -- he wouldn't commit it to writing. "Let's talk about James' uncited statement that "Barak's offer at Camp David was never clear." The Slate article by Robert Wright didn't have a problem identifying Barak's offer there, and here's a clear map of the Clinton proposal, which is as clear as glass but Arafat still rejected.
An honest person would perhaps acknowledge that Arafat was less than interested in peace (the guy's dead now, it's not like Palestinians need to defend his behavior). Such a person is not James Zogby.
But hang on, because here comes the next myth:
"Arafat did not start the violence in response to Camp David. The spark that ignited the second Intifada was Sharon's provocative demonstration at Jerusalem's Haram ash-Sharif. After Palestinian demonstrators were killed by Israeli guards, the Palestinian street erupted, quite spontaneously, owing largely to pent up frustrations with the hardships of the occupation and failure of the peace process to deliver much hoped-for change."The irony here is ridiculous. The "spontaneous" nature of the Second Intifada is one of the biggest myths out there. The Mitchell Report concluded that the Second Intifada was caused by the breakdown of the Camp David negotiations and the blame placed on the Palestinians by the international community. The report explicitly states, "Palestinian violence was planned by the PA leadership, and was aimed at "provoking and incurring Palestinian casualties as a means of regaining the diplomatic initiative."" Palestinian reporter Khaled Abu Toameh agrees that it was not Sharon's visit, but rather the constant and aggressive calls to violence from the Palestinian Authority and Arafat himself. Let's not forget Suha Arafat famously admitting how the whole thing was planned either.
To claim one person's visit caused the Second Intifada in light of all this evidence to the contrary makes Zogby just as much of a propagandist as the lobbyists he criticizes. But let's check out this next point:
"The myths are also disturbingly racist since they imply that Palestinians are, by their nature, angry, violent and not to be trusted. The pervasiveness of this myth is, by itself, one of the major impediments to peace. The reality is that Palestinians are real people who have endured dislocation, dispossession and decades of a cruel occupation. Of course they are bitter and angry -- not by their nature, but by the reality of their circumstance. By suggesting that it is the Palestinian nature, the myth absolves the Israelis of any responsibility and implies that no matter what changes might occur, Palestinians will always be a threat."The all too typical playing of the race card to deflect from perfectly legitimate criticisms of Palestinian policy (like murdering people and refusing to make peace).
But let's consider the second myth (the first, since it's about Arafat, really has nothing to do with Palestinians in general, although I didn't hear about any Palestinian protests when he turned down Barak's offer). What if Zogby is right? What if Palestinians were driven to suicide bombings and murdering thousands of Israeli civilians just because a Jew visited the Temple Mount? Does that really make them not "by their nature, angry, violent and not to be trusted"?
If I was a Palestinian apologist like Zogby, I'd vastly prefer the other explanation for the Second Intifada: that the Palestinian people, peaceful by nature, were driven to violence by their warmongering, terrorist leadership and their propagandist lies. I'd much rather prefer a Palestinian nation that is frustrated by the occupation and led astray by its own leadership than one that is so intolerant towards Jews it'll start murdering people just because one Jew went where they don't want Jews to be. Zogby, by spreading myths of his own, seems to be agreeing with the mythical Palestinian motives he defends: that Jews should be forbidden from visiting the the holiest site in Judaism and, if they do, they are to blame for any violence that comes out of it.
If you're looking for more myth busting, that's it. Zogby never confronts the "myth" that "Palestinians would never accept to live at peace with Israel," undoubtedly because he knows it's not a myth, and he knows that he lacks sufficient evidence to bust it. Instead, he returns to the tried and true talking points of the Palestinian professional propagandist, whining about Palestinian rights in one large block of text.
"If Palestinian rights are acknowledged, then just solutions can be found to issues like property rights, sovereignty and self-determination. To the extent that these rights are trumped by Israeli concerns, then Palestinian concerns are ignored or given short shrift. To the extent that proposed solutions only address the needs of Israelis, Palestinians will reject them and no self-respecting Palestinian leader will be able to "sell crumbs" to his constituency.In the end, these myths are also self-justifying and self-defeating. If we say we want peace, but treat Palestinians as less deserving of rights than other people and, therefore, offer them "take it or leave it" proposals that are humiliating, then, of course, they will be rejected. The believers of the myths can then feel justified in their conviction that Palestinians really don't want peace and the conflict will continue."Just what exactly Zogby means by "Palestinian rights" is left undefined. This is not a coincidence. He, like the Palestinian leadership in general, is keeping the concept of "Palestinian rights" very general, so that they can continue to categorize anything they want (Jerusalem, a Jew free Palestine, air space, the destruction of Israel demographically) as "their rights."
The truth that Zogby cannot deny is that the Palestinians, at the moment anyway, do not want peace with Israel. Nothing they have been told has prepared them to live in peace with Israel. And Zogby, doing his best to justify their warmongering, murder, and decades of working against peace, isn't helping them prepare either. What's his angle in all this? That's for him to know, and the rest of us hopefully never to find out.