Monday, August 19, 2013

Delegitimization on steroids

Delegitimization on steroids

Sarah Honig

With a new Israeli-Palestinian round of negotiations off to another wobbly start, there are few, if any, optimistic prognoses from anyone involved. Simultaneously, there appears to be an overabundance of warnings about what might likely scuttle the process. This in itself is telling, especially when the nature of the profuse admonitions is examined.

Palestinian Authority higher-up Yasser Abed Rabbo charged that Israeli “settlement expansion is unprecedented” and “threatens to make talks fail even before they’ve started.”

While purportedly assuming the role of an honest-broker, the US unhesitatingly rushed to side with the PA position. Behaving more like an adjudicating overseer rather than a non-interventionist mediator, American Secretary of State John Kerry pronounced all so-called settlements as inherently illegitimate (this includes entire extensive veteran neighborhoods of Jerusalem).

Moreover, Kerry has reportedly threatened Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with “delegitimization on steroids” should the talks flounder. The subtext is that unless Israel surrenders increasingly more ground, it will become a pariah. All the onus is incontrovertibly on Israel.

Israel stands all alone at the other side of the table, against the combined forces of its antagonist interlocutor along with the presumed impartial referee. Netanyahu has written Kerry that “incitement and peace cannot coexist…. Rather than educate the next generation of Palestinians to live in peace with Israel,” unremitting “hate education poisons them against Israel and lays the ground for continued violence, terror and conflict.”

Suffice it to say that Israel’s complaint has received zero resonance not only in the international media but also from Kerry and his team. Netanyahu’s words were studiously ignored.

But are they indeed unimportant? They shouldn’t be if Israel is viewed a priori as a negotiating partner rather than as a scoundrel state to be pressured and squeezed into submission.

Hate propaganda should be prohibited in the context of any quest for peace. Where incitement is at all tolerated, it may be argued that peaceful intentions are dubious. But, as in the PA’s case, where incitement is the pet project of the authorities, it amounts to a gross violation of any and every undertaking to pursue any mode of coexistence.

In the PA incitement is omnipresent and actively nurtured by officialdom via its controlled media, the school system it operates and in the mosques whose clerics it appoints and sustains.

Numerous daily reports by the Palestinian Media Watch more than amply illustrate this. Calls for what amounts to genocide and ethnic cleansing against Jews proliferate without offending any State Department sensibilities or generating the slightest indignation in overseas media.

Palestinian daily denial of any Jewish connection to this land and right to exist here is serially overlooked. Just last week, the PMW informed all and sundry that the official Facebook page of Mahmoud Abbas’ Presidential Guard posted a picture of the Western Wall with a Palestinian flag superimposed on it. Not a murmur of protest anywhere about the Arab claim to ownership of the holiest spot to Judaism.

A documentary broadcast twice on official PA TV declared that the PA plans to destroy the Western Wall Plaza, Judaism’s ultra-scared prayer site frequented by millions of Jews, and replace it with residential projects. The PA TV documentary stated that Jews worshipping at the Western Wall were “sin and filth.” No foreign statesmen or journalists were bothered in the least.

There’s more here than an unspeakable double standard. By any scale, ceaseless indoctrination of young impressionable minds is an antithesis to peace. Its effects are lasting and pernicious. The PA has promised repeatedly to clean up its act but in reality has done the diametrical opposite with absolute impunity. Clearly in the eyes of the international community Ramallah’s rulers are unassailable, which in itself constitutes an obvious disincentive to compromise.

Concomitantly, the world seethes against housing construction in distinctly Jewish areas. It creates a hullabaloo against tenders and blueprints that are years away from implementation. It artificially creates a bugaboo of ever-magnifying proportions.

Given this, can Israel remotely expect a fair hearing in the international arena or should it expect “delegitimization on steroids” no matter what it does?