Israel should ignore the media

Members of the Israel Defense Forces on the Golan Heights. What has the ASA to say to them?
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Israel receives some of its worst criticism, not from its military enemies, but from the media, including some of its own organs.

Israel in the media

In the last twenty-four hours, several media organs have published several articles that come down very hard on Israel. They come down hardest on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after his speeches to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and to a joint session of Congress. Time flat-out accuses Netanyahu of lying about what President Barack H. Obama is trying to do. Jonathan Kay, at National Post (Canada), says that Netanyahu makes it “difficult” to support Israel. The New York Times suggests that most Israelis think Netanyahu’s trip to the USA was a failure, and blame Netanyahu for it. Reuters quotes the Israeli daily Ma’ariv as saying that 57 percent of Israelis think that Netanyahu should have cooperated with Obama. (The Reuters story gives no link, and your editor cannot confirm the Ma’ariv post.)

Ha’Aretz, a liberal paper in Israel, admits that Netanyahu is really more popular than ever. That contradicts the alleged Ma’ariv finding. But as they report that, they seem to scream, “How could he get away with this? Are you people meshuggayim [stark staring crazy]?” Ha’Aretz accuses their sample of “turning a deaf ear” to “political and diplomatic analysts” who think that Netanyahu has killed the peace process. They speak of “learning warnings” that Netanyahu picked a fight with Obama that he didn’t have to pick. In short, Ha’Aretz extols “the experts,” as most mainstream media organs do.

Israel – who is the crazy one?

Damascus Road from Israel

From Israel toward Damascus, in the Golan Heights. Photo: CNAV

If any players in this disgraceful show are meshuggayim, it’s Time, The New York Times, Reuters, and to a lesser extent, Ha’Aretz. Evelyn Gordon in Commentary is the refreshing exception. She notes that the media have always misread the Israeli public, and the basic problem. The problem is that the so-called Palestinians do not want peace. Israeli residents know it, and knew it years ago. (Your editor, in his trip to Israel in late March and early April, got it up-close-and-personal from a long-time resident of Israel.) But the media, the university professors, the “seasoned diplomats,” and the other experts either don’t know it, don’t want to know it, or are trying to hide it.

This sort of thing has gone on since the 1948-9 War for Independence. It reached the height (pardon the pun) of absurdity during Henry Kissinger’s “diplomacy shuttle” after the Yom Kippur War. The Arabs started that war—again. So the Israel Defense Forces surrounded an Egyptian invasion force and came close to annihilating it. (They withdrew after the Russians threatened to “go nuclear” if they didn’t.) They also drove the Syrians to the very outskirts of Damascus. So what did Kissinger demand? It came down to two key hilltops in the Golan Heights. Golda Meir would not hand those over. Kissinger, red in the face, roared, “Golda, you’re talking about two little pimples on the ground! What is so special about them?” For answer, Golda had one of Kissinger’s aides take a helicopter ride over the Heights. Kissinger did not want his aide to overfly “occupied” territory—so the pilot accidentally-on-purpose strayed over the hills anyway. The aide took one look at the lay of the land, and what he told Kissinger was enough to shut him up about giving up any more of the Heights.

Israel – who’s lying?

Joe Klein, at Time, did more than accuse Netanyahu of lying. He spoke of “smoke jetting from [Obama’s] ears,” thus describing the smoke jetting from his own. But he contradicts himself in his own article—or in an illustration of it. Klein said that Netanyahu had “ignore[d]…the land swaps” and insisted that Obama wanted Israel to return to an indefensible armistice line. Klein’s own map shows that his statement is absurd. The territory in the swaps would not make Israel’s position any more defensible. At best it would leave Israeli settlements under Israeli jurisdiction but not inside Israeli borders. And it would still divide Jerusalem. Furthermore, it would cede to “Palestine” even more land near the Gaza Strip. That would expose even more Israeli towns to the kind of rocket attacks that fall every day on Sderot.

Klein also enjoys throwing the word illegal around. Jewish settlements in West Bank lands are the issue, of course. But how are they illegal? Remember: the “1967 Israel borders” are really the 1949 Armistice Line. Jordan signed that armistice only because it said that it was for military convenience only. Jordan then grabbed the land for itself. Then in 1967, Jordan violated the armistice. Israel kicked the Jordanians out of that territory.

But if Jordan has no claim, does something called “Palestine” have a claim? Again, no. They had their chance to stake a lawful claim in 1947. They threw it away and tried to take it all by force. The war didn’t work out that way. So they have no claim. They never had a claim, because the Jews bought the land (from Turkish absentee landlords), paid cash, and reclaimed the land from its desert and swamp states.

What should Israel do?

Mahmoud Abbas is going back to the United Nations yet again, for a unilateral declaration of statehood. Even Obama has warned him that that will solve nothing—or maybe Obama just went through the motions. Abbas also signed a pact to get back together with Hamas. Everyone knows, or should know, that Israel cannot possibly talk to Hamas or anyone connected with them. Not when Hamas still has, in its charter, a pledge to kill all the Jews. Not when little children in Sderot have fifteen minutes to take shelter after hearing a siren that could sound any time.

Israel should not, must not, give in. And until the media can get their facts straight—both their facts on the ground and their facts about international law—then Israel should ignore them. Its people do. Its leaders should do likewise.

Meshuggah? Sure it is—like a lioness defending her cubs.

Featured image: The Tzahal, ever present in the Golan Heights. Photo: CNAV