Greasing the Wheels of Peace
Another day, another square dance in the never-ending Israel/Palestine peace process. Today I’m going to look at five different news articles, all reporting on the same meeting. Because, you know, they should all say exactly the same thing. Right?
Almost right. Let’s begin with the most accurate reporting on the meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Palestinian
figurehead President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli tough dick Prime Minister Binyamin (or Benjamin, whatever) Netanyahu, which are not surprisingly, Haaretz and Al-Jazeera. The gist of this meeting was the American contingency buying off Israel for another 90-day freeze on settlements (sans East Jerusalem, of course….a severe deal breaker towards peace) for………well that’s where things get a bit intriguing, and worthy of some cryptojournalism.
Haaretz most clearly spells out in their article how the U.S. and Israel horse trading plays out.
In return for an Israeli freeze, the U.S. government would deliver 20 F-35 fighter jets to Israel, a deal worth $3 billion.
Pretty cut and dry. Fighter jets for peace. Makes a ton of sense to me. No it doesn’t, so let me move past the sarcastic pretenses. But credit must be given for explicitly spelling out some of the conditions of a peace deal. Such as this.
The moratorium would not apply to construction in East Jerusalem. The U.S. will not ask Israel to extend the new moratorium when it expires.
Thank you, Haaretz. What you’re telling me, a tax paying American, is that the going price for three months of settlement freezing (not including hotly contested East Jersusalem) is TWENTY fighter jets. Still, it’s tough for me to wrap my head around FIGHTER jets being traded for peace.
I’d liken it to giving condoms to a sex addict in exchange for them not to fuck for a month, but they can still go back door. Gross analogy, but let’s be real. For three months of freezing, till it’s back to the status quo, I bet the Israelis can keep a leash on their settlers.
How is this being reported across the globe? Agence France-Presse (via Google News) appear to be skeptical, even throwing condescending quotation marks on ‘consider’ in their headline. Seems the French think this is going nowhere. Like a square dance. To their credit, they hit all the salient points (no freeze in East Jerusalem, fighter planes) pertinent to this discussion.
Now, let’s move on to some less credible reporting. What better place to begin than The New York Times. It’s subtle, but this passage will show you the point I’m trying to make here.
…the Obama administration has offered Israel a package of security incentives and fighter jets worth $3 billion that would be contingent on the signing of a peace agreement, the official said. The United States would also block any moves in the United Nations Security Council that would try to shape a final peace agreement.
Do you see that? Minor vagueness, but it’s important. ‘Security incentives and fighter jets worth $3 billion’ sounds like a total package of deal. Reporting the peace meeting this way creates a false illusion that the $3 billion price tag is final. Well, the security incentives (which would come after the end of this next settlement freeze) are not part of the fighter jet bribe. Plus, why not get down and dirty with actual numbers of fighters? Do the French, Israelis and Arabs get better, fuller information than the Times?
No they don’t. They all have the same information at their disposal. But while Al-Jazeera or Haaretz attempt to give gritty details, the Times just glosses over what I believe to be an important facet of this story. Twenty fighter planes in return for a three month settlement freeze. Why the Times chooses to be oblique in their reporting, only their World News editor knows for sure. To their credit, they did a better job than the BBC.
Were you to get your news from the BBC, you’d be living in willful ignorance. In their reporting of the same meeting, they DO NOT EVEN MENTION THE FIGHTER JETS AS INCENTIVE! Cue up N.O.R.E.
Grimey. How do you report on this without touching on the real nut of the story. Greasing the wheels of peace with fighter jets is silly. Even sillier is reporting on this without making any mention of the quid pro quo.
To be fair, this meeting is not the tipping point in the peace process. Until Israel is at least willing to go back to their pre-1967 borders and give up East Jerusalem, this episode will simply be Netanyahu and company fleecing the stupid Americans for free weapons. Nicely done, Israel. Who says you can’t get something for nothing?
All I’m asking by highlighting this example is, vet your information. For whatever unknown reason, your news outfit may only be giving you part of the story. Be informed.