Mundane does not mean unimportant. The M&G published an unusually decent and balanced article on the “Peace Talks” about to get underway. They are to be complimented, but I have taken this opportunity to bring to the attention of readers of the newspaper to some of the implications for Israel generally overlooked by the mass media. This was submitted as a letter but here is a preview of the draft I sent in:
‘“Secret steps to Middle East peace” (2 August) refers: It has been a long time since I have had occasion to compliment the Mail and Guardian. In fact, I had long stopped either reading or writing for the Mail and Guardian in protest over its egregiously one-sided treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Whether the scrupulously factual and neutral tone adopted by Paul Lewis and Harriet Sherwood is or will be the norm remains to be seen. But perhaps it heralds a more honest approach to a conflict with serious implications for world Jewry and wide regional and global ramifications.
As one who started with a powerful commitment to a just two-state solution only to see my hopes incrementally whittled down by a radicalised Palestinian politics, the Islamist movement within Arab-Muslim communities and a virulently anti-Israeli project by elements of the Western Left with the passive and active complicity of much of the so-called liberal media in the West I, along with many others, had reached a point where it seemed that only the exercise of resolute and uncompromising power by Israel held any hope for her survival.
Does this “peace initiative” change anything on the ground? From Israel’s point of view it is fraught with danger. Abbas, as pointed out by Lewis and Sherwood, has publicly announced that no Israeli will be allowed in the new Palestinian State. Does that refer to citizenship, residency or even commercial, sporting or cultural interchange? Such a statement by an Israeli would be roundly condemned but coming from Abbas it is excused with barely an acknowledgement.
Coupled with the inflammatory refusal of Palestinian leaders to recognise Israel as a Jewish State, the on-going incitement in Palestinian schools and elsewhere and the fact that one of the Palestinian negotiators, Mohammad Shtayyeh’s Facebook page displays a map with Israel replaced by Palestine, even Israelis of liberal disposition view the negotiations with the utmost concern.
When one couples this to the release of prisoners responsible for numerous and entirely deliberate Israeli civilian deaths, the general reluctance of Western media to hold Palestinians especially, accountable for their actions and the violent instability of the Middle East and large parts of North Africa partly owing to the active participation of Islamist factions, the level of foreboding increases exponentially.
Our worst fears can be summarised as one of two alternatives:
Firstly, the talks fail after Israel has made considerable concessions following immense American and European pressure to concede vital security concerns, leaving Israel vilified by the Western liberal fraternity and facing an empowered and combatitive Palestinian entity. Secondly, a “peace agreement” is signed leaving Israel seriously weakened due to territorial, diplomatic and security concessions, only to be broken within a few years with Israel being once again the target of Western criticism and vilification.
Neither of these possibilities is at all far-fetched. The consequences of either are unpredictable but under such circumstances most of the broad pro-Zionist camp would finally ditch our “liberal” inhibitions and expect Israel to use its military and economic power solely in its own interests without heed to the chorus of condemnation from the usual quarters. If that happens, global instability will undoubtedly rise sharply with unpredictable consequences.
If, for that reason only, I hope that the Western media will for once, hold all parties equally responsible for their actions and bring even-handed scrutiny and pressure to bear on both sides.’
Let’s hear from readers!
A few posts ago I had a piece on the surprising rise of Christian theology as a “respectable” academic discipline. It received a few comments but neither the theistic position nor the atheistic denial seemed to me very persuasive. Since my philosophic understanding in this field is probably less than a couple of molecules deep, I fortunately came across the following article which provided the necessary gravitas and sophistication. It is a must read for Solar Plexusers with a decent attention span – especially those with “firm” opinions. Follow up its references, especially the Kuhn paper in Skeptic Magazine.
I am pleased to say it generally at least supports my own position that on the matter of God, the minimum intellectually respectable opinion is that of agnosticism. How one chooses to live one’s life – as a “believer” or as a “skeptic” – is another matter. That partly depends on upbringing or temperament but it also depends on whether the presence of a deity, as minimally defined by philosophers, has any practical importance as to how one orders one’s life. Or to put it another way: does the personalisation of the “deity” add value or is it destructive or can it be both.
Let the comments flow. (PS. Let me know if you have difficulty accessing either article linked to this post).