This is cross posted by Zach at Huffington Post Monitor
We didn’t comment on it at the time, but recently Israeli ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor published a scathing critique of the Guardian’s coverage of the Palestine Papers. If you haven’t read it already you should do so right away and then come back here, because the Guardian has fired back in the form of an editorial by Ian Katz, Deputy Editor. The main thing we learn from the article is that though the Guardian is quite happy to attack anything they can get their hands on (and fact check later) they cannot handle being the target of criticism themselves. I’m not going to go through the whole post by I did want to hit some highlights.
Mr. Katz’s tactics on this post are somewhat short of fisking. Instead it is more in the style of “Can you believe he said that?!” repeated over and over, with the assumption that the audience would simply accept Mr. Katz’s view as true and Mr. Prosor’s view as false. But with the Huffington Post, that’s not a bad assumption. Where this was less pronounced is in Mr. Prosor’s attacks on the Guardian itself, but we will get to that in a minute.
First we’ll talk about the Palestine Papers, where Mr. Katz continues to cling to the myths that his paper peddled:
“In a series of reports over four days, we revealed how Palestinian negotiators had made dramatic, previously unknown concessions during 2008 negotiations including an offer of ‘the biggest Yerushalayim in history‘ that would allow Israel to annex all but one of the settlements in East Jerusalem…Other documents showed that Palestinian leaders had been prepared to accept the return of as few as 10,000 of the more than 5m Palestinian refugees, a dramatic shift from the PLO’s public demand that any family displaced during the 1948 conflict should be allowed to return.”
As we mentioned before, Barry Rubin has explained why the Palestine Papers smell so bad. But even if they are real, the Guardian continues to spin: When these ideas were revealed to the people, the leaders who supposedly made these “dramatic concessions” denied it, and the people reacted in fury! So how can you really call it a concession? You can’t! Unless you work for the Guardian.
The truth of the matter is that the Guardian and Al-Jazeera aren’t stupid. They knew very goddamn well what the reaction to the Palestine Papers would be. They knew that it would make the PA look like a puppet of Israel and America, that was why they published so selectively! Mr. Prosor points us to “David Landau, a commentator way on the left of the Israeli spectrum put it, the Guardian and Al-Jazeera ‘intended to poison the Palestinians against their leaders.'” He is far from the only one, CifWatch explains in further detail just how much spinning the Guardian was doing when they published the Palestine Papers. Here is another informative fib:
“[Many people wrote for the Guardian including] the PLO’s Saeb Erekat andGuardian columnist Jonathan Freedland all of whom defended the concessions offered by the Palestinian Authority”
Really? Did Erekat defend those concessions? I find that very difficult to believe. Let’s go to the editorial itself, shall we?
“We have been accused of making great concessions to Israel behind the back of the Palestinian people. Such allegations are groundless…A careful and complete reading of the documents at hand – which goes beyond the sensationalised headlines and spin – will reveal this to be true. First and foremost, it is essential to understand that no agreement has ever been reached between the parties on any of the permanent status issues. This reality, by its very definition, renders it impossible that either party has conceded anything.”
This is what Mr. Katz calls “defending?” I couldn’t believe my eyes! Is he for real? How ironic that a Deputy Editor of a newspaper doesn’t even know what’s in his own op-ed sections!
The rest of the article is basically Mr. Katz defending the Guardian on its own merits, which I feel the folks at CifWatch are more qualified to discuss than we are. What I do know is that when Mr. Katz says that there are “a broad range of comment articles,” he is referring only to the author and subjects of the articles, not to the general tone. I once asked a Huffington Post talkbacker to find me one, just one, pro-Israel article published in the Guardian. The offer still stands. One last quotation from Mr. Katz:
“It’s a curious claim to make about a newspaper which has long been and continues to be a consistent advocate for a two-state solution — not quite the Hamas take on things.”
From my perspective, though the Guardian has been an advocate of the two-state solution, they are hardly impartial. They are also of the view that Israel is always wrong and the Palestinians are always right, which is pretty darn similar to the Hamas take on things. And as I said before, I refuse to believe that the Guardian didn’t know exactly what it was doing not only when it decided to publish the documents but when it chose which papers to publish and how to editorialize them.
I am finding it interesting that the Huffington Post appears to be becoming a home for Internet catfights such as Katz vs Prosor, Suissa vs Cohen, Narwani vs S. Cohen, and Henri-Levy vs whats-her-name. Hardly a step in the right direction, if you ask me.