The Guardian airbrushing of Abbas’ UN speech: a case study of the mechanism of denial.

 “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.”

Carl Gustav Jung, ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’, Ch. 12

When reality contradicts perception, those incapable – for whatever reason – of adjusting their way of thinking inevitably resort to the employment of mechanisms which enable them to tailor that reality to their beliefs rather than the other way round. Denial is one such escape mechanism; if we convince ourselves that something does not exist, we therefore have no need to deal with it.

The Guardian’s live-blogged account of Mahmoud Abbas’ UN speech on September 23rd presented a classic example of this dynamic.

As any objective listener could not have failed to notice, Abbas’ speech was replete with lies, historical distortions and even some downright crazy political hallucinations. The Guardian’s Richard Adams however was having none of it; his report contains only sanitized excerpts from the speech and carefully avoids chronicling anything which may undermine the Guardian addiction to idealisation of Palestinian victimhood.

Let’s take a look at the quotes from Abbas’ speech which Richard Adams chose to use in order to convey its essence to his readers. (All typos from the original)

“The question of Palestine is intricately linked with the United Nations,” Abbas says, plunging into the issue at hand.

12.15pm:

12.18pm:

12.22pm:

12.29pm:

12.33pm:

12.39pm:

12.43pm:

12.47pm:

12.49pm:

Mahmoud Abbas’ PR consultant (if he has one) could not have asked for a better airbrushing job of the speech. Adams has made the long-since unelected PA President appear reasonable and even statesman-like. But of course it is the long sections of Abbas’ speech which Richard Adams failed to report which provide the real insight into the realities which the Guardian World View cannot stomach.

Parts of Abbas’ speech which the Guardian chose not to quote include the following:

“…UNRWA  – which embodies  the  international  responsibility towards  the  plight  of  Palestine  refugees,  who  are  the victims  of  Al-Nakba  (Catastrophe) that  occurred  in  1948.”

According to Abbas the ‘Nakba’ simply ‘occurred’ like some kind of natural disaster; no responsibility is taken for the fact that Arab nations attacked the newly-born Jewish state in a war of extermination.

“We  entered  those  negotiations  with open  hearts  and  attentive  ears and  sincere  intentions,  and  we  were  ready  with  our  documents, papers and proposals.  But the negotiations broke down just weeks after their launch.”

Abbas of course neglects to mention the fact that he wasted 90% of the 10 month-long building freeze avoiding negotiations at all costs as well as the fact that it was his side’s insistence upon contorted pre-conditions which stymied the negotiation process.

“The core issue here is that the Israeli government refuses to commit to terms of reference for the negotiations that are based on international law and United Nations resolutions, and that it frantically continues to intensify building of settlements on the territory of the State of Palestine.”

Beyond the fact that Abbas’ own procrastination and intransigence (not to mention that of his predecessor) have ensured that there is no ‘State of Palestine’ and therefore no territory belonging to it, no new settlements have been built by the Israeli government for almost 20 years – certainly not in the areas presently under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Last year’s ten month building freeze on housing within the recognized perimeters of existing towns and villages clearly contradicts Abbas’ claims of intensified building.

“Settlement activities embody the core of  the policy of  colonial military occupation of  the land  of  the  Palestinian  people  and  all  of  the  brutality  of  aggression  and  racial  discrimination against  our  people  that  this  policy  entails.”

The use of the word ‘colonial’ clearly reflects Abbas’ intent to portray Jewish Israelis as some foreign element which does not belong to the region. This point is later accentuated when he neglects to recognize the importance of the region to people of the Jewish faith, stressing only its relevance to Muslims and Christians.

“I  come  before  you  today  from  the  Holy  Land,  the  land  of  Palestine,  the  land  of  divine messages, ascension of  the Prophet Muhammad  (peace  be upon him) and the birthplace of  Jesus Christ (peace be upon him)..”.

A further example of Abbas’ inability to take any responsibility whatsoever for the current situation in the Middle East comes in the following quote:

“…accelerated construction of the annexation Wall that is eating up large tracts of our land”

Naturally, no mention of the PA initiated, executed and funded terror war against Israeli civilians which necessitated the building of the anti-terrorist fence in the first place. Note also the insidious use of the term ‘annexation Wall’.

“The  occupying  Power  also  continues  to  refuse permits for  our people to  build in Occupied East Jerusalem, at the same time that it  intensifies its decades-long  campaign  of  demolition  and  confiscation of  homes,  displacing  Palestinian owners and residents under a multi-pronged policy of  ethnic cleansing aimed at pushing them away from their ancestral  homeland.”

The statistics of course expose Abbas’ rhetoric for the empty lie that it is; the Arab population of Jerusalem has increased since 1967 from 24% to 36% of the city’s total. The 1967 census reported 66,000 Arabs living in the previously Jordanian occupied part of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. By 2008 the number had risen to 208,000 according to Abbas’ own Palestinian Central Bureau for Statistics. Even the most fertile of imaginations could not describe that as ‘ethnic cleansing’.

“The occupying Power also continues to undertake excavations that threaten our holy places, and its military checkpoints prevent our citizens from getting access to their mosques and churches, and it continues to besiege the Holy City with a ring of settlements imposed to separate the Holy City from the rest of the Palestinian cities.”

Now in the realms of utter hallucination, Abbas is clearly attempting to whip up anti-Israeli fervor in the broader Arab world by making dishonest claims regarding imaginary threats to Muslim holy sites. As is well-known, only under Israeli rule have members of all religions been able to visit their holy places, but beyond the dishonesty, there is a deeply sinister – and highly irresponsible – aspect to Abbas’ willingness to play so frivolously with the potentially lethal spark which is the subject of supposed damage to Muslim holy places. 

No less disingenuous is Abbas’ fanciful description of operation ‘Cast Lead’ (which of course excludes any mention of the Hamas attacks upon Israeli civilians), during which he publicly supported the Egyptian initiative that clearly held Hamas responsible for the commencement of the hostilities.

“At the  same  time,  the  occupying  Power  continues  to  impose  its  blockade  on  the  Gaza Strip  and  to  target  Palestinian  civilians  by  assassinations,  air  strikes  and  artillery  shelling, persisting  with  its  war  of  aggression  of  three  years  ago  on  Gaza,  which  resulted  in  massive destruction  of   homes,  schools,  hospitals,  and  mosques,  and  the  thousands  of  martyrs  and wounded.”

Obviously, it is necessary to appreciate that Abbas’ UN speech was orientated primarily towards his domestic audience and designed in no small part to save his own hide and that of his Fatah party from the threats presented by Hamas and other rejectionist organizations by embracing some of their positions and supposedly showing that only he can bring them to the world stage with a positive reception. The extent to which Abbas knows he lives on borrowed time is clearly expressed in his remark that “[t]his settlement policy threatens to also undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence.”

Abbas’ lies continue with the statement that “Israel reoccupied the cities of the West Bank by a unilateral action“, completely ignoring the fact that it was the very real necessity of capturing Palestinian terror cells which forced Israel to carry out ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ in 2002 – a whole 19 months after the commencement of the second Intifada – and that no Palestinian city is today ‘occupied’. He even lies about an issue he has previously put on record – his own family’s voluntary abandonment of their home in Tsfat in 1948 – now claiming to be among “those, including myself, who were forced to leave their homes and their towns and villages”.

Further, Abbas indicates precisely what he means by ‘Palestine’ (and what his refusal to declare an end to any territorial claims by recognizing Israel as the Jewish State implicates) in the following statement:

“Thus,  we  agreed  to  establish  the  State  of  Palestine  on  only  22%  of  the  territory  of  historical Palestine – on all the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel in  1967.”

This point is later reinforced when Abbas declares “after 63 years of suffering of an ongoing Nakba:  Enough.” In other words, not only did the ‘occupation’ not commence in 1967 from his point of view, but he is unwilling to pay the price of losing war after war initiated by his fellow Arabs.

This next quotation is particularly ridiculous in light of the fact that Abbas has no control whatsoever over Hamas or any other of the various armed Palestinian factions which reject his leadership, let alone the Palestinian street which was busy throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails in Qalandiya only hours before he addressed the UN. Not only can Abbas not even set foot in half of the territory he claims for his state, he does not have a legal and valid mandate to make any commitment on behalf of the Palestinian people because his term of office expired well over two and a half years ago.

“The PLO and the Palestinian people adhere to the renouncement of violence and rejection and condemning of terrorism in all its forms”Our  people  will  continue  their  popular  peaceful  resistance  to  the  Israeli  occupation  and  its settlement  and  apartheid  policies  and  its  construction  of  the  racist  annexation Wall,  and  they receive support  for their  resistance,  which is  consistent with international humanitarian law and international conventions and has the support of  peace activists from Israel and around the world, reflecting  an  impressive,  inspiring  and  courageous  example  of  the  strength  of  this  defenseless people,  armed  only  with  their  dreams,  courage,  hope  and  slogans  in  the  face  of  bullets,  tanks, tear gas and bulldozers.”

Abbas’ repeated use of the inaccurate and inflammatory term ‘apartheid’ and his description of the fence constructed to prevent the suicide bombers sent and funded by his own PA into Israeli towns and cities as ‘racist’, in conjunction with his failure to mention the rockets, mortars and missiles which Hamas has stockpiled with the aid of Iran, once more indicate that he is unwilling and unable to address the issues pertaining to Israeli security which must form part and parcel of any peace treaty. He even attempts to delude the international community regarding the so-called ‘national unity’ with Hamas.

“We  succeeded  months  ago  in achieving national  reconciliation and we  hope that its  implementation  will  be  accelerated in the coming weeks.”

In reality, of course, no agreements of ‘reconciliation’ have been signed and no dates for the long overdue elections set because Abbas knows full well that both moves would be more than likely to put an end to his current hold of the keys to the Palestinian Authority.

There is, as we well know, no particular love of Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah among the ranks of the Guardian editors, correspondents and Middle East ‘analysts’; not for them the route of negotiation and compromise as was indicated by the paper’s decision to publish the ‘Palestine Papers’. But nevertheless, the Guardian addiction to the narrative of Palestinian victimhood and childlike non-agency – however distorted, untruthful and often downright fictitious – renders them incapable of objective, serious reporting and analysis of Abbas’ UN speech and thus all the morally problematic passages are carefully eliminated from view in order to enable the comforting process of denial to take effect.  

Abbas’ speech provided ample evidence of the fact that he is incapable of leading his people along the road to peace. The Guardian’s readers will, however, not be made aware of that fact because its addiction to its own idealism inevitably trumps the readers’ right to know. 

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