Guardian op-ed by Avi Shlaim on Oslo’s failure erases Palestinians entirely from the story

In over 1200 words of text in Shlaim’s column, there isn’t even once sentence so much as suggesting even the possibility that some Palestinian actions since 1993 may have been injurious to the peace process, illustrating another example of the one-sided, distorted and agenda-driven commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict that Guardian editors consistently promote.

Guardian contributor Avi Shlaim is an Oxford University anti-Zionist “historian” who’s been roundly criticized for his shoddy research and clear political biases and has characterised Zionism as the greatest single threat to Jews, blaming Israel – and not anti-Semites – for the upsurge of antisemitism throughout the world. 

Shlaim’s latest Guardian op-ed on the 25th anniversary of Oslo (“Palestinians still live under apartheid in Israel, 25 years after the Oslo accord”, Sept. 13), consistent with the denial of Palestinian agency seen in so much British media coverage of the region, manages to erase the actions of Palestinians, and the decisions of their leaders, almost entirely from the equation.

Shlaim places the blame for Oslo’s failure almost entirely on Benjamin Netanyahu, who he accuses of having ‘froze, distorted, subverted, and undermined’ the accords during his first stint as prime minister, and blocking peace talks with unrealistic demands during his second stint.  What Shlaim omits can consume volumes, but, for starters, he fails to note that Netanyahu’s government advanced Oslo by agreeing to major territorial withdrawals from the West Bank under the terms of the Hebron Agreement in 1997 and the Wye River Accords in 1998. 

However, even if Shlaim’s criticism of Netanyahu’s role in Oslo’s failure is on target, that doesn’t explain why he omits all facts which run counter to his desired narrative.  For instance, he completely ignores the role of constant Palestinian terror and incitement – and endemic antisemitism – in the two and a half decades since the iconic handshake between Rabin and Arafat on the White House lawn. Remarkably, the word terrorism is only mentioned once, and this is in the context of Shlaim’s claim that Netanyahu denounced the 1995 Oslo 2 Accords as a “surrender to terrorists”. 

Shlaim doesn’t write a single word about the 2nd Intifada, the five-year PA orchestrated campaign of violence that killed over 1,100 Israelis and arguably was the single biggest factor why much of the Israeli public soured on Oslo’s promise.  Nor does the Oxford historian so much as allude to multiple Israeli offers of peace – which would have created, for the first time in history, a sovereign Palestinian state – rejected by Palestinian leaders.

Olmert’s Peace Proposal in 2008

In over 1200 words of text in Shlaim’s column, there isn’t even once sentence so much as suggesting even the possibility that some Palestinian actions since 1993 may have been injurious to the peace process, providing yet another example of the one-sided, distorted and agenda-driven commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict that Guardian editors consistently promote. 

 

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