Raja Shehadeh in the Guardian: Distortions, lies and conspiracies

A Guardian op-ed by Palestinian writer Raja Shehadeh (“Occupying Palestine is rotting Israel from inside. No Gulf peace deal can hide that”, Sept. 16) is filled with distortions and outright fabrications.

Here they are:


More than a quarter of a century after Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn, Israel has managed to turn its occupation of Palestinian territory from a burden into an asset.

It’s extraordinarily misleading to characterise all the land in the West Bank (including Area A, which, per the Oslo Accords, are administered and controlled by Israel), as “Palestinian”.  In fact, CAMERA has prompted several corrections at media outlets (such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times) which have similarly characterised disputed West Bank land as “Palestinian”.


 Understanding this development is key to explaining why the Israelis are making peace with two distant Gulf states but not their closest neighbours, the Palestinians – without whom there can be no real peace.

In fact, yesterday’s signing of a historic peace treaty between Israel and the two Gulf states of UAE and Bahrain, with additional Arab states likely to follow with similar normalisation deals, disproves the conventional wisdom that Arab-Israeli peace is contingent on Israel reaching a deal with the Palestinians.


But from the very beginning of the occupation in June 1967, Israel has been unwilling to recognise the Palestinian nation or cede control of the Palestinian territory occupied in order to make peace.

First, there’s no Palestinian nation to ‘recognise’.  But, Israel offered Palestinians a state on several occasions since 1967, only to be turned down each time.  Moreover, the claim that Israel has been unwilling to ceded control of ‘occupied’ land is a blatant lie – ignoring Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and huge swaths of the West Bank, under the terms of Oslo.


…it was not the legal transformations alone that enabled settlements to be built and to flourish. The militant Zionist thinker Vladimir Jabotinsky had written, in the 1920s, that “settlement[s] can … develop under the protection of a force that is not dependent on the local population behind an iron wall which they will be powerless to break down”. And so it was.

Actually, if you read the original, it’s clear that Jabotinsky was merely arguing that Jews would face ceaseless Arab violence until they convinced the Arabs that their violence wouldn’t force the Jews to flee – an accurate observation given subsequent decades of Arab and Palestinian rejectionism, war and terror.  Six years after Jabotinsky’s treatise, the 1929 Palestinian riots, which included the Hebron Massacre, erupted.  Seven years later, a three year long violent Arab ‘revolt’ broke out.


At the time [in the 90s] we naively believed that if only Israelis knew what [about the settler violence] taking place and the failure of law enforcement to stop it, they would take action to prevent it. We were unaware that it was all part of the Israeli struggle for the land. The agents of the orderly state can stay within the boundaries of their rewritten laws while the unruly settlers do the work of intimidation and violence to achieve the desired goal. It is all part of the same scheme.

The Guardian writer is arguing not only that Israel turns a blind eye to such violence (commuted by a small number of settlers), but suggests that the settlers who attack Palestinians are merely playing their part in a government plan to cement their control the land. You can of course argue that the government can do more to combat such violence. But, to argue that such attacks are part of some nefarious scheme rises to the conspiratorial.


Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, settler violence in the West Bank has become an almost daily occurrence.

According to figures from the UN, since March, there have been 38 incidents in which Palestinians were reportedly injured by settlers. Whilst of course even once such incident is unacceptable, 38 incidents over six months does not translate to “an almost daily occurrence”.


It is all out in the open and the government and the courts are on the same page in supporting the settlers and working to achieve the goal of greater Israel. The Knesset has passed the regularisation bill, which “legalises” settlements built on privately owned Palestinian land via de facto expropriation.

Note that whilst that passage links to a 2016 Guardian article about the law, in June of this year, the Israeli supreme court overturned that law, as was reported by many international news outlets – which refutes his claim, and shows that, contrary to the writer’s suggestion, Israel’s independent courts are not in cahoots with the government to support “greater Israel.


When Palestinians began to organise non-violent resistance to the occupation, Israel redefined attacks by the army on these unarmed protesters to bring them under the category of “combat operations”. Recently, the villagers of Kafr Qaddum were staging weekly demonstrations against the blocking of a road, which prevented access to their village, because it was claimed that the road passes through a new part of the settlement of Kedumim. The army planted explosives on roads used by the villagers – but the soldiers who took this decision would be immune from prosecution for any injuries caused to the villagers.

As reports at the time make clear, the soldiers who planted the devices (which were stun grenades, not explosives), and, as the soldiers’ actions evidently weren’t authorised by their superiors, it’s being investigated he military’s criminal investigation division.


The occupation even began to be seen as an asset. Israel has turned the occupied territories into a laboratory for testing weapons

The message conveyed by the text, suggesting Israel is sadistically testing the effectiveness of their new weapons by firing them on innocent Palestinians is an odious lie.

In addition to these distortions, conspiratorial narratives and outright lies, we’ll end by noting that – as is par for the course in the Guardian, which continually denies Palestinians agency – there wasn’t even one sentence suggesting that Palestinians or their leaders have any responsibility whatsoever for the failure of the sides to reach a peace agreement.

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    1. says: Rho

      To Akus – I am in total agreement on this. I will add that the leaders have gotten very rich and have now incentive to talk peace. Unfortunately, there are no generations that have grown up learning hate and terrorism.

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