Malice and ignorance in Times editorial on Israel

The mere eight word headline alone in a Times editorial provides a glimpse into the malice and ignorance of the author.

It begins with the following contrast:

While Britain and Ireland reflect on the Good Friday agreement’s 25th anniversary this weekend, Israel has been gripped by its worst violence in almost two decades”.

Later, it adds:

“Northern Ireland has become largely peaceful since the end of the 30-year conflict that claimed 3,500 lives”.

The editorial then notes:

Night raids on the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem by Israeli police, and footage of Palestinians being beaten there, sparked outrage in the Arab world. On Thursday militants in southern Lebanon fired 34 rockets at Israel. It responded with airstrikes on Lebanon and Gaza.

Two sisters of British nationality were then killed and their mother seriously injured [sic] in a shooting on the West Bank on Friday. Later an Italian tourist was killed and several injured when a car drove at speed onto a cycle path in Tel Aviv.

Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has mobilised police and army reserves. The violence comes in the wake of mass protests by Israelis against plans to overhaul the judiciary.

In addition to their omission of the fact that Palestinians had barricaded themselves in the mosque with fireworks and rocks with the intention of rioting the next morning, the editorial makes no effort to contextualise the recent violence by noting that the uptick in Palestinian and Arab terror began over a year ago.

More importantly, there’s no real analysis provided in the editorial about why the conflict in Northern Ireland, and the peaceful resolution in 1998 known as the Good Friday Agreement, can serve as a template for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  If they were to try to do so, they’d of course encounter some glaring differences between the two situations – a fact we explored on these pages

For instance, at the time of the peace agreement, the IRA didn’t reject the UK’s right to exist, nor advocate genocide against the Protestants.  Also, the Good Friday Agreement included armed groups agreeing to dispose of their weapons and renounce violence – a non-starter for terror groups in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Times adds that the Good Friday agreement occurred only thanks to a willingness to compromise.  Though they don’t specific which party in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has refused to compromise, headline’s accusation that Israelis are guilty (collectively) of “stubbornness” seems to answer that question.

Indeed, it’s telling that the word “Palestinian” is only used once in the editorial, to note that some (that is, rioters) were “beaten” in the mosque, as their evocation of a stiff necked Jewish state erases Palestinian agency and, specifically, the role played by decades of destructive decisions.

This includes their rejection of multiple peace offers that would have ended Israeli rule over the disputed territories and created, for the first time in history, a sovereign Palestinian state; the 2nd Intifada’s five year campaign of savage violence targeting Israeli civilians which arguably did more than anything else to make Israelis to reconsider Palestinian intentions; a plurality of Palestinians voting for a proscribed terror group which rejects Israel’s existence after the state unilaterally withdrew from Gaza; and a Palestinian culture imbued with toxic – sometimes, medieval – antisemitism.

There’s something especially troubling about such an uniformed and obtuse editorial being published at The Times, as opposed to, say, the Guardian.  From the latter, we expect little.  But, for the Times, which putatively rejects radical ideologies which (often arbitrarily) pigeonhole groups into either victim or victimiser, their progressive activist-inspired reduction of the conflict into one where only the decisions of the more powerful actor matter is a betrayal of their values.

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