Jonathan Freedland writing at his hasbara best. This is becoming a discernible trend in liberal commentary about the renewed Israeli-Palestinian talks.
The fact is that there is not an ice-cube’s hope in hell of these talks leading to anything but a serious deterioration in the Palestinians’ position. But Freedland would tell you otherwise. According to him:
Yet talk to those who follow this conflict most closely and you find something surprising. Nothing so reckless as unbridled optimism – they’ve all seen too much failure for that – but what one longtime insider comically calls a “cautious non-pessimism”. It’s the unfamiliar sensation of spotting a glimmer of light in the usually reliable gloom.
No one thinks the two sides have suddenly seen merit in each other’s cause. Rather, they’ve found themselves in a blame game they don’t want to lose. Neither wants to be left with the dead cat on their doorstep.”
When Freedland refers to “those who follow this conflict most closely”, he means the liberal Jewish commentariat who dominate western media commentary on Israel-Palestine. They do so because editors want us to believe that liberal Jews are “best placed” to make informed judgments on what is happening in the conflict. The reality is that they are selected because they best reflect the default US position, one that suggests it is doing something about peace while in reality it does what Israel wants.
This is a variation of the imperative that gives us Israel lobbyists such as Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk mediating the talks each time, and thereby dooming them to failure.
Freedland and his Zionist colleague’s role here is to dupe us into believing that there is hope where there is none because that is what best serves Israel’s interests. Hope that peace is just around the corner is the illusion that has bought our complicity in the occupation for decades and given Israel the space to expand its settlements. Freedland and his ilk have been doing loyal service on this front for years.
There are measures by which we could determine that this time was going to be different. The first is that we would not have an Indyk in charge of the talks. The US has therefore fallen at the first hurdle. Another would be a requirement that Israel and the Palestinians begin by producing explicit maps of what they think the Palestinian state would look like, and use that as the basis of the talks. That has never happened and won’t because the Israeli map would give away its real game-plan and its bad faith.