Ethan Bronner: Israel-Palestine Conflict ‘Largely Drained of Violence’
I like to follow Ethan Bronner’s writing for the N.Y. Times not so much because I’ll learn much, but rather to see how torturous the writing and thinking of a liberal Zionist must be in covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for a major western newspaper. And his report in today’s Week in Review doesn’t disappoint. In an article purporting to attempt to explain why the U.S. persists in seeking peace despite the fact that neither party seems to want it as much as we, he writes this howler:
It is worth noting that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been largely drained of deadly violence in the past few years…The dispute is calmer than it has been in years, which, in the brutal logic of the Middle East, means that neither side is eager right now for the necessary compromises. So why push so hard?
The first sentence of course displays not just blindness, but complete absence. Where was Bronner during the Gaza war in which 1,400 were killed, a war which ended in early 2009? Not to mention the Lebanon war of 2006, admittedly not directly tied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but certainly at least a kissing-cousin to it. At least 1,000 were killed in that war. Aside from this, he’s neglecting the hundreds of Palestinians who’ve been killed in those “past few years” by Israel’s often rampaging “security” forces.
What Bronner really means to say is that the past few years have been drained of violence against Israel or perhaps that relations between Israel and the West Bank are drained of violence, which is far different than what he actually wrote. And because Israel faces relatively little violence against it, it is Israel which feels no real urgency to compromise. It is an outright lie to say that the Palestinians are not eager for necessary compromises for peace. They are, and how. But they are not eager to give away the store BEFORE there is a serious settlement proposal even on the table.
Rather, it is ISRAEL which shows itself unwilling to compromise. As everyone and their brother (and sister) now say, we all know the outlines of a settlement. Who is it who refuses to return to 1967 borders, refuses to share Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state, refuses to even negotiate the Right of Return on the basis of the Geneva Initiative supported by 40% of Israelis?
What is it that the Palestinians are refusing to negotiate now? A settlement freeze that excludes their future capital, East Jerusalem. If Ehud Barak were Palestinian he’d doubtless agree with this stance just as he’s already said he’d be a militant if he were born Palestinian. Doubtless he’d also be dead by now in that event, but no matter.
It is hard to tell in Bronner’s writing whether he’s deliberately lying about recent history or whether he’s simply so vacant that he can’t be bothered to consider narratives outside of the narrow ones to which he subjects his readers. What’s more, I find it shocking that Bronner’s editor wouldn’t have the least knowledge of recent Israeli-Palestinian history to know that the sentence above is a total fraud.
38 thoughts on “Ethan Bronner: Israel-Palestine Conflict ‘Largely Drained of Violence’ – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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What is there for Israel to negotiate about the right of return? Israel won’t accept it. Who says Israel refuses to return to 1967 borders?
Try reading the Likud Party Platform.
“The Jordan River as a Permanent Border
The Jordan Valley and the territories that dominate it shall be under Israeli sovereignty. The Jordan river will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel.”
There’s more to Israel than likud. Anyway, the document you’ve referred to is outdated. It relates to the 15th Knesset, the current is the 18th.
The likud party under Sharon recognized the existence of the occupation, Sharon used the word himself.
Yup, there Yistael Beitenu & all the other Kahanist parties even farther to their right. Would you are to argue that they don’t accept the Likud notion of Israel’s nationalist-envisioned borders?
Isn’t that funny. Palestinians make precisely the same argument about the so called Hamas charter which has never been recognized or implemented in any fashion by Hamas.
What Sharon recognized & what is written in the Likud platform are entirely diff. & Sharon’s views were so dissonant w. Likud that he left the party & struck out on his own. Are you arguing that Likud currently rejects the borders as laid out in the document linked? You & I both know that Likud continues to endorse & believe in those borders & that any self respecting Likud member would continue to say so to this day. If you say otherwise you’re lying to yrself.
And that’s precisely why Israel can’t & won’t remove settlements because those the Israeli electorate is willing to trust with power will never withdraw fr. settlements. Again, if you say or believe otherwise you’re only fooling yrself.
“And that’s precisely why Israel can’t & won’t remove settlements because those the Israeli electorate is willing to trust with power will never withdraw fr. settlements. Again, if you say or believe otherwise you’re only fooling yrself”
I fail to see the difference between giving up Sinai or the settlements in Gaza and the settlements at the West Bank. There’s no difference between the electorate that led to the withdrawal from Gaza and the electorate today.
No diff. except that you withdrew fr. Sinai in 1979 & its over 30 yrs later & sentiments among Israelis have hardened unbelievably. Other than that, there’s no diff. right?
Likud’s territorial goals are not all that different from what Ben Gurion had in mind long term. They are also very much in keeping with the Alon plan, which was not devised or originally adopted by the Likud.
Yeah, Bronner conveniently leaves that out of HIS narrative.
You CAN’T be serious! Would Israel keep confiscating Palestinian land and pouring millions into building and expanding its illegal colonies if it were willing to return to the 1967 borders?
Even if one intends to withdraw in some future date, those who live there require some government funding in the mean time. There’s also lots of political deals going on which end up investing into settlements (directly or indirectly) even if the PM intends to withdraw. You can’t remove the settlements if you’re not in power, no matter what party you came from.
Oh, come on! You can’t say that with a straight face. That rubbish is too outlandish even for you to believe it yourself.
Successive Israeli governments (including the present one) have offered generous financial incentives to the settlers, including reduced housing costs and income tax reductions. Why exactly would they give people tax breaks to live in areas that they plan to hand back to the Palestinians? The whole purpose of these benefits is to encourage more Israelis to take up residence in the settlements.
Richard posted a video a few months ago that showed Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to a group of settlers. He was promising to do everything he could to support them and regretting that Israel doesn’t have a stronger foothold in Hebron. Hardly the words of a man who is committed to withdrawing from the West Bank.
Bibi has NEVER said he would return to 67 borders. He hasn’t even said he would accept land swaps. He has only said he would accept a 2 state solution w/o specifying anything about what this would mean. He is on record as completely rejecting the idea of sharing Jerusalem or allowing a Palestinian capital there or even Palestinian sovereignty in any part of the city. As for Right of Return, if 40% of Israel accept the Geneva Initiative provision for a symbolic physical resettlement of 25,000 or so refugees within Israel & massive financial restitution for refugees willing to accept it–that is what there is to negotiate. Israel will either accept a form of restitution for the Right of Return or be branded as the rejectionist party in the eyes of the world, which will force the world to impose a settlement on Israel that is likely to be less favorable than one it could negotiate itself were it to do so willingly.
So Bibi’s batting 0 for 3 in the “willingness to compromise” game. No to any negotation of Right of Return; no to Jerusalem; & AWOL on return to 67 borders. Not a very favorable record I’d say.
Compare this to the Palesitinian record:
1. willingness to negotiate compromise solution to Right of Return
2. willingness to recognize Israel & end hostilities
3. willingness to return to 67 borders & accept 1 for 1 land swaps for territorial blocs Israel wishes to retain
3 for 3 record for the Palestinians. Palestine wins hands down.
I’d like to add that Bibi’s game is to pretend to be willing to concede any of his peace-denying principles.
He described it himself when he said: “עדיף לתת שני אחוז מאשר לתת מאה אחוז”
What Israeli PM has EVER accepted withdrawal to the 1967 borders? Not even the supposedly saintly Yitzhak Rabin agreed to that.
Most recent ones have agree to return to 67 with land swaps. Bibi hasn’t even agreed to that.
Not a single one of them has ever allowed himself to be put in a position of have to make good on such an agreement. They have all insisted on conditions that they knew without question would be deal breakers for the Palestinians (or anyone else for that matter), so there was no risk to themselves.
As for the proposed “land swaps”, the devil there was, as it always is, in the details.
I’m not arguing that any of these PMs were angels or altruists or peacemakers, just that Bibi doesn’t even measure up to them.
I think, Richard, that there should be a point 4, which is the Palestinians’ willingness to compromise on Jerusalem, which has included suggesting a number of creative solutions, all of which the Israelis have rejected out of hand.
quick correction…prior to 67 there were no legal borders, there was an armistice line
the legal borders are still to be negotiated
The Green Line is as close to a legally recognized border as we have. No one except Israel apologists & perhaps historians call it the armistice line. It is also where the international border will eventually end up. So it is a de factor international border which Israel alone among nations refuses to recognize.
And we should add that Israel is the only party who refuses to negotiate these borders as it refuses to return to 67/Green Line borders.
The Knesset just voted on the referendum law so it is even more unlikely it will return to the 1967 borders.
Along with the quote you mention, Bronner also says this later on–
“Ten years ago, when peace talks led by President Bill Clinton at Camp David fell apart, the second Palestinian uprising broke out, leading to exploding buses, suicide bombings and harsh Israeli countermeasures. Thousands — most of them Palestinians — were killed.”
He’s trying to be fair in the second sentence, but the first sentence is very misleading and also biased. It’s misleading because in the first several months of the intifada nearly all the deaths were Palestinians killed by Israeli bullets–the suicide bombing came later. But that doesn’t fit the narrative that the NYT prefers, where Palestinians launch terrorist attacks and then Israel responds. Also, notice the vivid portrayal of Palestinian violence–exploding buses, suicide bombing–contrasted with the bloodless sounding harsh Israeli countermeasures.
But then Bronner acknowledges that the majority of the deaths were Palestinian.
Yes, you are absolutely right that the suicide bombings were clearly a reaction to unrelenting Israeli violence, and particularly violence that targeted and maimed or killed quite a few children.
Yes, he does acknowledge that the majority of the deaths were of Palestinians, but he clearly does that by way of showing the Palestinians as self-destructive as opposed to exposing the murderous brutality of Israel.
Suicide bombing are incomprehensibly crazy & terrifying and cannot be justified as a reaction to anything, let alone “clearly” be so.
I think the point is that suicide bombings are a relatively new phenomenon in the history of this conflict, with the first ever suicide attack taking place on 6th April 1994. Before that happened, the Palestinians had experienced fifty years of incredible hardship and dispossession. Consequently it seems quite logical to suggest that suicide bombing is a result of prolonged suffering on the one hand and the perceived failure of other forms of protest on the other.
In no way does this make it justifiable. It’s brutal murder, plain and simple. But it’s possible to acknowledge the origins of suicide bombing without endorsing it. It’s crazy and it’s terrifying, but it’s not beyond the bounds of comprehension. To understand something and to justify it are not the same things.
OK, then, if suicide bombing is not a reaction to anything, then what is the stimulus for it?
I don’t know. Therefore incomprehensible. I cannot think of anything rational that would make a person wrap themselves in explosives and blow themselves up in public, killing innocents of all ages. Nothing.
Never heard of Samson? OUR original suicide “bomber.” Forgot about that didn’t you? It really disturbs me when people look at the customs & behaviors of other w. such deep revulsion w/o realizing that their own culture or civilization harbors precisely the same impulses & traditions.
We have many other examples of military heroes committing suicide as well for the greater glory. Forgot those examples as well, did you?
An elderly nun whom I respect very much once said, “True humility is when you realise that there is no sin you could not commit.”
There was a time when I believed that I would be incapable of inflicting deliberate humiliation or physical harm on anyone. When my class studied torture as part of our philosophy, morals, and ethics curriculum, the fourteen-year-old me wondered how anybody could ever torture another human being. I was sure that I could never do such thing. The whole idea revolted me.
Then I went to Israel. I was nineteen years old. At a checkpoint I witnessed two IDF soldiers forcing a nine-year-old Palestinian girl to remove most of her clothes. The girl’s relatives asked the soldiers to let her undress with dignity somewhere out of sight, but they did not. She had to undress right then and there. When she had taken off her trousers, I realised that she had soiled herself, either because of some medical problem or just out of fear. The soldiers seemed to find this hilarious. Then they discovered that I was not Palestinian, and the hilarity ceased. A hesitant soldier tried to tell me that it had been necessary to search the girl for my own safety and the safety of tourists like me. I couldn’t respond, because I had just been struck down by the horrible realisation that this boy was my own age, and if he could behave like that, then maybe I had it in me to behave like that as well. Nowadays when I’m repulsed by terrible actions, it’s not just the actions themselves that disturb me – it’s what they say about me.
If this Israeli giant can – at least try to – understand, after what happened to his family, I’m sure you are able too:
I don’t consider suicide bombing to be ANYONE’s “custom”! If you do then THAT is what’s really disturbing. And no I did not forget about any other suicide “bombers”. I can’t quite come to accept them either. As for “military heroes” – surely none of those are commended for slaughtering innocents?
So you don’t like Jewish suicide bombers either but conveniently when you denounce the practice you only note the other guy has ’em & forget yr side has had them too. Interesting.
Sure, Samson was a hero to the Israelites (& Jews today) for slaughtering the Philistines. Do you think everyone in the palace he toppled was a military combatant??
Uh, where exactly did I note that only the “other guy” has suicide bombers?
And even if I DID, attempting to rebut the denunciation of 21st century suicide bombers with “hey, you had a single one of those thousands of years ago, too!” is not very impressive. But again, I am denouncing the act as a whole, I never said non-Palestinian suicide bombers are any better.
Read Baruch Kimmerling on contemporary Zionism’s Masada complex which deals precisely with the issue of victimization & anticipation of martyrdom. This is not a single event thousands of yrs ago. You don’t know Jewish history if you don’t know the various types of suicide martyrdoms in which Jews have engaged over the centuries.
The Zionist narrative is devoid of recognition of any other parties narrative, it has and always will be empty rhetoric.
This is what I think of Mr. Bronner:
Much like your own.
What kind of blanket statement is that?