How the Israeli Media Protected Ariel Sharon Over the Gaza Disengagement

In December 2003, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his plan to evacuate the IDF and uproot Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip, a policy to which he had earlier vocally objected. By early 2005, as the disengagement plan began to take shape, Israel’s left-leaning mainstream media abruptly dropped their habitual opposition to Sharon, instead deliberately adopting a policy of treating the prime minister, then under investigation on charges of corruption, with kid gloves—at least, Amnon Lord points out—until the disengagement was completed:

Amnon Abramovich, a veteran [Israeli] journalist and television commentator, called upon his colleagues in the media to unite and back Sharon to protect him from the potential negative consequences of the ongoing criminal investigations. . . . In a discussion [with] fellow leading journalists . . . at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem in February 2005, [Abramovich] exhorted his colleagues . . . “to protect Sharon . . . in a sealed box padded with gauze, cotton, and plastic wrap, at least until the end of the disengagement. . . . After that, we’ll reconsider.” . . .

In order to rally public support for the disengagement . . . after three-and-a-half years of ruthless attacks by a Palestinian terrorist enemy, a new enemy had to be created, the enemy within, namely the Jewish settlers in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Indeed, Abramovich admitted that he once had regarded Sharon as an “enemy.” Now, it was the settlers.

As Lord documents, the Israeli media largely followed Abramovich’s exhortations.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Ariel Sharon, Gaza withdrawal, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics, Media

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood