The Times: Confused, garbled and pointless on Israel

The Times of London's confused, yet high handed, editorial on Israel is a sad but useful reminder of why Britain has absolutely nothing to contribute in bringing peace and a viable future to Israel, or indeed the wider Middle East

by MidEast watcher on 9 March 2015 14:50

The Times of London is confused. It's even confused about the digital revolution; the paper is behind a paywall meaning that there's no point in even linking to their articles. But when it comes to the British establishment's view of Israel, it's a more commonplace kind of confusion.

Today, the paper ran an editorial about Israel, with the forthcoming Israeli elections in mind.

If you're one of the few people who does have access to their website, the title of the piece, tellingly enough is: "Bibi at the Crossroads: Israel must end years of inertia and find a path to peace with the Palestinians."

In a nutshell, it's the standard shallow "analysis", essentially blaming Prime Minister Netanyahu for not having a vision of peace with the Palestinians and for wrecking the relationship with America.

This isn't a Guardian-style rant. It's just, well, stupid.

"A head of steam is building up against Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, as he enters the last week of the country’s election campaign," the editorial opens up by saying.

Er, yes. It's an election campaign. The same is happening to David Cameron in Britain.

So what's their point?

"There is a strong sense, not just on the Israeli left but in many western countries, that Mr Netanyahu is leading Israel in the wrong direction. For six years he has failed to build a foundation for the future of Israel. And there is no significant diplomatic process that could hold out hope for some form of agreement with the Palestinians."

You try making peace with the Palestinians. Israel has been accepting two state solutions since 1947, only for the Palestinian side always to reject them.

The Times is aware of the problems with Hamas. But it shows a Foreign Office degree of denial about the "moderate" leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, which routinely glorifies terrorism.

Opinion polls consistently show that The Palestinians don't even support a two-state-solution, viewing it as merely a stepping stone to a one state solution, meaning the destruction of Israel.

So, what in the end is the cash-value of statements from the Times like this?

"The new Israeli government must realise that its position in the post-Arab Spring constellation of the Middle East depends on co-existence with the Palestinians. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia all view the armies of Islamic State and an assertive Iran as a greater threat than Israel. That should present itself as an opportunity for Israeli policymakers. First, though, they have to address the issues raised by prospective Palestinian statehood."

Interspersed between all this are some equally vapid platitudes about Netanyahu -- always the coward's pantomime villain -- and his relationship with Obama.

We get, in quick succession, the following assertions: "in picking a quarrel with President Obama he [Netanyahu] appears to have antagonised Israel’s most powerful protector," and then, "Whoever rules Israel has to deal though with the fact that US support is no longer unconditional. US aid to Israel has little economic significance now, amounting to 1 per cent of Israeli GDP."

Does this even make sense? Apart from the fact that it is Obama that has picked fights with Netanyahu, not the other way around, the logic is completely garbled.

America is Israel's most powerful protector, but its support isn't unconditional (it never was in the past either) but in any event US aid is no longer very significant.

The final flourish encapsulates what is wrong with the whole piece, and the mindset that produced it:

"It is for the Israeli leader, however, to map out a coherent future and not simply freeze conflicts. Diplomatic inertia has become dangerous. Israel faces a critical election."

Actually, freezing conflicts is often the best one can do, as we can see in places closer to home such as Bosnia. Do they think there's a magic wand?

But the real point is that this confused, yet high handed -- we in London know better than you in Jerusalem what is in your interests -- piece of writing is a useful reminder of why Britain, sadly, has absolutely nothing to contribute in bringing peace and a viable future to Israel, or indeed the wider Middle East.

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