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Ari Shavit and the failure of the Kerry process

A public exchange has been taking place between Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken and the paper’s columnist Ari Shavit over Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” According to Shavit’s latest piece, supporting peace means forcing the Palestinians to accept Israeli preconditions, otherwise there will be no agreement. This has always been the logic of the Israeli center – we will make up our mind over what to do with the Palestinians, and they will just have to accept our decision. Otherwise, the occupation will never end. Then, as always, comes the line about Israelis being the real victims of this unpleasant situation.

I would not have written this piece if I didn’t hear people refer to Shavit as a peacenik, or even as a “lefty” (twice!) in the past week. You just don’t hear that being said in Israel, mostly because Shavit is too busy attacking the left. However, that is the kind of language used to describe him in the United States.

Shavit needs to be congratulated for using the term “occupation” in an Israeli political climate that is all about denying reality, but this is where his activism ends. I cannot remember a serious political issue over the last decade in which Shavit didn’t parrot Netanyahu’s line, not to mention Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak’s before him. Sure, Shavit can comment about the need to halt settlement construction and bring about a two-state solution, not to mention his repeated line regarding the inevitable “moment of choice” on Iran. But whenever there is a concrete issue at hand, something that requires taking a side, Shavit retreats into his comfort zone as the spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office.

By now it is clear to everyone in their right mind, both supporters of the diplomatic process or his critics from the left, that Bibi manipulated Kerry into the only outcome he could live with: forcing the Palestinians to abandon negotiations over an issue that Bibi’s central constituencies – the Jewish-Israeli public and the American Jewish establishment – view as consensus. (For more, read this interesting account by Yossi Beilin on Kerry’s mistakes in handling Netanyahu.)

In order for Bibi to achieve his goal, he simply cannot take on the issue of settlements, as a large part of the Jewish public on both sides of the Atlantic accepts the 1967 borders and sees the settlements as a historic mistake and a violation of international law. But the abstract demand that Palestinians endorse the Jewish narrative regarding their homeland is something very few Jews oppose. Some even support the idea while others simply don’t care, thinking that Abbas shouldn’t either.

As negotiations head toward their only possible outcome – the U.S. working with Israel to keep the Palestinians negotiating over nothing, rather than turning to the international community for recognition – it is time for some soul-searching among those who thought that without confronting the issue of Jerusalem, neither a just nor sustainable solution could be achieved.

But in certain circles, the idea that Israel doesn’t want to end the occupation, or that the current political elite is satisfied with the status quo, is simply not an option – not even in theory. Thus, we are bound to see many more discussions about the “complexity” of the problems that have brought about this failure, and even more references to the Shavits of the world as peaceniks.

Read More: My review of Ari Shavit’s book, ‘My Promised Land

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    1. Bar

      Noam, I can’t wait to read your piece about how Ha’aretz editor is essentially a mouthpiece not just for the PA leadership, but at times for even more extreme groups in the Palestinian political sphere.

      Reply to Comment
      • Y-Man

        yes, the editor of the premier Israeli newspaper is “essentially a mouthpiece…for…extreme groups in the Palestinian political sphere.” God, your life must be like one big paranoid fever dream. Sorry.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          Um, this is the newspaper where the publisher told Condy Rice that the US needs to rape Israel. This is the newspaper that published false information about supposed desire for apartheid amongst the Jewish Israeli populace on the basis of a survey that didn’t say this at all, and made sure this information was spread worldwide before offering a mealymouthed apology. This is the paper that publishes Gideon Levy, Akiva Eldar and Amira Hass and now has brought on Beinart and a couple of his clowns from Open Zion.

          Ha’aretz, especially the English language version, is a joke. I fully stand behind what I wrote.

          The bigger joke, by the way, is that while only about 5% of Israelis still read this newspaper, it has a huge foreign readership online…and that’s to whom it caters.

          Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            Ha’aretz is working for you,the 1897 Zionists.

            It’s called “controlled opposition”.

            To make ethnic cleansing, humiliating and killing the Palestinians “salonfähig”.

            Any paper in Israel pushing Oral Polio Vaccines and Fluoride in tapwater gets their cover and financial support from the Banker Eugenicists in London and the US.

            Anybody thinking Ha’aretz is there to support Israeli’s or Palestinians errs,they are a mouthpiece for TPTB.

            So ,you can stop whining,they’re on your side.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      It’s nice to see Schoken taking this poor excuse for a journalist to task. But why doesn’t he go that extra step and just let him go? Shavit would be much more at home at Israel Hayom than at Ha’aretz.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bar

        “Poor excuse for a journalist…”

        I’m not a big fan of Shavit but calling him this is absurd.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Danny

      He has been wrong on nearly everything he’s written in the last 5 years – especially about Iran. His ridiculous piece last year about his talk with a certain “decision-maker” took the cake. He is an absolute joke, and if I was the owner of Ha’aretz, I’d be embarrassed to showcase his writings.

      I suspect Schoken keeps him on in spite of completely disagreeing with him purely for PR reasons, not the content of his writings.

      Reply to Comment
    4. “Jewish State,” “Right of Return.” Do not these, like Superman and Jesus battling, nullify one another into oblivion?

      Along with everyone else.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Tomer

      Yes, the occupation will go on and on until the PLO recognises Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State.

      No Right to Exist for Jewish Israel
      Arabs will remain under occupation

      Reply to Comment
      • Johnboy

        “Yes, the occupation will go on and on until the PLO recognises Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State.”

        Why, exactly?

        The Israeli occupation of the Sinai ended when Egypt acknowledged the right of Israel to exist in peace and security.

        The Israelis did not demand from Egypt (and Egypt still does not acknowledge) any “recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State”, yet that proved no barrier to ending that belligerent occupation.

        The Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security (a recognition that Israel still has not reciprocated), and that is as much as Egypt ever acknowledged.

        Yet, apparently, that’s good enough w.r.t. Egypt, but not good enough w.r.t. the Palestinians.

        Again, why?

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Because unlike the Egyptians and Jordanians, the Palestinians continue to claim parts of Israel like Haifa and Jaffa as their own and to insist that in the future they be granted the option to overturn Israel with a flood of Arab migrants prior to renaming it out of existence and throwing the Jews out.

          In essence the Palestinians insist at the moment that they wish to make peace with Israel while continuing a struggle against the Jewish State. This can be seen in the three rejections of Abbas – no to the Jewish State, no to ending the claim to the ‘right of return’, and no to the end of conflict. If the first two didn’t give away the so-called ‘peace’ the Palestinians seek, the last one certainly should make obvious the difference between the peace with Egypt and the ‘peace’ the Palestinians claim they want.

          Reply to Comment
    6. Kolumn9

      Everyone in their right mind can see once again that the Palestinians are explicitly rejecting a two state solution that leaves Israel alive. When presented with an American proposal, Abbas has rejected three things:
      1) The recognition of Israel as a Jewish State, which is consistent with the Arab rejection of the 1947 partition plan that started the entire conflict.
      2) The cancellation of the so-called ‘right of return’, which is consistent with the Palestinian insistence of overrunning Israel with the great-grandchildren of people that once lived here.
      3) The peace treaty constituting the “end of conflict”. In other words, Abbas wants a “peace treaty” where Israel makes strategic concessions while the Palestinians retain the option of restarting the conflict later on. What kind of ridiculous interpretation of “peace” must be used in order to justify claiming that Abbas wants peace?

      These are things that Ari Shavit (as much as I dislike him) and Kerry understand and that you insist others ignore. There can be no actual peace here until the Palestinians stop insisting that the only outcome that they will accept is one that sees Israel destroyed and that negotiations are only a matter of timing the transition towards destruction.

      What crazy Israeli in his right mind would surrender the hills from which one can easily hit Tel Aviv in return for a ‘peace treaty’ in which the other side insists that the conflict is ongoing after the treaty is signed and that it is justified in continuing to struggle to destroy Israel?

      Reply to Comment