"A huge lie repeated often enough is accepted as truth." — Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister PRIMER-Connecticut "Unanswered media bias and misinformation repeated often enough is accepted as truth." — PRIMER
"If we showed flexibility on these issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago." — Palestinian Authority chair Mahmoud Abbas, October 15, 2010, explaining that it was his own intransigence on the core issues that was keeping the conflict alive.

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Peace, Not Propaganda

Comment & Analysis of "Agony of Conflict"

By Alan H. Stein, Ph.D.

This is an analysis of a highly biased essay which appeared in the Waterbury Observer in December, 2006. A greatly abridged version is being published in the January, 2007 issue of the Observer.

Comment:
"You say you are monitoring media responsibility in reporting on the Middle East."

Analysis:
PRIMER-Connecticut is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization devoted to just that. As we state on our web site, , unanswered media bias and misinformation repeated often enough is accepted as truth. Aligata herself has provided, in her two essays, ample evidence of that.

Comment:
"You assume that the public has the history of the settlement of the Jews in Arab land."

Analysis:
This is an interesting case of misdirection. Not only did the letter have nothing to do with any assumptions about what the public knows or doesn't know, but Aligata injects her own propaganda effectively asserting Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, was "Arab land," whatever that means. Rather, the Jews had their own independent state in the Land of Israel long before any Arabs were around and have had a continuous physical presence in their homeland for thousands of years.

Comment:
"According to information from the Truman Presidential Museum and Library ..."

Analysis:
The Truman Presidential Museum and Library, like other repositories, has a huge amount of information available, some correct, some incorrect, some contradictory. This citation appears to be an attempt to create an aura of authority around the statements which follow.

Comment:
"The arrival of many Jewish immigrants in the 1930's awakened Arab fears that Palestine would become a national homeland for Jews."

Analysis:
To write that Jewish immigration in the 1930's awakened Arab fears shows a profound ignorance of a conflict that by then was already decades old.

Eretz Yisrael, which is part of what is sometimes referred to as Palestine, was the national homeland for Jews long before there were any Arabs there. The very name Palestine is a derivation of the new name, Syria Palaestina, the Romans gave the region as part of their relatively successful attempt at ethnic cleansing two millennia ago.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine

Years earlier, during World War I, Great Britain had declared its support for the recreation of that national Jewish home and had been awarded its mandate over Palestine in order to make it come about.

By the 1930's, Great Britain had long since reneged on the Balfour Declaration, severing approximately 77 percent of Palestine to give to the Hashemites, creating Transjordan (now Jordan) and had violated the spirit if not the letter of the Palestine Mandate by restricting Jewish immigration-while simultaneously allowing a massive Arab immigration. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1947_UN_Partition_Plan]

It is one of history's ironies that many of those who today call themselves Palestinians are products of that recent immigration, which itself was a consequence of the economic revival in Palestine brought about by the Zionists.

Comment:
"In 1938, guerilla fighting had broken out between Jews and Arabs."

Analysis:
This statement implies a false symmetry in a conflict that has always been asymmetric. Over several decades, whenever Zionists established a new settlement, always on land which they owned, the first thing they always had to do, even before building shelter, was to establish a defense perimeter to protect themselves from the Arab attack that they knew would be launched the very first night.

Comment:
"When President Truman took office, he made it clear that his sympathies were with the Jews. Already we have a hint that this was not going to make for a peaceful future in the Middle East."

Analysis:
Aligata already referred to Arab "fears" much earlier, and to "guerilla fighting" much earlier; regrettably, no further "hints" were necessary that there was not going to be a peaceful future in the Middle East in the face of Arab hostility to and attacks on Jews.

President Truman may have expressed some sympathy with the Jews, but that sympathy did not extend to any concrete assistance; even when Israel was attacked by no fewer than six Arab armies on the day it declared its re-establishment, the United States refused to do anything to help Israel defend itself.

Comment:
"The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) of 1947 recommended a partition of the land into two separate states (one Jewish, the other Arab."

Analysis:
This was a second partition, since Britain had earlier partitioned Palestine. This really called for three separate states, two Arab, controlling about 88 percent of the land, and one Jewish, controlling about 12 percent of the land, much of it desert.

Despite this patent bias against the Jews, the Zionists accepted the UN's proposal, but the Arabs rejected it.

Comment:
"Under the plan the proposed Jewish state would acquire 54 percent of the territory despite comprising only 30 percent of the population and owning only 6 percent of the land. The Arab state would incorporate 45 percent of the area despite 70 percent of the population."

Analysis:
See above; the 54 percent refers to 54 percent of the 23 percent remaining after the first partition. The proposed Jewish state would actually get only 12 percent of Palestine.

The population figures are also skewed because of the massive Arab immigration that had been allowed by Great Britain at the same time they were severely restricting Jewish immigration.

Aligata conveniently leaves out the (unknown) percentage of land owned by Arabs, leaving the false implication that since, according to her, Jews owned 6 percent of the land (most estimates are 7 or 8 percent), the Arabs must own 94 percent of the land. In reality, the vast majority of the land was not privately owned but was the property of the sovereign.

Comment:
"The Zionists ... feared acceptance of the plan; they saw it as too limited territorially.

Analysis:
If the Zionists feared acceptance of the plan, they hid that fear very well, since they themselves accepted the plan and there was celebration among the Jews in Palestine when the United Nations approved the plan.

Comment:
"The Israelis wanted more; here is trouble brewing."

Analysis:
This is true, but misleading. Of course the Zionists wanted more, but the nature of a civilized society and compromise is the acceptance of less than what one wants. The Zionists, despite wanting more, accepted half a loaf. (In reality, it was more like a tenth of a loaf.)

The trouble brewed from the Arabs, who didn't just want more but insisted on everything and have launched war after war designed to destroy Israel.

Comment:
"The Arabs rejected the partition idea and advocated a single binational state based on democracy and equal rights, though certain restrictions made this plan unacceptable to the Jews."

Analysis:
They didn't just reject the partition plan; they launched war after war to prevent and then reverse it.

At this point, I must confess my own ignorance; despite extensive reading about the Arab-Israeli conflict, I have never before read about the Arabs advocating a state based on democracy and equal rights. It's also relevant to note that even today, nearly six decades later, there is not a single Arab state which is democratic and there is not a single Arab state which provides equal rights to minorities.

Comment:
"In the UN, after heavy lobbying by Zionist supporters, the General Assembly on November 29, 1947 passed UN Resolution 181 which defined the outline of a settlement in Palestine ..."

Analysis:
Aligata effectively contradict her earlier (false) assertion that the Zionists "feared acceptance of the plan." Obviously, they would not have lobbied heavily for a plan they feared.

Comment:
"The fear that anarchy would result ... led the United States to push for a reconsideration of the partition plan."

Analysis:
This is effectively yet another contradiction of Aligata's assertion regarding Truman's sympathies with the Zionists.

Comment:
"At midnight on May 14, 1948, the provisional government of Israel proclaimed the new state of Israel. On that same date the United States ... recognized the provisional Jewish government. The United States delegates to the United Nations and top ranking State Department officials were angered that Truman released his recognition statement to the press without notifying them first."

Analysis:
Harry Truman was president of the United States, which had voted for the Partition Plan.

Comment:
"Where was consideration for the Arab state here?"

Analysis:
There was ample consideration not just for the Arab "state," but for the Arab "states" there. The Arabs already had one state in Palestine, then called Transjordan (referring to the portion of Palestine across the Jordan River), now called Jordan, taking up about 77 percent of it. The United State had voted to give the Arabs nearly half of the remainder.

We had just come out of a war that would have been prevented had one intransigent maniac (Hitler) not been appeased; the Arabs had already been given more than due consideration and there was little reason to appease their unrelenting hostility to the re-establishment of Israel.

Comment:
"Readers are you getting the picture? The International Zionist lobby must have had lots of power and I believe it still does."

Analysis:
Aligata seems to have fallen for the propaganda about an international Jewish conspiracy. As we quote Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels on our PRIMER web site, "a huge lie repeated often enough is accepted as truth."

Jews, no less than other groups, have the right under the Constitution to try to influence our government. We only wish we had the influence Aligata attributes to us. Sadly, at that time Jews had even less influence than we do now. Just a few years before the re-establishment of Israel, at the height of the Holocaust, as millions of Jews were being exterminated, the most powerful Jews in America were unable to even arrange a meeting with the President of the United States for the purpose of having America help save Jewish lives from Hitler.

Comment:
"The Arab people did not have this lobbying ability. There weren't people in this country speaking on their behalf."

Analysis:
This is another de facto contradiction. The State Department officials who were "angered that Truman released his recognition statement" weren't angry because he didn't tell them the obvious first; they were angry because they were anti-Israel and pro-Arab and were working feverishly to undermine American policy and to prevent the re-establishment of Israel.

Comment:
"I think trouble in the Middle East may have been avoided if there were highly skilled negotiators and diplomats working things out in the interest of both."

Analysis:
There were plenty of "highly skilled negotiators and diplomats" trying to work out a compromise, but a compromise requires the agreement of both parties. The Zionists agreed to compromise after compromise; the Arabs agreed to none.

The core problem, then and now, has been the refusal of Israel's Arab neighbors to accept its existence.

Comment:
"Now Israel has bombed Lebanon. We don't hear much anymore about the destruction anymore do we?"

Analysis:
We certainly don't hear anything at all from Aligata about the fact that Hezbollah terrorists operating from Lebanon, with the overt support of Iran and Syria and the effective support of the Lebanese government, launched thousands of Katyusha rockets at Israeli cities and towns.

Israel has never had a territorial issue with Lebanon and in 2000 pulled behind the international border as determined by the United Nations. Hezbollah continued to attack Israelis from Lebanon; no nation can completely ignore cross-border attacks on its civilians.

In the war Hezbollah started, Israel did its best to minimize casualties among Lebanese civilians, even as Hezbollah used those civilians as shields. Hezbollah even prevented people from leaving their homes for safety.

Comment:
"... the Israeli prime minister struck an alliance with a hard-liner who called for stripping Israeli Arabs of their citizenship."

Analysis:
Actually, the so-called "Lieberman Plan" doesn't call for stripping Israeli Arabs of their citizenship; it calls for transferring Israeli areas with large Arab populations to the Palestinian Arab state, if the Palestinian Arabs ever stop their war against Israel long enough to agree to establishing their own state.

That same "hard-liner" recently visited the United States and lobbied strongly for massive American aid to the Palestinian Arabs to raise their standard of living.

Comment:
"Even more upsetting is the Israeli army using phosphorus artillery shells against the Hezbollah guerilla targets during their war in Lebanon. These shells produce intensive heat and smoke."

Analysis:
Phosphorus weapons are perfectly legal to use against enemy combatants.

It is interesting to analyze the implications. Aligata's complaint about phosphorus shells is that they produce "intensive heat and smoke." The same could be said about just about every weapon used in war. The purpose of war boils down to the defeat of one's enemy; the tools used are weapons; weapons frequently produce heat and smoke. Some even kill people. (This is simply a statement of fact, not an endorsement of war. I personally would prefer it if wars were decided by the prime ministers of the nations involved playing a game of checkers at the United Nations.)

Comment:
"So you see Mr. Stein, you have not told the whole story."

Analysis:
The Arab war against Israel has been going on for nearly six decades; the Arab war to prevent the re-establishment of Israel started decades before that. It's obviously impossible to tell the whole story in a short letter, or even in a long column such as Aligata's.

Comment" "You only tell the story that makes Israel look good. You have denied any wrong doing by Israel."

Analysis:
It's typical of critics of Israel to accuse Israel and its supporters of what they themselves and the Arab states have been guilty.

Aligata mentions none of the countless acts of wrongdoing by Arabs; one would never know from her columns that the Palestinian Arabs reacted to Israel's offer in 2000 of almost all the disputed territories by launching a terrorist offensive that has yet to completely end.

Comment:
"... and it looks like the state of Israel has been as unjust and unfair in its dealings with the Arab state (sic) as they claim the Arabs were with them."

Analysis:
Reading Aligata's essay, Israel's evil deeds boil down to having the temerity to exist, to enjoying sympathy from a president and to using weapons to defend itself when attacked.

According to Aligata, those are dastardly deeds that are just as "unjust and unfair" as all the wars of extermination the Arabs have fought against Israel and the tens of thousands of terrorist attacks launched against Israel and Jews around the world.

Comment:
"They must take as much responsibility for problems in the Middle East as the Arabs."

Analysis:
See above. Aligata is entitled to her opinion, but it certainly isn't backed up by the facts, even as she relates them.

Comment:
"The United States and the United Nations must push Israel to withdraw from the West Bank."

Analysis:
United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338 call for the establishment of secure borders; this precludes a full withdrawal.

The armistice agreements with Egypt, Jordan and Syria in the wake of the 1948 war specifically state the armistice lines are temporary and are not to prejudice negotiations for permanent borders.

Given the refusal of the Arabs to negotiate such borders until now, nearly six decades later, Israel has at least as much legal, moral and historical right to the disputed territories as anyone else. Given the demographic realities, it is clear that any settlement would entail Israel giving up most of those territories, but there is no reason giving them all away, especially given the ethnic cleansing that would certainly ensue.

Comment:
"Israel must admit its wrong doing for allowing settlements there."

Analysis:
One may argue that Israel was foolish to allow people to choose to live in some parts of the disputed territories, but if anyone should admit wrongdoing, it should be the Arabs who have always had it in their power to agree to peace but have refused, causing six decades of war, thousands of deaths and untold suffering.

Comment:
"A homeland for Jewish people was created at the expense of the Arab people and future peace."

Analysis:
The Land of Israel has been the homeland of the Jewish people for thousands of years, long before it contained any Arabs. Far from being created "at the expense of the Arab people," the Arabs living in Israel have more rights than Arabs living anywhere else in the Middle East.

The "expense" to the Arab people has come from their own refusal to accept the existence of a multi-cultural oasis of Western freedom and democracy in the predominantly Arab and Muslim Middle East in which, as shown on the accompanying map, Israel is barely a speck.

Perhaps the most revealing comment I've heard recently came from Ms. Hanadi Soudah-Younan, a staunchly anti-Israel professor at Bethlehem University. At a conference at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme December 3, the president of PRIMER made a comment followed by a question. The comment was the conference had ignored the core issues, that the Arabs had turned down the establishment of a state in 1937 and 1948, could have established on anytime between 1948 and 1967, and had again rejected the establishment of a state in 2000 at Camp David. The question was "what can be done to get the Palestinian Arabs to finally accept peace?"

Soudah-Younan never answered the question, but insisted it was "most important" for everyone to recognize the Palestinian Arabs had invested so much in the pan-national Arab project and it took some time to realize that was a failure.

In other words, she acknowledged the Palestinian Arabs hadn't been interested in a state in Palestine, since they considered themselves Arabs, not Palestinians, and shared Nasser's dream of a single Arab nation. Only after that dream died did they begin calling themselves "Palestinians" and start demanding a state. It's enlightening to remember the PLO was founded in 1964, when the currently disputed territories were occupied by Egypt and Jordan, and its charter still calls for the destruction of Israel.

Soudan-Younan added "besides, we wanted all of Palestine - why should we settle for less than half?"

Of course, the less than half wasn't less than half of Palestine, but less than half of the small part that hadn't already been given to their Arab brethren.

Note that this is incomplete; omission of comment about any portion of Aligata's essay does not imply that portion contains no errors or bias. Also, this only covers the portion of Aligata's essay dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict.




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