Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sharmine Narwani Spreads Falsehoods

Old anti-Israel myths never die, they are just reposted on the Huffington Post by Sharmine Narwani, our nemesis. In her latest work, Mideast "Proximity Talks" - A Theater of the Absurd, she outlines a few of them while complaining about how the current peace talks are worthless. Let's go through them, shall we?

1. "After an upbeat set of promises to bring old foes to the Mideast negotiating table, Obama realized that Israel would not move so much as an inch on freezing illegal settlement-building activity"
Apparently, Israel won't compromise even "an inch" in terms of freezing the settlement buildings. Perhaps Ms. Narwani has missed the partial freeze that has been in place in the West Bank over the past several months. It's an imperfect freeze to be sure, but for the most part Israel has kept the freeze solid. At the very least, they kept the freeze the way Hamas kept the 2008 cease-fire agreement.
If Narwani is referring to construction in East Jerusalem, which continued without pause over these months, she is right that Israel did not budge in that respect. However, her statement makes no distinction between settlements in the West Bank vs. Jerusalem, and to say that Israel has frozen settlement building in the West Bank is clearly moving more than an inch. The truth, of course, is that Israel has moved towards freezing the settlements, but not enough for Ms. Narwani, and in her world, if you don't do everything the Palestinians want, it's the same as doing nothing. 

2. " the increasingly unpopular Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) government -- as corrupt and ineffectual as our Arab allies come -- desperately needed an active peace process to give it a veneer of respectability"
This isn't so much of a lie as a statement with no basis in reality. Assuming that the PA needs an active peace process to maintain it's credibility, why has it refused to negotiate ever since Cast Lead, at this point over a year ago? The PA has issued numerous preconditions to negotiations, mostly notable the total settlement freeze which they might have known Netanyahu could never have agreed to. Netanyahu made it clear he was ready to talk at any time, but the PA never took him up on it until now. 
So why now do the PA suddenly need a peace process? I think it's more likely they are going through the motions of the peace process so the Palestinians aren't revealed as obstinate and disinterested in peace. But in terms of respectability, they are definitely doing better than Hamas.

3. "Well, except for the fact that Jewish settlers in the West Bank have quintupled in number and that Israel has managed to divide up the West Bank to its advantage, with Jewish-only roads and checkpoints cutting off Palestinian movement and freedoms further"
There's the old apartheid canard of "Jew-only roads". We aren't surprised when HP users lie about this kind of thing, but we would expect an HP blogger like Ms. Narwani to be aware that the roads in question are Israeli-only, not Jew-only. Remember that Israeli Arab soldier that was killed in the West Bank a couple weeks ago? He could drive on those roads, and he's hardly Jewish. In fact, he might very well have been driving on such an "apartheid road" at the time of the attack.

Overall, a surprisingly small amount of blatant falsehoods from Ms. Narwani, but more than enough to justify bringing them to light and exposing them to our readers. Nice to see the intellectual discourse on the Huffington Post is kept honest.

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