The Barak Government’s Murky White Paper


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On Nov. 20, 2000 the Israeli Governments public affairs coordinator, Nahman Shai, released the most venomous and vicious diatribe against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO with a plethora of accusations ranging from non-compliance and incitement to corruption and outright criminal activities.

 While this is neither the time nor place to respond to every specific allegation and disinformation contained in the paper, one cannot but address the concept itself and the attitude that gave rise to such an inflammatory exercise.

 If one were to take such propaganda seriously, the inevitable conclusion would be the total indictment of a hopelessly sullied and guilty Palestinian leadership, and a full exoneration of an innocent and pure Israeli government.

The question then becomeswhat is innocent, hapless, and helpless little Israel doing by engaging such a sullied, treacherous, and despicable counterpart?

 It behooves all people of conscience, it follows, to intervene immediately and rescue vulnerable Israel from the horror of having to besiege, starve, bomb, shell, shoot (take your pick) Palestinians to obliteration.

Such unabashed distortions and mud slinging may be viewed by some as legitimate tools in a propaganda war. The degradation of the discourse and its distance from reality are nevertheless astounding.

 The only real conclusion that emerges from reading this murkiest of white papers is indeed an alarming one:

 Rather than carrying out a critical self-assessment and an honest evaluation of facts, Israel is deliberately engaging in a policy of deception, evasion, and engineered smear campaigns.

 It may succeed temporarily in feeding its spin machines (particularly in the West) with talking points and convoluted arguments to spew forth more Palestine bashing blither.

 The most sinister aspect, however, remains in Israels capacity at self-deception.

 If such willful blindness is pursued as a matter of policy, its main victims will be the Israeli public led astray by such a self-indulgent exercise in ostrich politics and fabricated realities.

 Israeli public opinion is endangered by such a cynical manipulation of fear through the persistent demonization of the Palestinians and the totally unbelievable exoneration of the Israeli government (hence total evasion of responsibility).

 Such a flagrant attempt at legitimizing racism and blaming the victim will only lead to the further distortion and erosion of the collective Israeli moral fiber that have emerged as a result of decades of unaccountable Israeli occupation and enslavement of the Palestinian people.

 Consequently, the people of Israel will lose their grip on reality and on the handles necessary to deal with the precarious conditions that their own government has imposed on them.

 By manufacturing hatred and dehumanizing the other, the Israeli government is willfully perpetuating conflict and hostility.

 Rather than looking within and trying to rectify its own mistakes and erroneous assumptions, the Israeli government is creating a smokescreen to obliterate evidence of its own guilt and culpability.

 Along with its massive assault against the captive Palestinian people under Israeli occupation, and concomitant with its policy of strangulation, assassination, and collective victimization, Israel has now added the rhetoric of eradication.

 On the one hand, it seeks to whitewash its own blood-soaked record, while on the other hand it obliterates the genuine reality of its Palestinian victims.

 By negating their counterparts and delegitimizing their erstwhile peace partners, Israeli public officials may find themselves without future interlocutors.

 They (and the prospects of a just peace) may find themselves the first victims of such destructive politics and rhetoric.

 Frantically trying to locate scapegoats may be convenient in the short term as cheap-shot politics.

 In the long term, only moral and responsible politics can, not only solve this current tragedy, but also produce genuine peace.

 In this case, negating the other is the shortest way to self-negation.