Sunday, 15 November 2015

Ghosts of Lydda - remembering Yitzhak Rabin

On November 4 last, we passed the twentieth anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, then Prime Minster of Israel, just after a peace rally in Tel Aviv in 1995.  He was shot by a young ultra-religious Jewish zealot, Yigal Amir.   Rabin had led Israel into the Oslo peace process with the PLO, signing the 'Declaration of Principles' with Yasser Arafat in September 1993.

The anniversary brought a wave of nostalgic what-iffery from Israeli and Western liberals - if Rabin had lived, would the peace process have succeeded?  Most journalistic articles of this tenor have been both maudlin and mendacious, none more so that that by Mark Weiss, Israel correspondent of the Irish Times.  Weiss's article paints Rabin as a liberal peacenik.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Raymond Deane and I (and others, no doubt) sent off corrective letters to the Irish Times, but to no avail. I am posting both Raymond's letter, and my own, here.


First, Raymond's:

Dear Editor

Mark Weiss's report on the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist is seriously misleading. [2nd November]
Mr. Weiss writes: 'Three bullets and 20 years later, with the country still reeling after a month of Palestinian stabbing attacks and Israeli countermeasures, the assassination anniversary left a huge “what if?” question unanswered... Could [Rabin] have succeeded, despite the horrific wave of suicide bombings that followed the signing of the initial peace deal in 1993, in bringing the Oslo process to a successful conclusion..?'
The phrase "Palestinian stabbing attacks and Israeli countermeasures" reiterates the standard version whereby Israel merely reacts to unmotivated violence, but completely omits the context of deepening Israeli occupation and colonisation. Worse still, the implication that Palestinian suicide bombings began in 1993 as an attempt to derail the peace process belies the truth that the first such bombing occurred the following year as revenge for the massacre by Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein of 29 Palestinian worshippers in Hebron.
Mr. Weiss claims that "Ariel Sharon withdrew Israeli forces and settlers from Gaza, with the possibility that the unilateral disengagement was only a prelude to a wider move in the West Bank." Had this been the case, Sharon would hardly have relocated these settlers in the West Bank, where their presence was equally illegal (an adjective that the Irish Times consistently refrains from applying to colonial settlements despite their status under the Fourth Geneva Convention).
The reality was stated openly by Sharon's senior adviser Dov Weisglas: "The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process... The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians."
Mark Weiss does the Irish Times readership a disservice by disguising blatant propaganda as objective reporting.
Sincerely -
 Raymond Deane

And then my own missive:

November 6, 2015

Dear Sir

Mark Weiss's article on the twentieth anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin (2/11/15) is a disgrace of historical revisionism.

Yitzhak Rabin was no dove. He was responsible in 1948 for the ethnic cleansing of Lydda - according to Benny Morris, the biggest single act of expulsion of Palestinians during the 'birth' of Israel. He was the minister who called for IDF soldiers to use 'force, might and beatings' against unarmed Palestinian protestors during the first Intifada and for the troops to 'break the bones' of the protestors. He was a very reluctant participant in the deeply flawed Oslo process. Palestinian suicide bombings did not start with the September 1993 agreements, but only the following year after the massacre by Baruch Goldstein of 29 Palestinians at the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

Mr Weiss's subsequent account of the second Intifada and the efforts of Israeli prime ministers to make peace is equally flawed. It was the 'dovish' Barak, after all, who permitted Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000 - the true start of the second Intifada. All the prime ministers Mr Weiss names permitted ongoing settlement expansion and construction - all of it illegal and rejected by the international community and even the United States. Israel did not disengage from Gaza with a view to a further disengagement from the West Bank - Sharon said clearly at the time that the withdrawal would (and did) reinforce deeper settlement in the West Bank.

Mr Weiss's article is steeped in bad faith, and insults his readers' intelligence.

yours sincerely

Conor McCarthy

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