Dear AP Editor,
Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu [neh-tan-YAH-hu] is on his way for a visit with president Barack Obama. May we suggest that AP will watch out for the following pitfalls. (NB: we are not suggesting to do Israel a favor in the reporting – only to stick to the truth.)
– Netanyahu a hard-liner? Netanyahu has done concessions as no Israeli head of the government before. All of them break the records of their predecessors – so strong is our wish for peace. AP should not print his weakening of positions and call him a hard-liner, as this is a grave insult.
(You like an example? Until a year ago, it was a complete taboo to release convicted Palestinian murderers from their Israeli jail sentence before their time was up as a goodwill gesture or in a swap. Netanyahu is not pressing for the immediate release of Gilad Shalit like the G-8 demanded; rather, he is offering a 1000 prisoners released, among them a 100 with blood on their hands, who killed a total of more than 600 Israelis, although 52% of the terrorists released in the last major swap returned to violence (after disavowing it in writing) and murdered an additional 27 Jews! The parents of the soldier are even more extreme. They also want the mass murderers freed and in fact want to send all Hamas prisoners home. This is an extreme position by any standard. To call Netanyahu a hard-liner is therefore unreasonable. NB: All these convicts got proper trials and sentences. There is no drive to release any Jewish murderer from jail.)
– Moral equivalence? No doubt both Palestinians and Israelis (and all Peoples in the region and the world) deserve a life in peace, dignity and prosperity. In that they are equal. Therefore their plights are both worthy. We believe that most people in the region want a quite life. That doesn’t mean that the efforts for peace are equal on both sides. Israel has a long history of its leaders making tremendous sacrifices for peace; their neighbors rarely have and in fact often call for violence. Israel gives, the others receive, has been the only success formula that seems viable. AP should not add insult to injury to equate anything Netanyahu says with reactions from Palestinian politicians or their spokesmen. Impartial does not mean that AP equally distances itself from perpetrators and victims – it demands that it chooses to reflect reality.
– Israel isolated? There is this constant attack on Israel, portraying it as the pirate and pariah among the nations of the world. The truth is that the Jewish State deserves to exist like any people deserves a homeland and that there is much genuine support for the holy people. This is a good opportunity to compare President Obama’s words with the declaration of the leaders of the G-8 a week ago: [G-8 Leaders support Israel]. AP should (finally) acknowledge the G-8 Declaration & depict Israel as loved & supported by many.
– Israel doesn’t want peace? The last great gifts to the Palestinians & Arab neighbors for peace have terribly backfired. Ehud Barak at Camp David all but gave away the country. Yasser Arafat said no and started the Second Intifada, which led to the murder of over a 1000 Israelis. Israel left Lebanon. Since then Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal of rockets that are not there to promote peace (euphemism of the month). Ariel Sharon gave away Gush Katif and northern parts of the West Bank, which gave us an intensified barrage of rockets from Gaza. There is broad support in Israeli society not to make more concessions for Peace that will end in further bloodshed. This is not because Israelis don’t want peace; they just don’t want to be all killed for it. The reception of President Sadat and King Hussein in Israel shows what treatment any party that really wants peace will receive. AP should reiterate over and over again how much Israel wants peace. (Since we believe that most Palestinians want peace too, it should not equate their merit with their power-hungry, self-appointed leaders.)
– The settlers fanatics? To call Jews in the West Bank settlers is already not a neutral name. To depict them as hawks is making that even worse. For years Yitzhak Rabin violated the spirit of democracy by sneering that the settlers only consisted two-and-a-half percent of the Israeli electorate, so that he could ignore them. By now, a majority agrees with many of the ideas once only voiced by Jews from the West Bank. Especially the rockets from Gaza and Hezbollah and the reaction of the world (media) to our self-defense, has opened many eyes here. Netanyahu and Barack will receive a lot of opposition to their potentially dangerous ideas about further concessions. AP should not marginalize or stigmatize this disagreement and explain that in fact all Israelis want peace desperately, and only disagree about the possibilities how to get there the fastest, safest and surest. Israel has been good at sacrificing but poor in power to demand their needs for true peace: the cessation of violence, of calls to violence, of hate-education and the introduction of true democracy among non-Israeli Palestinians.
We wish AP much success in turning around its record in Israel reporting at this important juncture. May its reporting add to the chances for peace by stifling calls of bigotry and unmasking hate-propaganda and supporting and disseminating any voice of reason for real and just peace in the long run in the Middle-East.