Malley Mollycoddles Arafat

Dear Honest Reporting Member,

Robert Malley served as a special assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli affairs during the Camp David negotiations in Summer 2000. Since leaving government service, Malley has been working tirelessly as Yasser Arafat’s apologist, trying to clear him of the accusations of inflexibility and intransigence at Camp David, and the claim that Arafat scuttled the best chance for peace ever presented.

Malley’s defense of Arafat is predicated on sharing the blame. Israel’s former Prime Minister Barak is to blame for not implementing interim agreements, and for pushing for an “all or nothing” agreement. President Clinton is to blame for relying “too heavily on Barak’s timetables and tactics.”

Malley has defended Arafat in the pages of The New York Times, on the airwaves of PBS Newshour, and before the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine (CPAP). Indeed, Malley is quoted on the Palestinian Authority website as defending Arafat’s negotiating position.

In the forthcoming New York Review of Books, Malley co-authors a lengthy analysis, “The Truth About Camp David,” with Hussein Agha, a Palestinian negotiator.

HonestReporting obtained an advance copy of the August 9 edition. One of the article’s key themes is summed up early in the piece: “…[W]hat so many viewed as a generous Israeli offer, the Palestinians viewed as neither generous, nor Israeli, nor, indeed as an offer.”

The Malley-Agha piece is already being excerpted and quoted by newspapers around the world. The Review of Books website is expected to run the article within days at:

The New York Review piece expands on a prior interview given by Agha to The Guardian (UK):

“Mr. Arafat’s apparent intransigence had more to do with the way the Camp David talks were conducted, coupled with a distrust rooted in a history of constantly renegotiated and unimplemented accords. ‘The methodology of Camp David was complicated and unhelpful,’ Mr Agha said. ‘It was a big mess. Lots of ideas were being raised, but it was never clear whose ideas they were’… Mr Arafat, in short, was afraid of committing himself to a compromise, only to find that it had never really been on the table.”,2763,382490,00.html

If you believe Malley is distorting the facts about Camp David and Yasser Arafat, send your comments to newspapers excerpting the New York Review of Books article, and/or to the New York Review through the online form at:

The most effective method is to write a letter in your own words. Otherwise, cut-and-paste the critique below.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

========== SAMPLE LETTER OF COMPLAINT ===========

To the Editor:

Robert Malley and Hussein Agha claim to present “The Truth About Camp David” (New York Review of Books, August 9), but their report is disputed by others with much more credibility.

According to President Clinton, Arafat is “an aging leader who relishes his own sense of victimhood and seems incapable of making a final peace deal.” The chief American negotiator in the Middle East, Dennis Ross, concluded, “Arafat is the only one who takes decisions, and he was the only one who was incapable and could not take the decision.”

Arafat rejected Israel’s historic and surprisingly generous offers at Camp David to give up almost all of the West Bank and Gaza, surrender a large part of Jerusalem, and begin the process of the Palestinian “right of return.” Later, Arafat rejected President Clinton’s bridging proposals — accepted by Barak — which would have given him even more.

Instead of accepting the end of hostilities, Arafat embarked on a new round of violence that has wrought tragic consequences for his people. Even before he left for Camp David last year, the Palestinian Authority was operating summer camps to train children in warfare, Palestinian TV and radio were inciting violence, and weapons were being smuggled into Gaza.

Malley may try to make Arafat look like a dove, but Arafat still wears his military uniform, and in the words of Dennis Ross: “Chairman Arafat could not accept Camp David… because when the conflict ends, the cause that defines Arafat also ends.”