Big Media Gives Thumbs Up to Settlement Activity

The NY Times confirmed Jonathan Tobin‘s point about Rawabi, the new Palestinian city under development. It’s really just a settlement — a Palestinian one — but that’s okay.

However, there’s a double standard when Israel’s doing the developing. And that is most certainly not okay.

Tobin was reacting to correspondent Isabel Kershner’s dispatch from Rawabi. Tobin’s argument also applies to the LA Times, whose reporter, Ed Sanders, was also part of the same media tour.

His point:

The point about the West Bank that cannot be reiterated enough is that the conflict about ownership of the land is one in which both sides can muster arguments in their favor. Should the Palestinians ever reject their culture of violence and delegitimizing of Jewish rights to any part of the country, peace will be possible and the land will have to be divided, however painful that would be for both sides. Such a negotiation would be difficult but, assuming that the Palestinians were ever actually willing to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders were drawn, it would not be impossible. And since it is likely that if such a partition were ever to take place, Rawabi would be part of the Palestinian state, then why would Israelis complain that building on the site would make peace impossible? . . .

But when new homes are built in existing Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem or in those towns and communities in the major settlement blocs in the West Bank that everyone knows would be retained by Israel in the event of a peace accord, they are bitterly condemned by the Obama administration, the Europeans, and the liberal media.

Indeed, Kershner and the NY Times confirmed Tobin’s thesis. The very next day, she wrote an update on a government decision to build some 1,200 homes in eastern Jerusalem and in already-existing West Bank settlements. Compare the headlines:

NY Times Rawabi

NY Times settlements

Sanders and the LA Times also reported Israel’s settlement announcement. Compare the headlines:

Los Angeles Times Rawabi

Los Angles Times settlements

Oh yeah, The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood fit the pattern with a thumbs up for Rawabi and a thumbs down for Israeli settlements too.

Read Tobin’s full argument.

What to make of Big Media’s double standard?

Update 8/13/2013: The very next day, a NY Times staff-ed slams the settlements.

But, in the broader world beyond Israeli domestic politics, giving the green light to more settlement construction in contested territory is not just untimely but a fresh cause for pessimism about the prospects for successful peace negotiations.

Update 8/14/2013: I had a feeling The Guardian wouldn’t pass up a chance to denounce the settlement development with a staff-ed too.

If the talks over the next nine months are to have a scintilla of a chance, the task of the Israeli negotiating team is to persuade enough Palestinians that a resulting Palestinian state would be both a just and a viable settlement of this historic dispute – not a patchwork of enclaves and tunnels around prime pieces of real estate which settlers are already occupying.