The Politics of Oppression

Not that he has a lot of credibility, but Jeffrey Goldberg does do a lot here to illuminate how the media sees the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Responding to Daniel Levy’s criticism of Israel’s withdraw from Gaza, Goldberg writes:

Ariel Sharon did not evacuate Gaza to serve the Oslo peace process. But he evacuated Gaza all the same. His motivation is not as interesting to me as the colossal reality. Yes, it was wrong to do unilaterally — I agree with Daniel on that — but he did it! And Daniel knows as well as I do that Sharon’s successor, Ehud Olmert, hoped to do the same thing across much of the West Bank. But what stopped him? Palestinian rockets from Gaza, a special gift from Hamas. Palestinians interested in a two-state solution would have viewed the withdrawal in 2005 as a first, important step toward independence.

Assuming that Goldberg has a better working knowledge of the situation than most, this is an alarmingly dishonest stance to take. Palestinians interested in a two-state solution didn’t view the withdrawl as an “importnt step toward independence,” not because they didn’t want a peaceful solution, but because the Gaza withdrawal was never meant to achieve that. Rather, Sharon gambled, accurately as it turns out, that withdrawing from the battered, impverished, and mostly useless land in Gaza he could earn cover in the Western, and especially American, media to ramp up settlements in the much more valuable West Bank.

And there’s also the little issue of the subsequent blockade of Gaza by the Israelis that largely cut the territory off from the rest of the world. That a battered, desolate, overcrowded, and deeply impoverished area didn’t develop a vibrant economy and functioning government given the blockade really shouldn’t surprise anyone, but nevertheless media figures like Marty Peretz and Jeffrey Goldberg inevitably use it as proof that the Palestinians somehow aren’t serious about a peaceful solution or governing themselves like civilized people (or in some cases, that they aren’t people at all). And that’s a feature of Israeli strategy as it relates to the area, not a bug.

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