Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Missed Peace II: UN Partition Plan

The majority proposal by UNSCOP is often citied as one of the “opportunities to miss an opportunity” by the Palestinians.[1] But was it? The proposal put down that the Jews would get 55% of the land, the Arabs would get 42% and the around 3% was to be the Jerusalem-Bethlehem area under a corpus separatum to be governed under UN Trusteeship Council.[2] The area that was allotted to each side were determined by the Jewish state having as few Arabs as possible and the Arab state having as few Jews as possible – i.e. demographics.[3] However, it also took account of contiguity and, for the Jewish state, immigrant absorbent capacity.[4]


The plan looks reasonable but then comes the fact that the Jewish state had 45% Arab population.[5] The population of Mandatory Palestine in its entirety was only 37% Jewish, meaning that the majority of the population was being denied what they wanted: a one state solution (or so it is presumed).[6] The question of morality and democracy arises. But the answer is plain: there was no other alternative. The only other option was the unitary state. However, the Committee had determined the need for two separate states. A unitary state would have led to a complete halt to immigrant absorption and probably to the complete lack of rights afforded to the Jews.[7] The Arab minority in the proposed Jewish state would also become less of the population because of the expected immigration. There is also another problem in saying that the whole of the Mandatory should have been allotted what they wanted: where do you draw the line? In a stateless area, everyone’s voice should be heard according to specific areas. The same principle applies to what is/has happened in Northern Ireland – sure the whole of Ireland wants it to be unified but the majority of those in Northern Ireland do not. It is more democratic to assign majority positions in certain areas than it is denying them. It is no surprise that the international community shunned the minority report (Resolution 181[I]).

There are still questions of fairness though: the Jews only owned 7% of the total land available (the Arabs owned 20%).[8] This point largely doesn’t take into account that the remaining land was state-owned land – meaning that 73% of Mandate Palestine’s land was to be inherited to the state that would accept it. It also fails to understand that the issue isn’t private land, but sovereignty – the Arabs in the Jewish state were not having lands taken away from them.

The final point is the Negev. Why would the Jews be given an area where there were practically no Jews in?[9] The simple answer is immigrant absorption, aside from the fact that the Negev was sparsely populated.[10] But is that moral? This question heavily relies on your ideology: Zionists would say yes; the Arabs had been allotted Jordan and had vast areas of other Arab lands and Zionism was worth this price. However, this question becomes largely redundant when we consider the responses.


The Arabs said no.[11] They even walked out of the General Assembly when they had lost the vote.[12] It wasn’t a matter of the Negev, or even the percentages of land that was going to be given. They wanted all of Palestine.[13] As Tom Segev explains;

In any case, still hostage to the rejectionist position they had adopted in 1917, they opposed partition and continued to demand independence in all of Palestine, promising to respect the rights of the Jewish minority.[14]

The Arab response was wrong, not only because the partition was arguably fair but because they completely flouted the idea of partition – based on any lies. Indeed, this was expected: they had already turned down 80%.[15] They had also missed a tactical opportunity to regroup.[16]

The Jewish response is much more complex. They officially accepted the plan and rejoiced at it.[17] However, the question remains how sincere it was. Tom Segev maintains that it was a “tactical step” and that everyone knew that the borders that were assigned could not stay the way they were.[18] This was true, considering that the Arab response was expected – Ben-Gurion knew war would ensue.[19] However, Ben-Gurion’s response was more “sincere” and even though he didn’t accept fully the border, he only wanted to make minor defensible changes.[20] It should be noted that Ben-Gurion only wanted changes in war. Meaning that it is unknown whether Ben-Gurion would have taken any steps to expand if the Arabs had accepted.

The question of whether the UN Partition Plan was a missed peace depends on (1) it being a reasonable deal (at the time, without hindsight) and (2) it being accepted by one side. I have tried to argue that it was a reasonable deal. Ben-Gurion wanted more than what was allocated to him in the partition but he could only achieve these in war – a war which he did not initiate. The reason I say that this was a missed peace is because the lack of acceptance in the lines was only implemental as a result of war, i.e. Arab rejection. There is also the point that if the Arabs had accepted the plan, Ben-Gurion might have counted his blessings and left things as they were.[21] Thus, another missed peace – even if only temporary.

[1] http://www.factsofisrael.com/blog/archives/000491.html

[2]1948, Benny Morris, p.63 (Yale University Press, 2008)

[3]Ibid., p.47

[4] Ibid., p.47-8

[5] http://www.mideastweb.org/unscop1947.htm

[6] Morris, p.65 – The Arab leadership all declared their idea for a complete unitary government.

[7] One State, Two State, Benny Morris, p.87-109

[8] ‘Details and Lies’ by Benny Morris: “Jews owned about 6 to 7 percent of Palestine's land surface, and the Arabs owned around 20 percent, and the rest was public or state-owned. And, given that no Palestinian Arab state was established, Israel was Mandate Palestine's successor state and heir to the state lands.”

[9] History of Palestine, Gudrun Kramer, p.307 (Princeton University Press, 2008)

[10]Ibid., p.307

[11] There isn’t any doubt about this whatsoever: Power, Faith and Fantasty, Michael Oren, p.491 (Norton, 2007), One Palestine, Complete, Tom Segev, p.496 (Abbacus, 2002), The Iron Wall, Avi Shlaim, p.27 (Penguin, 2000).

[12] Righteous Victims, Benny Morris, p.186 (Vintage, 2001)

[13] Kramer, p.307

[14] Segev, p.496 can also be found here: http://www.passia.org/seminars/2000/israel/part3.html

[15] Peel Commission (One State, Two State p.87-109) – I understand that one objection was to do with transfer but, as Segev stated, even without that deal would have be turned away because the Arabs rejected partition.

[16] Segev, p.496

[17] Shlaim, p.25

[18] Segev, p.496

[19] Righteous Victims, Morris, p.186

[20] One State, Two State, Benny Morris, p.78 and Shlaim, p.29

[21] Only speculation but given that what Ben-Gurion would have done in the absence of Arab rejectionism being unknown, it is the only thing I can do.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Ayatollah's Propaganda

PressTV is a propaganda wing of the Iranian government[1], why anyone takes it seriously continues to baffle me. This post isn’t an attempt to persuade people that PressTV isn’t trustworthy – if you’re in any doubts, then I doubt you’ll know bias when it hits you in the face. What this post does aim to do is compile a small collection of articles which I find amusing – because the bias in them is so apparent.[2]

Headlines are very important, the reader gets the gist of what the article is about and it may even sway some people on the topic. Whether or not PressTV knows this, its blatant bias can be seen in some of its headlines;

1. “Killing of Gazans was 'obligation', says Tel Aviv[3]

Really?! Lets assume Israel did think it was it’s obligation to kill Gazans, do you think they are stupid enough to tell the world? The report actually says “Israel had both a right and an obligation to take military action against Hamas in Gaza to stop Hamas‘ almost incessant rocket and mortar attacks upon thousands of Israeli civilians and its other acts of terrorism.”[4]

2. “Israel rules out evacuation of settlers”[5]

This is entirely misleading. If you read the whole article, it sounds like that Netanyahu is saying that Israel will never evacuate any settlements. Reuters, however, managed to portray exactly what Netanyahu meant: “Netanyahu, who has said he wouldn't build additional settlements but wants to continue construction in existing enclaves to accomodate what he calls natural growth, said Sunday he would not remove any settlements before a peace deal.[6] Whats even worse, settlers were evacuated within a week of the article.[7]

3. “US rejects Afghan demand to stop killings[8]

As with the first, PressTV jumps the causal chain. The US is not rejecting the demand to stop killing, it’s rejecting the call to stop airstrikes and portraying it in this way shows the clear bias. But, it gets worse, on the same day that this article went out, the BBC reported that a review of airstrikes was initiated by the US.[9]

But it isn’t just headlines. PressTV gives a platform to Holocaust “revisionists,” the article in question states that the “alleged massacre of Jewish people by gassing during World War II was scientifically impossible.[10] It also gives a platform to other conspiracies. One article asserts the “US may have been behind the killing of Neda Agha-Soltan,”[11] the Iranian protestor who was shot and seen as a symbol for the recent Iranian protests. It also gives a platform to 9/11 revisionism, and while I have no objection to this, PressTV refuses in its articles to give the other side. “Mossad linked to 9/11 attacks,” reads the headline.[12] Nowhere do they try to find the other side or even quote the other side. That is not objectivity.

This is also apparent in another article: “CIA report: Israel will fall in 20 years[13] – This is complete crap. No other news sources have written about this revolutionary report (maybe because of the evil Zionist media). What makes this even more worrying is that PressTV seem be base entirely on an interview given by Franklin Lamb. Who is Mr. Lamb? Not much is known. However, he writes for anti-Israel publication ‘Counterpunch’[14] and he may be associated with ‘If Americans Knew’[15] – which is another anti-Israel organisation (taking the realist position as defined by Dennis Ross).

Pictures and their captions also tell people a lot about PressTV. Neda’s death, aside from being used as a tool against the CIA, was completely ignored for over 12 days[16] and even then when PressTV decided to write about, the following picture was accompanied; [17]

Many news agencies and channels choose to censor images that they deem to be too graphic – there’s nothing wrong with this idea in complete moderation, objectivity and independent monitoring but what I’m struggling with is does PressTV not like blood? Does it not like brutal images? What about upsetting images? No;[18]

Could it be that PressTV is censoring pictures based on their political weight? It seems, this Iranian news agency suffers from factual inaccuracies as well. Some examples are above, others include the fact that it “claims that the Lebanese government is trying to convert the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp into an American military base, but provides no evidence to back up this allegation.[19] Another inaccuracy in an article (which has so many that I may have to make a separate post about it) is typical of PressTV’s outlook;

Although they had agreed to put the rest of Palestine under an undefined international administration, Britain decided to conquer the area and in late 1917 their soldiers laid foot on the lands of our beloved al-Quds -- which they now call Jerusalem.[20]

Yes, the “now” call it Jerusalem. It’s not like it dates back before 1917. Its not like Jerusalem outdates “al-Quds”. Well, according to PressTV. I’ve tried to make this post thematic: headlines, conspiracies, pictures and inaccuracies. The final part is the people. The people who make and work for PressTV.

George Galloway – I don’t really need to say much, rather just quote Ofcom;

The overwhelming majority of the content of the programmes were from a pro-Palestinian point of view and were highly critical of Israeli policy. The presenter spoke from an entirely pro-Palestinian point of view. There was not one telephone call from a pro-Israeli position in any of the programmes and only the most limited and short text or email messages from viewers from a pro-Israeli position.

In the programme, George Galloway variously labelled Israel as committing:

“murder”; “apartheid-style occupation”; “murder [of] UN employees; and a “warcrime”... “Collective punish[ment against] people is a Nazi tactic.” The Palestinians were under the “iron heel of a brutal apartheid-style occupation.”[21]

Is it any wonder that Nick Ferrari left because of the bias (admittedly, just the post-election coverage according to him)?[22] Is it any wonder that Larry Gillick claims that PressTV “burned him” and misconstrued what he said?[23] Ali Ansari, an authority on Iranian history and politics, appeared on a “debate” about the Iranian elections and in it, the camera frequently cuts off.[24] Indeed, Ali Ansari himself said “They will have very likely edited it”[25]

The articles which refer to Israelis and “The New Nazis,”[26] and that affix “oil-rich” to Iraq in its discussions about the US/UK invasion/occupation will probably never stop.[27] The asking of its readers “When will Israel collapse?” probably wont either. (The results were “Over 50 percent of the 2255 respondents to a Press TV online poll are of the belief that after 60 years of the establishment of Israel, the regime's power is nearing collapse”)[28] It will continue to take weeks worth of articles down when it suits its purpose.[29]

But what we can be sure of is this;

[1] It’s used to spread information for making the Iran look good and US and her allies look bad. That is propaganda. But what can you expect from a country without free media funding a news agency? (Source for funding:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6260716.stm)

[2] It is by no means comprehensive, I visit the website once every 2 days and spend no longer than 10minutes on it. Because my main interest is in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, a lot of the articles which I quote will be from there.

[3] http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=102081&sectionid=351020202

[4] http://www.mfa.gov.il/NR/rdonlyres/E89E699D-A435-491B-B2D0-017675DAFEF7/0/GazaOperationwLinks.pdf - p.1

[5] http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=102965&sectionid=351020202

[6] http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20090809/tpl-uk-israel-settlements-us-43a8d4f.html, my emphasis and [sic]

[7] http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1106498.html

[8] http://www.presstv.ir/classic/detail.aspx?id=94316&sectionid=351020403

[9] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8042642.stm

[10] http://www.presstv.ir/Detail.aspx?id=56287&sectionid=3510303

[11] http://www.presstv.com/classic/detail.aspx?id=99133&sectionid=3510203 – it asserts independently of the Ambassador in its opening line. There are also other examples where PressTV’s bias can be seen in relation to Neda:http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=101954, http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=99323,http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=99330&sectionid=351020101

[12] http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=87982&sectionid=3510203

[13] http://www.presstv.com/Detail.aspx?id=88491&sectionid=351020202

[14] http://www.counterpunch.org/lamb05242007.html

[15] http://sietske-in-beiroet.blogspot.com/2007/05/who-is-franklin-lamb.html - cannot be independently verified. Make your own mind up as to whether you believe it. (“May”)

[16] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/8130082.stm - Paxman at 2:20

[17] http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=101954

[18] In order: http://i31.tinypic.com/bdny90.png, http://www.presstv.com/photo/20081022/pirhayati20081022180933515.jpg,http://www.presstv.com/photo/20090728/dastmalchi20090728223749187.jpg,http://www.presstv.com/photo/20081022/pirhayati20081022180933515.jpg

[19] http://www.macleans.ca/world/global/article.jsp?content=20070730_107340_107340

[20] http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=97447&sectionid=3510303

[21] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/obb/prog_cb/obb139/Issue139.pdf p.9-10

[22] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6613209.ece

[23] http://www.digital-ed.com/ Press TV burns a source - Me! dated Wednesday, July 08, 2009

[24] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_RUzfl5Y-c

[25] Personal correspondence dated 28/06/2009

[26] http://www.presstv.com/Detail.aspx?id=82545&sectionid=3510303

[27] http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=102098&sectionid=351020201

[28] http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=57307&sectionid=351020202

[29] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/8130082.stm - Paxman at 2:15

I am a Zionist