There's a lot to say about Ethan Bronner's Week in Review piece in the New York Times (11/21/10). The headline says a lot on its own: "Why America Chases an Israeli-Palestinian Peace." This is ironic, at the very least, given the role the U.S. has historically played in making peace quite difficult. And the current "peace" talks include the a U.S. deal to give, as Bronner explains, Israel a 2-for-1 deal on new fighter jets.
What's really galling about the article, though, is this:
It is worth noting that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been largely drained of deadly violence in the past few years.
The "past few years" would conceivably include late 2008 and early 2009, when Israeli forces invaded the Gaza Strip. About 1,300 Palestinians were killed (most of them civilians).
Since deaths in Gaza can be forgotten, what violence really matters? Bronner gives an indication when he refers to the threat of "future violence" as a rationale for the Obama White House's increased focus on Israel-Palestine negotiations:
Ten years ago, when peace talks led by President Bill Clinton at Camp David fell apart, the second Palestinian uprising broke out, leading to exploding buses, suicide bombings and harsh Israeli countermeasures. Thousands – most of them Palestinians – were killed.
It's clear, then, that Palestinian violence is the real worry. And Bronner is mangling this history; as Seth Ackerman wrote in Extra! (7-8/02), the breakdown in the Camp David talks in July 2000 did not precipitate the second Intifada, which did not break out for another two months: "The Intifada began on September 29, 2000, when Israeli troops opened fire on unarmed Palestinian rock-throwers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, killing four and wounding over 200."
Of course this isn't a new thing for the Times. Jim Naureckas wrote here recently about a Times op-ed by Martin Indyk which argued that "violence is down considerably in the region." As Naureckas pointed out:
According to the Israeli human rights group [B'tselem], there have been 100 Palestinians killed by Israelis in the time period following Israel's December 2008 assault on Gaza; the assault itself killed 1,397 Palestinians, a large majority of whom were either minors or non-combatants.