Ethan Bronner and the Shimon Peres Center Facebook Hoax

Posted on July 10, 2011


I was about to write something about Ethan Bronner’s article on the YaLa Facebook page. The article ostensibly reports on a new Facebook “bridge” that seems to be succeeding in uniting Palestinian and Israeli youth seeking peace, and surprisingly equally critical of both Palestinian and Israeli shortcomings in seeking negotations. Many aspects of Bronner’s reportage just didn’t add up or seemed impossible to determine—the “fact” he represents that 60% of its “22,500 active users” are Arab, as just one example. The site has only 3,000 or so “likes”, and, of course, it seems impossible to determine how many of these are Arab. I don’t understand where this 22,500 number comes from. Moreover, it was immediately identifiable as typical “two sides” of a conflict melodrama that posit Israelis and Palestinians as being equals in their capacities make peace. Bronner writes:

In one exchange, an Israeli named Alon Kadmon asked what would happen if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Mr. Abbas of the Palestinian Authority were locked in a sealed room for a week.

Nadine Firas Yaghi, a Palestinian, replied that the two leaders would realize “that both have ears, eyes, hands and a mouth, a moment of epiphany that they share the same qualities, that before being Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, Muslim or Christian, they are human beings.”

No doubt, many Palestinian Authority residents are highly critical of Abbas.  But it’s certainly not because he is intransigent about “seeking peace” under the current terminology. As Abbas seeks a diplomatic end-run—apparently to jump start negotiations which are predicated on creating a limited autonomy Palestinian state not much different than the one that currently exists on the West Bank—it’s obvious that only one party is hesitant to return to negotiations, for all the good it would do Palestinians.

Ali Abunimah beat me to it, however, and there’s simply no way to top his great reporting on the issue. He is the Hasbara-Buster, only a cape and a chest insignia are lacking. Abunimah highlights the many oddities of the Shimon Peres Peace Center-run Facebook page, it’s links to a so-called Palestinian program that seeks normalization for Palestinian and Israeli youth, and Bronner’s specious and questionably sourced article, which reads more like a digest of a press release than the product of actual reporting, and seems to contain  many inaccuracies about the people interviewed in it.

As I’ve written, there’s been for many years a campaign to present Israelis and Palestinians as equally matched opponents in a conventional war. In that view, if there are no negotiations, it would seem the fault of both parties. The benefits for Israel when that view is accepted as the conventional narrative are obvious, especially as it seeks to delegitimize the current Palestinian Authority strategy of taking the issue to the United Nations in order to get Israel to the negotiating table. Despite the fact that negotiations would undoubtedly benefit Israel, which has the upper hand militarily and diplomatically because of its relationship with the US, the state still seeks to avoid them for as long as possible, as it continues to create more facts on the ground in Palestine.

The Facebook page can be seen here:

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