Chris Patten’s op-ed in the Financial Times on July 29, 2010, offers another example of his inability to get past his ideological blinders and offer a fresh look at the conflict. Employing loaded language, Patten offers a one-sided condemnation of Israeli policies while failing to explain how Palestinian intransigence and belligerence precludes policies he favors.
Patten pejoratively labels Israeli residential neighborhoods in the West Bank as “colonies,” thereby equating Israeli residential neighborhoods on disputed land contiguous to Israel with past British colonial practices. He charges that “Palestinians are being squeezed out of” Jerusalem, even though the city’s municipal records tell a different story.
When it comes to Gaza, Patten’s imbalance is complete. He describes the Israeli blockade’s objective as “collective punishment… simply because they [Palestinians] have a Hamas administration.” In fact, the blockade was not implemented after Hamas won the elections of 2006. It was implemented in June 2007 following the Hamas coup against the Palestinian Authority’s President which was accompanied by increased rocket fire on Israeli towns, as well as in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier.
Arguing that Hamas must be drawn into negotiations similar to the manner in which Sinn Fein in Ireland was brought to the negotiating table, he ignores the profound difference between Sinn Fein’s demands and those of Hamas. Hamas consistently and unambiguously insists that it will never accept the Jewish state and demands that all of Israel belongs to the Palestinians. Sinn Fein never demanded that the English leave Britain and turn it over to its Celtic inhabitants.