An online headline in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, “As Israel’s Left Suffers Defeat, So Does Two-State Solution,” inverted cause and effect. (December 6, by Dov Lieber.)
Palestinian leadership has rejected the two-state solution multiple times: in 1947 (UN Partition Plan), in 2000 (Camp David), in 2008 (Olmert offer), in 2014 (Obama negotiations), and in 2020 (Trump peace plan). As one of the interviewees in the article explained, this is widely regarded as the reason for the collapse of the Israeli left. The headline, however, makes it sound like the collapse of the Israeli left is the reason for the collapse of the possibility of the two-state solution, and thus is inaccurate.
The subheading, too, is misleading: “The ascendancy of ultranationalist and religious parties in Israel reflects a decline in support for a Jewish and Palestinian state side by side.” Many would argue that the relevant factor that has caused the Israeli political shift is a recognition that a two-state solution is impossible due to Palestinian recalcitrance, rather than lack of support for two states.
The article is not labelled as an opinion piece; such partisanship in the headline and subheadline, therefore, is out of place.
In addition, the article itself suffers from flaws of omission. In the reporter’s own voice, the article states, “In 2000, Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat failed to finalize a deal for a Palestinian state.” But former President Bill Clinton was clear in his autobiography that the blame for the failure lay with Yasser Arafat. This is alluded to only in quotes from interviewees, while the reporter himself apportions blame equally between the parties.
Yet, even the quotes from interviewees are mischaracterized: “Tzuba resident Mr. Kalifon said that after the Second Intifada and subsequent failed peace talks, he came to believe that Palestinians are unwilling to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in part of what was once Palestine, and that therefore, ‘it’s impossible to end the conflict.’” The description that “Palestinians are unwilling to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in part of what was once Palestine,” misleads the reader about the nature of the entity that preceded Israel – it was a British Mandate for Palestine, in which both Jews and Arabs lived, and which was designated for the creation of a Jewish state. The Arabs who lived there at the time were not called “Palestinian.” The quote makes it sound as if Palestinians had self-rule in the land, which of course was not the case.
Similarly, the article states that, “Mr. Netanyahu was the last Israeli leader to conduct peace talks with the Palestinians, which fell apart in 2014 under the Obama administration.” But the 2014 negotiations did not simply “fall apart.” The most extensive reporting on these negotiations made clear that Netanyahu was willing to accept proposals made by US Secretary of State John Kerry, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would not agree to even the proposal most in his favor.
Moreover, the article makes no mention at all of Olmert’s wide-reaching 2008 offer, which was also rejected by Abbas.
In addition, the article states that “Arab citizens of Israel, who make up 21% of the population and many of who [sic] identify as Palestinian citizens of Israel, have long argued they face systematic discrimination from the state.” In fact, only seven percent describe themselves as “Palestinian citizens of Israel.” While “many” is a subjective term, seven percent hardly qualifies in this context.
CAMERA has contacted the editors of the Wall Street Journal.