Monday, August 05, 2002

A Contrast of Words

In the wake of this weekend’s attacks against Israelis, the French journal le Figaro printed two rather revealing pieces in its opinions section. The first is an interview conducted with Colette Avital, a Labor member of the Knesset, peace activist and Israeli diplomat at the UN and in Paris. The second is an op-ed piece from Aly Maher el Sayed, the Egyptian ambassador to France. The contrast between the two is striking.

Avital’s interview is calm and thoughtful. She discusses the prevalence of the culture of martyrdom that currently holds so much sway among the Palestinian population. She reflects on the wide-spread corruption of the Palestinian Authority and its oppression of the Palestinian people. She notes Arafat’s unwillingness to accept a peace agreement two years ago. She points to the differences between Israeli incursions designed to root out Palestinian militants and the suicide attacks aimed at Israeli civilians. And she ends with an assertion that peace must still be obtainable and that Israelis must continue to search out those Palestinians who truly want peace and who condemn the suicide attacks and the culture of martyrdom among the Palestinians.

Now the contrast. The piece from the Egyptian ambassador is little more than bombastic idiocy trumped up with vacuous accusations and historical lies. The main thrust of his article is that only Ariel Sharon can stop the “spiralling violence” in the Middle East. But most interesting are his turns of phrase, his rhetoric. He speaks profusely of the destruction of hope among the Palestinians after nine years of negotiation. He never mentions that it was Arafat who destroyed this hope. He speaks continually of horrors committed against civilians and describes the terrible might of the powerful Israelis in comparison with the desperate Palestinians. He states that each time hope of a peaceful settlement resumes, the Israelis scuttle the process with a fresh attack. He ends by warning that the Palestinians are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, that the Palestinian territories are an immense prison, and that only the acceptance of the rights of the Palestinians and the need for justice will solve the problem. Finally, he calls on the international community to demand Sharon return to negotiations with Arafat, the duly elected representative of his people.

Of course, all of this is garbage. There is neither truth nor accuracy in the entire presentation by the Egyptian ambassador. It is a complete misstatement of the situation. But we should hardly blame our emissary from Cairo, because he didn’t come up with this banter, he learned it from the West. This is exactly what one hears coming from the European Union, from the leftist media, from the United Nations and from the UN Human Rights Commission.

But this isn’t new. This sort of Orwellian double-speak has a past. Anyone familiar with the history of the Soviet Union and its reception among western academics and the media will recall the same deception and accusations that came out of the corrupt Moscow regime, deceptions parroted by western fellow-travellers. And the history didn’t end with the Soviet Union. We heard it from Mao and Pol Pot, from Castro and Guevara.

That it now resurfaces so easily, with such authority, leaves us wondering just who won the Cold War anyhow.

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