The fast fraying thread that once tethered The Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons to some semblance of reality (I'm being generous here) finally snapped on Tuesday, June 11.
The evidence is all there on page 10 under the banner WORLD NEWS.
A photograph of Palestinian and Syrian refugees fleeing under a hail of tear gas (I don't even want to know what's in the new 'improved' variety) carries the caption: Demonstrators flee from teargas fired from Israel at the Syrian border yesterday. The Palestinians say they were protesting against 44 years of 'occupation'.
That's right, occupation in inverted commas. The definitive verdict of international law - that Syria's Golan Heights, just like the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, is under military occupation - matters not a whit to Lyons or his editor. And notice too the Palestinians say. Never take the Palestinians at their word. At News Limited, only the Israelis are accorded that privilege. Nor do the words Syrian border have any basis in reality, the real Syrian border with Israel being on the other side of the Golan Heights. Every inch of land here is nothing if not Syrian, Israel's illegal-under-international-law annexation notwithstanding.
Beneath the thoroughly dishonest caption comes a headline: Palestinians' deadly strategy is doomed to fail.
Reality is of course inverted, and fantastically, the problem has become not deadly Israeli bullets, but deadly Palestinian strategy!
Now to the nitty gritty - Lyons' quote/unquote "analysis," so dense with spin it requires a near line-by-line deconstruction:
"The new strategy of Palestinian refugees in Syria to try to break through the border with Israel is deadly and doomed to fail."
Again, this so-called 'border' is no border with Israel, merely a border with that part of Syria occupied by Israel in 1967. And again, note that it's the so-called Palestinian strategy that's deadly, not the Israeli gunfire, resulting in up to 20 deaths.
"What is meant to draw attention to the plight of Palestinian refugees in fact allows Israel to argue that it cannot agree to a Palestinian state while it has so much instability on its borders."
It's borders! There he goes again! And that all-purpose instability - if even so much as a blade of grass raised its head within 50 km of Israel's advancing borders, there'd be instability. But that's a mere bagatelle! The real whopper here is the risible notion that Israel is agreeable to a Palestinian state. That's a given with the likes of Lyons. But there's more. Notice how, whatever the Palestinians do, the klutzes always manage somehow to spike Israel's alleged agreeableness to a Palestinian state.
And now some gratuitous advice from our expert analyst: "For Palestinians looking for a resolution to their 63-year-old conflict with Israel, the best course they could take is to follow the non-violent nation-building strategy of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyed: argue and show that they are ready to be a Palestinian state rather than confront Israeli bullets, as they did again at the weekend."
Here we go again. Suspend your disbelief, reality's doing a headstand: unarmed Palestinian refugees (or maybe Syrian Golani refugees), despite appearances, aren't really being cut down by Israeli bullets.
No, they're confronting Israeli bullets. There's a world of difference here. You see, the Israeli army has never been known to actually shoot Palestinians. What is really going on is that these unbelievably bone-headed Palestinians position themselves provocatively in front of Israeli guns, which just happen to be pointing at them, and by some mysterious process unknown to science, somehow induce reluctant, peace-seeking Israeli bullets to emerge from even more reluctant, peace-seeking Israeli gun barrels and penetrate their heads, chests, stomachs, arms, and legs. And you know what the really amazing thing is? No Israeli soldier actually pulls a trigger - ever. I mean Rupert Murdoch may be a chick magnet - check out Wendy! - but these Palestinians are surefire bullet magnets, know what I mean?
But there's more! There's Salam Fayyad's hot-to-trot non-violent nation-building strategy, the very last word in how to reclaim your occupied homeland. (Or should I have said 'occupied' homeland?)
I mean, look at the progress so far:
In 2009 Fayyad said, "The horizon [for peace] continues to recede."*
Then in 2010 our non-violent nation-builder "forecast a 'moment of reckoning' in the coming weeks when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is forced to explain what kind of state he has in mind for the Palestinians."**
And back in March this year he said, "It is time for the international community to ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: does he accept the establishment of a Palestinian state on all the lands occupied in 1967 - yes or no?"***
After which, on 22 May, the great man suffered a heart attack. The good (?) news is that Bibi wished him a "speedy recovery," but the bad is that he told the AIPAC conference 2 days later that "Israel cannot return to the indefensible 1967 borders," which must have done Fayyad a power of good!
"The crash-through-or-crash approach is also undercutting a rising mood in Israel that the lack of a Palestinian state is against Israel's interests."
Ah yes, a rising mood in Israel. And so easily spoilt by a bunch of Palestinian bullet magnets. When are these Palestinians ever going to learn that the best strategy is to have no strategy - except for a reliance on Israeli mood swings?
"The next few months are vital. Israel can handle threats to its borders but what it is finding more difficult is the looming vote in the UN in September, when as many as 130 countries are set to vote in favour of a Palestinian state. The vote will not be binding but it will put pressure on Israel."
Seems the only vote in the UN that Israel didn't find difficult (after the US twisted a few arms to help out) was Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947 which partitioned Palestine and handed the larger chunk to the Jewish colon minority. And which, BTW, isn't binding. But, hey, how touching is Lyons' concern?
[* Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says time is running out for peace, James Hider, timesonline.co.uk, 25/8/09;
** Fayyad: Netanyahu must explain his definition of 'Palestinian state', Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz, 30/8/10;
*** Fayyad to Israel PM: Define a Palestinian state, blade, france24.com, 10/3/11]