A Very Good Point on the Issue of Palestinian Statehood

Journalist Matti Friedman makes the interesting point that most of the coverage completely ignores the idea that there exists any Palestinian agency:

A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.

Corruption, for example, is a pressing concern for many Palestinians under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, but when I and another reporter once suggested an article on the subject, we were informed by the bureau chief that Palestinian corruption was “not the story.”

Let me be clear, Mr. Friedman is clearly hawkish on this matter, but I think that this argument has a lot of validity to it.

I would also argue that it is not just the press that buys into this lack of agency, so do many Israelis and Palestinians, which explains why so much of the negotiation process seem to be more about playing to an outside audience than actually talking with each other.

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