Riding on Wikileaks’ coattails, “news” service Al Jazeera announced Sunday the existence of “the largest-ever leak of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” and that they would be releasing said documents over the course of the following three days.
They have dubbed the supposedly “unprecedented” trove, which consist, according to their Jan. 23 release, “memos, e-mails, maps, minutes from private meetings” and more, “The Palestine Papers.”
It is also the most egregious example of opinion-driven, one-sided, so-called “journalism” since William Randolph Hearst got interested in Cuba. “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war,” Hearst supposedly told a staff photographer. As of Sunday, Al Jazeera is furnishing the pictures.
At best, Al Jazeera is engaging in unethical journalism. At worst the “news service” is, like Hearst, knowingly inciting conflict.
For starters, Al Jazeera claims the documents to be of “inestimable value to journalists, scholars, historians, policymakers and the general public,” but they offer no sources, or detail how the documents came into their possession.
How, then, can the veracity of the documentation be ascertained?
Are they doing their due diligence and following up the releases with honest and time-honored journalistic practice? Are they asking both Israelis and Palestinians involved in those negotiations for their opinions and recollections?
No. Quite the opposite, even before all the documents are released, pundits are being asked to offer analysis — like Daud Abdullah, director of the Middle East Monitor, who claims the Palestinian Papers “demonstrate a willingness” and show “flexibility” on the part of the Palestinian Authority to make huge concessions on settlements.
Former CIA spook and Council on Foreign Relations member Robert L. Grenier is offered up alongside Abdullah, giving “balance,” we suppose, to the discussion. What does Grenier take from the documentation?
First, that “the Palestinian leadership has embraced the task of policing their people with more than warranted enthusiasm,” (surprising, considering the rocket attacks that have routinely been launched from Palestinian soil) and finally, that, “The overwhelming conclusion one draws from this record is that the process for a two-state solution is essentially over.”
The documents and accompanying analysis paint the same picture — that of the Israeli aggressor and the victimized Palestinian.
They paint a picture of a Palestine willing to negotiate, and an unwilling and unforgiving, selfish Israel.
And they foretell a future in which peace is not an option.
The only hope here, and it is a slim one, is that the rest of the world media examines the Palestine Papers with the skepticism they deserve, and responds with that most endangered animal, responsible journalism.
It’s not likely — the Israeli leadership is usually loathe to comment on their internal doings. Also, the world media is also not accustomed to fairness and equity when it comes to Israel, and responsible journalism, where the validity of a source is considered before it’s published and where impartiality is the goal, is fast going the way of the dodo.