Cross-posted from Wallwritings
We all remember the schoolyard bully, the girl or boy who set the rules and forced the rest of us to play by those rules, enforced by threats of the loss of backpacks and lunch money.
In the past few years I have found it impossible to look at the current Israeli government as anything other than that bully on the Middle East playground.
The latest example arrived this week when the Jewish Telegraph Agency reported:
"The Fatah party, led by P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas, on Wednesday signed an agreement with Hamas that would lead to a unity government within five weeks."
Actually, that news lead was in the fifth paragraph of the JTA story. Setting the tone for all international mainstream media coverage, JTA's solemn report began:
"Israel formally suspended peace talks with the Palestinian Authority over the P.A.'s national unity accord signed with the Hamas authority in the Gaza Strip.
"'The Cabinet today unanimously decided that Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for Israel's destruction,' said a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released Thursday afternoon."
Oh, the irony: Israel "formally suspended peace talks" they were determined to destroy from the outset.
This is Jon Stewart humor territory. He knows how to make fun of news reports in which the bully is the focus of the story, who stands in the playground corner and shouts, "Hamas is a terrorist organization that calls for Israel's destruction."
Pity the poor new kid in town who shouts in response, "so's your old man; takes one to know one." In an instant, that will be a kid without a backpack or lunch money.
The JTA has more to report from from the playground: "In addition, Israel will respond to unilateral Palestinian action with a series of measures."
And what, pray tell, would those responses be?
JTA wants to be helpful, suggesting the obvious, "In the past, responses have included accelerated settlement building and suspending tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority."
More Israeli settlement building and no Palestinian tax transfers? Nothing new there.
The Elders, an international group of veteran leaders, which includes former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, weighed in on the story in more measured tones:
"The Elders welcome the reconciliation agreement signed in Gaza on 23 April by Hamas and Fatah representatives. Since 2007, the Fatah-Hamas division has been the source of a rift between the West Bank and Gaza, making a viable peace between Israelis and Palestinians more challenging."