Whether or not you think Barry Rubin evidences a previous naivete in announcing that the recent al-Jazeera/Guardian "revelation" of (obviously fraudulent) papers (ostensibly the undoctored notes of Palestinian "peace" negotiators) means the end of hopes for any peace agreement, for at least a generation, his explanation of why these are obviously fraudulent is worth reading. Also, of interest to friends of Covenant Zone will be Rubin's concluding thoughts on the the often asked question - what can we do? - in face of a massively corrupt or deluded mainstream media:
"[A person I know] gets almost all his news from CNN. So today he gave the important news that he received from CNN that the "Palestinians said they were willing to give up most of Jerusalem for peace." I tried to explain to him that the story was completely false. He just gave me a blank stare back. His mind could not comprehend how such an authority as Wolf Blitzer and CNN could report something as fact but that is in fact completely false.
"Do you ever just want to scream? I do. What can we do? What can the average person do? Does it have any effect at all if we write to the media, expressing our outrage. Does the truth matter if the official truth is all that people believe?"
Do I ever want to scream? What do you think! Does it have any effect when we complain to the media? No.
Does the truth matter if the official truth is all that people believe? Well, that's different. Roughly two-thirds of the American people do not accept what the media tells them on this issue. In fact, support for Israel in the United States went up during the Gaza flotilla crisis. Every day, more people are waking up. New sources of information are expanding.
A lot of average people have common sense. A lot of government officials (not enough, for sure), have to deal with reality and sooner or later see through the illusions. Polls on media credibility show it to be quite low. Student sit through indoctrinating classes and don't accept what they are told.
Basically, we have to wait it out. Meanwhile, we need to tell the truth, educate as many people as possible, help build an alternate elite to replace and repair the diseased segments of society.
Rabbi Tarfon said "It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to abstain from it." Pirkei Avot, Chapter 2, Paragraph 16.
Or here is the Enlightenment version of that principle from Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
RubinReports: Coming Soon, From Those Wonderful People Who Brought You The “Palestine Papers
RubinReports: PS On Palestine Papers
UPDATE: See also the analysis of Pinhas Inbari who suggests that the way to propagate lies is to wrap them in truths:
After reading many of the documents, it appears that most of them are genuine and reflected the course of negotiations with Israel's previous Kadima government. The problem is that because al-Jazeera has a point to prove - that the PLO negotiators betrayed Arafat's legacy and hurried to cross red lines, with their gestures unreciprocated - Israel is portrayed as a hard-line interlocutor that did not respond to PLO "moderation." This results in damage to both sides - to the "traitorous" PLO and to "unresponsive" Israel.[Full article]
Yet there appears to be a clear gap between the substance of these documents and the way they were presented. Besides a readiness to accept the principle of land swaps - from the Clinton parameters - there were no further Palestinian concessions. Nor was there agreement on the size and location of these land swaps. The PLO team was adamant in refusing to agree to Israeli demands to keep the settlement blocs. For example, the Palestinians demanded the dismantling of the city of Ariel (pop. 17,559), and they were ready to consider leaving Israelis living in Ma'ale Adumim (pop. 34,324) only if the Jewish city adjacent to Jerusalem was under Palestinian sovereignty.
While Erekat mentioned "creative ideas" to solve the issue of the al-Aqsa/Temple Mount compound, they have nothing to do with sharing the site with Israel, but rather to establishing an Arab and Muslim consortium to supervise the holy site.
Questions on the Refugee Offer
While the figure of 100,000 refugees to be allowed into Israel is mentioned for the first time in Palestinian sources, it is unclear which side offered this figure. According to previous reports, it was Olmert's offer that was rejected by Abbas. Abbas himself referred to these documents as a "mixture" of Israeli and PLO positions.
Al-Jazeera is now under the management of Wadah Khanfar, a radical Palestinian from Nablus. For years the Arab satellite channel has sought to advance the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood against the Arab regimes. The problem it faces is that the sources of the current wave of Arab unrest are actually local and have nothing to do with pan-Arab ideals or with the Palestinian problem. Nevertheless, al-Jazeera is trying to link the local grievances in every Arab country to a pan-Arab revolution triggered by the Palestinian problem.
Another motivation is to preserve Hamas' interests. Erekat was right when he said the leaks cut short the PLO's diplomatic campaign to isolate Israel and gain international recognition of a Palestinian state. The PA success in gathering support for statehood recognition was turning Hamas rule in Gaza into a liability. Once Ramallah is recognized as representing a state, the international community might turn against the separate entity in Gaza and seek to end the problem.
Some encouragement for the PA leadership may be found in the popular reactions among the Palestinians in the West Bank. They did not "revolt" as a result of the leaks, which may indicate that the West Bank Palestinians are ready to compromise as a result of fatigue after the generation-long struggle with Israel. If there is popular rage, it is against al-Jazeera, as seen in attacks on its property in Ramallah and in Tripoli, Lebanon.
Now, after al-Jazeera has brainwashed Arab minds with charges of PLO treason, no declaration of statehood can be expected. Neither will there be a resumption of negotiations with Israel since the Palestinian team will stick to the most hard-line positions possible.
To sum up, al-Jazeera is serving Qatari policy to deepen unrest in the Arab world and link the current local upheavals to the Palestinian problem. In its presentation of the Palestine Papers, al-Jazeera distorted the contents in order to delegitimize the PLO and present Israel as a hard-line non-partner. There is also reason to suspect forgery in the documents referring to refugees since the person suspected of the leaks is the same person who wrote them.