May 23, 2019

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The reporter’s "State of Palestine" question is more important than Bolton’s answer

 By now many have seen this clip of National Security Adviser John Bolton answering a reporter’s question about his referring to the “so-called State of Palestine:”

Reporter: Ambassador, you just addressed Palestine and said it was a ‘so-called state.’ Is that language productive in achieving the president’s…?

Bolton: It’s accurate. It’s not a state.

Reporter: But the president recommitted to, as you know, the President in New York City recommitted to his goal of achieving a a two-state solution.”

Bolton: That’s right.

Reporter: So is using that sort of language productive in his goal?

Bolton: Yeah, sure, of course! It’s not a state now. It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood. It doesn’t control defined boundaries. It doesn’t fulfill normal functions of government. There are a whole host of reasons why it’s not a state. It could become a state, as the president said, but that requires diplomatic negotiations with Israel and others. Calling it the so-called state of Palestine defines exactly what it has been, a position that the United States government has pursued uniformly since 1988 when the Palestinian authority declared itself to be the State of Palestine. We don’t recognize it as the State of Palestine, we have consistently across Democratic and Republican administrations opposed the admission of Palestine to the United Nations as a state because it’s not a state.

Bolton’s answer is terrific and accurate (according to most but not all legal scholars.)

What this exchange shows, though, is how far the media has gone beyond reporting facts into only reporting what they think should be the truth. The reporter isn’t disputing the facts; she is seemingly offended that Bolton stating a fact is not being “productive” towards a two state solution.

The thinking that the reporter has, along with many others and most nations in the UN, is that one should only mention what you want to be true, not what is actually true. The Palestinians pretend they have a state, so it is in the world’s interests to go along with that pretense, which will somehow make it true. 

And if you don’t go along with their fantasy, then….what? That unstated question underlies a lot of how people look at the Middle East. Jews can handle facts, but Arabs…well, we have to protect them from the facts.

Their feelings would be hurt. They might walk away from peace talks that they have already walked away from. They will be more likely to resort to terror. We must go along with their fantasies if we want to make progress.

But there can be no progress nor productivity based on lies. Treating a group of wanna-be national leaders like children is not the way to get them to the table. On the contrary, it teaches them that they will be rewarded for acting like children.

Facts still matter. It is a shame that a field like journalism has forgotten that.

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