Sunday, 23 January 2011

Running with scissors or smarter than that ?

Another tumultous week has passed us by and the year's barely 3 weeks old.

  • In the USA, a repeal of healthcare by the GOP, Sarah Palin doing her best gaffes and State of the Union prep by Obama and Co.
  • In the NFL, playoff madness with Jets and Steelers advancing
  • WikiLeaks getting more secret info on bad people. Bankers this time and the tattle-tale is getting jail
  • EURO zone problems. In fact, global economic problems continue merrily along
  • I didn't win the damn lottery again (this was particularily crushing for me)
  • And the week's headliner from Tunisia. Revolution, government deposed, an ex-president playing "musical countries" and a country struggling to be free after almost a quarter century of dictatorship.
One of the big winners of the Tunisia events was the news network Al-Jazeera. Their reporting was on the ground, in the thick of things with input from various learned and knowledgable people. Globally and especially in social media, AJ (Al-Jazeera) was the one network that seemed to be plugged into the situation leaving it's western peers playing a game of catch-up.

Well, not to be caught sitting on their collective laurels, AJ today kicked off a series of 4 reports on approx. 1600 documents referred to collectively as the Palestine Papers. These documents apparently detail over a decade's worth of secret negotiations between the PLO / Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government.

Now secret negotiations are nothing new. WikiLeaks has demonstrated that clearly. What's shocking with this revelation is the extent to which the PA (Palestinian Authority Govt) negotiators were willing to give away everything including the kitchen sink in the hopes of achieving peace or something resembling it, and to negotiate this without even the tacit approval or knowledge of the Palestinian people.

Some of the concessions that appeared to be on the bargaining table included granting the Israeli's rights to lands that they have already "illegally settled", greater access & control of areas right up to the Haram, and even ceeding control of East Jerusalem (the traditional Palestinian quarter). All of this would effectively displace hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and be a definitive win for Israel without any meaningful upside for the Palestinian population save the possibility of a recognized state which would itself be fractured within it's new borders.

I am nowhere near knowledgeable enough to speak with any authority about the issues in this conflict but I do know a little bit about how I would feel if my government were giving away chunks of my homeland without even consulting me. I'd be livid. I imagine that tomorrow morning we'll all get to see how the people in the region respond.

Now I did ask an Al Jazeera correspondent today "Does AJ know how inflamatory this news is going to be ? Could make Tunisia look like a lover's spat..." to which he responded "What's inflamatory - people finding out out whats being done in their name ?".

He has a point. Don't the people have a right to be told what's being done in their name ? If the politicians are acting unilaterally then they should be called out on it but in a region that's a powder keg to begin with, is it wise to be waving a lit match ? Hard question to answer. I can only hope that Al Jazeera has thought through what it's doing. 

Already this evening, the PA's chief negotiator has backtracked a bit, their President has questioned the source of these documents and denied any back room shenanigans and the Israeli media is already in spin mode. Tomorrow morning will bring a new reality in Palestine. I can only hope that the people take the news a lot more calmly than I would or else Al Jazeera; like the proverbial messenger; could end up getting shot.

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