Mark goes off on Abbas on the radio, says ‘genocide’ charge means no peace

“Genocide is a word that’s being thrown around a lot by Palestinians,” says Mideast political analyst Mark Lavie in a live broadcast on KQV Radio in Pittsburgh, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s use of it at the UN shows there’s no point in resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. And of course Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can be expected to hit back hard.

You know my conclusion–a solution must be imposed from outside.

Turns out I’m not the only one talking of an imposed solution. I admit that my old friend Eitan Haber (who can forget his announcing the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin outside the hospital that horrible night) isn’t happy about it. I can’t say I am, either–it would have been so much better if the Palestinians had accepted one of Israel’s two detailed and viable state offers in 2000 and 2008.

Highway sign says, "in case of air raid siren, safely go off highway and stop," because of Hamas rockets.

Highway sign says, “in case of air raid siren, stop safely at side of road” because of rockets.

Broken Spring is a must read for policy makers: reviewer

Here’s a glowing review of Broken Spring, concluding with this:

“This is a great book to read at this tur­bu­lent times, when truth and fic­tion about the Mid­dle East are so mud­dled by pro­pa­ganda that they’re hard to dis­tinct, when every rumor goes viral with­out a shred of proof and believed to be fact unless rebuked – and not even then.  An easy and quick read that should be read by US for­eign pol­icy experts and makers.”

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AP suppressed Israel’s 2008 peace offer–hear Mark rant on the radio

My friend and colleague Matti Friedman “complained” that all he could do was link to my written reply to our former bureau chief over AP’s unconscionable decision to ban me from writing about Israel’s peace offer to the Palestinians, which I discovered in early 2009 — instead of hearing me bellow about it. Well, Matti and everyone…now you can. KQV Radio in Pittsburgh just asked me about it, and even though five years have passed–I still get worked up about this travesty. Here’s the live interview.

Mark on the radio

Mark on the radio

“Jump to comments,” don’t bother with journalism

I really planned to post this story about chaos in Libya from The Guardian on its merits, but then something caught my eye: Under the byline is a button labeled, “Jump to comments.”

Jump to comments? Without reading the story? I shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose, because that’s where my profession is heading. Cut back on professional journalists, and rely on “citizen journalists” instead. Jump to the comments of people who have never been within 5,000 miles of the place under discussion, but whose opinions, in their view and in the view of this newspaper, are of equal weight to the expert they sent to cover the story on the scene, often risking his or her life to do it.

Jump to comments. You’ve probably heard me say that I’m glad I’m near the end of my career as a journalist, a career that stretches back to the mid-60s. If I had to start over today, I wouldn’t. I’d probably stay in academia. As far as I know, there are no “citizen PhD’s.” At least not yet.

Journalism is a tough, demanding profession — physically, mentally, emotionally and morally. It takes years and years of training and experience to get it right, and even then, there are gross failures. The post above, about the suppression of Israel’s 2008 peace proposal, is a disgusting example of that. The takeaway, though, is not that journalists are to be ignored. The takeaway is that this profession is so difficult and so demanding that even the best can’t get it right every time. So there is absolutely no hope that an untrained “citizen journalist” or a puffed-up commenter who believes his truth outweighs the evidence presented by someone who actually covered a story can hope to get it right at all. I will endorse the concept of citizen journalist the day after everyone else accepts the concept of citizen dentist, citizen brain surgeon or even citizen plumber.

So let’s reject the whole concept of “jump to comments.” For our own good.

Mark ofc

Matti Friedman hits back at AP, and so do I

Matti Friedman, my friend and colleague, wrote a well researched article about how Western media misplay the Israel-Palestinians story, and how the Jerusalem bureau of The Associated Press is part of that. Steven Gutkin, the bureau chief at the time, hit back with a rambling, disingenuous reply. Matti has set the record straight, and Steve weighed in again. This time it was my turn to reply, and I did. Steve has already called this “crap.” I would not expect a more reasoned response.

Hi, Steven Gutkin, let me start out by saying that I’m glad we’ve remained friends over the years despite our professional differences. I’m not named in Matti’s article, either, but I am the “furious” one who discovered the Israeli peace offer in early 2009, got it confirmed on the record and brought it to you. You banned me from writing about it. That is by far the worst journalistic fiasco I have been involved in, and we’re talking 50 years of journalism here. No denials on your part can erase the truth–and this is the truth: The AP suppressed a world-changing story for no acceptable reason. I am not ascribing motives to the decision–oh, hell, of course I am. It fit a pattern, described by Matti, of accepting the Palestinian narrative as truth and branding the Israelis as oppressors. This drove Matti, by far the most talented writer on our staff, away from AP. It drove me out of the Jerusalem bureau to Cairo. There, for two years as a regional editor, I tried to balance the slanted stories coming out of Jerusalem, often fighting for every letter and comma. Now I’m retired, and no one is filling that role. The world suffers as a result. If you are interested in the full, truthful and unexpurgated version of what happened in 2009 in your bureau, it’s Chapter 31 in my book:…/dp/B00J4XABAI/ref=sr_1_1…

In this second edition of “Broken Spring,” veteran Middle East Correspondent MarSee More

Two chapters of “Broken Spring” on The Times of Israel page!

The Times of Israel is running a nice excerpt of “Broken Spring” — two chapters, one about abuse of women and the other about Israel’s unreported peace offer of 2008. There are links straight to Amazon to buy the e-book for $2.99. Thanks to my friends at ToI, and while I’m at it–I highly recommend reading that paper instead of another one that often gets quoted. ToI is non-partisan, and its editor, @David Horovitz, is an outstanding example of how journalism isn’t dead yet. I know, I said “yet”…

I embedded the link above, but just in case, here it is again:

Suitable for all ages

Suitable for all ages

Why Mideast reporting is skewed–Haaretz interviews Matti Friedman and others

Matti Friedman’s Tablet article about how Western media have bought into the Palestinian narrative and are distorting coverage of the region as a result has made major waves. Now even Haaretz, once Israel’s best newspaper, but now no more than a trumpet for extremist Israel-bashers, has interviewed Matti and others about the distortions, which Haaretz itself plays into every day. I’m in this article, too–look for “furious.” That’s me. Matti left AP as a result of this. I got myself transferred from Jerusalem to Cairo, resulting in my book plus two years of mental health.

Matti Friedman

Matti Friedman

“ISIS threat overstated,” says expert who apparently read my book

It’s gratifying to see articles like this starting to appear. Last month I suggested that we all put an entry in our calendars for one year from now reading, “What was ISIS again?” They are nasty, cruel butchers, for sure, but they threaten no one outside their own countries, and if those countries get their acts together, they can push the crazies back under their rocks. If not, so ISIS will control some real estate. That does not mean the West has to attack in panic. It needs to control the possible spillovers from ISIS through intelligence–both meanings of the word. In short–this is not our war.


Mark ‘shocked’ on the radio by Abbas blaming Hamas for war

Here’s an interview on America in the Morning, a long-running nationwide news show on Westwood One. I’m discussing Palestinian turmoil in the wake of the Gaza war, and the shocking turn of events–Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blaming Hamas for the destruction. The segment is about 8 minutes.

Listen at the AITM site here:

or download here:

And admire my newfound ability to embed links! With thanks to my friends at The Times of Israel.

I reported for this program in the ’90s, when it was part of Mutual Radio. I got the award below from the Overseas Press Club in New York for my series, “Middle East Peace–A Matter of Faith.”