Lara Friedman at Americans for Peace Now blasts a Haaretz report today that the United States has dropped its demand for a settlement freeze in eastern Jerusalem. She notes that the writer of the story, Barak Ravid, "has repeatedly reported rumor and spin as news (including his reporting, not once but twice, that the Israeli Ambassador in Washington was ‘summoned’ to the State Department, when both times this is not what happened, as confirmed by other journalists)":
The point being, there is absolutely no reason to assume Ravid has this story right.
Savvy consumers of the news — including members of the peace camp who may be fearful that the Obama Administration, like so many US administrations that have gone before it, will eventually give in to Israel on these key issues — would do well to remember that in this kind of high-stakes political poker, a lot of what we hear in the press is spin (and bluffing). And we would all do well to wait and see what is actually agreed before passing judgment.
Meanwhile, APN questions another one of Ravid’s reports for Haaretz in an action alert it sent to residents of Rep. Howard Berman’s California congressional district this week. That article quoted the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman as saying that the Obama administration’s "demand for absolute cessation of construction in the settlements was ‘mistaken.’" The alert stated:
Given the manner in which the story was leaked to the paper, it’s entirely possible that this sentiment does not represent Berman’s views. (In fact, some leaders who attended the meeting tell me that Berman worked hard to convince the audience that Obama’s approach was the right one).
Nevertheless, Berman is a senior Democrat, a leading Jewish member, and the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. What he says matters. And what people are saying he said matters, too.
Ask Berman to clarify his position on the Obama Administration’s peace policy and to make clear that he supports President Obama in his historic effort to achieve a breakthrough that can open the door for serious, successful peace negotiations.
APN says it talked to people in the meeting who don’t recall Berman ever using the word "mistaken." We called Berman’s congressional office to ask whether the article was accurate, and were sent an article from the Guardian which said this about the Berman meeting:
Last week, the chairman of the US House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, Howard Berman, a Democrat, told a closed meeting of Jewish leaders in Los Angeles that Obama was wrong to put pressure on Israel over the settlements.
Berman said the administration’s position had benefitted the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who was "waiting for the US to present him Israel on a platter."
This article says Obama was wrong to "put pressure on Israel over the settlements" — which could mean that Berman didn’t object to the policy of a settlement freeze, just the public way that the administration has gone about pursuing it. We’ve asked Berman’s office twice for further clarification — and whether Berman used the word "mistaken" — but have not yet receieved a response.