In an article published yesterday on the front page of the Age Postcard from Israel: Swinger of the Middle East charts course Jason Koustikis seizes on a map in a pamphlet handed out at a national park near Israel's only golf club at Caesaria as an indicator of the national mindset in relation to its attitude to the two state solution.
Koutsoukis contends that the fact that the map marks out Judea and Samaria without noting this area as being part of a separate Palestinian West Bank entity somehow demonstrates that Israel has trouble recognising the right of Palestinians to sovereignty but he's drawing a long bow here.
This is a map used as a marketing tool for national parks. It is not meant to be a political map, nor a reflection of Israeli government policy. There are literally thousands of other maps on official documents that clearly mark out the boundaries between Israel and the West Bank which Koustoukis conveniently ignores to present in this weak and questionable argument. Neither is it part of a tool used in schools to teach young Israelis about political realities in the neighbourhood and Koutsoukis knows this.
On the other hand, official Palestinian documentation put out by the Palestine Authority (to which Koutsoukis fleetingly alludes in his article) is fervently pushed in the West Bank public domain and taught in its school text books always excluding Israel from its maps while in Gaza, where Hamas rules by virtue of a violent 2007 coup, the ruling party's charter specifically states that Israel must be destroyed. Israel and the Jews do not feature on any map coming out of Gaza. Koutsoukis knows this too!
Yet, has he ever deigned to enlighten his readers about how these maps are used by both the PA and Hamas to sow deeper hatred between Israel and its Palestinian neighbours? How it is taught in the schools or how it is presented in the Palestinian media? Other than a one liner in this particular article used to highlight in juxtaposition that which is produced on a national park's pamphlet and ignoring the weight of tons of official Israeli documents - the anwer is no!
While Koutsoukis' contention is correct about the need for the Israelis to maintain adherence and respect for the rights of the Palestinians to self-determination his article is muddled by a clear anti-Israel agenda exemplified by the selective use of this pamphlet which is hardly an indicator to public opinion within the Jewish State of the people's attitude towards the complex issue of the West Bank, the settlements and peace with the Palestinians.
While Koustoukis often has a critical say about what's going on among the Israelis (and he's entitled to do so), he routinely remains reticent about the far greater obstacles to peace presented on the Palestinian side of the divide. The constant failure to report on these issues demonstrates the skewed nature of his brand of journalism which is a major impediment to the understanding his readers might have about the true situation in the region. The end result is that his views become something more than critical - they are hypocritical!
It's time for Koutsoukis to produce a balanced picture and I await with interest his expose of the scandalous way in which official Palestinian groups depict the geographical map of the area instead of permitting this important story to remain on the Blank Pages of The Age.