Maz Hussain and the art of rhetoric

Murtaza “Maz” Hussain is a journalist working for Al Jazeera, whose output is typically anti-Western conspiracism. However, he is an accomplished writer.

Looking at the article linked here, he writes about the Levy Report and incorporates a link to a YNet report.

The YNet report is itself a model of brevity, not delving into the legal arguments endorsed by the Levy Commission.

From this reference, Hussain reports the following:

In contrast to mainstream legal opinion as well as the recognised position of the international community, including Israeli allies such as the US and EU, the Commission’s inquiry came back with the unprecedented finding that in fact there is no occupation of Palestinian lands and that the continued construction of settlement outposts, viewed as one of the major roadblocks to a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians, is in fact wholly legal both in the future and retroactively.

He asserts that this is an unprecedented finding, which is true but only if the journalist was unaware that this was the Israeli position from the 1967 war onwards until the early 2000s. So what this report has done is reversed the Sasson Report, which was, itself, a politically engineered opinion.

Hussain then develops his argument by arguing that the Levy Report states that the West Bank is legally a part of Israel. He then argues that incorporation of the Levy Report into Israeli government policy would result in an actual apartheid situation for the Palestinian residents (of Area C). This would further assault Israel’s international standing and its relationship with the United States. Thus the right-wing government of Israel (which is actually less right-wing in political-makeup than the previous coalition) is actually endangering Israel by not adopting the policies advocated by the European Union et al.

This is an argument which, flatly, rests upon a rhetorical slight of hand. Notice that Hussain writes this below:

his position maintains that the West Bank is thus not occupied territory but in fact today is a part of Israel proper.

However, the slight of hand, upon which he builds the whole article is a fraudulent statement by a journalist who is wilfully misrepresenting the Levy Report’s argument and recommendations.

The Levy Report states that the Fourth Geneva Convention is not applicable to the West Bank (or Gaza) as these were captured in a defensive war and were a part of the Palestine Mandate area to which Jews have a legal right, recognised under the League of Nations Mandate, to settle upon public or privately purchased land.

Consequently, settlement is legal and should not be obstructed. Hussain writes that the report incorporates all the West Bank into Israel proper but this is not the case, even on the narrow grounds of legal settlement. The report advocates the incorporation of Jewish owned lands into Israel, not the lands upon which Palestinians have settled.

Through Hussein’s slight of hand rhetoric, the whole argument of the Levy Report is based upon the continuation of the League of Nations Mandate is left out of his article. The reader is then left mystified as to how the Levy Report justifies the proposed change in policy.

Furthermore, the slight of hand enables Hussein to state the following:

Implementation of the Levy Commission’s findings would make apartheid, which today is a highly controversial and politically charged description of Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians, into an undeniable and formalised part of Israeli government policy. This would be devastating for Israel’s already poor international standing as well as for its relationship with key backers abroad who would find it politically unfeasible to be seen as helping to facilitate such a system.

Thus Hussein purports to be a critical friend of Israel but through the rhetorical trick regarding the Levy Report, Hussein instead argues that incorporation of the report would create an actual apartheid state in Israel. The apartheid charge rests upon the idea that the Palestinian population would be second-class citizens in a “Greater Israel” with less or undetermined legal rights.

Thus Hussein implicitly charges Israel with unilaterally seeking to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and thus end the peace process. However, the peace process is moribund owing to Palestinian intransigence and not due to Israeli malevolence or the settlements. And so the rest of the article becomes a false lament for Israel’s supposed slide into becoming a new South Africa and ruining itself in world opinion.

Hussein’s article is deeply dishonest, misrepresenting Israeli legal opinion to pain a wholly fraudulent picture of Israeli policy and intentions. This simply identifies Hussein and Al Jazeera as an anti-Western and anti-Israeli propaganda outfit. It is also worth noting that the terminology used by Hussein is mirrored by the far-left Israeli peace groups which opposed the Levy Report, such as Yesh Din and Peace Now, who automatically describe the Mandate argument as “far right” in origin.

***

Incidently, if the reader is interested, the legal basis of the argument used by the Levy Report can be found at the JCPA website.

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