The press as 'spinologists'
The people of Israel have just learned about the formal opening of indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria. Long ago, news like that would have caused great excitement and joy among the public in Israel, but since then our hearts have become hardened to peace.
The people of Israel have just learned about the formal opening of indirect peace talks between Israel and Syria. Long ago, news like that would have caused great excitement and joy among the public in Israel, but since then our hearts have become hardened to peace. In any case, it is obvious to everyone that we are dealing with lengthy, difficult and exhausting negotiations, and that a peace treaty is still a long way off. It is also clear that such a treaty - if indeed one is reached - will be extremely and bitterly controversial in terms of the Israeli public.
Both sides in this argument have strong and persuasive arguments, and there is absolutely no need to contaminate it with empty claims and nonsense about "spin." Anyone who claims - and within an hour we heard this idea in the media - that all of this is merely "spin" and that the timing is nothing more than the prime minister's attempt to divert attention from the investigation against him, only shows that he does not trust the real arguments at hand and is being dragged into cheap demagoguery. This also goes for anyone who spouts the ridiculous, specious and vile notion that "the more the investigation progresses, the more the Ankara talks will as well."
The negotiations with the Syrians began long before the Talansky affair came to light. In interviews he gave on the eve of Pesach - before we had even heard the name "Morris Talansky" - the prime minister referred explicitly to the talks with Syria, saying that each side "knows exactly" what the other side expects of it. And it is no secret after all that the Syrians, like the Turks, are very interested in making the existence of these negotiations publicly known.
Does anyone truly believe that Ehud Olmert - with all his skills, which are numerous - is capable of persuading the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his "good buddy" Bashar Assad to cooperate with him all due to "spin"? Olmert did not invent the negotiations with Syria; he is simply following in the footsteps of all the prime ministers who preceded him (with the possible exception of Ariel Sharon).
All the theories of spin are groundless, and any decent person of independent thought will recognize at once that they are utter nonsense. Does anyone truly believe that the report about the start of indirect negotiations with the Syrians - negotiations that will end goodness knows how, that are unlikely to yield an agreement and that are profoundly controversial - will have any impact whatsoever on the investigation against the prime minister? Anyone with eyes in his head can see and understand that the police and state prosecution have put their full weight and prestige on the line in this case, and they will do everything in their power to come up with an indictment - even if a peace agreement is signed tomorrow morning with Syria, and Iran to boot.
The truth is that the spin myth is the invention of cynical members of the press and frustrated and demagogic politicians. They are the real "spinologists." There are good reasons not to give up the Golan Heights, and there are good arguments for the high strategic value inherent in a peace treaty with Syria. Public discourse and debate should focus on the issues and take place in an educated and cultured manner. So, to assorted cynics and demagogues we say: Stop jabbering with your tales of spin.
The writer is a senior research fellow at The Institute for National Security Studies.