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August 28, 2013

The Israeli Embassy’s ‘sort of terrifying’ — and pro-partition? — map

http://www.jewishjournal.com/israel/article/the_israeli_embassys_sort_of_terrifying_and_pro_partition_map

Those of us with friends who post too much about the Middle East on Facebook have doubtless seen — or at least scrolled past — a confusing chart created by Egyptian blogger The Big Pharaoh, which attempts to depict the region’s conflicts and alliances.

For example,  Israel supports the Syrian rebels, which receive support from Hamas, which hates Israel, which is allied with the U.S., which is allied with Saudi Arabia, which supports the Syrian rebels but opposes the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which supports the Syrian rebels and Hamas.

Got that? Neither did I.

Now, the Israeli embassy in Washington has answered with its own chart. This one has a much simpler message: Everybody hates Israel.

Conceptually, in terms of Israeli PR, there’s nothing that new about this one. It depicts the conflicts that surround Israel and the many threats facing it. All the usual suspects are there: Hamas, Hezbollah, Assad, terrorists in the Sinai, terrorists on the Golan border, “radical forces” in the West Bank and, of course, Iran.

Pretty straightforward… except for one thing. Brandeis Israel studies Ph.D. student Ari Moshkovski notes on his Facebook that the embassy may have inadvertently endorsed calls for partition on the 1967 border:

A close look, however, reveals that this official Israeli map excludes the West Bank from Israeli territory. In fact, the Israeli embassy seems to demarcate Israel’s borders along the 1967 lines.

The  Israeli government, of course, does not consider the West Bank to be officially part of Israel — though part of the governing coalition wants to annex some or all of it.

Even so, maps and outlines of the country put out by the government sometimes include the West Bank (and sometimes don’t), and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to base current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the 1967 border. Moshkovski notes that in 2011, when President Obama called for a two-state solution based on the 1967 border (with land swaps), the pro-Israel right called foul.

Will they do so now? And does this mean anything for peace talks?

To both questions, the answer is probably no.

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