In one corner, in gray suit, we have former ambassador to the United States and current Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon, purveyor of a recent viral YouTube video (nearly 200,000 hits) that, shall we say, elides much of the complexity surrounding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
In the opposing corner, in khaki slacks, we have contributing editor Jeff Goldberg, who noted (via the Forward) that the video is an almost word-for-word copy of a video made by a settlers’ organization, and concluded, “The Israeli Foreign Ministry Is Now Part of the Settlement Movement.”
Fights scored with round winner getting 10 points, loser getting nine; additional points docked for knock-downs. Gentlemen, you know the rules: Twelve rounds, obey my instructions at all times, no hits below the belt, and keep it to 140 characters. Ding-ding!
Round 1 @DannyAyalon: “Can you please give me the reference to the future of the West Bank that you allege is made during the video?”
@Goldberg3000: “Sorry, I’m not sure I understand your question.”
Analysis: Parrying, dodging, not much movement or anything. A bland 10-9 round for Ayalon.
Round 2 @DannyAyalon: “what in the video made you state ‘The West Bank belongs to Israel now AND FOREVER’ and then launch into expletives?”
@Goldberg3000: “Just one expletive, actually. Maybe the claim that the Jews already made a painful concession by giving up Transjordan?”
Analysis: Nice deflection by Goldberg on Ayalon’s claim of coarseness, and then a nice shot to the body—accusing Ayalon of changing the terms of debate by giving Israel more credit for concessions than it merits. 10-9 Goldberg.
Round 3 @DannyAyalon: “That is the sole basis for your unequivocal stance that we will hold on to the territories forever???”
@Goldberg3000: “Your entire project is designed to legitimize Israel’s hold over the territories forever.”
Analysis: Furious combination from Ayalon, which Goldberg mostly absorbs, but can only offer one body-shot in return. Many judges will see this differently, but it’s gotta go 10-9 Ayalon.
Round 4 @DannyAyalon: “It only talks about history w/o reference to future. It mentions negotiations, if we want to hold on 4ever, why mention this?”
@Goldberg3000: “Sure does. But my worry is about Jewish decision-making. Keeping the WB will bring about the end of Israel as we know it.”
Analysis: Slight advantage Goldberg. 10-9 Goldberg.
Round 5 @DannyAyalon: “Please back up your statements. Prove to me where that is stated in the video or elsewhere or retract.” And: “I ask you again. Where in the video is this stated, even implicitly?”
@Goldberg3000: “Come on, man, own your feelings! You want to hold onto the settlements, you don’t like the idea of a Palestinian state. Etc.” And “The video is a pro-settlement video. One reason we know this: It’s the same video put out by settlers! tinyurl.com/3w6da32.” And: “You’re right. Your video was designed to convince Israelis to abandon settlements and leave the West Bank.”
Analysis: A flurry from Goldberg! Momentum shifting his way. Ayalon will need to go on the offensive if he wants to regain control. 10-9 Goldberg.
Round 6 @DannyAyalon: “‘You don’t like the idea of a Pal State.’ Look at my 1st interview given in office bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=….”
@Goldberg3000: “Mere words. What have you done to bring about creation of Palestinian state? Expanding settlements doesn’t count.” And: “Let me rephrase my question: Have you done more to end the West Bank occupation, or solidify it?”
Analysis: Goldberg has opened a cut over Ayalon’s right eye—that the actions on the ground speak louder than words in interviews. Expect Goldberg to keep working that cut for the rest of the fight. 10-9 Goldberg. Goldberg up 58-56, halfway through, with momentum his way.
Round 7 @DannyAyalon: “Please provide me with one quote, just one, to back up your assertion.” And: “Firstly please address the fact that you have not been able to back up earlier statements. You just move on to another issue.”
@Goldberg3000: “1. You argue settlements are legal, citing Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg (1908-1990). 1000s of scholars say otherwise.” And: “2. When we met in your office last year, you told me Palestinians only interested in destruction of Israel.” “3. In your office, you spoke feelingly of Jews’ inalienable right to rule Judea and Samaria.”
Analysis: First knockdown of the night! Ref starts count, Ayalon gets up around six or seven, and ref signals fight can go on. Still, 10-8 round for Goldberg. Ayalon is going to need a KO at this point.
Round 8 @DannyAyalon: “OK, but that is not what you said. Please back up your original assertions, not detract to other issues.” And: “Still not addressing the issue 12 Tweets later. Do you admit you made a mistake?”
@JeffreyGoldberg: “Gevalt. I cede the point: You’re opposed to settlements and would like to leave the West Bank as soon as possible.”
Analysis: The little-used sarcastic left hook (a favorite of Sugar Ray Robinson)! 10-9 Goldberg.
That’s where we are at for now. Goldberg way up on the cards, Ayalon bleeding, and only four rounds more to go. Let’s hope this barn-burner continues!
The Battlefield Over Palestinian Statehood Moves to YouTube [Haaretz]
The Israeli Foreign Ministry Is Now Part of the Settlement Movement [Goldblog]
Related: Punchy [Tablet Magazine]
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.