CiF Watch prompts Indy correction – acknowledges that Arab towns were built since ’48

On May 7th we posted about Ben Lynfield’s column (Netanyahu’s ‘Jewish state’ law angers Arab Israelis, May 2) at the Independent, which included the following claim:

For example, while hundreds of new cities, towns and localities for Jews have been established since 1948, not a single new Arab town has been created

Whilst the suggestion that hundreds of “Jewish towns” have been established is itself very misleading (as we noted in our original post), the claim that “not a single Arab town has been created” is flat-out untrue. There have been 7 new towns built for the Arab Bedouin. (Bedouins are a sub-group with Israel’s Arab minority)

Since 1948, there have…been seven towns that the government planned and constructed for Bedouin residents of the Negev

Between 1965 and 1990, Israel indeed built seven new towns, which were able to absorb half of the Negev Bedouin…

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):

State-planned [Arab-Bedouin] towns…were set up in the 1960s and 1970s: Hura, Kseifa, Laqia, Arara, Rahat, Segev Shalom and Tel-Sheva.

We contacted Indy editors to point out the error, and they ultimately agreed that the claim was inaccurate – and revised the passage in question. 

It now reads:

For example, while hundreds of new cities, towns and localities for Jews have been established since 1948, not a single new Arab town has been created (aside from the seven settlements built specifically for the Negev’s Bedouin residents, which have been the source of considerable controversy). 

We commend Indy editors for responding positively to our complaint.

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The Independent fails to fact-check claim in story about ‘Jewish State’ proposal

As our posts noting CiF Watch-prompted corrections often demonstrate, beyond the UK media’s biased coverage of the region there lies another somewhat related problem – the failure to fact-check claims used to buttress their anti-Israel narrative.

A case in point is an article at The Independent by Ben Lynfield on May 2nd titled ‘Netanyahu’s Jewish state law angers Arabs‘, reporting on the prime minister’s proposal ‘to advance a constitutional Basic Law identifying Israel as a Jewish nation-state’.  While the article itself was predictably hostile to the proposal, and quoted critics who charged that defining Israel as ‘a Jewish nation-state’ would erode the rights of non-Jews, the following passage particularly caught our eye.

The Arab citizens of Israel, who number a fifth of the population, comprise Palestinians who remained behind when their compatriots were expelled or fled when Israel was established in 1948. They have the right to vote but regularly face discrimination from authorities. For example, while hundreds of new cities, towns and localities for Jews have been established since 1948, not a single new Arab town has been created.

First, Lynfield’s claim that hundreds of towns and cities have been built “for Jews” is, at best, highly misleading, as new Israeli cities, towns and localities generally do not distinguish between Jews, Muslims, Druze, Christians or members of other faiths.

Additionally, his claim that “not a single new Arab town has been created” since 1948 is false. In fact, there have been 7 new towns built specifically for Israeli Bedouins. (Bedouins are a sub-group within Israel’s Arab minority.)

Human Rights Watch:

in 60 years [there] have been seven towns that the government planned and constructed for Bedouin residents of the Negev

Ha’aretz:

Between 1965 and 1990, Israel indeed built seven new towns, which were able to absorb half of the Negev Bedouin…

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):

State-planned [Arab-Bedouin] towns…were set up in the 1960s and 1970s: Hura, Kseifa, Laqia, Arara, Rahat, Segev Shalom and Tel-Sheva.

We don’t know what led Ben Lynfield to believe that there were no Arab towns built since 1948, and why Indy editors didn’t fact-check the passage in question, but the claim is clearly inaccurate. 

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CiF Watch prompts correction to Robert Fisk’s gross under count of Arab Israelis

Among the myriad of errors in Robert Fisk’s April 25th report in The Independent we noted in a recent post was the following extraordinary under count of Arab Israelis:

orig

Leaving his bizarre use of the word “deleting” aside, Fisk was so far off in is count of Arab Israelis one wonders if he was working without the use of an internet search engine while ‘fact checking’ his work.  

As we pointed out in an email to Indy editors, there are over 1.6 million Arab Israelis (not “tens of thousands“), based on statistics published by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.  Shortly after our correspondence, the passage was corrected.

Here’s the updated text:

new

Though you have to scratch your head in wonder when contemplating how an “award winning” reporter with decades of experience covering the region could get such a frequently reported element of Israeli demography so wildly wrong, we nonetheless commend Indy editors on their decision to revise Fisk’s erroneous figure.

 

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Antony Loewenstein’s latest dishonest anti-Israel smear at ‘Comment is Free’

Antony Loewenstein doesn’t believe the Jewish state should exist under any circumstances, and in his latest ‘Comment Free’ commentary he wears this badge proudly by characterizing his identity as a melange of Judaism, atheism, Germanic traditions, Anglo-Saxon-Australian beliefs and anti-Zionism.

When last we posted about the marginal Aussie commentator, we revealed that he flat-out lied when he recounted a conversation in which he evidently told Tony Abbott (before he became Prime Minister) that there were “Jews only roads” in the West Bank.  As CAMERA proved definitively quite a few years ago, such roads do not exist.

In his current CiF contribution, the misinformation he advances to Guardian readers is a bit more subtle, but easy nonetheless to refute for anyone who understands Israeli-Jewish demography, or is at least willing to open the link he provides to “prove” his argument.

antony

Here’s the passage in question:

According to new Israeli government released figures, Jews are now outnumbered by Arabs under Israeli sovereignty by over 50,000 people. That’s segregation by definition. Israel learns nothing from history except how to brutalise the marginalised.

This bizarre claim that the current demography proves  Israel is practicing “segregation” is clarified by opening the link he provides, an article at The Forward by J.J. Goldberg, which provides these population figures.

Palestinian Arabs, West Bank: 2,676,740

Palestinian Arabs, Gaza Strip: 1,763,387

(Total Palestinians, Israeli military-administered territories: 4,440,127)

Israeli Arabs (citizens): 1,666,800

Total Arabs under Israeli sovereign administration: 6,106,927

Israeli Jews: 6,056,100

In case it didn’t already jump out at you, Loewenstein, per Goldberg, is including in his Arab-Jewish demographic snapshot, not only Palestinians in the West Bank, but Gaza (where Israel completed a withdrawal in 2005) as well.  However, even for those believing the specious claim that Gaza is still “occupied”, there’s another group of Arabs Loewenstein includes: Arab Israelis!

Loewenstein fails to acknowledge that a segment of the Arab figure he cites as under Israeli sovereignty are in fact under the state’s sovereignty because of course they are full citizens.  

Even those who advance the hyperbolic claim that the territorial dispute between Israel and Palestinians represents racial ‘segregation’ don’t include Arab citizens of Israel in this smear because the segregation charge (dishonest under any circumstances) could only conceivably be leveled if the subjected group is denied voting rights and other civil rights.  As this is clearly not the case with Arab Israelis, Lowenstein’s argument completely falls apart.

Loewenstein’s polemical slight of hand isn’t as egregious as his outright lie about “Jews-only roads”, but it does again demonstrate that anti-Zionist ideologues will continue to find a platform to spread their smears at ‘Comment is Free’.   

Guardian rock ‘n roll fantasy: Paper blurs identity of Palestinians and Arab Israelis

What’s the first thing you think of when you see this headline?

headline

A great human interest story on rock ‘n roll artists modelling “peace and understanding” between two peoples who have historically been in conflict, right?

Indeed, here are the opening passages from the story:

They are united by facial hair, frayed jeans and a love of heavy metal – plus a belief that music is above politics, religion and conflict. Now the Israeli band Orphaned Land is joining forces with the Palestinian group Khalas to take a message of coexistence through rock’n’roll across Europe.

An 18-gig tour will see the bands perform in six countries, including Britain, this autumn. The musicians will share both a stage and a tour bus for three weeks, proving in practice that their “metal brotherhood” overrides differences of religion and national identity.

At a concert to launch their European tour in Tel Aviv last week, Orphaned Land’s lead singer, Kobi Farhi, and Khalas’s lead guitarist, Abed Hathut, explained their mission.

“We can’t change the world, but we can give an example of how coexistence is possible,” said Farhi. “Sharing a stage and sharing a bus is stronger than a thousand words. We’ll show how two people from different backgrounds who live in a conflict zone can perform together.”

“We are metal brothers before everything,” said Hathut. But, he added, “there is no bigger message for peace than through this tour”.

Coexistence ventures may be new in the world of heavy metal, but precedent was set in the high-brow realm of classical music more than two decades ago, when Jewish conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian intellectual Edward Said co-founded an orchestra of young Israeli, Palestinian and Arab musicians.

So, it indeed still seems that Israeli and Palestinian bands are touring together to champion peace and reconciliation, doesn’t it? 

Except that, by the seventh passage, we learn something which changes the context a bit. Pay especially attention to the text I’ve place in bold.

The members of Khalas, which is the supporting act on the tour, and Orphaned Land have “become soulmates” since meeting at a radio station and realising they have more in common than divided them, said Farhi. Last week’s gig was their second performance together. But joint ventures between Jewish and Arab artists in Israel have in the past met with boycott calls from Palestinian activists, who argue that coexistence projects sanitise discrimination against Israel’s 1.5 million Arab citizens…

Further passages in the story finally confirm what the above text implies – that the band, Khalas, is made up of Arab citizens of Israel (from Acre) not, as the title and most of the text suggests, Palestinians living in the Palestinian territories who don’t have Israeli citizenship. Whilst some activists do use the term “Palestinian citizens of Israel’ instead of ‘Arab Israelis’ to refer to Israelis who are ethnically and linguistically Arab (but full citizens of the state), the average reader looking at the headline and accompanying text wouldn’t likely understand this distinction.

Moreover, as anyone who lives in Israel, or has spent any serious time here, would surely know, Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel mix, mingle and interact in nearly every area of daily public and private life, and whilst the notion of Arab and Jewish (Israeli) bands going on tour together certainly is a nice symbol, it’s hardly groundbreaking.

Surely, Harriet Sherwood has been in the country long enough to realize this.

h/t Matt

Sounds Israeli: Lina Makhoul sings ‘Hallelujah’

In this week’s edition of ‘Sounds Israeli’ we’re featuring a nineteen year-old named Lina Makhoul who won Israel’s version of ‘The Voice’ recently after delivering the following inspired rendition of Leonard Cohen’s classic, Hallelujah.

The victory for Makhoul, an Israeli Arab from Acre, will guarantee her a record contract and a scholarship to attend music school.

The curious case of the Arab vote in the Israeli elections

A guest post by AKUS

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 21, 2013.Arab League to Israeli Arabs: Vote to stop the far right‘.

“The Arab League on Sunday called for Israeli Arabs to vote so that they can stop the establishment of a right-wing government “that will promote racist laws and ethnic cleansing.””

The Guardian: Wrong about everything. All the time:

“Silver Blaze”, Arthur Conan Doyle:

Gregory : “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

At some point, if not already, someone is going to analyze the Arab vote in the recent Israeli elections once the excitement of playing “build the coalition” subsides.

Israel’s Arab demographic makes up about 20% of the population. If every Arab voter only voted for one or other of the Arab parties, all else being equal (e.g., the same proportion of adults eligible to vote in the Arab sector as in the non-Arab sector) the Arab parties would hold approximately 24 seats in the Knesset. Instead, it appears that they have 8 seats (United Arab list – Ta’al and Balad). Even adding in Hadash, which has a mix of Jewish and Arab communists, they have at most 12 seats.

So how did at least half and probably more than half of Israel’s Arabs vote? That is surely the most curious aspect of the recent election results.

We can rule out the right wing and orthodox Jewish parties.  Apparently, therefore, Israeli Arabs exercised their votes for the center and center-left parties, giving them the 12- 16 “missing seats”. Traditionally, Labor has had strong support in the Arab sector, and this may have helped them retain 15 seats in the new Knesset. One of Labor’s seats will be occupied by a Christian Arab woman, Nadia Hilou, of Jaffa. It is also likely, I would think, that Yesh Atid’s unexpectedly strong showing could be due to Arabs responding to its social and political messages of cooperation and equality.

Until an analysis of the Arab vote is available, and specially the missing Arab vote in the sense of missing from the Arab parties, I suggest it reinforces two major themes of this election.

One is that people in Israel, like every else, vote for their daily interests ahead of grand foreign policy issues. Young Arabs are just as likely to be concerned about their and their children’s futures. Issues like housing, jobs, financial security, and protection from the manic regimes surrounding Israel are as likely to be their top concerns as they are for non-Arab Israelis. In addition, they will be willing to vote for parties that accept them as equals and promise to make the effort to ensure equality is not just written into the laws, as it is, but practiced in daily life. They certainly are underwhelmed by the radical Arabs like Zuabi and Tibi.

The other is that, quite clearly, the Palestinian issue is not one that is the most pressing for a majority of Israel’s Arabs, even if they believe that Yesh Atid and Labor could be more accommodating to the possibility of creating a Palestinian State on the West Bank than the other Jewish parties. Polls have shown that a majority of Israel’s Arabs believe that they are better off in every way than they would be in the countries surrounding Israel. Polls held in towns and villages bordering the Green Line have demonstrated that Israel’s Arab have no desire and no intent to join a putative Palestinian state, should one ever arise on the West Bank. Put quite simply, they know where their bread is buttered, and it is not with the Gazans or West Bankers.

This was the curious incident in the last election – the Arab vote did nothing to reflect what so many treat as Israel’s primary concern – the future of the West Bank.

Thus, while the Guardian and the mainstream media – not to mention the EU and factions within the United States – agonize over the “two state solution”, Israel’s Arabs have made their own views quite plain. Their “missing seats” show that they are Israelis, not Palestinians, they are in Israel to stay, and wish to be part of what we can only hope will be a strengthening main-stream Israeli consensus formed by centrist parties such as Yesh Atid and Labor and a move away from the extremism of the Likud and Habayit Hayehudi.

 

My appearance on Tamar Yonah’s show: Building in E-1, poll on Israeli Arabs & my banning at CiF

I was interviewed by Tamar Yonah yesterday on her Israel National Radio show, discussing the Guardian’s misrepresentation in reports on Israel’s plan to build homes between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, the results of a poll about Arab citizens of Israel, and my banning at ‘Comment is Free’.

What the Guardian won’t report: Happy and successful Arab citizens of Israel

H/T Elder of Ziyon

While polls indicating that Israelis are among the happiest citizens in the world are not surprising (they came in 7th in a 2011 global happiness index survey, with 63% of respondents saying were happy with their lives), a recent polls indicating that Israeli Arabs are largely content, successful and patriotic is perhaps a bit more counter-intuitive.  

Yet, According to a recent poll (“Democracy Index 2011“) on behalf of the Israel Democracy Institute, 52.8% of Arab citizens answered yes to the question of whether they are proud to be Israelis, while only 28.3% of respondents said they were “not at all proud”. Additionally, the same poll demonstrated that 45% of Arab citizens of Israel agreed that it is “important or very important” to strengthen the military might of Israel, while the  percentage that responded that it “wasn’t important” to them was only 29%.

idf-protecting-palestinian-children

Israeli border patrol officers protect Arab citizens during rocket attack on Nov. 17

Additionally, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post, an Education Ministry summary of 2011 test scores showed that Israeli students (from all sectors of society) registered their highest scores on international tests since they started being recorded in the 1990s.  In math, for instance, Israelis are now ranked 7th in the world based on test scores.

The report concluded that Israel’s Arabs, while lagging behind their Hebrew-speaking counterparts, also scored higher than in previous years in mathematics, sciences and reading comprehension.

However, even more interesting is how well Israeli Arabs performed in math, reading, and science compared to their counterparts in Arab countries.

Elder of Ziyon wrote the following:

In reading, fourth grade Israeli Arabs scored 479 (vs. 568 for Hebrew-speakers.) But no Arab country scored higher – UAE 439, Saudi Arabia 430, Qatar 425, Oman 391.

In science, eighth grade Israeli Arabs scored 481 (520 for Hebrew speakers.) Compare to UAE 465, Bahrain 452, Jordan 449, Morocco 376 – and the PA with 420.

In math, eighth grade Israeli Arabs scored 465 (vs. 536 for Hebrew speakers.) Compare that to UAE 456, Lebanon 449, Morocco 391, Oman 366 – and the PA with 404.

Additionally, I’ve previously citedpoll indicating that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians living in eastern Jerusalem (citizens or permanent residents) not only don’t want to divide Jerusalem as part of any future peace agreement, but, when asked if they would consider moving to a city in the new Palestinian state if their Jerusalem neighborhood became part of Israel, 54% said they wouldn’t move, with only 27% expressing their desire to move.

Such polls on Arab happiness and their relative academic success generally wouldn’t come as too big of a surprise to Israelis who work, socialize and otherwise come into daily contact with their fellow Israeli citizens.  

However, you can be assured that such reports would likely never find their way into the Guardian.

 

Jews and Arabs at the Dead Sea

Jews and Arabs at the Dead Sea

Fair-complexioned Arabs and dark-complexioned Jews? Khalid Diab & politically driven stereotypes

A guest post by AKUS

In a recent post, CiF contributor Khalid Diab reflected on Arab and Israeli stereotypes. His article included the following:

On a lighter note, she [Israeli student Rachael studying Islam] recalls that their group included a couple of fair-complexioned Palestinians, one of whom even had red hair. This apparently threw some of the Israelis who expected all Palestinians to look “Arab”.

The majority of Diab’s article deals with what he believes is Israelis’ surprise at the ability of Arabs to hack Israeli computer systems and stereotypical responses such as the surprise of a West Bank Arab IT professional at discovering that Israelis are human beings just like himself.

But the above reference to Rachael’s friends’ surprise at seeing “fair-complexioned Palestinians” seems to say more about Diab’s prejudices than those of Rachael and her friends.

One of the common charges leveled at Israel by those who wish to challenge its legitimacy is that it is peopled by European colonists (who should pack up and “go back to Poland, Germany America and everywhere else” as Helen Thomas notably recommended). That Diab selected the issue of Israeli attitudes to Arab “complexions” in contrast to Arab accomplishments but without a similar example from an Arab suggests that he has a frame of reference which is roughly this:  Israelis are “light complexioned” and therefore are colonials, while Arabs are “ many complexioned” and therefore indigenous. Of course, it also implicitly implies that Israelis are (white) racists without any similar reference to Arab attitudes to “complexion”.

Diab even quotes an Israeli Arab woman from Nazareth who has absorbed the mantra of Jews as colonists:

“It’s not because [Jewish] Israelis don’t encounter Arabs. It’s just more comfortable for them to look down on us – it makes their colonial enterprise easier,” she contends. “If they acknowledge that we are similar, this will raise the uncomfortable question of why they don’t treat us as equals.” [emphasis added]

I would contend that the intifadas and the wedge-politics of Arab MKs and references to colonials with the implication that Jews do not belong in Israel (i.e. – which is really Arab Palestine) have had more to do with Jewish suspicions about their Arab fellow citizens than some imaginary “colonial enterprise”.

Of course, while many Israelis are “light-complexioned”, most are not. Even with the arrival of the Russian Jews in the 1980s the majority are descended from parents who fled from Arab countries in 1948-1951.

Jews who fled Iraq in 1951 register upon arrival in Israel.

To quote Diab, they “look Arab”. In addition, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews frequently inter-marry so most Israelis are “dark-complexioned” to one degree or another. Diab seems to view Rachael and her friends as white, blue-eyed European colonials who expect their neighbors on the West Bank conform to a dark, brown-eyed Arab stereotype. 

In fact, as armies came and went in the region for millennia and left their DNA mixed in with Arab DNA, it is not surprising that one encounters blue-eyed or red-headed Arabs. King David was reputed to have had red hair.  Moreover, despite all the politically motivated claims, many Arabs in the West Bank, Israel, and Gaza are recent arrivals, contemporaneous with the growth of Jewish immigration attracted to a growing economy. They came from the corners of the Ottoman Empire, bringing with them the genes of millennia of wars, conquests, and inter-marriages. What seems to be happening here is that Diab frames his report about “complexions” around his own inability to accept that Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis, and Arabs on the West Bank, can often be indistinguishable.

This is an interesting example of how political biases can simply blind someone to facts that are as obvious as – well, the color of someone’s complexion.

The constant repetition of the politically motivated idea that Israelis are white colonials (despite all evidence to the contrary) likely influences Diab to note that some Israelis may be surprised when some Arabs look just like them.

But it blinds him to the idea that some Arabs may be equally surprised to see that many Israelis look just like them. Perhaps this kind of prejudice is something he and others reporting on the Israeli-Arab conflict should consider – not only in terms of complexion, but how they frame the conflict across many dimensions.

 

Israeli Rape-By-Deception Case, Now With More Rape, Less Deception

This is cross-posted at the blog, Victor Shikhman: Stories

It was a story heard around the world. As was originally reported in Haaretz, an Israeli Arab man had consensual sex with an Israeli Jewish woman under the pretext that he was a Jew. After intercourse, she discovered that he wasn’t a Jew after all, and filed “rape by deception” charges. An Israeli court upheld the rape charges, sentencing the Israeli Arab to 18 months in jail. Here was a clear, incontrovertible case of Jewish racism against Arabs, legally upheld by an Israeli court! Needless to say, the media went spinning into overdrive.

Perhaps none was more eloquent than Gideon Levy of Haaretz: “He Impersonated a Human”.

Sabbar Kashur wanted to be a person, a person like everybody else. But as luck would have it, he was born Palestinian. It happens. His chances of being accepted as a human being in Israel are nil. [...] He knew that he had no chance with the Jews, so he adopted another name for himself, Dudu. Two years ago he met a woman by chance. Nice to meet you, my name is Dudu. He claims that she came on to him, but let’s leave the details aside. Soon enough they went where they went and what happened happened, all by consent of the parties concerned. One fine day, a month and a half after an afternoon quickie, he was summoned to the police on suspicion of rape.

His temporary lover discovered that her Dudu wasn’t a Dudu after all, that the Jew is (gasp! ) an Arab, and so she filed a complaint against the impostor. Her body was violated by an Arab. From then on Kashur was placed under house arrest for two years, an electronic cuff on his ankle. This week his sentence was pronounced: 18 months in jail.

Are you ready for the finale? You have to appreciate it in full. Take a deep breath.

It was no coincidence that this verdict attracted the attention of foreign correspondents in Israel, temporary visitors who see every blemish. Yes, in German or Afrikaans this disgraceful verdict would have sounded much worse.

Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut, und Afrikaans spreche ich nicht. English I speak quite well, and searching google for “rape-by-deception” articles from two months back was not particularly difficult.

BBC:

An Arab man convicted in Israel of rape because he pretended he was a Jew when he had consensual sex with a Jewish woman has called the verdict racist.

The Forward:

An Israeli judge this week convicted Sabbar Kashur, a 30-year-old Jerusalem man, of rape and sentenced him to 18 months in prison. But his real crime was lying. The woman was outraged when Kashur immediately dressed and left her, and even more upset when she found out he was an Arab, and filed her complaint against him. He was charged with rape and indecent assault.

Andrew Sullivan:

But it’s the visceral emotional core of this that is so offensive. It’s about racism, religion and the risk of miscegenation. It’s about the deep disgust of some Israeli Jews toward Arabs, upheld by the courts. It’s a variant of the racial sexual panics of the Jim Crow South.

And it goes on, and on, and on.

CNN, Guardian, NYTimes, ABC News.

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