When Jews moving into non-Jewish neighborhoods elicits progressive scorn

photoImagine if Jerusalem authorities forbade Palestinians (those with permanent Israeli residency) from moving into Jewish neighborhoods in west Jerusalem, citing the need to protect the delicate demographic balance of the capital, and keep such neighborhoods entirely Jewish.

Is it even conceivable that journalists and commentators in the UK media would be critical of such Palestinians who decided to legally buy property and move into such Jewish neighborhoods?

Whilst the answer to this question should be obvious, it’s worth noting the furious reaction in 2010 when a few dozen racist rabbis issued a meaningless and unenforceable “religious ruling” forbidding Jews from selling land to Arabs – a ruling widely condemned as racist and illegal by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.  One Guardian contributor even prophesized in the rabbinical ruling nothing less than a rising tide of religious fascism sweeping the country, and an ominous moral decline which “strikes at the soul of Judaism”.  

Yet, when Palestinians wish to keep predominately Arab neighborhoods ethnically pure, and free of any Jewish presence whatsoever, the coverage is much different.

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Times of London falsely claims Israel ‘formally annexed’ land in the West Bank

The Times of London, on Sept. 2, published an article by Gregg Carlstrom about a recent decision by Israeli authorities to declare 988 acres in the Gush Etzion region of Judea and Samaria (close to where three Israeli teens were kidnapped and murdered in June) ‘state land’ (Israel makes biggest land grab in 30 years after teens murdered). 

Here’s a map of the area in question:

map

Map created by Ha’aretz

The Times of London article (behind a pay wall) included this opening passage:

orig

However, it is completely inaccurate to say that Israel “formally annexed” the land in question, as such formal annexation would require legislation and approval in the Knesset, a formal process that only occurred in two cases - east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  

The term “annexation” implies sovereignty, and any area that was “formally annexed” would mean the application of Israeli law to that territory. This is not the case when Israel merely declares an area to be “state land”, which does not imply sovereignty.

Even Peace Now (the group referred to in the Times of London article) doesn’t claim that the land in question was “formally annexed”, only that it was “declared state land”.

Additionally, none of the other UK papers reporting on the story that we reviewed (including the Guardian, Telegraph, Financial Times, Daily Mail and Independent) included the word “annexed” in their accounts.

After contacting editors at Times of London, they slightly revised the sentence in question, deleting the word “formally”.

revised
However, the change is completely insufficient, as the passage’s inclusion of the word “annexation” is extremely misleading.

CiF Watch prompts improved Indy headline in story of murdered Palestinian

Earlier, we came across an Indy headline in a report about the Palestinian riots taking place in east Jerusalem over the death of a Palestinian teen who many believe may have been the victim of a revenge attack. (Note, Elder of Ziyon and Harry’s Place also posted on this earlier.)

israel

We then emailed Indy editors to ask about the strange wording.  Specifically, we asked if the first three words (Israel murdered teenagers) indicate the topic of the article, as in “regarding the murdered Israeli teenagers…”, or, rather, if it was supposed to support the theory that the Palestinian teen in question – 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir – was in fact murdered by an Israeli in a nationalist attack.

An Indy editor replied and told us that it was meant to convey the former, and wasn’t intended to suggest that the Palestinian was definitely killed in a revenge attack by an Israeli. 

Then, Elder noted that that they tweaked the headline to this, merely changing “Israel” to “Israeli”, and making it equally unclear.

israeli

More recently, they changed it again, to something more understandable. 

new change

Whilst UK media coverage of the Palestinian teen’s death has thus far been extremely one-sided in embracing the yet unproven theory that he was murdered in revenge, we’re at least glad that the Indy headline in question no longer suggests that this is a proven fact. 

Update: Harry’s Place also contacted Indy editors over the original headline.

Disputed legal territory: Guardian assails Australia’s right to dissent on Jerusalem

h/t to international law expert, Eugene Kontorovich 

Though Guardian contributors often complain that pro-Israel forces instill a ‘enforced orthodoxy‘ over the debate about Israel in the media and in Western capitals, they suddenly lose their passion for dissent when encountering views at odds with the Palestinian narrative on the disputed territories in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Thus, shortly after the Australian Attorney General issued a statement declaring that the government would no longer refer to east Jerusalem as “occupied” – arguing that the term is “freighted with pejorative implications” – the Guardian published their predictable denunciation in the form of an op-ed by a lawyer (and anti-Israel campaigner) named Ben Saul.

Saul begins by complaining that “Australia’s new view” on Jerusalem “corrodes the international rule of law and violates Australia’s international law obligations”. He then cites international legal conclusions which purportedly back up the claim that east Jerusalem is “occupied” – including the 2004 opinion of International Court of Justice (ICJ), which he even acknowledges was only an ‘advisory’ opinion – and therefore is not binding on Israel, let alone Australia.

Further, despite their position on east Jerusalem, Australia’s policy vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has not undergone a substantive change.  They merely decided to avoid using a term they believe is unhelpful in the context of efforts to reach a two state solution. As Australia’s Ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, explained (per an article by Yair Rosenberg at Tablet) in response to questions about the Attorney General’s decision, “the government’s policy hasn’t changed at all”. Sharma also noted that the Australian position is still that “final status issues as identified by Oslo—and that includes the status of Jerusalem, borders, right of return—are all amenable only to political negotiations and a political solution”.    

Rosenberg summed it up thusly: In other words, Australia’s policy is not intended to endorse one side over the other, but rather to maintain neutrality and avoid prejudging the outcome of negotiations.

Later in his Guardian op-ed, Saul misrepresents a key element of the history of the city.

In the 1967 war, Israel displaced prior Jordanian control over east Jerusalem. Jordan’s claim was contested by Israel. Jordan’s claim was contested by Israel. Jordan later renounced its claim in favour of the Palestinian right of self-determination.

However, his claim that Jordan’s legal claim on east Jerusalem “was contested by Israel” is extraordinarily misleading.  In fact, their annexation of east Jerusalem was universally rejected by the international community, with the lone exception of Pakistan (Great Britain accepted the annexation of the West Bank, but not east Jerusalem).  Also of interest, though almost every country in the world refused to recognize Jordanian sovereignty over Jerusalem, we could find no evidence than any country officially referred to it – between 1949 and 1967 – as “occupied”.

Further, it is not true, as Saul claims, that Jordan renounced claims to east Jerusalem “in favour of the Palestinian right of self-determination“.  In fact, Article III of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty states the following:

The boundary, as set out in Annex I (a), is the permanent, secure and recognised international boundary between Israel and Jordan, without prejudice to the status of any territories that came under Israeli military government control in 1967.

Saul then proceeds to an even more egregious distortion:

Australia’s position therefore dangerously signals that Palestinians living in east Jerusalem no longer enjoy the protection of humanitarian law, but are subject only to Israel’s wishes.

Naturally, he fails to note that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in east Jerusalem are permanent residents of Israel, and are thus entitled to all the rights provided to Israeli citizens – including legal and judicial protections – with the exception of the right to vote in general elections. (They do vote, however, in municipal elections.)  Saul’s claim that Australia’s position “signals to Palestinians” in east Jerusalem that they don’t enjoy humanitarian protections is just absurd, and not at all supported by the facts.

Saul continues with the familiar refrain that “most of the settlements violate article 49 of the Geneva conventions“, a claim contradicted by hundreds of jurists and ambassadors, including International lawyer Prof. Eugene V. Rostow and Ambassador Morris Abram, a member of the U.S. staff at the Nuremberg Tribunal who was later involved in the drafting of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  

Abram stated:

[The Convention] was not designed to cover situations like Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, but rather the forcible transfer, deportation or resettlement of large numbers of people.

Later in his op-ed, Saul makes a bizarre logical leap:

Australia’s refusal to call the occupation for what it is necessarily endorses Israeli’s illegal acquisition of territory by force.

As we noted earlier, Australia’s position on the future status of the disputed territories “has not changed at all”. They certainly have not – in fact or in effect – ‘endorsed’ Israel’s “acquisition” of territory in Judea and Samaria, and east Jerusalem.

Finally, the mere fact that Saul and others might claim that calling Jerusalem “occupied” represents the “near-universal legal status quo” does not make it so. First, the term itself is generally “used in international law to denote the presence of one country in sovereign territory that belongs to another”.  

Additionally, Israel is the only recognized nation with a legitimate claim to the West Bank (including Jerusalem) – territory which was, for hundreds of years, until the end of World War I, the equivalent of a province in the Ottoman Empire. The territory never had any unique national standing other than as the future Jewish national homeland as stipulated by the League of Nations.

As Roslyn Pine argued on these pages:

Israel’s sovereignty and legitimacy in international law derives from the San Remo Resolution of 25 April 1920 (recognising the Balfour Declaration), as does that of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, following the WWI settlement. It was supplemented by the Mandate for Palestine of July 1922, and the Franco British Boundary Convention of December 1920.

Jewish national rights accorded by these agreements have never been abrogated and are indeed binding to the present day.

Thus, while the status of east Jerusalem (which, let’s recall, includes the ancient Jewish quarter of the Old City and the Western Wall, the holiest site at which Jews are permitted to pray) is disputed, it is not accurate to affirm – as if there is no legal debate on the matter – that is “occupied”. 

Guardian editorial predictably embraces ‘settlement root cause theory’.

Though the Guardian fancies itself ‘the world’s leading liberal voice‘, a fair analysis of the paper’s editorial stance on a myriad of issues suggests an institutional failure to adhere to two important elements of ‘liberalism’ properly understood. 

First, they often betray the spirit of liberalism insofar as the term denotes support for free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, women’s rights and tolerance towards sexual minorities.  

Second, they fail to show fealty towards another principle attached to the term: open-mindedness and a willingness to examine political phenomena objectively and without preconceived ideas or prejudices.

As such, the media group is often doctrinaire and predictable in their tendency to be suspicious of Western democracies yet often sympathetic towards ‘lefitst’ authoritarianism; hostile towards Tories and Republicans but forgiving of Marxists and Islamists; and, of course, hyper-critical of Zionists but tolerant of even the most reactionary expressions of Palestinian nationalism.

Regarding the latter issue, we were confident to a degree approaching empirical certainty that the Guardian would publish an editorial after talks between the two parties broke down not only blaming Israel, but focusing their ire on the one issue which, in the opinion of their editors, reporters and commentators, represents the root cause of the impasse: Israeli ‘settlements’.

Har Homa, Jerusalem

Har Homa, Jerusalem

Of course, the mere absence of evidence that such settlement construction – or, often, just housing tenders – had any substantive impact on the failure of the US Secretary of State to get the two parties to agree to a long-term agreement (or even a framework agreement) was never going to represent an obstacle to the inevitable conclusion in their April 27 editorial, Israel and the Palestinians: lost opportunities:

The failure of the talks between Israelis and Palestinians which John Kerry, the US secretary of state, pursued with such determination over nine difficult months can hardly have taken Mr Abbas by surprise. It had been widely anticipated. But the barely concealed relish with which the government of Binyamin Netanyahu two weeks ago bade goodbye to negotiations which they had effectively torpedoed by authorising new settlement-building seems to have pushed President Abbas into an uncharacteristically extreme burst of activity, and perhaps into a strategic change of course.

Leaving aside the fact that their editorial naturally also downplays the significance of Fatah’s announced unity with the Islamist terror group Hamas to the talks’ implosion, even the most casual observer of the 9 months of negotiations would have to acknowledge one undeniable fact which undermines the Guardian’s belief: Israel never agreed to so much as curtail the construction of homes beyond the green line (in Jerusalem or the West Bank) in the initial agreement between the two parties (brokered by the Americans) to begin talks last July.

So, how can Guardian editors – or anyone for that matter – now claim that the talks were “torpedoed” by activity the Palestinians tacitly agreed could continue?

Finally, a few words on the specious logic which underpins the broader settlement mantra.

Negotiations have, since at least 2000, been premised on the broad understanding that final borders would inevitably include Israel maintaining large settlement blocs – including predominately Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem – contiguous with 1949 Armistice Line boundaries (where the overwhelming majority of the construction since July has taken place), and the abandonment of more isolated settlements. 

Map reflecting Israeli peace plan in 2008

Map reflecting Israeli peace plan in 2008

In addition to the fact that any new homes built in isolated settlements – located within territory which will become part of Palestine – could easily be evacuated after a peace deal is signed, how can anyone seriously claim that new homes built on land which will certainly remain Israeli represents an obstacle to a two-state agreement?

It seems that a truly liberal publication – one which values the rigorous examination of evidence over a blind adherence to conventional wisdom and political talking points – would understand that the ‘settlement root cause theory’, advanced by the Palestinians and lazily embraced by the UK media elite, fails the most rudimentary tests of logic and common sense.

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‘Fisking’ Robert Fisk’s latest on Israel: distortions, half-truths and fabrications

Robert Fisk isn’t very happy with the latest “betrayal of the Palestinians”, which is how he characterizes the US decision to temporarily end their aggressive engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process after Fatah’s reconciliation with Hamas.  

In his latest report for The Independent, ‘Yet another betrayal of the Palestinians‘, April 25, Fisk blames Barack Obama for ‘cowardly’ walking away from the process, and laments that the US President has shown himself once again to be ‘in lock step’ with Jerusalem.

However, beyond the narrow and quite risible claim that Obama and Netanyahu are in cahoots, or at least using the same political playbook, Fisk’s ‘analysis’ is laden with distortions, half-truths and outright fabrications. 

Fisk derides “claim” that Hamas is a terror group

Fisk:

Of course – lock-stepping with Israel as usual – Obama condemned Mahmoud Abbas for the “unhelpful” step of trying to form a unity government with Hamas, a skewed version of events that entirely chimes with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s predictable claim that the Palestinian President “formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organisation that calls for Israel’s destruction”.

So, to Fisk, Obama and Netanyahu are merely parroting an evidently debatable “claim” that Hamas is a “murderous terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction”, despite the fact that the group is an internationally recognized terror organization whose founding charter unambiguously calls for Israel’s destruction and the murder of Jews, and has launched terror attacks that killed hundreds of Israeli civilians.

Fisk uncritically accepts Palestinian talking points about Hamas’s imminent move to the political centre.

Fisk:

Forget that Mr Abbas insists that this Palestinian unity would be founded on recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and acceptance of previous agreements.

Of course, the suggestion that Hamas – whose leaders have called for genocide against the Jews – would ever betray its fundamental anti-Zionist doctrine and recognize Israel (and renounce violence) is ludicrous. Not only has a Hamas spokesperson already distanced the group from suggestions that they may recognize Israel, but the PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reportedly already walked back Abbas’s claim, and stated that Hamas is not obligated to recognize Israel to be part of the government.

Fisk grossly under counts the population of Arab Israelis

Fisk:

Since Mr Netanyahu has been demanding that Mr Abbas accept – even before the latter’s renewed love affair with Hamas – that Israel was a “Jewish state” (thus deleting its tens of thousands of Israeli Arab citizens), no “recognition of Israel” without its Jewish definition would be of any use to him.

We’re not sure how he made such a big error, but a simple tour of the website of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (among the myriad of sources he could have used to check this ‘fact’) would have demonstrated that the population of Arab Israelis is over 1.6 Million, not “tens of thousands”.

The US is “in hock” to the Israeli government?

Fisk:

How on earth did Mr Kerry think that he could bring this nonsense off in nine months?  For as long as the US administration remains in hock to the Israeli government and continues to support Israel, right or wrong, it can never – and will never – negotiate peace between the two.

Though we weren’t previously familiar with the term “in hock”, it appears that (based on a popular online dictionary) if you are “in hock” to someone, you feel you have to do things for them because they have given you money or support.  Given the context, it appears that Fisk is (furtively) evoking the alleged influence of the ‘Israeli lobby’ over US foreign policy.

New Jewish “colonies” in east Jerusalem?

Fisk:

Only a month ago, Israel approved the construction of yet another 186 houses in the newly colonised Jewish areas of East Jerusalem

Fisk is likely referring to Israel’s recent approval of 40 new homes in Pisgat Zeev and 146 in Har Homa.  However, contrary to his claim, these are not “newly colonized” areas.  The Har Homa neighborhood was established in 1997, while Pisgat Zeev was founded in 1982.  

The Oslo Accords prohibit Israeli construction across the green line?

Fisk:

From the start, Mr Arafat agreed that his land would exist only in 22 per cent of Mandate Palestine. Fair enough. But then he accepted the growing Jewish colonies on the West Bank, allowed America to dictate the terms for peace – which were supposed to prevent any such territorial expansion after the Oslo agreement – and then permitted the US to blame him for the failure of negotiations

Contrary to Fisk’s suggestion, the Oslo Accords (Oslo 1 and Oslo 2) did NOT prohibit Israeli settlements in the territories.  The Accords stipulated that such issues – relating to final borders and the fate of Israeli settlements – were to be settled in a final status agreement.

Hamas rocket attacks on Sderot (and only Sderot?) were a “gift” to Israel:

Fisk:

Hamas…handed Israel a gift by bombarding Sderot from Gaza with thousands of inaccurate rockets, most of them home-made. It allowed Israel to kill hundreds of Palestinian civilians as it sought revenge, and deprived the Israeli left (that which still existed) of their support for the original Israeli withdrawal from Gaza;

So, to Fisk, thousands of Hamas rocket attacks (on Sderot, and, presumably, only Sderot) were a gift to Israeli leaders who were intent on finding an excuse to kill Palestinian civilians.  

Additionally, addressing Fisk’s other contention, beyond Sderot, towns targeted by the more than 8,000 quite deadly rockets (Heavy Mortars, Qassams, Grads, and the FAJR-5) fired from Gaza since its withdrawal in 2005 include Netivot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Be’er Sheva, Kiryat Malachi, Okafim, Kiryat Gat, the greater Tel Aviv area and even the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Finally, here’s a glimpse at a few of those “home-made” “inaccurate” rockets in action:

 

Robert Fisk: So many distortions and fabrications in so few words of text.

There’s indeed a reason why bloggers refer to the point-by-point refutation of such blatant errors in an article or op-ed as ‘Fisking‘.

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The Guardian plays crooked lawyer for the Palestinians

A few months ago we published an essay arguing that, in the event talks between the two parties break down and another is Intifada is initiated by Palestinian leaders, we can expect the Guardian to morally justify the violence.  

What we didn’t address at the time was our similar confidence that their editors, reporters and commentators would blame Israel for the break down in talks.

Sure enough, as talks have all but broken down (due to unilateral Palestinians acts hours before the Israeli government was set to approve an American brokered deal to extend talks to 2015), the Guardian published an official editorial which parrots the discredited claim that an Israeli announcement for new home tenders in east Jerusalem was the culprit.

Here are the relevant passages in the Guardian editorial (The Peace Bubble Bursts, April 11):

[Kerry's] determined concentration on peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, his repeated trips to the Middle East, and many months of hard work by a small army of advisers, drafters and facilitators, have ended not in a bang but a whimper

The “poof” moment was Israel‘s announcement of permits to build 700 new homes for settlers in East Jerusalem, a clearly provocative move given the Palestinian demand for a halt, or at least a pause, in settlement activity, and their insistence that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state

Of course, the claim that an “announcement of permits to build [708] new homes for settlers in East Jerusalem” effectively ended the talks is not even remotely accurate. 

First, Israel never agreed to so much as curtail the construction of homes beyond the green line (in Jerusalem or the West Bank) in the initial agreement brokered by Kerry to begin talks last July. They agreed to release Palestinian prisoners, but made no such guarantees regarding ‘settlements’.

Second, the east Jerusalem homes were reportedly a reissue of an earlier pronouncement permitting these new apartments in Gilo to be built, which, as Adam Kredo noted, means “that the substance of the decree [on new homes in east Jerusalem] had not changed for months and had not [previously] been a roadblock to the peace talks”.  

Third, other such ‘settlement’ construction announcements during negotiations have been made by Israeli authorities without major incident – due, again, to the fact that Israel never agreed to curtail such activity – prior to the east Jerusalem tenders.  This includes a January announcement that tenders were released for the construction of 600 homes in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in east Jerusalem.

Finally, it’s important to note that the 708 housing tenders were issued for Gilo, a neighborhood in Jerusalem which almost everyone (including the Palestinians) agrees will remain under Israeli control upon a final status agreement.  In fact, the Guardian should look back at their own reports of the leaked Palestinian notes during negotiations between Abbas and Olmert in 2008 (known as the Palestine Papers), where they confirmed that Palestinians leaders agreed that Gilo would remain Israeli.

Here’s a passage from a Jan 23, 2011 Guardian report by Seumas Milne and Ian Black:

The concession in May 2008 by Palestinian leaders to allow Israel to annex the settlements in East Jerusalemincluding Gilo, a focus of controversy after Israel gave the go-ahead for 1,400 new homes – has never been made public.

Here’s the map they published showing the Jerusalem neighborhoods in Jerusalem (in blue) which (Palestinians agreed) would be Israeli under the plan.  As you can see, the neighborhoods (beyond the green line) which Israel would retain include the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, East Talpiot, and Gilo.

mapsIn short, the Guardian’s risible suggestion that 708 housing tenders for Gilo caused the peace talks to fail does not represent the dispassionate analysis of ‘professional journalists’, but, rather, the deceit and sophistry of a crooked lawyer.

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Guardian columnist compares Israel to an autistic child

Here’s the headline of a Nov. 1 column by the Guardian’s Giles Fraser,

austistic

Fraser was evidently inspired to explore such analogy by his dismay over Israel’s recent decision to build homes in its capital:

This week the Israeli government announced final approval for 1,500 new apartments in East Jerusalem. Much of the rest of the world – even the US – complains vigorously about all this highly contentious settlement building. But it makes little difference. Israel doesn’t listen. It just keeps on doing its own thing, indifferent to the calls of the international community. The impression given is that Israel doesn’t give two hoots what anybody else thinks.

Naturally, Fraser fails to mention the 104 Palestinian prisoners – convicted of murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder – who Israel agreed to release (despite the anguished pleas of terror victims’ families) in order to please the ‘international community’ and resume peace talks – a fact inconsistent with his caricature of a country not giving “two hoots” about what others think.

Now, for Fraser’s pseudo-intellectualizing:

It is, claims French academic Diana Pinto in a recent book, a form of national autism. Back in 2009, French Europe minister Pierre Lellouche called British foreign policy “autistic” for being introverted and self-absorbed…

Her argument begins by noting that Israel is brilliant scientifically and technologically. Amazingly, for so tiny a place, it has more companies listed on the Nasdaq, the hi-tech stock market, than all of Europe combined. This start-up revolution has, she insists, replaced the kibbutz as Israel’s “conceptual motor”. Israel works fantastically well in cyberspace. Perhaps it always has. Zionism, until very recently, has long been a dream, a sort of virtual reality. Those who have, for centuries, been hounded as aliens in other people’s lands, might have learnt to live more freely in the imagination than in the harsh reality of poverty and pogroms.

But the flip side of all this prodigy-like technological mastery is a lack of empathy, an inability to meet the gaze or to enter into the emotional reality of its neighbours. In this Rain Man caricature, Israel lives in an existential bubble, cut off (by a wall, both mental and literal) from its surroundings.

Of course, it was the unimaginable lack of empathy of Palestinian terrorists – who indiscriminately targeted Israeli men, women and children in waves of sadistic suicide bomb attacks in the early and mid 2000s – which necessitated the security fence in the first place.

6a010536b72a74970b0134853987b2970c

Passover massacre, Netanya, 2002

Later, Fraser’s argument gets even stranger, as he suggests that even Judaism’s lack of interest in proselytizing also suggests a lack of empathy.

This introversion Pinto links with Judaism’s lack of interest in religious conversion. “Any attempt to convert others implies finding the best way to interact with them by penetrating into their deepest values and symbols … in brief, dialoguing. 

Now, for the finale in Fraser’s efforts at “dialoguing” with those ‘stiff-necked’ Israeli Jews:

Autistic personalities rarely dialogue.” In other words, Israel lives in its own little cyberspace, a loner that doesn’t play well with other people.

So, to conclude, Fraser posits that Israel is not unlike a child – with arrested cognitive development – who doesn’t play well with others!

Of course, only someone suffering from the most pronounced political myopia could fail to acknowledge that it has been Israel’s neighbors – through 65 years of war, terrorism, antisemitic indoctrination, boycotts, and other forms of racist violence and exclusion – who have been guilty of “not playing nicely with others”.

Perhaps Fraser can write a follow-up post, psychoanalyzing Arabs (and Palestinian Arabs) who clearly prefer wallowing in their malign obsession with Israel (and their own sense of victimhood) than learning to accept (and benefit from) a normal relationship with the Jewish state.

In fairness, Fraser walks back his argument a bit towards the end of his column by citing a Cambridge University professor who was critical of his Autism analogy. Nevertheless, the fact that such a facile (and remarkably bizarre) hypothesis ever saw the light of day in a ‘mainstream’ UK broadsheet in the first place speaks volumes about the strange obsession with Jews and Israel by a significant segment of the British Left.

Indy legitimises ludicrous charge that Israel is ‘ethnically cleansing’ Jerusalem

If facts and logic governed the media’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, then recent claims by Palestinian spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi that new Israeli homes in the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo represent a “policy of ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem” would be dismissed as the agitprop of the intellectually unserious.

However, not only was there no indication of incredulousness in the face of such absurd charges in The Independent’s Aug. 26 report by Ben Lynfield, but it was actually used in the headline:

headline

As we explained in a recent post, the broad charge, believed by an astonishing number of “sophisticated” Europeans, that Israel is engaged in a project of “extermination” against the Palestinians, is one of the most easily disprovable hypotheses encountered in the cesspool of anti-Zionist narratives.

Though demographic evidence alone, showing that the Palestinian population has grown dramatically in the West Bank and Gaza since 1948, demonstrates how preposterous these claims are, the mere lack of empirical evidence has never served as much of a barrier to those committed to assaulting the Jewish state’s legitimacy.  Indeed, the laziness of ‘professional’ journalists covering the region, who typically fail to critically scrutinize such hyperbole, ensures that there is no disincentive for the practitioners of delegitimization to continue advancing these hateful smears.

The non-ethnic cleansing of Muslims from Jerusalem:

In response to Ashrawi’s charge, a real journalist could of course look at population statistics demonstrating that the number of Muslims in Jerusalem, both in total numbers and as an overall percentage, have increased dramatically since 1948.  Specifically, the Muslim population of Jerusalem increased from 1967 (when Israel unified the city) to 2011, from nearly 55,000 to over 291,000, while the Jewish population increased by a slower rate – from under 196,000 to 650,000.

graph 2

Jewish Virtual Library Graph, based on figures from the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics

The non-ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Jerusalem:

As far as the total Arab population (Muslims and non-Muslims), per the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, “there has been a decline in the proportionate size of Jerusalem’s Jewish population, with a concomitant increase in the proportion of the Arab population.” Specifically, the proportion of the Jewish population fell from 74% in 1967 to 64% in 2009. Simultaneously “the Arab population in the city rose from 26% in 1967 to 36% in 2009.”

Here’s a graph illustrating the increase in Arabs (and Jews, and others) in Jerusalem between 1931 and 2009:

graph

Graph via the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies

(Additionally, current population figures suggest that Palestinian Arabs outnumber Jews in east Jerusalem by a ratio of roughly 3 to 2.) 

As you can see, whatever your views on Israel’s decision to build homes in communities in “east” Jerusalem (parts of the city previously controlled by Jordan), the charge that such construction, on lands which are currently uninhabited, constitutes the “ethnic cleansing” of either Muslims or Arabs is nothing but a lie. 

If the toxic influence of pro-Palestinian propaganda wasn’t so severe, the charge that Israelis are engaged in anything resembling the ethnic cleansing of Muslims or Arabs would be regarded with the suspicion and contempt that typically greets other discredited anti-Zionist and antisemitic conspiracy theories.

CiF Watch prompts correction to inaccurate Indy headline about settlements

Yesterday, we posted about a report at The Independent which included a headline falsely claiming that Israel had recently announced the construction of “900 more settlements“.  As we noted, what Israeli authorities had actually announced was “900 more homes” in existing neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.

Here’s the original headline:

Shortly after our communication with Indy editors, the headline was corrected, and it now reads as follows:

headline

We commend Indy editors for promptly responding to our complaint.

 

Misleading Indy scare headline: Israel to build “900 MORE SETTLEMENTS”

True, the accompanying text of an Aug. 14th story by the Indy’s Ben Lynfied does note that Israel has merely announced their intention to build 900 more homes in (eastern) Jerusalem neighborhoods – but that’s not what the headline tells readers:

original headline indy

As anyone even vaguely familiar with the issue should know, there are 120 or so such ‘settlements’ – Israeli communities built across the green line – in total. So, it’s quite curious how “900 homes” was translated by editors into “900 settlements”.

Moreover, whilst some may claim such errors merely reflect the innocent mistakes of editors, it seems fair to ask why such mistakes are ubiquitous, and seem to nearly always result in errors which show Israel in a less favorable light.  

Finally, given that the homes (in existing Jerusalem neighborhoods) will likely “not be ready for habitation for another couple of years”, and the current round of peace talks are scheduled to last 9 months, it’s questionable how – per the Indy headline and accompanying text – such planned construction can reasonably be characterized as undermining hopes for a final agreement.

But, of course, such loaded headlines, whatever their motivation, are clearly not meant to contextualize news in a manner which will provide readers with an accurate understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. 

Jewish Empire? The Guardian refers to communities in Jerusalem as “colonies”.

Whilst we’re all too used to Guardian reports which demonize Israeli communities on the ‘wrong’ side of the 1949 armistice lines, we occasionally notice that their reporters at times adopt language about the ‘settlements’ in Judea and Samaria which parrots that of the most extreme anti-Zionist activists.  

A perfect example of this rhetorical expression of pro-Palestinian sympathy was Harriet Sherwood’s use of the term “political prisoners” in a Guardian story in May to characterize the pre-Oslo prisoners, all of whom were convicted of (mostly terrorist related) murder, accessory to murder or attempted murder.  Though we were able to influence the Guardian to remove that grossly inaccurate term from the article in question, we recently came across another example of the propagandistic manipulation of language in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

In “Middle East peace talks: prisoner release and new settlement push raises temperature, August 11th, Harriet Sherwood writes the following: [emphasis added]

“Eight hundred of the new homes will be built in colonies across the pre-1967 Green Line in Jerusalem – the part of the city the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state. Construction could take two years. All settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.”

Similarly, a month earlier in “EU takes tougher stance on Israeli settlements“, Sherwood wrote this: 

“The European Union has dealt a harsh blow to the Israeli settlement enterprise in a directive that insists all future agreements between the EU and Israel must explicitly exclude Jewish colonies in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.”

Of course, the word “colonies”, as it is normally understood, typically refers to a group of people from one country who settle in a foreign country distant from their homeland – an accurate characterization of the former British Empire, for instance.  Indeed, by the early 20th century Britain had ‘acquired’ foreign colonies representing over one-quarter of the world’s land mass, including territories in Africa and Asia thousands of miles from the British mainland, with large indigenous populations.

The neighborhoods in “East” Jerusalem to which Sherwood refers – areas such as Pisgat Ze’ev and Gilo which non-Jews, including Israeli Arabs, will also live – are currently uninhabited and are adjacent to existing Israeli neighborhoods.

map of jerusalem borders 67 before and after

To refer even to Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) as “colonies” is ahistorical, given the historical Jewish connection to these ancient lands, but to impute such a pejorative status to such neighborhoods in Jerusalem is nothing more than extremist agitprop – denying Jews’ religious and historical connection to the city (literally the epicenter of the faith), as well as Jews’ continuous presence there for thousands of years.

The only time of course that “Arab East Jerusalem” was indeed completely Arab (without any Jews) was after the Arab-Israeli War in 1948-49 during which they were forcefully expelled by the Jordanians – a Judenfrei status which only ended in 1967. 

To refer to neighborhoods in Jerusalem where Israelis live as “colonies” not only grotesquely distorts history and ordinary language, but also echoes the hateful anti-Zionist rhetoric of Mondoweiss, Electronic Intifada and Ben White – those who continually attempt to undermine not only the legitimacy of the “settlements” but the very right of the Jewish state to exist within any borders. 

The Guardian asks if 4.9 million Palestinian “refugees” will “return” to cities…where they never lived.

Those who get their news from the mainstream media (or the Guardian) could be forgiven for believing that there are nearly 5 million Palestinian refugees from the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli War.

So often is that figure bandied around that most don’t understand that it only reflects the number of Palestinians qualifying for “refugee” benefits under the bizarre formula of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency by which the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (ad infinitum) of actual refugees continue to inherit this status.  This designation is even bestowed upon those Palestinians who are already citizens of other countries.  

Mural in Dheishe refugee camp

Mural in Dheishe “refugee” camp

(Using such demographic calculus, one could argue that – based on the number of Israelis whose ancestors fled Europe during the Holocaust, or fled Arab countries due to antisemitic persecution – the majority of Israeli citizens are “refugees”.)

Indeed, the number of actual Palestinian refugees from the Arab-Israeli War, out of the initial 750,000 or so after the war, is estimated to be closer to 30,000.

This data is important to remember as we follow media reports on recently renewed negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians – specifically the issue of how to deal with Palestinian demands that some or all of the “refugees” be allowed to “return” to Israel. 

Unsurprisingly, Harriet Sherwood’s two recent reports on negotiations in Washington both included passages with characteristically misleading information on the issue.

A July 29th story by Sherwood titled Middle East peace talks rebooted as Netanyahu and Abbas mull legacies‘ included the following:

the issue of borders is relatively simple compared with what seem to be unbridgeable gaps concerning Jerusalem, which both sides want as a capital, but whose division or sharing is adamantly rejected by Israel, and the matter of whether at least some of the 4.9 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the diaspora will be allowed to return to their pre-1948 homes, as the Palestinians insist.

Additionally, her July 30th report, Middle East Peace Talks Under Way‘, included this:

Other, even more difficult, issues – such as the future of Jerusalem, which both sides want as a capital, and whether any of the 4.9m Palestinian refugees can return to their former homes, now in Israel – would have to be addressed over the coming months.

Of course, both passages would leave the average reader with the false impression that there are 4.9 million Palestinians who had homes in Israel, when, in reality, the overwhelming majority of them were obviously born after 1949 and never set one foot within the boundaries of the Jewish state.  

Whatever the outcome of current negotiations between the two parties, and regardless of any diplomatic comprises proposed by either side to achieve a symbolic settlement of the “refugee” issue, Israel naturally won’t let Palestinian Arabs “return” to homes that they never actually owned, in cities where they never once lived. 

Finally, it’s interesting to note that the Guardian has, on two recent occasions, completely whitewashed the historically undisputed ethnic cleansing of Jews by Arab rulers in the years following the 1948 war, yet parrots a Palestinian narrative falsely imputing such a victim status onto millions of Palestinians who never during the course of their lives were actual refugees.

The Guardian narrative is at times as ahistorical as it is ideological.

The Guardian AGAIN whitewashes the ethnic cleansing of Jews

We recently posted about a stunning omission at the Guardian, an entry at their data blog which in effect erased the plight of hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees in the latter half of the 20th century from the pages of history.  The July 25th report, edited by Mona Chalabi, was titled What happened to history’s refugees?‘, and included, in a supposedly complete list of history’s refugees, the following events: Israelites: Canaan (740 BC), Edict of Fontainebleau (France 1685), Muhacirs (Ottoman Empire 1783), Pogroms (Russia 1881), WWI (Europe 1914), WWII (Europe 1945), and the Nakba (Palestine 1948).

It then skipped right over the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab lands and listed, as the next refugees crisis in the 20th century, Idi Amin’s Order (Uganda 1972) – Amin’s expulsion of more than 50,000 Asians from the country.

The Guardian data blog completely omitted the expulsion of more than 800,000 Jewfrom Middle Eastern and North African countries between 1948 and 1972, an undisputed event in which Arab leaders (beginning in 1948) conspired to target the Jewish populations in their respective countries.  This antisemitic persecution included confiscating Jewish property and assets, and stripping Jews of their citizenship – forcing them to flee their homes and surrender their nationalities. Whereas in 1948 there were 850,000 Jews in Arab states, today there are less than 7,000.

This Arab collective punishment against innocent Jews was initiated of course to exact revenge for the ‘sin’ of the Jewish state’s rebirth.

Additionally, Harriet Sherwood published a report at The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) on Saturday which again erased the Arab expulsion of Jews in the period after Israel’s birth.  The piece is titled ‘The new Jerusalem‘, July 27, and focuses on “the problem” of Jews who are (legally) purchasing property from Arabs in eastern Jerusalem – imputing, naturally, the darkest motives to everyday commercial transactions in the Israeli capital.  Indeed, as the following passage from her report indicates, Sherwood seems intent on characterizing Jews’ desire to live in neighborhoods outside of the 1949 armistice lines as something akin to ethnic cleansing.

Around 1,000 Jewish settlers now live among 31,000 Palestinians in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, taking over homes that have been inhabited by Muslim families for decades or even centuries, and flying Israeli flags from the walls and rooftops of their properties. They are the frontline fighters in a broader battle – backed by the Israeli government, city authorities and security services – to ensure Jewish control of Jerusalem and to drive its Palestinian population down to a minimum.

Sherwood of course doesn’t provide much in the way of details about this ‘Israeli plan’ to drive Palestinians from Jerusalem, but suffice to say that if there were such a scheme population figures would indicate that it is failing miserably.  

Per the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies:

Over the years, there has been an evident decline in the proportionate size of Jerusalem’s Jewish population, with a concomitant increase in the proportion of the Arab population. The proportion of the Jewish population fell from 74% in
1967 to 72% in 1980, to 68% in 2000, and to 64% in 2009. Simultaneously the Arab population rose from 26% in 1967 to 28% in 1980, to 32% in 2000, and to 36% in 2009.

But, not only does Sherwood suggest, without evidence, an Israeli attempt to purge the city of Palestinians, but when in the course of her narrative there’s an opportunity to provide balance and context, and detail the expulsion of Jews from eastern Jerusalem in 1948, the Guardian reporter merely writes the following:

at the end of the war following the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, Jerusalem was divided, with the Old City on the Jordanian-controlled eastern side of the armistice line, known as the Green Line. The Jewish population within the ancient stone walls sank to zero.

Why the Jewish population “within the ancient stone walls” magically “sank to zero”, she of course doesn’t say.

Readers aren’t told that on May 28, 1948 the Jewish Quarter of the Old City fell to the Arab Legion and upon its capture Jews were expelled from eastern Jerusalem and barred from returning, or even visiting Jewish holy places – and that the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was all but destroyed.  

Expelled Jews shoved out of Zion Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem after the Arab conquest of 1948.

Expelled Jews shoved out of Zion Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem after the Arab conquest of 1948.

Additionally, in the immediate aftermath of the expulsion, the following occurred:

Fifty-eight synagogues—some hundreds of years old—were destroyed [by the Jordanians], their contents looted and desecrated. Some Jewish religious sites were turned into chicken coops or animal stalls. The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews had been burying their dead for over 2500 years, was ransacked; graves were desecrated; thousands of tombstones were smashed and used as building material, paving stones or for latrines in Arab Legion army camps. The Intercontinental Hotel was built on top of the cemetery and graves were demolished to make way for a highway to the hotel. The Western Wall became a slum area.

In short, any trace of Jewish life was destroyed. The misnomer “historically Arab East Jerusalem” is of course based on this 18 year historical blip when the city was forcibly rendered Judenrein – a moral injustice which was only brought to an end when Israeli soldiers liberated the city on June 7, 1967.   

Did the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent really not know any of this?  

In an over 1800 word story, did she not consider providing her readers with even a brief mention of the cleansing of Jews, or that such context would help readers understand Israel’s hesitancy to relinquish sovereignty over the birthplace of Judaism, a city representing nothing short of the spiritual epicenter of their faith?

For the second time in a week the Guardian has attempted to expunge from the public record an indisputable saga regarding the ethnic cleansing of Jews – innocent victims of Arab malevolence who reluctantly continue to assume the role of history’s forgotten refugees.

How big is E-1? The geographic reality of an alleged “impediment to peace”

A guest post by AKUS

There’s been a lot of talk at the Guardian – and in the mainstream media – about the tiny area of land (known as ‘E-1′) outside Jerusalem (encompassing a mere 12 square kilometers of land out of more than 5,600 square kilometers of territory in the West Bank), so I thought it might be worth putting it in perspective:

Here’s a map showing E-1 taken from Ha’aretz (Q&A: What is area E-1, anyway?) which has the advantage of showing E-1 in bright red:

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Here is the same image overlaid on a true map of Jerusalem and surroundings.  The guide in the bottom left hand corner gives a better idea of the distances and area involved – about 2 miles/4km from central Jerusalem, and between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim:

2

For clarity, here is the E-1 area extracted from the map provided by Ha’aretz and overlaid on the same map of Jerusalem and surroundings:

3

By way of comparison, here is the E-1 area overlaid on a map of Manhattan – it is less than 4 times larger than Central Park:

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To make the scale of E-1 a little more obvious, let’s zoom out to include most of Manhattan and surroundings:

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And here is E-1 overlaid on a portion of the map of Israel to the same scale:

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Is the world-wide fuss over an area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, less than four times the size of Central Park, and a fraction of the size of Manhattan, that the Palestinians know will be included in the area of Israel if an agreement is ever reached, really worth making?