Economist’s Nicolas Pelham Deceives About Christians in Israel

Cross posted by CAMERA’s Israel Director, Tamar Sternthal

Charging “Israel’s multiple self-professed lobbyists” for having “donned the mantle of Christian saviors,” The Economist‘s Nicolas Pelham cites Proverbs to excoriate: “Deceive not with thy lips.” Writing yesterday in Haaretz (“Christians in Israel and Palestine“), it is Pelham himself who repeatedly deceives.

Population Decline or Growth?

First, he completely misleads about Israel’s Christian population, claiming it has declined, when in fact it has increased by 268 percent since 1949. He writes:

What [Israel's lobbyists] do not say is that Israel’s population of native Christians has fallen by roughly the same proportion. From 8 percent in 1947 (in all of mandatory Palestine), it numbered 4 percent in 1948, and is now less than 2 percent. The reasons for the decline are largely the same. Jewish, as Muslim, birth-rates are much higher. [Note: The last sentence appears only online. It is not in the print edition.]

What Pelham does not say is that according to The Statistical Abstract of Israel, there were approximately 34,000 Christians living in Israel in 1949. This figure was not broken down by ethnicity, but the vast majority of these people were Arab Christians. And at the end of 2011, there were approximately, 125,000 Arab Christians living in Israel. By citing relative figures instead of absolute figures, Pelham deceives readers into believing Israel’s Christian population “has fallen,” when the opposite is true.

Deceive not with thy lips.

St. George’s Harmony of Violence?

Painting a dubious picture of mutual respect and harmony among Muslim and Christian Palestinians, Pelham deceives:

On St. George’s Day, Muslims join Christians to commemorate his martyrdom at his shrine in Al-Khader, near Bethlehem.

Hardly the picture of coexistence, last week’s celebration of the feast of St. George at St. George’s Orthodox Church ended in a violent clash, as was documented on a YouTube video that went viral:

According to Lela Gilbert, author of Saturday People, Sunday People, Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner:

A Bethlehem Greek Orthodox Church (St. George’s Church – Khadar – near Beit Jala) was attacked by Muslims during its annual St. George’s Day services on May 6. … Some local Muslims either tried to park a car too close the church and/or tried to enter the church during a service honoring St. George – the initial instigation isn’t clear. But when the intruders were asked to leave, one of them stabbed a Christian man who was outside the church serving as a guard. He was hospitalized. Several then started throwing stones at the church. 7 or 8 Christians were injured and some physical damage was done – broken windows etc. The police didn’t show up for an hour.

“Despite the contradictory reports, it seems pretty obvious that whatever police presence there was at St. George’s on its feast day, it was insufficient to prevent an outbreak of violence, which resulted in several injuries including one broken nose,” observed Dexter Van Zile, CAMERA’s Christian Media Analyst. “In sum, stones were thrown at Christianity’s living stones near the city of Christ’s birth.”

“No matter how you look at it, the episode represents a failure on the part of the Palestinian Authority, one that local journalists and Christian leaders are – for understandable reasons – reluctant to highlight,” Van Zile added.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Islamist Bullying in Gaza A Thing of the Past?

Pelham depicts a false rosy picture for Gaza’s Christians, falsely suggesting that intimidation was limited to “the early days of Hamas rule in Gaza.” He writes:

In the early days of Hamas rule in Gaza, militants firebombed a church and attacked its worshippers uncannily close to a police station. But the Islamists have since clamped down on their own; their prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, pointedly attended church to honor a local Christian politician.

The U.S. State Department’s International Freedom Report for 2012 (the most recent report available) paints a more sober picture of the status of Gaza’s Christians. “The de facto Hamas authorities in Gaza continued to restrict religious freedom in both law and practice, and the negative trend for respect of this right was reflected in such abuses as arresting or detaining Muslims in Gaza who did not abide by Hamas’ strict interpretation of Islam . . . ” The report noted:

Hamas largely tolerated the small Christian presence in Gaza and did not force Christians to abide by Islamic law. However, Hamas’ religious ideology negatively affected Christians, according to church leaders. For example, local religious leaders received warnings ahead of Christian holidays against any public display of Christianity. Christians raised concerns that Hamas failed to defend their rights as a religious minority. Local officials sometimes advised converts to leave their communities to prevent harassment against them. Hamas officials on July 19 publicly denied allegations from the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza that Hamas-affiliated officials coerced Ramez Ayman and Hiba Abu Dawoud and her three children to convert to Islam. Christians staged a protest at Gaza’s main church in late July.

What Pelham does not say is that as recently as July 2012, Palestinian Christians living in the Gaza Strip were reportedly kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. “According to the Greek Orthodox Church in the Gaza Strip, at least five Christians have been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam in recent weeks,” Khaled Abu Toameh reported in Gatestone Institute (“Who Will Save the Christians in the Gaza Strip”?). He added:

The church blamed an unidentified terror group of being behind the forced conversions and called on the international community to intervene to save the Christians.

Church leaders also accused a prominent Hamas man of being behind the kidnapping and forced conversion of a Christian woman, Huda Abu Daoud, and her three daughters. Shortly after she disappeared, the woman sent a message to her husband’s mobile phone informing him that she and her daughters had converted to Islam.

In a rare public protest, leaders and members of the 2,000-strong Christian community in the Gaza Strip staged a sit-in strike in the Gaza Strip this week to condemn the abductions and forced conversions in particular, and persecution at the hands of radical Muslims in general.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Christmas Tree Ban in the Knesset?

The Jerusalem-based journalist and writer on Arab affairs erred when he wrote:

haaretz knesset bans christmas trees

The online article helpfully provides a link to a Dec. 26, 2013 AP story which appeared at the time in Haaretz. The AP article does not support Mr. Pelham’s claim that the Knesset bans Christmas trees “from its premises.” In fact, it states:

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein says he refused to display a Christmas tree in the parliament because of the “painful memories” it evoked among Jews.

Edelstein told Israel Radio Thursday such a public display of a Christian symbol could be construed as offensive.  Earlier this week, Edelstein rejected the request of a Christian-Arab lawmaker. He said the parliamentarian could display a tree in his office and party’s conference room. (Emphasis added.)

Thus, while a Christmas tree was not permitted in public space in the Knesset, it was permitted in private offices and party conference rooms. In other words, Christmas trees are not banned from the Knesset “premises.”

What Pelham does not say is that it is prohibited to publicly display Christmas trees in all of Gaza City and the rest of the Strip, while Christmas trees are distributed for free in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel. In fact, the free Christmas trees are available twice a year in Israel, once for western Christians and then a few days later for Greek Orthodox Christians.

The Guardian reported in 2011 (“Gaza Christians long for days before Hamas cancelled Christmas“):

There hasn’t been a Christmas tree in Gaza City’s main square since Hamas pushed the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in 2007 and Christmas is no longer a public holiday. . . .

[Peter Qubrsi, a Catholic from Gaza] describes being stopped in the street by a Hamas official who told him to remove the cross. “I told him it’s not his business and that I wouldn’t,” Peter said. After being threatened with arrest he was eventually let go, but the incident scared him.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, Haaretz editors changed the online text to the following accurate wording:

knesset christmas tree corrected

Editors also appended a vague note at the bottom of the article which fails to make clear what was amended and why:

knesset christmas tree appended

Haaretz has not yet corrected in print.

Why Did Azmi Bishara Leave?

In another deception, Nicolas Pelham asserts:

The country’s most prominent Christian politician, Azmi Bishara, was hounded out of Israel amid cries of treachery after he dared to suggest that Israel should be a state for all its citizens.

In fact, Haaretz itself reported at the time a very different account of Bishara’s departure to Jordan shortly before he was charged with passing information to Hezbollah:

azmi bishara hezbollah

Haaretz added:

A senior Shin Bet official told reporters earlier in the day that Bishara had had prolonged contact with Hezbollah members who were involved in gathering information on Israel.

Bishara allegedly provided “information, suggestions and recommendations,” including censored material, to his contacts in Lebanon during the war.

The Shin Bet official said that Bishara was fully aware of the sensitivity of the information. According to the Shin Bet, he was given “missions” from Hezbollah, which he then carried out.

Bishara allegedly advised Hezbollah on the ramifications of firing missiles further south than Haifa. At the time, Hezbollah was debating whether to strike at targets deeper inside Israel. A few days later, missiles struck south of Haifa for the first time.

The former lawmaker is also suspected of helping Hezbollah with assessments regarding a possible Israeli assassination attempt on Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, as well as offering advice on waging psychological warfare against the Israelis.

Deceive not with thy lips.

Many of the pieces in The Economist are unsigned, so it’s hard to know whether or not Pelham is responsible for the now infamous (and since corrected) reference to Kochav Yair as a “fanatical settlement.” (It is neither.)

….

(See our follow-up post on this story, here)

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What the Guardian won’t report: Pew study reveals extreme homophobia in Palestinian society

One of the more bewildering aspects of the UK media’s advocacy on behalf of the Palestinian cause is how many putatively liberal journalists reconcile their views on Israel-Palestine with undeniable evidence attesting to decidedly reactionary political values within Palestinian society.  

While news of Israel’s liberal advantages in the region on a myriad of social issues are often cynically dismissed as ‘hasbara’, or even framed as efforts to ‘whitewash the occupation, news of Palestine’s less than enlightened views on the rights of gays, women and religious minorities are either buried or, sometimes, even excused as the result of Israeli oppression.

As case in point of such news which won’t reach the pages of the Guardian – or, likely, any other UK broadsheet – is the recent publication of a Pew Global Survey on Morality. 

The Pew survey asked tens of thousands of respondents in 40 countries what they thought about moral issues such as homosexuality, abortion, premarital sex, alcohol consumption, divorce, and the use of contraceptives. For each issue, respondents were asked whether this is morally acceptable, morally unacceptable, or not a moral issue. 

Though an April 27th Haaretz report on the poll’s results focused narrowly on the conclusions regarding Israel – noting that Israel was more liberal than most of the world, on average, when it comes such moral issues, Haaretz didn’t focus on the results for Palestinians (in Gaza and the West Bank).

Here’s the Pew graph for the ‘Palestinian territories’. (Note that orange is used to indicate ‘unacceptable’, green is ‘acceptable’, while grey indicates people who didn’t believe the topic was a moral issue.)

pal views

As the graph show, only 1% of Palestinian respondents believe that homosexuality is morally ‘acceptable’ behavior.  (The only other countries with the same results were Egypt, Pakistan, Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda.)

Further, such results are fully consistent with reports detailing the climate of fear Palestinian gays and lesbians endure due to widespread and often codified intolerance. While the Palestinian Authority has no civil right laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination or harassment, and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association issued a report entitled “State-sponsored Homophobia” which noted that the penal code in Gaza renders homosexual conduct a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. 

Moreover, “Palestinianism” has never included, for all but a small number of its proponents, a sober reflection on the likely moral and political consequences – for Jews and Palestinians – of the new political entity.

So, while it would be fair to ask ‘liberal’ pro-Palestinian activists if they have any realistic cause for hope that a newly independent Palestinian state would inculcate their citizens with a spirit of tolerance towards its sexual minorities, and enact legislation protecting their rights under the law, perhaps the more important question is: Do they even care?

 

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CAMERA monitors media coverage of Israel, Feb. 26 – March 10: Guardian, NYT, Al-Jazeera, Ha’aretz

English Posts

Al-Jazeera America TV News Aims Against Israel
Twisted coverage of Israel is consistent with the network’s indirect connection through its owner to the creation of the Palestinian Hamas terrorist entity sworn to Israel’s destruction. The CEO, aiming at the opinion makers, admits to unconcern about profits and viewer ratings. (CAMERA)

Where’s the Coverage? The Truth about “Israel Apartheid Week”
The latest untold story. (CAMERA Snapshots)

Ha’aretz Veers Off Course with Ports Story
In the latest false media account of a supposed anti-Israel BDS victory, Ha’aretz incorrectly reports that two foreign companies withdrew from a ports tender due to boycott fears. (CAMERA)

When Media Cover for Palestinian Terror Groups
Martin Kramer has excellently exposed how The New York Times covers for Rashid Khalidi. (In case it’s not clear, the job of a serious newspaper is to cover the PLO spokesman-cum-professor, not cover for him.). (Snapshots)

Just the Facts: Stripping Down Ha’aretz Coverage on Airport Search
Ha’aretz news article describes a “he said/she said” dispute about the alleged strip search of an Israeli Arab teacher. Ha’aretz headlines and opinion pieces upgrade the disputed claim to fact. (CAMERA)

Ha’aretz Lost in Translation on Strip Search
Today, in an apparent case of “lost in translation,” the Ha’aretz English edition continues to report as fact the disputed claim that Israeli Arab teacher Ezies Elias Shehada was subjected to a strip search. (Snapshots)

Mitnick, the U.S., and “Illegal” Settlements
American policy on the legality of the settlements has been consistent for decades. And Joshua Mitnick’s coverage of that policy has also been consistent. Consistently wrong, that is. (Snapshots)

Did Mahmoud Abbas outrage Syria’s Palestinian refugees by waiving their right to live?
The Guardian failed to report news that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had rejected an Israeli offer to allow thousands of Palestinian refugees, caught in war-torn Syria, safe travel into the West Bank and Gaza – citing his fear that they may be forced to forfeit their “right of return”. (CiF Watch)

Hebrew Posts

Yossi Sarid’s Boycott
What are the aims of the BDS Movement? (Presspectiva)

The Media is a little too fast in reporting BDS successes
Did Dutch and Italian companies really withdraw tender application to build new ports in Israel, due to political reasons?. (Presspectiva)

Abu-Mazen’s True Position
What Abu Mazen says in English is not always identical to what he says in Arabic . (Presspectiva)

Ha’aretz No Longer a Newspaper
Has Ha’aretz decided to come out of the closet, shrugging off any pretense of being a news organization? What other explanation is there for publication of the full text of a petition by Rashid Khalidi and Judith Butler without any comment or context? (Presspectiva)

Portraying Israel as if it was North Korea
A Ha’aretz Op-ed is too happy to grossly mischaracterize and declare as a fact, incidents which are very much in dispute. (Presspectiva)

Ma’ariv Finally Corrects!
Days before an ethics committee hearing on Presspectiva’s complaint, Ma’ariv finally corrects a six month old story. (Presspectiva)

Spanish Posts

ABC: ¿Por qué fue Merkel a Israel?
El diario español ABC se encarga de que los palestinos estén en el titular de la noticia sobre la visita de Merkel a Israel, que era relevante por otros motivos. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

¿Dónde está la cobertura?
La prensa en español suele recoger y reproducir noticias provenientes de periódicos israelíes, siempre y cuando los hechos que relate esa noticia sirvan para reforzar la imagen de Israel que se pretenden instalar entre el público lector. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

La agencia EFE: acusación particular contra Israel
La agencia gubernamental española presenta los argumentos de la acusación, pero en ningún momento nos permite conocer qué alega el acusado en su defensa. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Un elefante rosa 
Es grande, ruidoso, muy visible en un lugar pequeño y, aún así, nadie quiere verlo. Lo mismo sucede con Hamas, y con los grupos terroristas que operan desde Gaza, en el marco de las conversaciones de paz entre Israel y la AP. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Pincelada propia 
La agencia española de noticias Europa Press, tomaba el material deReuters y no podría evitar darle un giro muy propio. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Hamás condena la enseñanza de los DDHH en Gaza
La organización terrorista condena el curricula de la UNWRA por incluir asignaturas sobre derechos humanos. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

5 razones que alejan a los palestinos de la paz
Utilizar los medios de comunicación para difamar a Israel y difundir odio gratuito desde la cúpula de la Autoridad Palestina, son razones de peso que alejan a los palestinos de la paz y que usan como plataforma de difusión los medios de comunicación masiva. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

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False charge of ‘Palestinian Kids in Cages’ lives on in Australian documentary

The following was published at CAMERA

The false accusation that Israel maintained a longstanding practice of caging Palestinian children outdoors was repeated in several media outlets before being corrected by those outlets and repudiated by multiple sources. Yet it continues to gain new life as one Israeli media outlet steadfastly refuses to set the record straight.

The media charges began with a news article on Dec. 31 in the Jerusalem Post, Livni halts practice of placing detained Palestinian children in outdoor cages.” The story cited an NGO, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), to allege that there was a “longstanding” Israeli policy of torturing Palestinian children by caging them outdoors. The following day, a London-based newspaper, The Independent, published a similar article entitled “Israel government tortures Palestinian children by keeping them in cages, human rights group says.” Two subsequent Ha’aretzarticles also mentioned the Israeli practice allegedly targeting Palestinian children.

PCATI, the original source of the false allegations, wrongly conflated the holding of Israeli detainees in outdoor prison cells (referred to as “cages”) with general accusations of ill-treatment targeting Palestinians.  Referring to  “caging” as an example of the alleged torture of Palestinian children, the NGO linked to an earlier Hebrew-language statement from the Office of the Public Defender, which in turn was based on interviews with Israeli detainees at a prison transit facility. (There was no mention here of any Palestinians.) Those detainees reported being held temporarily in outdoor cells during severe weather as they awaited transfer to their court hearings. The Public Defender’s Office gave the report to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who contacted the Minister of Public Security and the commissioner of the Israel Prison Service.  The practice, which had been in place for several months, was immediately stopped.  From the start, this was a domestic issue related to conduct by the prison system toward Israeli detainees of whatever background that was distorted into an allegation of torture and abuse targeting Palestinian children.

After CAMERA pointed out the discrepancy between PCATI’s accusation and the statement to which it was linked, the NGO acknowledged that Palestinians were never mentioned in the Public Defender’s report and posted a clarification to that effect on its website. CAMERA also contacted The Independent and Ha’aretz, who similarly corrected their stories.

CAMERA and its affiliates gathered additional evidence from multiple sources, including statements from the Public Defender’s Office, the Justice Ministry, the Israeli Prison Authority, as well as remarks about the matter by the Minister of Public Security at a Knesset session following the release of the Public Defender’s statement, the Knesset Public Petitions Committee session that was referenced in the Jerusalem Post article and Hebrew-language reports about the matter, all of which made it undeniably clear that the short-term practice of temporarily holding detainees in outdoor holding cells, or  “cages,” was never directed at Palestinian children or Palestinian adults.

 For the past six weeks, since the Jerusalem Post article was originally published, CAMERA has appealed repeatedly to the newspaper’s journalists and editors, urging them to correct the misleading story, but to no avail.  
 
Unfortunately, the Jerusalem Post’s  inexplicable refusal to set the record straight has opened the door to the ongoing perpetration of an egregious falsehood, as evidenced by a vitriolic Australian documentary yesterday. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation documentary, “Four Corners,” promoted a narrative of brutal abuse by Israel of Palestinian children. It included the Jerusalem Post‘s story of holding children overnight in outdoor cages. At approximately 32 minutes into the broadcast, the documentary zooms in on the Post‘s print story, graphically underscoring just how much damage the uncorrected report inflicts:
jerusalempostfourcorners

 

 

CAMERA monitors media coverage of Israel, Dec.19-31: Guardian, BBC, Ma’ariv, Ha’aretz, Ynet

Our periodic round-up of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

BBC Watch

Crude stereotyping of ‘expansionist’ Israelis in BBC 3 comedy showBBC guidelines permit national stereotyping “for comic effect” if there are “audience expectations”, but does BBC coverage of Israel in fact create such expectations? (BBC Watch)

BBC’s Knell amplifies UNRWA’s political campaigning on R4′s ‘The World Tonight’BBC reports on the recent flooding in Gaza cite “tight restrictions” on imports of fuel which do not exist . (BBC Watch)

CiF Watch

Guardian: Non-Jewish Israelis who live in settlements should not be called ‘settlers’According to the Guardian’s ‘Style Guide’, the term “settler” can only be used to characterize ‘Jewish’ Israelis who live beyond the green line. So, according to this logic, a Christian or Muslim citizen of Israel living in a “settlement” in the West Bank or “East” Jerusalem would NOT be considered a “settler”. (CiF Watch)

In Focus

Brandeis and Penn State Harrisburg Pull Out of ASA Program in Response to BoycottASA takes a more extreme stance on Israel than the president of the Palestinian Authority. (in Focus)

Review of the Fall Semester 2013: Israel Awareness Week at the University of HoustonOver 70 students attend an event with Israel’s highest ranking Muslim diplomat during Israel Awareness Week at the University of Houston, organized with CAMERA’s help and support. (in Focus)

Event Held at the University of Miami Celebrates Gay Life in Israel: About 70 students attend event at the University of Miami to learn about the rights that Israel gives gays in Israel. (in Focus)

The Failures of Sam BahourJ-Street at Brandeis helps bring to campus a speaker that is against Israel’s existence, and that suggested that Israel is responsible for chemical weapon use in Syria. J-Street is part of Hillel on that campus. (in Focus)

CAMERA Helps Bring Jeff Jacoby to Florida: Jeff Jacoby connects Zionism to American history and covers the big lies - big truth phenomenon. Our Owls for Israel Board member at Florida Atlantic University writes about it. (in Focus)

Senior Campus Coordinator at CAMERA Writes to Hampshire College President, Calling on Him to Condemn the ASA BoycottRead her well written letter here. (in Focus)

Review of Fall Semester 2013: Gil Magen at Ohio State University Photography Under Fire event draws in many people, including adults over age 50, students from a diverse number of academic department such as Middle East Studies, photography, sociology, political science and others. (in Focus)

Review of Fall Semester 2013: Sgt. Benjamin Anthony at George MasonAbout 70 students attend event designed to decrease apathy and increase awareness of Israel. Students involved in Greek life, students enrolled in ROTC and others learn about what drove Benjamin Anthony to leave all he knew in his native U.K. and enlist in the IDF. (in Focus)

Professor Rotella, Director of the American Studies Program at Boston College, Speaks Out Against the ASA Boycott of IsraelRead his letter here. So far 55 institutions have condemned the ASA boycott. (in Focus)

CAMERA

The Samer Issawi TestReleased Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi is an important test case for journalists. His hunger strike continues to garner news coverage. His conviction for multiple attempts of murder, not so much. (CAMERA)

CAMERA Prompts NY Times Correction on Gaza Shortages, ‘Palestinian’ CitiesCAMERA prompts a New York Times correction after the newspaper claimed Israeli cities are “Palestinian,” blamed Israel for water, gas and electricity shortages in Gaza. (CAMERA)

At end of 2013, Ha’aretz Drops Ball on Depo-Provera StoryIn an end of the year round up of most read articles, Ha’aretz drops the ball on the Ethiopian contraception story, repeating errors that the very same news outlet corrected back in March. (CAMERA)

CAMERA Prompts Corrections on Ethiopians’ ContraceptionMonths after CAMERA’s Israel office prompted Ha’aretz to correct coverage about Depo Provera injections for Ethiopian women, the media watchdog sets off another round of corrections at the Israeli news outlet. (CAMERA)

In Jordan Valley, Ha’aretz LostA Ha’aretz photo caption wrongly states that Israel “had voted to extend Israeli law over parts of the Jordan Valley,” even though the original AP caption correctly identified the proposed legislation in question as “a proposed Israeli bill.” (Snapshots)

Presspectiva

Ma’ariv’s Misplaced RageThe cause of a demonstration seems to baffle Ma’ariv (Presspectiva)

Is Israel’s Christian Population Really Declining?A nasty Independent Op-Ed repeats a modern day slander (Presspectiva)

Ma’ariv and Makor Rishon Greatly Over report European antisemitismA report on a new poll on European antisemitism manages to cite every figure wrong. (Presspectiva)

The Reemergence of the Green LineHa’aretz’s updated style guide, no longer encourages translators to avoid using the term “The Green Line”. (Presspectiva)

Who Needs To Check Facts If You Can Read Ynet?A scathing op-ed in the “7th eye” against the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was completely based on an error published in Ynet (Presspectiva)

ReVista de Medio Oriente

Who condemns Palestinian terrorism?: In the Spanish-speaking press, very few voices were given space to condemn the attack to the 240 bus line near Tel Aviv, while only a handful of papers actually published news about the incident. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Middle East headlines in the Spanish-speaking press: These are the weekly highlights about Israel and the Middle East in the Latin American and Spanish press. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

CAMERA monitors media coverage of Israel in 3 languages, Nov. 5: Guardian, BBC, El Pais, NYT & Haaretz

Our regular roundup of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

BBC report on building tenders presented in one-sided political terminology
The BBC embraces the politically motivated terminology used by the Palestinian Authority and fringe groups of radical anti-Israel campaigners in a report on construction plans in Jerusalem suburb. (BBC Watch)

BBC coverage of prisoner release in pictures
The imbalance in BBC coverage of the recent release of convicted Palestinian terrorists is reflected even in the images selected to illustrate reports. (BBC Watch)

Guardian columnist compares Israel to an autistic child
Guardian columnist Giles Fraser evokes the refrain that ‘Israel doesn’t play well with others’ by advancing a bizarre analogy between the ‘stubborn’ Jewish state and a cognitively underdeveloped child. (CiF Watch)

CSUN Stands Back as Professor Klein Uses University Resources to Promote Israel Boycott
California State University Northridge fails to remove Professor Klein’s webpage, posted on the university server, that promotes the boycott of Israel. (in Focus)

Recap of Dr. Anat Berko’s Campus Tour
Anat Berko just recently completed her October campus tour, visiting ten campuses that stretched from Florida to Ohio. (in Focus)

Students at ORT University in Uruguay Attend Lecture Given by Professor Jack Drassinover
CAMERA’s first Fellow in Uruguay organizes an event about Israel on his campus. (in Focus)

Lost in the Israeli geography 
European TV channel Euronews continues to believe that the capital of the Jewish State is Tel Aviv. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Argumentative illusionism 
An op-ed by ReVista published in the Argentinean newspaper Clarín. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Answering Marcelo JelenE 
Article by Ilan Bajarlia, Ort University of Uruguay CAMERA Fellow. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

University of Pittsburgh Hosts Barak Barfi 
At CAMERA supported event, Barak Barfi Discussed Endangered Minorities in the Arab Spring (in Focus)

CAMERA Presents: Dr. Anat Berko at Tulane University
Students learn about terrorism in the Middle East, through sociological psychological lenses at a CAMERA supported event. (in Focus)

El Pais publishes a letter from ReVista de Medio Oriente
The letter was sent to the Spanish newspaper as a response to a couple of articles with several inaccuracies. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Always Human Error? 
Presspectiva responds to Haaretz blog post explaining away the “Rihanna incident” (Presspectiva)

Zionism and Religion
Are the two contradictory? (Presspectiva)

The New York Times, Haaretz and Maariv – An Empirical Experiment
Within 48 hours three papers made the same mistake. Who published a correction? (Presspectiva)

Hassidim, Soya and Dubious Sources
A viral story about Gur Hassidim was based on some rather dubious evidence. (Presspectiva)

British journalist who admitted to anti-Jewish prejudice plays ‘dual loyalty’ card

Mira Bar Hillel is Property and Planning correspondent for the Evening Standard.  

bar

And, though she is Jewish, she is also prejudiced against Jews.  In fact, Jews scare her quite a bit.

Don’t take our word for it. Here are her exact words, in a Haaretz interview:

The Jews of today scare me and I find it almost impossible to talk to most of them, including relatives. Any criticism of the policies of Israel – including the disgraceful treatment of Holocaust survivors as well as refugees from murderous regimes – is regarded as treason and/or anti-Semitism. Most papers and journals will not even publish articles on the subject for fear of a Jewish backlash. Goyim (gentiles ) are often treated with ill-concealed contempt, yet the Jews are always the victims. Am I prejudiced against Jews? Alas, yes.”

She also recently complained, in a column at The Independent, that Zionist Jews try to gag her into submission.

My most vicious Twitter trolls are Jews from all over the world accusing me of treason for daring to criticise Israel’s racism and other excesses and trying their best to gag me.

Since arriving in London I have not ONCE experienced anti-Semitism, although jews talk about it a lot, as Marcus said. I am not a self-hating jew - I hate people who use the label to gag into submission any critic of Israel and its deplorable actions. And very effective they are too.

Yet, somehow, Bar Hillel evidently hasn’t been effectively muzzled by the British Jewish community, as her recent column at The Independent (Israel and the US: Drawing up lines of allegiance, Oct. 30) demonstrates.

Bar Hillel begins her meditation on Jewish allegiance by noting the ‘inflammatory’ nature of the topic:

Ask British Jews whether they feel more loyal to this country or to Israel – and expect to be instantly labelled anti-Semitic and sent packing. The same, only more so, applies in the USA.

When Israeli positions conflict with British ones, nothing is more inflammatory than allegations of “dual allegiance”,  not to mention putting Israel first. The pro-Israel lobbyists do their work subtly, although in the US their activities, especially among politicians, attract more attention…

Bar Hillel then pivots from British Jews to American Jews, per the focus on her column:

…Which makes it even more peculiar that tens of thousands of leaflets have recently been distributed to Jewish Americans, as well as to Israelis living in the United States, asking them to indicate where their allegiance would lie in the case of a crisis between the two countries

Within days, following the report of the story in the Israeli press, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu hastily directed the ministry to stop backing the questionnaire, which was commissioned by the Israeli American Council, a private nonprofit group established in Los Angeles in 2007

According to the IAC, this expansion is to be sponsored by Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Bar Hillel fails to note that the head of the umbrella organization of American Jews denounced the questionnaire as well. 

Now, for a hint of conspiracy, Bar Hillel writes the following:

In October 2013  Adelson called upon the US to warn Iran it would use Nuclear missiles if necessary, initially aimed at the desert and subsequently threatening to hit Tehran if it did not halt its nuclear programme . This could have been – and possibly was – scripted by Netanyahu.

Now, for the question of loyalty:

I wouldn’t dare ask Sheldon Adelson, whose wife is Israeli, where his allegiances lie. But I would dearly love to hear his answer.

No, Bar Hillel “wouldn’t dare ask” the question she in fact just asked, about the loyalty of Jewish Americans, just as I wouldn’t dare ask editors at The Independent how they reconcile their recent defense against charges of antisemitism with their decision to publish a column evoking the charge of ‘dual loyalty’ by a writer who has admitted being prejudiced against Jews.   

But, ‘I would dearly love to hear’ their answer.

CAMERA monitors media coverage of Israel, Oct. 28th: NYT, Haaretz, Mail & Guardian, El Universal

Our regular roundup of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

Among the Turmoil, Israel Can Be a Model For Stability
Our CAMERA Supported group at the University of Minnesota, Students Supporting Israel, publishes a letter to the editor in their campus paper educating their campus about Israel’s democracy. (in Focus)

‘Mail & Guardian’ parrots description of Marwan Barghouti as a “political prisoner”
What term would you likely use to characterized an imprisoned Palestinian terrorist, who was convicted for his leading role in scores of deadly terror attacks against innocent Israelis? Well, if you’re the (South African) ‘Mail & Guardian’ you’d describe such a violent terrorist as a “political prisoner”. (CiF Watch)

Author Asks “Will We Ever Be Forgiven for the Holocaust?”
Prize-winning author Howard Jacobson took on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in this year’s Jerusalem Address at the B’Nai Brith World Center in Jerusalem. (Snapshots)

Rihanna, Haaretz and Palestine
Did Rihanna sing about Palestine in her Israeli concert? Only in Ha’aretz. (Presspectiva)

Missing: The Facts
Why did Amnesty International Israel not mention the facts about UNHRC anti-Israel bias in his op-ed? (Presspectiva)

NYT’s Rudoren Apologizes to Sara Netanyahu
The New York Times corrects a report which erroneously states that Sara Netanyahu faced harsh public criticism for the way in which she educates her children. Bureau chief Jodi Rudoren sends an apology letter. (Snapshots)

Life Sentences Lost in Ha’aretz Translation
In the latest “Ha’aretz, Lost in Translation,” Palestinian prisoners who participated in murder get their life sentences drastically reduced thanks to Ha’aretz translators. (Snapshots)

A potpourri of errors
The Mexican newspaper El Universal misinformed its readers about the “Rihanna affair”. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Where’s the coverage?
A bomb hurled at an Israeli school bus is not deemed newsworthy for Spanish media. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Why report well when you can do some harm to Israel?
The Spanish state-owned Radio Television Corporation managed to overshadow Israel’s goodwill gestures in releasing Palestinian prisoners. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Middle East headlines in the Spanish-speaking press
The Latin-American press focuses on the Israel-Gaza tension and on the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

NYT: Telling Readers How to Think About Israel
CAMERA Op-Ed in Times of Israel explains the latest ploy by The New York Times to influence readers against Israel. (CAMERA)

Sounds Israeli: Rihanna ‘finds love’ in Tel Aviv

The international pop sensation Rihanna gave a spirited performance in front of more than 50,000 in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night. The following is an amateur video taken during the show of Rihanna singing her hit song, We Found Love. 

(Additionally, you can click here to learn about the row which ensued after her show.)

CiF Watch prompts correction to Indy post by Matt Hill about Ethiopian contraception

Yesterday, we posted about a commentary at The Independent, written by ‘Liberal Conspiracy’ blogger Matt Hill, on April 16 titled ‘At 65, modern Israel is falling short of Zionism’s most basic goal, which included the following passage:

Israel’s story, in brief, might be described as overcoming a horrific infancy to grow rich and successful. But its triumphs have come at a cost. Once full of youthful idealism, today it is cynical, increasingly corrupt, and calloused by hubris. The land of socialist pioneers has become, besides America, the most unequal country in the world. A state established as a home for the homeless now treats immigrants with contempt, as the scandal of its forced sterilisation of Ethiopian women has shown.

However, as we noted in our post, the row which Hill alluded to – based on an Israeli documentary and subsequent reports by Haaretz – merely involved unproven allegations that some Ethiopian women may have been coerced by doctors into receiving a long-lasting popular contraception called Depo-Provera.  

There was never anything resembling “forced sterilisation’ – a term which is commonly defined as ‘a process of permanently ending someone’s ability to reproduce without his or her consent’.

Shortly after our post yesterday we contacted editors at The Independent to object to the misleading term, and today the paper removed the reference to “forces sterilisation” and added this note at the end of Hill’s commentary:

ehtiopian

Indy editors deserve credit for their prompt response after being alerted to this error. 

Indy blogger Matt Hill engages in reckless smear about “forced sterilisation” in Israel

Matt Hill, a blogger for Liberal Conspiracy, published a piece at The Independent on April 16 titled At 65, modern Israel is falling short of Zionism’s most basic goal‘, which ‘defends’ Israel existence, and even lists a few of its achievements over 65 years of statehood, before the inevitable descent into delegitimization and demonization.

First, Hill praises Israel thusly:

The survivors of Russian pogroms, Nazi genocide and Arab expulsions went on to build a state that defeated its enemies time after time.Today Israel’s GDP per head is close to that of the UK, and it has more scientists and engineers as a proportion of its population than any other country.

But, he then begins lecturing the Jewish state with the following psychological analysis:

But as with people who experience early trauma, the instincts Israel developed in order to survive have often proved its undoing. Having had to fight for its life in its early days, it spawned a military which sees violence as the solution to every problem and has spread its tentacles into every corner of the state. Having arrived as landless immigrants scrabbling for every inch of earth, after 1967 Israelis built settlements…on territories belonging to other peoples. And like a victim of abuse who has learnt never to trust anyone, Israel has too often been incapable of reaching out a hand in peace to its neighbours 

It gets worse:

Israel’s story, in brief, might be described as overcoming a horrific infancy to grow rich and successful. But its triumphs have come at a cost. Once full of youthful idealism, today it is cynical, increasingly corrupt, and calloused by hubris. The land of socialist pioneers has become, besides America, the most unequal country in the world. A state established as a home for the homeless now treats immigrants with contempt, as the scandal of its forced sterilisation of Ethiopian women has shown.

The charge that Israel engaged in “forced sterilisation of Ethiopian women” is a gross mischaracterization of a story which has been circulating since December.

As CAMERA’s Israel director Tamar Sternthal argued at the Algemeiner, even the originally deeply flawed report in Haaretz’t didn’t argue that there was “forced sterilisation”.  They claimed that Israeli doctors allegedly coerced “some Ethiopian women in transit camps en route to Israel to receive ‘long-lasting contraceptive injections’ as a condition for immigrating”.

Sternthal:

The Ha’aretz stories were based on a Dec. 8, 2012 Israeli broadcast called “Vacuum,” with host Gal Gabai. Ignoring information to the contrary, and placing words in the mouths of her [35 Ethiopian] interviewees, Gabai relentlessly pushed her pre-determined and unsubstantiated thesis that the coerced injections of Depo-Provera, a contraception shot which lasts three months, led to a decrease in the birth rate among Ethiopian immigrants in the last decade.

Sternthal further noted that Gabai “ignored other factors aside from alleged coerced injections which contributed to a lower birth rate” such as “declining birth rates…associated with greater affluence and an improvement in the status of women”.

Additionally, added Sternthal, “Depo-Provera is the most popular birth control method in African countries, including Ethiopia [and] many women prefer the shot, a discreet means of birth control, which can be administered without the knowledge of disapproving husbands.”  As another CAMERA report demonstrated, while some Ethiopian women should likely have been given another contraception instead of Depo-Provera, there is no factual basis supporting the claim of a ‘systematic mechanism’.

Further, the Jan. 27 story in the Independent which Hill linked to about the birth control row – which didn’t once use the term “sterilisation” - mischaracterized the response to the controversy by Israel’s Health Ministry.  The Indy’s Alistair Dawber wrote the following:

Israel has admitted for the first time that it has been giving Ethiopian Jewish immigrants birth-control injections, often without their knowledge or consent.

The government had previously denied the practice but the Israeli Health Ministry’s director-general has now ordered gynaecologists to stop administering the drugs.

As CAMERA demonstrated, the letter by the Israel Health Ministry Director General (Prof. Rami Gamzu), “did not address the circulating charges that Ethiopian women were systematically coerced into taking shots against their will”, but simply instructed all gynecologists “not to renew prescriptions “if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.”

Also, claims made by the Israeli documentary which propelled the story that “women who immigrated from Ethiopia…say they were told [by doctors at the Joint Distribution Committee, 'JDC'] that they would not be allowed into Israel unless they agreed to be injected with…Depo-Provera”, were flatly denied by Dr. Rick Hodes, JDC’s Medical Director in Ethiopia in an email to Elder of Zion:

Elder:

“So to be clear, you’re saying that you personally never told any woman that she would have to take Depo-Provera shots in order to immigrate to Israel? The women claim that JDC workers from Israel told them they had to do it. Is that claim to the best of your knowledge false?”

Dr. Hodes replied:

To the best of my knowledge, this claim is 100% false.

Neither myself nor my staff have ever told any women in our program that they should take Depo-Provera for any reason. 100% of Depo-Provera shots are purely voluntary, and may be discontinued (or changed to another method) at any time.

In fact, we don’t have JDC workers from Israel come and tell women these things.

As a Haaretz commentary on Jan. 30 by Allison Kaplan Sommer observed, a story of “insensitivity, cultural condescension and yes, perhaps a certain level of racism” was transformed by some in the media “into some kind of villainous genocidal plot of sterilization aimed at ethnic and racial cleansing.” 

As Elder of Ziyon argued, though “some women may have misunderstood the use of the drug or the options they have for birth control”, there was never any plot by Israeli doctors to sterilize Ethiopian women. 

Whilst other publications have engaged in sloppy reporting over the Ethiopian birth control story, Hill’s charge at the Indy leads the pack by engaging in a reckless, hysterical smear that has absolutely no basis in fact.

(Update: Following our communication with The Independent, Hill’s reference to “forced sterilisation” was removed and the the original passage revised.)

‘Comment is Free’ contributor Antony Lerman plays ‘Israel-Nazi’ card

Antony Lerman is a ‘Comment is Free’ contributor. 

lerman

Lerman lectured on ‘The Revival of Jewish Culture in Europe’ at Cambridge University on Feb. 28.  I know this because I saw his Tweet to this effect.

Though Lerman is not a frequent Tweeter he found time today to retweet this lovely 140 character ‘meditation’ by David Sheen.

lerman

Sheen is referring to Israel’s interior minister, Eli Yishai, and is presumably responding to news that Yishai recently confirmed that more than 2,000 migrants in Israel have recently been repatriated back to Sudan.

I had never heard of David Sheen, but this Zionism – Nazism analogy was not a one-off, as you can see by looking at his Tweets for the day.

In fact, he was kind enough to post the following graphic on his Twitter page to help illustrate the ‘comparison’ between Yishai and Adolf Hitler.

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Sheen, a filmmaker, is quite prolific in the social media world, as you can see by the bio on his website.

sheen

Here’s a photo of the “documentarian”:

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While one of his videos was briefly noted in a Guardian live blog on the Nov. war in Gaza, Sheen hasn’t formally contributed to the Guardian or ‘Comment is Free.  However, he has contributed to Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada, and has worked as a reporter and content editor at Haaretz.com.

Lerman, a far-left British Jew who has used his position at ‘Comment is Free’ to justify antisemitism, penned his most recent essay at CiF, titled The abuse of dissenting Jews is shameful.  In the post, he complained of being ostracized, and smeared by the UK Jewish establishment due ‘merely’ to the fact that he’s an opponent of the Jewish state’s continued existence.  He ended with the following flourish:

That dissenting Jews are still demonised is shameful and undermines Jewish pluralism. But it’s manageable. Because the Jewish diaspora’s support matters so much to Israel’s leaders, the quest for serious, open and civil debate among Jews about what is really best for Israel must continue.

Evidently, Lerman’s expansive understanding of what constitutes “civil debate” about Israel includes not only calling for the state’s dissolution, but likening an Israeli government official to a Nazi.

Peter Beaumont’s “unnamed source” affirms Guardian narrative about ‘Prisoner X’

Observer foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont just published his seventh report over the course of three days on Prisoner X – a man believed to have been an Australian-Israeli Mossad agent jailed by Israel because he was about to reveal state secrets to Australian authorities or the media, who committed suicide in his cell in 2010.

His latest piece, co-authored with Phoebe Greenwood, on Feb. 16 is titled ‘Israeli government to compensate family of Prisoner X‘, and is based on “an unnamed source” quoted in Haaretz, claiming a compensation deal was agreed to following the conclusion of an inquiry into the death of the prisoner (aka, Ben Zygier).

Beaumont’s latest post attempts to buttress the narrative, advanced in his other reports on Prisoner X, that Israel behaved in a manner inconsistent with democratic norms.  As we noted previously, one of Beaumont’s reports from Feb. 14 includes the following passage, citing the analysis of unnamed commentators:

“The latest revelations come amid a growing outcry over the case in Israel, with some comparing the treatment of Zygier to that meted out in the Soviet Union or Argentina and Chile under their military dictatorships.”

In his latest report, he cites an “unnamed source“, thus:

“According to one unnamed source familiar with the Zygier case who spoke the YNet website: “When an Israeli is detained for security offences, a process begins, but no one knows how it will end. He disappears into interrogation rooms, and no one knows where he is. They do it using two tools: A gag order and an injunction that prevents the detainee from meeting with an attorney.”

However, contrary to the claims made by the source cited by Beaumont, not only did the detainee in this case meet with his attorney (Avigdor Feldman), but did so, according to an official at the State Prosecutor’s Office quoted in the same Feb 15. Ynet story Beaumont cited, “within days” of being incarcerated.

The official at the State Prosecutor’s Office added the following: 

 “…the picture painted by the media is far from reality. There are no ‘prisoners x’ in the State of Israel…It’s an expression taken from dictatorships where people were made to disappear without having seen a lawyer or family. There was no such thing here.”

In the past 25 years there were very few cases in which it was decided for security reasons to hold prisoners under pseudonyms.

In those cases, as in this particular case, the families were immediately made aware of the arrest and within a number of days the prisoner was given access to legal counsel. As in regular cases, there was due criminal process with the prisoner able to petition the court like any other inmate.”

Consistent with this Israeli official’s argument, a definitive study in ‘Homeland Security Affairs’ determined that, regarding issues “such as how long an individual can be detained without access to counsel for purposes of interrogation”, Israel “provides more overall due process and substantive rights to [security] detainees than America’s years of incommunicado and indefinite executive detention”.

To serious journalists, providing readers with relevant context and a comparative political or legal analysis of the issue matters.

Beaumont’s story, on the other hand, like so many other reports about Israel written by his fellow Guardian Group ‘journavists‘, cited only those “sources”  who confirmed his desired political narrative.

Matt Seaton’s caricature of courage

The highly criticized cartoon published in The Sunday Times on Holocaust Memorial Day – depicting mangled, tortured Palestinians being buried over with bricks laid by the bloody trowel of a sinister Israeli leader – was defended by  in Haaretz on Jan. 28 as “grossly unfair” but “not antisemitic”.

Here’s the cartoon by Gerald Scarfe that we posted about yesterday, and which The Sunday Times editor has since defended as “typically robust“.

content_photo-2

While much has been written about the cartoon – and the timing of its publication – the Haaretz contributor offers a dissenting view, one which, though I believe to be misguided, is nonetheless clearly thought through, well-informed and serious.

However, one particular word used by a Guardian editor on Twitter to characterize Pfeffer’s defense of Scarfe’s work caught my eye.

Here’s the Tweet by Matt Seaton, the Guardian’s editor of the US edition of ‘Comment is Free’.

Seaton’s Tweet, suggesting that it took ‘courage’ for Pfeffer to defend Scarfe, represents a good illustration of the moral conceit often displayed by such contrarians – those whose opinions about Israel, antisemitism and other issues place them outside the mainstream of Jewish opinion and thus must face some level of opprobrium for their views. 

However, whether we’re discussing Peter Beinart’s advocacy for boycotting Israeli companies across the green line, Ben Murane struggling with the ‘chauvinism’ of Jewish particularism, or even Antony Lerman’s polemical assaults against the very right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, the truth is that such Jews can confidently dissent from mainstream opinion with impunity.

Similarly, the only penalty that the contributor for the leftist Israeli daily will have to face for arguing that Jews, and others, are mistaken in their characterization of the Scarfe cartoon as antisemitic is, of course, dissenting opinions from those who take issue with his view.

Writers who trade in unpopular ideas within the political safety net that liberal, democratic societies provide them shouldn’t be so thin-skinned as to expect that freedom of speech requires freedom from criticism, and so vain as to fancy themselves, or their political fellow travelers, courageous for having to withstand such critiques.

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:

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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?