Official Guardian editorial legitimizes a ‘one-state solution’.

So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot - George Orwell

We’ve long believed that chances were strong that the historic editorial preference at ‘Comment is Free‘ towards commentators (and even Islamist extremists) who seek a ‘one state solution’ to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict would eventually translate into an official editorial position in favor of such a final solution.  Whilst that position may not yet have been explicitly expressed, today’s official Guardian editorial, on Jerusalem’s municipal elections, seems to have at least taken a step in that direction.

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Ignoring polls indicating that Palestinian residents of Jerusalem would prefer – in the event a Palestinian state were created resulting in a divided Jerusalem – to remain citizens or residents of Israel, their Oct. 21 editorial (Jerusalem elections: the ballot and the boycott) starts off by legitimizing the most radical and unrepresentative Palestinian voices:

To cast a vote [in the Jerusalem municipal elections] is to acknowledge the legitimacy of the occupation, or so it is argued. “Participating in the process merely gives [the Israelis] political cover,” insists Hanan Ashrawi, from the PLO’s executive committee. “They want to create a reality where the Palestinians participate in the occupation of their own country.

The Guardian editorial continues:

But this year, for the first time ever, there is a Palestinian candidate [Arab Israeli] Fuad Saliman…[who] is running as a part of an Israeli coalition of left-wing parties. Given that Palestinians make up well over a third of the city’s population, their participation in the political process could transform a political landscape…

So, what is the Guardian’s interest in increasing Palestinian voter strength? It becomes apparent in the following paragraphs:

As a thought experiment, however, it is fascinating. Extrapolating from the local situation in Jerusalem, what if all Palestinians made a strategic decision to seek full voting rights within the reality that is Israel, rather than demanding a separate Palestinian state? In other words, what if they transformed their struggle from a nationalist one into a civil rights one?

Of course, Palestinians don’t all have the same access to the ballot box. But far from looking to exert their electoral presence on the national stage, those who do have the right to vote have been exercising it less and less. Seventy-five per cent voted in the 1999 elections. Ten years later, it was 54%. The fact that it didn’t dip below half earlier this year was put down to a last-minute intervention by the Arab League urging the million or so Palestinians living in Israel to get out and vote. Amid deepening despair as to the viability of a two-state solution, this [one-state] option…is only going to attract more attention.

While it is curious that their latest expression of “despair” over the two-state solution was published at a time when serious peace negotiations between the two parties are currently taking place, it’s more important to understand what exactly their little one-state “thought experiment” actually means: the legitimization of a radical reconstitution of Israel from the world’s only Jewish state into a binational state in which Jews would likely again be at the mercy of the ‘benevolence’ of a hostile Arab majority.  

The overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis, possessing a sobriety informed by an understanding of the catastrophic history of such political powerlessness, would of course violently resist such a scenario, rendering any attempt to impose such a solution a recipe for endless war.

Finally, in 2011, following the Guardian’s release of its highly skewed “expose” of the ‘Palestine Papers’ (which among other stances, characterized Palestinian compromise on the refugee issue as a “craven”) Ron Prosor, who was then Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, blasted the paper in a Huffington Post essay titled “The Guardian’s Assault on Peace in the Middle East”.  Prosor decried the “self-appointed ‘guardian’ of Palestinian truth” who “maximized its opportunity to pledge allegiance to the hard-line, national fantasies which have crippled the Palestinian cause for decades.”

The one-state scenario, however it is couched, is not a “solution” but, rather, the racist anti-Zionist end game of Palestinian extremists (and their far-left supporters) who seek to deny Jews, and only Jews, their inalienable right to self-determination.  

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.

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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:

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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 Guardian correction to Ashrawi claim regarding ‘Jews only’ homes

correction pageOn Nov. 29, we published a post titled ‘Hanan Ashrawi lies at ‘Comment is Free’ about homes for Jews only in Jerusalem‘. 

We focused on Ashrawi’s implicit claim, in her ‘Comment is Free’ essay (Supporting Palestine at the UN today is a vote for peace in the Middle East, Nov. 29) that new homes being planned for the eastern section of Jerusalem were being built for Jews only.   

Here are the first two paragraphs from the original, unrevised version of Ashrawi’s piece at CiF:

jewish citizens

After arguing in our post that Ashrawi’s claim (that new Israeli homes in eastern Jerusalem would be reserved for ‘Jews only’) was false, we also contacted the Guardian’s readers editor to point out the error.  

On Dec. 21, the Guardian published this correction.

correction

As we pointed out in our post, the overwhelming majority of land in Israel is owned by the government, and administered  by the Israeli Land Administration (ILA).  The ILA leases the land out to all Israeli citizens (Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Druze, etc.), legal Israeli residents (including Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem) or foreigners who would qualify for citizenship under the ‘law of return’.

Ashrawi was slyly attempting to con CiF readers into believing that new homes in eastern Jerusalem would be leased to residents based on a discriminatory policy in order to buttress her broader narrative of Israeli racism.

However, as we learn continually from reading the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’, the mere lack of evidence is not a serious impediment to those wishing to advance preconceived conclusions of Israeli guilt.

Hanan Ashrawi lies at ‘Comment is Free’ about homes for ‘Jews only’ in Jerusalem

Hanan Ashrawi’s ‘Comment is Free’ essay on Nov. 29, ‘Supporting Palestine today at the UN is a vote for peace in the Middle East‘, included these opening passages:

“It might seem stating the obvious that Palestinians and Israelis find solutions only through negotiation, until you look at the record. It is a story in which one side makes proposals for nothing in return; one side makes agreements that the other side breaks; and one side keeps commitments that the other side ignores.

Take a recent decision by Israel to approve 100 new homes for its Jewish citizens in the illegal settlement of Gilo, when the Israeli army was bombarding and shelling Gaza.” [emphasis added]

Though Ashrawi provides no source for her contention regarding new homes being built in Jerusalem, she is referring to this construction announcement (per Ir Amim):

“Today the Jerusalem District Committee officially announced the approval of TPS 13290 for 100 housing units in Gilo. 
According to Ir-Amim’s previous alert on May 10, the plan entails 100 residential units—three 12 story buildings—to the north, between Gilo and Bit Safafa. The plan came before the District Committee for discussion of objections on May 22. The committee rejected the objections and decided to approve the plan.”

First, here’s some relevant background to better understand the issue of home construction in Israel:

The overwhelming majority of land in Israel is owned by the government, and administered (since 1960) by the Israeli Land Administration (ILA), which doesn’t sell the land but, rather, leases it out. (Only about 6.5% of the land in Israel is privately owned.)  The ILA leases government-owned land to all Israeli citizens (Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Druze, etc.), legal Israeli residents (including Arabs living in the East part of Jerusalem) or foreigners who would qualify for citizenship under the ‘law of return’. 

In the particular case Ashrawi is referring to, these homes would not exclude anyone based on religion.

Moreover, Ashrawi’s false assertion likely represents a broader attempt to impute racism (or even the more unserious charge of ‘ethnic cleansing’) into the Jerusalem building equation, ignoring the fact that Muslims in the city, both in total numbers and as an overall percentage of the population, have increased significantly since 1948.

In fact, the Muslim population of Jerusalem increased roughly 5 fold from 1967 (when Israel unified the city) to 2009, from 58,000 to over 278,000, while the Jewish population increased by a factor of only 2.8, from 196,000 to 480,000.

Beyond the broader dishonest narrative advanced by Ashrawi, however, her narrow claim that Israel has approved “100 new homes for its Jewish citizens” in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo is flat-out untrue. 

Please consider contacting Chris Elliott, the Guardian’s readers editor, to request a correction to Ashrawi’s lie.

reader@guardian.co.uk
(Editor’s note: This post was corrected on December 23 to correct a mistake in the original. I initially wrote that Ashrawi was likely referring to an announcement that 180 new homes would be set aside in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo for Israeli security personnel. This was not, we learned, the construction that Ashrawi was referring to.  The 100 homes mentioned in her commentary are to be built in East Talpiyot between Gilo and Bit Safafa, according to the Jerusalem District Committee. See the Ir Amim link above.)

Uprooting the Truth: Olive Trees as the latest ‘obstacle to peace’

A guest post by Gidon Ben-Zvi, who blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind

The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood recently told a tale of Israeli settlers attacking Palestinian olive groves, ‘Israel urged to protect West Bank olive trees after settler attacks‘, Oct. 15.

To lend credence to what appears to be an alarming trend, Ms Sherwood cites the always handy United Nations, which reported that more than 870 trees were vandalised in the first week of [this year’s] harvest, which began in most places on or after 5 October.

Allegedly, such attacks have increased in recent years. Since the beginning of 2012, a total of 7,180 Palestinian-owned trees have been vandalised by settlers, according to the UN’s office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO’s executive committee, wasted no time in exploiting the report, charging that settlers were launching attacks under the protection of the Israeli military.

Hanan Ashrawi and Yasser Arafat

To say that there is not the slightest air of reality surrounding these allegations would be to gloss over a more profound truth: Ms Ashrawi is dutifully perpetuating the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by failing to address Palestinian “…incitement to hate, promotion of an ethos of violence and struggle, and non-development of a culture of peace.

For while Hanan Ashrawi is frequently presented to the international community as the telegenic, kinder, gentler face of Palestinian politics, it’s important to remember that when Palestinians speak to foreign audiences, they speak quite differently than the way they address their own people.

Sadly, the PA’s decades-long campaign to honor terrorists – presenting them as heroes and role models – has borne fruit.  

According to a recent poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey (PSR), nearly half of all Palestinians (47.5 percent) support terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians inside the 1949 armistice lines.

And while no one can deny that the amount of settler ‘price tag’ attacks have indeed grown in recent years, the overwhelming majority of Israelis deplore them. In stark contrast, the PA, while quick to condemn price tag attacks on West Bank mosques, simultaneously gives its assent to murder and entices future terrorists with assurances of glory and honor

Sherwood, however, is seemingly enthralled with the Palestinian victim narrative. She evidently holds the Palestinian people and their government in such low regard that Arab violence is perceived as par for the course while Jews behaving badly elicits cries of condemnation that spill over into a questioning of Israel’s moral legitimacy.

Ms Sherwood’s selective fact picking is evident when she cites the UN figure of approximately 10,000 trees in 2012 having been uprooted or vandalized. By whitewashing PA-sanctioned incitement to violence against Israelis in an article whose focus is the deteriorating relationship between Palestinians and Israelis, Ms Sherwood is effectively perpetuating the racist assumption that Palestinians lack moral agency.

For the sake of balance, a few inconvenient truths should be considered at this point.

Jewish residents in the West Bank live in settlements that comprise less than five percent of the West Bank. Furthermore, Israel has started virtually no new communities in the West Bank in years, having withdrawn completely from the Gaza Strip in 2005. The limited new construction in existing settlements that has taken place in recent years has been within pre-existing boundaries. Under the Oslo Accords, Israel turned over control of all the large Palestinian population centers, leaving more than 95 percent of Palestinian Arabs living under their own leadership.

And while Hanan Ashrawi sees IDF footprints in the criminal actions of a few Israeli settlers, the truth is that the Israeli military only reentered PA territory temporarily, during the Second Intifada, in order to protect Israeli citizens by confronting the terrorists at their bases of operation – inside Ms Ashrawi’s beloved Palestinian Authority.

Now, no one can deny that the West Bank is in the midst of an economic crisis. UN figures say that unemployment in the West Bank is 17 percent, a figure that may well under-represent the severity of the crisis, given the large numbers of under-employed in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority has paid only partial salaries to its 114,000 civil servants in the West Bank, about 15 percent of the local work force, over the past few months because of a shortfall in its $4 billion budget.

Yet, Ms Sherwood does a great disservice to West Bank Palestinians by implying that their deepening impoverishment is due to uprooted olive trees. For it’s the PA that administers services to more than 90 percent of the West Bank Arabs.

West Bank Arabs apparently know something that Ms Sherwood doesn’t about their leadership.

A poll recently published by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) revealed that the majority of Palestinian Arabs believe their government is corrupt, that there is no freedom of press under the PA and that Arabs living under Palestinian rule cannot freely criticize the PA without fear of retribution.

Ms Sherwood should channel her moral outrage at the true cause of Palestinian misery – and let the olive trees be.

CiF legitimizes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, again

Take a look at the article entitled “On Palestine, the US is a rogue state” by John Whitbeck which was published on CiF on December 29th.

Now see this article entitled “Palestinian Statehood: Quality as Well as Quantity” by house contributor John Whitbeck from the Palestine Chronicle of December 22nd.

Spot the difference? No, neither can I. The Guardian has merely recycled Whitbeck’s article from a website known for its virulent anti-Zionism. Although the Palestine Chronicle claims that its writers do not “champion any specific political agenda”, according to Honest Reporting:

“It’s honorary editorial board includes Hanan Ashrawi and Noam Chomsky and writers and contributors include a number of known anti-Israel activists such as Neve Gordon and the anti-Semitic Gilad Atzmon.”

So despite the well-known and documented insistence that it is “fair and balanced”, CiF has now resorted to simply regurgitating propaganda from a virulently anti-Israel Palestinian-run website.

As for Mr. Whitbeck himself, well his years spent in Jeddah appear to have infected him with that peculiar local ability to perceive Zionist tentacles round every corner.

“The US, subservient to Israel, stands out”

“Western politicians and the western media customarily apply the term “international community” to the United States and whatever countries are willing to publicly support it on a given issue, and apply the term “rogue state” to any country that actively resists Israeli-American global domination.”

By its slavish subservience to Israel – as reflected yet again, both in the absence of a single brave voice raised against this new House resolution and in the Obama administration’s recently rejected offer of a huge military and diplomatic bribe to Israel in reward for a mere 90-day suspension of its illegal colonisation programme – the United States has effectively excluded itself from the true international community (redefined to refer to the great majority of mankind) and become a true rogue state, acting in consistent and flagrant contempt of both international law and fundamental human rights.”

(My emphasis)

The fact that Whitbeck, suspended from practicing law for four years in 2001 – due to his involvement in money laundering for a boss who was named in a French parliamentary report from 2002 as connected to the financial networks of Al Qaida – is lecturing readers of “the world’s leading liberal voice” on issues of right and wrong is mind-boggling in itself.

That CiF continues to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories (Jewish power controlling American foreign policy) is simply reprehensible.

Times must be very hard if the Guardian has to stoop so low.